Saturday, 18 August 2018

Beezy Marsh - New Novel Spotlight

 New Novel Spotlight: All My Mother's Secrets

I’m delighted to welcome Beezy Marsh to my blog with a spotlight on her new novel and an exciting extract from the novel. I loved Beezy’s novel, Keeping my Sisters' Secrets and I can’t wait to share the review of this new novel too.

More about the novel:


 
A vivid, heart-warming story of survival 
  
Annie Austin’s childhood ends at the age of twelve, when she joins her mother in one of the slum laundries of Acton, working long hours for little pay. What spare time she has is spent looking after her younger brother George and her two stepsisters, under the glowering eye of her stepfather Bill. In London between the wars, a girl like Annie has few choices in life – but a powerful secret will change her destiny.
All Annie knows about her real father is that he died in the Great War, and as the years pass she is haunted by the pain of losing him. Her downtrodden mother won’t tell her more and Annie’s attempts to uncover the truth threaten to destroy her family. Distraught, she runs away to Covent Garden, but can she survive on her own and find the love which has eluded her so far?

From the grimy streets of Acton and Notting Hill to the bright lights of the West End, All My Mother’s Secrets is a powerful, uplifting story of a young woman’s struggle to come to terms with her family’s tragic past.


Extract from the new novel:

Acton, May 1934 

Her tears had dried, but Annie’s throat was still hoarse from crying as the tram clattered down the High Street, taking her away from her family and the run-down streets she called home. 
  They’d never had much, struggling to get by, just like everyone else round their way, but they’d stuck together through everything life could throw at them. That had always been enough, until now. 
  Annie clasped the worn leather handles of her carpet bag. Everything she owned had been hurriedly stuffed in there and she’d gone without even writing a note. Even after the countless quarrels that families have, she could never have imagined she’d leave home like this, lifting the latch and sneaking away up the front path. But that was before her whole world had turned upside down. 
  Secrets, half-truths – her head was spinning just trying to make sense of it all. Only one thing was certain: finding out had changed everything. 
  As the tram arrived at the bustling terminus in Shepherd’s Bush, she wiped her eyes and stood up, smoothing the creases from her skirt and straightening her green felt cloche hat. 
  Annie stepped down, joining the crowd of people who had places to go, catching a bus up to the West End of London. 
  Her heart was pounding but she lifted her chin and forced a smile as the bus conductor took her penny fare. 
  Whatever the future held, there was no going back. 

  
Soapsud Island, November 1918 
Monday was washday. Annie watched the women struggling up Acton Lane, towards the communal laundry at the baths, with bundles of clothing tied up in sheets and slung over their shoulders. 
  For sixpence you could get a nice hot bath, if you could afford it, but the women’s task was to get their clothes clean, bashing their laundry against the washboards at the sinks. Some were bow-legged under the weight of the week’s dirty washing, which would be boiled, scrubbed, washed, rinsed, put through the wringer, starched and pegged out to dry before the day was done; not just hung up any old how on the washing line, either. There was an order to things; it had to be neatly done, on lines in the back yard, or the neighbours would talk. 
  A lucky few housewives had a handcart to wheel the laundry up the narrow winding lane, bordered on either side by rows of glum, sooty little terraced houses. The less fortunate bore their burden, followed by a gaggle of runny-nosed children who should really have been in school, shouldn’t they? 
  Outside the grocer’s shop up on the High Street, a couple of women tutted as they raised their handbags at the passing spectacle, as if to shield themselves from the disorder of the lower classes. They’d come from the big houses, over the other side of the town, in West Acton, but the war meant people weren’t so choosy about where they were seen these days. Word got around about any shop that did a half-decent loaf and didn’t try to short-change you or give you a little under what you’d paid for. 
  The smell of freshly baked bread wafted out of the bakery down the road, making Annie’s stomach rumble; she hadn’t had time to have anything more than a quick cuppa for breakfast once she’d filled the copper in the scullery – that had taken six buckets of water. Then she’d put the whites in to soak while she popped up the road to the shop. 
  She caught sight of the ladies’ gloved hands and felt her rough, cracked knuckles. It made her want to cry, having her hands in such a terrible state, but her mother had told her time and time again there was no shame in bearing the marks of a hard day’s work. It was just that she dreaded the arrival of winter when the keens would crack and bleed and she’d spend every night with her swollen fingers coated in lanolin to try to soothe them, or dunking them in warm, salty water to stop them getting infected. 
  The two ladies stopped twittering away to each other like a pair of linnets and looked her up and down. The toes of their polished boots were just peeking out of their long skirts and the pure white lace collars of their blouses sat perfectly against their slender throats. One had a watch on a long gold chain around her neck and the other had a beautiful amethyst brooch pinned to the lapel of her fur-tipped coat. Annie met their gaze, just as her mother had taught her. 
  She fumbled to do up the buttons on her cardigan, to make herself look as smart as she could. Her long, chestnut hair hung in loose bunches secured by ribbons and her blunt fringe was the work of her mum’s scissors. They’d probably notice that her black woollen pinafore had seen better days and the collar of her blouse was fraying, but at least it was bleached and starched nicely. She had come here to do some shopping, just like them, and her money was as good as anybody else’s.

 I really loved this novel and will be posting the review soon. It is available to buy here: http://amzn.eu/7TiNKMp

About the Author:

Beezy Marsh is an award-winning journalist, who has spent more than 20 years making the headlines in newspapers including The Daily Mail and The Sunday Times.

This was never going to be enough for a girl from Hartlepool, whose primary school teacher told her to give up her dream of becoming a poet and concentrate on being a nurse instead. Thirty years later, give or take, she became an author.

Her first novel, MR MAKE BELIEVE, will be published by Ipso Books in April 2017. It charts one imperfect mother’s attempts to find the key to lasting romance, with the help of daydreams about a hunky actor and an internet blog about her life, which catapults her to stardom and into his arms. Will living the dream provide the answers she seeks or is true love just make believe?

Her biography of legendary gangsters Mad Frankie Fraser and his bank robber sons follows the family's 100 years on the wrong side of the law. MAD FRANK AND SONS, published by Pan Macmillan, has been optioned for a film by Bill Kenwright Productions Ltd.

The memoir KEEPING MY SISTER'S SECRETS, tells the moving story of three sisters born into poverty in 1930s London and their fight for a survival through a decade of social upheaval and the Second World War. It will be published by Pan Macmillan on July 27th 2017

Beezy is married, with two young sons, and lives in Oxfordshire with a never-ending pile of laundry. Read her LIFE-LOVE-LAUNDRY blog and get latest book news at www.beezy-marsh.com

Follow Beezy on Twitter @beezymarsh

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Author and novel spotlight - Helen Christmas

 Author and Novel Spotlight - Helen Christmas

A big welcome to Helen Christmas. Today we are going to look at Helen’s novel, 'Beginnings' and learn more about her as an author. I’m really looking forward to reading her novels and delighted she’s stopping by on my blog today.



Beginnings is a romantic thriller set in the criminal underworld of 1970s London. Eleanor Chapman is 16. She has no idea her father is employed in a world of organised crime until the day he is forced to go on the run, leaving her at the mercy of dangerous people.

Her life is spiralling out of control yet on the night she plans to escape, she stumbles across a mysterious prisoner. His name is Jake, a rock musician from Holland and he has a contract on his life.

Their daring escape across London eventually draws them into a place of hiding before Jake's chilling story begins to unfold. He was the one vital witness to a sinister scene leading up to the death of a British MP and now those responsible want him silenced. As two young people, thrown together by fate they develop intense feelings for each other. It does not take long for Eleanor to realise that she will do anything possible to keep Jake alive.

Their tender love bond keeps you turning the pages as they live on a knife edge, desperate to escape London. Will they outrun the deadly enemies who stalk them? Or are the people at the top more powerful than they think?

Beginnings: Book 1 of the series “Same Face Different Place” a romantic British thriller through the decades.

Inspired by the violent criminal underworld of Martina Cole and the strong characters who would expect in a Leslie Pearse novel, this book has been described as an emotional roller coaster and with elements of high tension that make it difficult to put down.

If you like romance and enjoy a good thriller, this book is an excellent choice for fans of both genres.

About the author:

 Helen J. Christmas lives on the south coast of England with her husband. She has a passion for gripping stories with strong characters. With a love of writing since childhood, she started her own series of books 'Same Face Different Place'. Her first book 'Beginnings' is set in the 1970s: a London thriller entwined with romantic suspense. Helen finished her 2nd book, 'Visions,' in 2013: a 1980s psychological thriller set in the counties of London and Kent. Her 3rd book, 'Pleasures' was published in 2015 and new for 2017 comes the final instalment 'Retribution' in 2 parts.

Writing is something she juggles around her family and social life as well as running a web design company, she and her husband set up from home. You can find more by visiting her website www.samefacedifferentplace.com which has links to her blog and social networks, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

See other books in the series...




Sarah's Shadow Blog Tour - 19th May

Sarah's Shadow Blog Tour - 19th May
By Nick Jones and illustrated by Si Clark


 If you could change something about yourself, would you do it? When Sarah Simpkins is teased about her shadow in the school playground, she finds herself wishing she didn't have one. That night she has the chance to make the wish come true. But will losing her shadow really make her happy?

"Sarah's Shadow is a sweet story about wish fulfilment not being all its cracked up to be. It has accessible but expansive vocabulary, impactful illustrations and a message of being comfortable in your own skin (shadow). Lovely stuff." - Jill Murphy, The Bookbag

"I loved the upbeat message of this tale and the power that Sarah finds when she rediscovers her shadow and becomes herself. Si Clark s illustrations are fabulous, especially in the detail of the facial expressions of the characters in the story and Sarah s amazing shadow creatures ... Sarah's Shadow is most highly recommended." - Jack Magnus, Readers' Favorite

My review:

The beautiful story follows the tale of Sarah, who gets picked on at school by an insensitive peer due to her having a tall and lanky shaped shadow. Sarah takes the teasing to heart and rather than wishing that the teasing would stop, she wishes that her shadow would go away. This story has a sweet and powerful message that really sticks with you long after you have read the story. Although this book was a little too 'old' for my two children, as a teacher I could see the potential for this book in the classroom. And as an adult, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it myself anyway! I could see it being used successfully in PSHCE lessons at school for both younger children and to create discussions with upper primary school.

The book is fabulously illustrated. The story leaves you with an important and positive message. A delightful story, that I loved reading and can see becoming a firm favourite when my children are old enough to enjoy.

About the author: 



Nick Jones is a writer originally from Bristol but now living in Congleton, Cheshire. In 2014 he published Gagged and Bound, a book of original gags, puns and one-liners, which went on to become a best-seller on Amazon under Puns & Wordplay. This was followed by Gagged & Bound 2 and 3, and now Nick has returned with Sarah's Shadow, a highly original children's book about a little girl who loses her shadow. Illustrated beautifully by London-based artist Si Clark, Sarah's Shadow is a completely new direction for Nick, but with plenty more ideas up his sleeve it's one he intends to pursue further.

Go to Sleep Blog Tour - 19th May

Review of 'Go to Sleep!' by Marion Adams
19th May


The MULTI-AWARD-WINNING Go To Sleep! by Marion Adams! Tansy the sheep can’t go to sleep. She’s forgotten how to do it! But when she follows the barn owl’s advice and starts counting sheep, she realises that there is something wrong …Moonbeam Award 2017 winner, ebook category. Winner of The Gittle List 2017. Also awarded the Kirkus Star for 'Books of Exceptional Merit.'


"Full of endearing little scenes and huggable sheep, this is a great book for any child’s bedtime."The Children's Book Review

"A beautiful and timeless illustrated children's book about a sheep who can't sleep. Parents and kids will love it in equal measure."The Book Reviewers (5 STARS)

"Children will enjoy reading this book and will want to read it again and again. I would definitely recommend this book to all young readers."Readers' Favorite (5 STARS)

"Charming picture book ... Beautifully illustrated with an evocative text, it has kind messages about scary night-times and will encourage children to practise their counting."The Bookbag (4 STARS)

My review 

I love this book. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the picture book to my children. I found it engaging and entertaining and they certainly agreed. Great for maths and counting, I would find multiples uses for this book in the classroom too. The illustraions are fantastic and kept both children, including my youngest who is not yet two, involved with the story.

With a great ending that I should have seen coming, but didn't! I was enjoying the journey and experience too much. My son loved the book just as much as I did and regularly asks to have it read to him. I would recommend this picture book for children.

About the author



Marion Adams has been writing for as long as she can remember, usually for fun and sometimes for money as well. She started her career as an in-house copywriter with a publisher and now works as a freelance proofreader and editor. It’s her dream job because she’s paid to read all day (and eat dark chocolate). Over the years, she’s written all kinds of things for both adults and children, some serious and some less so, with published work including magazine stories, articles, poems, plays and non-fiction books.

She has two children who are grown up now, but they still remember having their favourite stories read to them at bedtime. So Marion decided it was about time she wrote a bedtime story with a title that’s sure to resonate with weary parents everywhere: Go To Sleep!
Marion lives in Devon, UK, and when she’s not reading or writing (or eating dark chocolate), she loves going for walks on the wild moors where Go To Sleep! is set.

Monday, 14 May 2018

Guest post on book titles, 'Sense of Entitlement' by Helen Matthews



I'm delighted to welcome Helen Matthews to my blog for a very interesting guest post on book titles.  Over to Helen... 

'Sense of Entitlement'

There’s no copyright on book titles so why is it so painful for a writer when we discover our perfect title has already been chosen by someone else? 

I’m not the world’s speediest writer. Developing themes and researching the background to my novels is part of the joy of writing. Sometimes it takes me years, not months, of hard labour – creating, workshopping, editing, rewriting – to hone a novel into a shape where it’s ready to meet the world. During this incubation period, I grow to love my characters and their stories. I also become attached to my working title and convince myself it’s ‘the one’.



Back in October 2017, I attended the Killer Women crime writing conference in London. The novel I was working on had been in its gestation period for eighteen months and was close to the final draft. The conference was inspiring, and I left feeling positive and upbeat, clutching my goodie bag of free books – Advance Reader Copies (ARCs) of upcoming titles.

On the train home, I dug my hand into the bag to explore my haul. The first book I pulled out was The Ruin by Dervla McTiernan, scheduled for publication in early 2018. Feeling a little bit sick, I read the blurb, then turned it back over to the front cover. No, it definitely was still called The Ruin - the exact, same title as my own novel-in-progress. That title was perfect for my story, which opens with a family impulse-buying a tumbledown property in France. But Dervla’s book was coming out before mine and she’d also scooped #TheRuin hashtag.

I went back to the drawing board and scribbled more spider diagrams and mind maps until I came up with a new title Lies Behind the Ruin. If anything, this strikes me as slightly more menacing than the original. I’m hoping this novel will be published in the near future so you can tell me if it fits.

But why was I so bothered? With no copyright on book titles to worry about, I could have kept the same title. I guess I like the idea of exclusivity.

Recently I pre-ordered a brilliant debut novel called She’s Not There, by a writer I know called Tamsin Grey. A few days later, an alert popped up in my Twitter feed, telling me that She’s Not There had been published. This seemed earlier than I was expecting. I checked it out on Amazon and discovered this particular book entitled She’s Not There was by Joy Fielding, a bestselling author of psychological thrillers. I scrolled a bit further and discovered a list of books with this identical title by writers including P J Parrish, Marla Madison and even She’s Not There: a life in two genders by Jennifer Finney Boylan!

It troubled me that someone who wanted to order Tamsin’s novel might click on the wrong one, though the covers are distinctive. You might think that no one would be that daft, or tired, or drunk to make such a mistake, but I’ve done this myself, so perhaps I’m all of those things.  
 
A while back, and I’m sure it still happens, scammers published books with identical or similar titles to novels that were a commercial success, trying to cash in and divert sales away from hard working novelists. These cloned titles often contained badly-written stories or pure drivel.

I was caught out by this scam, when a novel called Stoner by John Williams was republished and hailed as ‘one of the great forgotten novels of the past century’. I downloaded it onto my Kindle with one-click. I read the first page, furrowing my brow. It wasn’t what I expected of a literary novel. It was a trashy tale about a junkie, permanently stoned on weed and other substances. The prose broke all Stephen King’s rules in his book On Writing and was weighed down with ponderous adjectives and adverbs. I gave up and went back to Amazon. Sure enough, the garbage I’d downloaded wasn’t by John Williams at all but by a fraudster, cynically trying to confuse customers and divert profits into his own bank account. And the saddest part of this saga? I never went back to download the correct John Williams version of the eBook. (Several years later I bought it in paperback).

Titles are important because they set expectations for the reader and help to answer the question Is this for me or not? To use a recent example, if a book has the word ‘secret’ ‘missing’ or ‘girl’ in the title, it’s sending out a signal to thriller fans.

A few years ago, I had a one-to-one with a literary agent at a writer’s festival, discussing the novel I was writing at that time, called Disconnected.
“That’s a Young Adult title,” the agent informed me, asking if I could shave a few years off my protagonist’s age and lighten the plot so it could be marketed to YAs. I couldn’t. But in the end, she did me a favour because that novel, a suspense thriller with themes of human trafficking, modern day slavery and digital detox, has now been published under the far better title of After Leaving the Village.


Available now in paperback and eBook from all good bookshops and from Amazon 

 More about Helen:



'After Leaving the Village' was published by Hashtag Press in October 2017. It is my debut novel and won first prize in the opening pages category at Winchester Writers' Festival. My novel is a gritty contemporary suspense thriller so won't suit all tastes but it's been hailed by reviewers as 'very much a novel of our times' and 'powerful'...one of the reasons 'why it has been endorsed by anti-slavery charity, Unseen.'

As a writer, I often ask the question - how can a life change in an instant? Sometimes this leads me to explore some dark places. I'd love to know what you think, so please leave a review.

I've won several short story prizes and my story 'Coal' was published in Artificium literary magazine. You can read my travel blogs over on www.helenmatthewswriter.com where you'll also find my contact details and can tell me what you loved - or hated - about my novel. 
 

Thank you so much, Helen, for your fantastic post on my blog. It has definitely got me thinking about my own book titles and how I'd be devastated if someone else chose the same one before I published the novel! Maybe it's best not to get too attached to start with and call the book Untitled? With 'Letters to Eloise' the title almost arrived before the novel even began but with my more recent, 'Rafferty Lincoln Loves...' the title came along after the book was finished.   

Let me know your thoughts fellow authors about your own book titles in the comments...

Emily x

Monday, 7 May 2018

Review of 'My Favourite People' by Rob Keeley

Review of 'My Favourite People' by Rob Keeley


Buy the picture book here


Rob Keeley’s first picture book.
A book for young children all about the importance of relationships.
Comes complete with suggested activities for bringing the book to life.

My favourite people are…

all in this book. And I’m going to tell you all about them. You can meet my Auntie Meg and Uncle Steve, my best friend Alice, my favourite footballer and the band that’s going to save the world. Then I’ll tell you about a brilliant idea I’ve had…

Following his success as a writer of novels and short stories for older children – including the ongoing Spirits series, listed for the Bath Children’s Novel and Independent Author Book Awards – Rob Keeley makes his picture book debut with My Favourite People, a fun illustrated journey through childhood and the friends and family who make it possible. It’s an amusing and insightful look at the world around its central character, an excellent read-aloud or read-alone. It encourages young people to look at relationships and recognise their importance. It will appeal to girls and boys of lower primary age – and to parents and teachers reading the book aloud.

My review

This picture book has a great concept and really appealed to my three-year-old. At an age when he loves talking about people in his life, this was a perfect book to read to him. He loved the bright illustrations, which kept his one-year-old sister engaged too, and talked animatedly about the book.  I encouraged him to talk about similar people in his own life.

A fun and engaging book, I could see how this would appeal to children both pre-school and for use in the classroom for lower primary school. A great introduction for children to encourage them to talk about the people in their lives. 

As both a teacher and parent, I could see the potential for this lovely picture book and would recommend. It flowed easily to read and was enjoyable for the adult reading too. A different read from what I have read by the author, but another fabulous effort nonetheless.


Review of The Mosaic by Chris Keaton

 The Mosaic by Chris Keaton

Buy the novel here: http://amzn.eu/e36gKBk


Twin girls discover a mystical world contained within a crumbling mosaic, and they must restore it before an evil witch seizes its power, even if doing so could tear their family apart.

Secrets. It all started while looking for secret passages. Chloe Tozier’s impulsive twin, Zoe, insisted that all old mansions had them. Grandma denied the existence of any here. Except for the boarded-up service elevator that she conveniently forgot to mention before the girls discovered it, the elevator that didn’t seem to go anywhere. They had been living in this private museum with their grandparents since the death of their parents during an archaeology trip to Egypt.

Mysteries. Why have a museum in a tiny town in the middle of Kansas when what’s on display is nothing unusual? Sometimes packages arrived wrapped in plain brown paper that the girls never saw again. Grandpa disappeared overnight and they haven’t heard from him since. And before going to Egypt their parents had mentioned something about a mysterious mosaic. Maybe Zoe was right about family secrets. Maybe it was time to dig further.

My review 

This exciting young adult fantasy has all the ingredients to make an exciting fantasy read, which is what it accomplished. It has well-written characters, dark secrets and fast-paced action. As Chloe and Zoe explore the house they cause a chain of events to happen. A great beginning to the novel, with an almost Nania feel.

As the children dig further into the family secrets, it has you on the edge of your seat. Although I'm not an avid fantasy reader, I really enjoyed this story. The author talentedly created a plot you couldn't help but fall into and become lost within the magic of the words. The plot had enough twists and turns to keep me enthralled and although the characters of the twins did grate on me a tiny bit, I invested in them enough to really want to find out what happened. The author knew how to create characters to make you hate them or invest in them.

With an exciting ending, this story would easily be easy to recommend for fantasy lovers.


About the author: 




Saturday, 5 May 2018

Mr Snuffles’ Birthday Blog Tour 5th May

‘Mr Snuffles’ Birthday’
Blog Tour 5th May


'It was a wonderful day for snuffling for truffles,

'What a birthday treat!' thought Mr Snuffles…’

Adults and children of all ages will delight in following Mr Snuffles' frustrating woodland quest for his beloved truffles. But is Mr Snuffles on the right scent?

Beautifully illustrated by Emily Wallis, David Greaves' Mr Snuffles' Birthday is a glorious celebration of language, friendship and truffles: a tale to be treasured and to read aloud together time and time again.

About the Book

Title: Mr Snuffles’ Birthday
Author: David Greaves
Illustrator: Emily Wallis
Release Date: 1st May 2018
Genre: Picture Book
Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
Format: Paperback

Mr Snuffles’ Birthday

Background information on the story and its author:

Born in Yorkshire in 1985, David Greaves’ warmth and generosity of spirit, and his love of travel and adventure led him to make friends around the world with people from all walks of life. David’s strength of character and devotion to achieving his goals was evident in his achievements as an ultra-marathon runner and Iron Man triathlete.
David’s resilience was also shown by his determination to finish Mr Snuffles’ Birthday, and nine other children’s stories, after being diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (ALS) in June 2015, just after his thirtieth birthday. In the fifteen months following his diagnosis David got married to the love of his life, Philippa, climbed Mt Kilimanjaro, raising over £12,000 for the Motor Neurone Disease Association, and travelled through East Africa before settling in Newcastle upon Tyne to be closer to his family.
As MND deprived David of the use of his arms and speech he finished his collection of children's stories using revolutionary Eye Gaze technology which allowed him to type by tracking the movement of his eyes. David passed away peacefully at home in September 2016. Mr Snuffles’ Birthday is David's first book, and his wife Philippa and David’s family intend to honour his memory by eventually publishing all of his completed works.
David Greaves spent his formative years growing up in the beautiful Hope Valley, Derbyshire: a free-range rural childhood with lots of space to roam and to play outdoors with friends.

From his earliest years, David showed an intense delight in language, poetry and all forms of the written and spoken word. A poem David wrote at the age of ten, ‘Hurricane’ (attached) anticipated David’s gradual realisation during his twenties that his deepest wish was to become a full-time writer for children.

After being awarded a first-class honours degree in Modern History from the University of Newcastle, it was while working for a time as a live-in carer in Cumbria for friends of the family with two young children that David began to write in earnest, delighting his charges, who re-named him The BFG (David being a strapping 6ft 7” in height) with recitals of his latest work in progress including an early draft of the story that was to become Mr Snuffles’ Birthday.

After moving down to London in 2012 in order to widen his employment options, David carried on writing at every spare moment, while working through a succession of temporary jobs. 

During this time, David was a regular volunteer at the Ministry of Stories in Hoxton, (www.ministryofstories.org) where he greatly enjoyed helping to improve local children’s literacy via the Ministry’s immensely creative and adventurous approach to learning – while at the same time continuing to refine his own exceptional gifts as a storyteller.

David carried on re-working and revising Mr Snuffles’ Birthday throughout his time in London. Finally, in September 2015, David achieved a richly-deserved breakthrough when he won a competitive commission from Friends of the Earth to write The Homeless Bumblebee and Me, a warm-hearted illustrated fable intended to alert children to the importance of bees to our ecology, and the vital need to nurture and protect them. This delightful award-winning book, David’s first published work, is about to be re-launched (in May 2018) in a new edition by Clink Street Press, as Philippa and the Homeless Bumblebee.

Mr Snuffles’ Birthday by David Greaves & illustrated by Emily Wallis, published by Clink Street Publishing on 1st May 2018 in hardback and ebook, is available to purchase from online retailers including Amazon and to order from all good bookstores. 
ISBN: 978-1-912562-31-2
About the Author

Born in Yorkshire in 1985, David Greaves’ warmth and generosity of spirit, and his love of travel and adventure led him to make friends around the world with people from all walks of life. His strength of character and devotion to achieving his goals was shown in his achievements as an ultra-marathon runner and Iron Man triathlete. It was also shown by his determination to finish this book, and nine others, after being diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (ALS) in June 2015, just after his thirtieth birthday. In the fifteen months after his diagnosis he got married to the love of his life, climbed Mt Kilimanjaro, raising over £12,000 for the Motor Neurone Disease Association, and travelled through East Africa before settling in Newcastle upon Tyne. As David lost the use of his arms and speech he finished his collection of children's books using revolutionary Eye Gaze technology which allowed him to type by tracking the movement of his eyes. David passed away peacefully at home in September 2016. Mr Snuffles is David's first book and his wife Philippa and family intend to honour his memory by eventually publishing all of his completed works.

About the Illustrator




Emily Wallis is an illustrator who uses traditional hand-drawn techniques. She completed her MA in sequential design and illustration at the University of Brighton. She lives in London, UK.

My review 

What an absolutely delightful book. I was touched by the story behind the author and how the book was produced and wasn't disappointed when the book arrived. The picture book has a beautiful cover and my son loved the book as soon as it arrived and couldn't wait to hear the story when he saw the cover artwork. My daughter is a little younger but was very keen to get stuck in and enjoyed the illustrations instead.

The story follows the gentle tale of Mr Snuffles on his birthday searching for truffles. It was delightful to read and I enjoyed it just as much as the children did. Will Mr Snuffles ever enjoy his birthday truffles? The illustrations certainly make this picture book stand out and with the lovely story it’ll be one you remember for a long time. The writing is powerful, almost poetic and such a joy to read aloud to children. I would recommend for all ages of child and I'm sure the adults reading will love it too.

Follow the blog tour...





Thursday, 3 May 2018

Review of 'A Darker Shade of Sorcery' by William Collins

Review of 'A Darker Shade of Sorcery' by William Collins


 Buy the novel here: http://amzn.eu/1NmZt4D


"Wizard, druid or shaman, they each have different forms of magic, but we Venators have our own brand of sorcery, which we use primarily to destroy demons. This Fortress acts as a school for demon hunters, and you’re our newest recruit, Brooke.”
Brooke decided this Padrake guy was certifiably insane. '

Evan Umbra is the newest Venator to enter Veneseron, the school for demon hunters, only demons are the ones hunting him.

A Venator is a wizard, a spy and a demon hunter rolled into one. They’re taught how to wield their sorcery and enchanted weaponry by orcs, elfpires and aliens alike. Their missions range from battling monsters and saving countless lives in the multiple worlds, to wrangling killer unicorns and calming down drunken yetis. Being a Venator is perilous and every new mission could be their last.

Whilst learning how to manipulate the elements, summon magical creatures and shoot Spellzookas, Evan encounters a dangerous rival and meets a girl who makes him feel nauseous; but in a good way. He makes the first friends he’s ever had in the carefree Jed and the reckless Brooke. Whilst Jed gets on the wrong side of a rival Venator, Brooke finds herself falling for the enigmatic demon hunter who brought her to Veneseron, not knowing he isn't quite human. But it soon becomes apparent that Evan is more than just a Venator. Everyone wants to kill or capture him, from demons to Dark-Venators and even people he’s supposed to be able to trust.

Evan reckons he probably won’t survive his first year at Veneseron.


My review 

This novel follows the story of Evan and Brooke, as they enter the world of demons through a school teaching them how to use their sorcery. It is a fast-paced fantasy and not something I would normally choose to read, but nevertheless, it pulled me into the storyline. Although I found the plot quite challenging to understand, there was enough pace and action to keep me going and I found myself enjoying the experience. Even though at some points I was lost, the description and strong characterisation kept me wanting to find out what happens next for Evan and his dilemmas as the demons are after him.

There is a plethora of characters introduced in the first few scenes, with weirdly magical names and descriptions. The author certainly has a strength is portraying vivid characters to the imagination. Both Evan and Brooke are well-developed characters that you feel for during their plight. The author is also successful at world building and creating a visual landscape that makes you feel as if you are there with the characters. I did find the chapters a little long, which probably led to some of my confusion in parts of the plot. As this isn't a genre I'd normally read, I presume this length is of the norm, knowing that fantasy books tend to be on the longer side than general fiction due to the world building. Therefore this isn't a negative for fantasy lovers more of an observation from someone not used to this genre of novel.

The writing flows well, has great dialogue and was engaging. Overall, an enjoyable read for this fast-paced fantasy for young adults and lovers of fantasy. An exciting cliffhanger to leave you wanting more.

More about the author:




William Collins is a writer from the UK and the author of The Realmers Series, as well
as the spin-off Realmer Chronicles. A Darker Shade of Sorcery is the first in The Realmers Series. The sequel, Moonlight War, will be out soon.

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Review of 'To Enter The Path' by Stephanie Flores

Book review of 'To Enter The Path,' by Stephanie Flores

 Buy the book now:
http://amzn.eu/hlqBkXB
 
 "Filled with incredible fight scenes, cryptic characters and a few often useless yet lovable characters, this book is worth checking out if you love a good action-packed story and lots of mystery and questions!" ~Underground Book reviews

"A solid read for lovers of fantasy. The author does a wonderful job weaving a compelling world and creating complex characters." ~ More Than Just Romance Reviews

A Vendrix is born. These are mortals that know all spells and enchantments, without having picked up a spell book all their lives. Normally, such power would be drool-worthy, but in this case, it means to be possessed by a demon that’s just using a body as a conduit.

For the townspeople, a beloved family member will now crave carnage and kill siblings and strangers alike.
For the person possessed, they barely last a day before sharpened pitchforks are used against them.

But a drunken minstrel’s foreseen a Vendrix that can actually control the demon. Such a weapon seems to be the only thing that can annihilate the sorcerer that’s been wreaking havoc everywhere.

Zendra’s denying that she’s the Vendrix, despite the fact that she just massacred a horde of wizards with no more exertion of energy than a yawn. Regardless, she’s enlisted by three men wanting to attempt the deadly path to the sorcerer, for fame, adventure, or vengeance.

Now, Valen, an arrogant yet charming wizard prodigy, Brevle, a wise-cracking warrior, Wulard, owns a map (sorry, that’s all he contributes), and Zendra, still unsure if she’s more of a threat to them than the obstacles, must band together, quiet their pessimism, and will their legs to forge through the Path of Fatality.

My review 

I'm not an avid reader of fantasy, especially medieval fantasy. I usually find the number of characters, different weirdly wonderful names, historical references and worlds totally confusing for my mind, which obviously just can't cope with an overload of all the senses. Having said that, I was more than pleasantly surprised that I found that I could slip into this story and be totally enthralled from the outset. Yes, there were complicated character names, but not such an overload that I would become lost. I actually understood what was going on, and even better, was really enjoying the plot! Well done to the author. 

The plot is fast-paced and full of action, although occasionally I did find the chapters a little long due to the intense amount of action and description. The mythical beasts are breathtakingly scary and have you on the edge of your seat. I liked that the novel followed a journey; the path along which Zendra takes both literally and metaphorically as she develops as the story progresses. The evil spirit inside sometimes overtakes her character and I was interested to see how she'd overcome this and take control of her own destiny. There are plenty of twists and turns to keep you totally engrossed.

I liked that the novel was left on a cliffhanger, knowing that there would be more books to follow, it certainly made me eagerly want to pick up the next book. Overall, a very enjoyable read.



Monday, 30 April 2018

Review of 'The Purrfect Pet Sitter' by Carol Thomas

Review of Carol Thomas 'The Purrfect Pet Sitter'

Buy the novel here: http://amzn.eu/9iTAPtu

Introducing Lisa Blake, the purrfect pet sitter! 

When Lisa Blake’s life in London falls apart, she returns to her hometown rebranding herself as ‘the purrfect pet sitter’ – which may or may not be false advertising as she has a rather unfortunate habit of (temporarily) losing dogs!

But being back where she grew up, Lisa can’t escape her past. There’s her estranged best friend Flick who she bumps into in an embarrassing encounter in a local supermarket. And her first love, Nathan Baker, who, considering their history, is sure to be even more surprised by her drunken Facebook friend request than Lisa is.

As she becomes involved in the lives of her old friends Lisa must confront the hurt she has caused, discover the truth about her mysterious leather-clad admirer, and learn how to move forward when the things she wants most are affected by the decisions of her past.

My review

This is a great feel-good novel about moving on with your life. Although light-hearted, it portrays a depth of self-discovery which the author delicately weaves into the plot. Lisa's life has fallen apart so she returns to her hometown to rebrand herself. But going back rekindles all sorts from her past that she thought she'd left behind.  Can she move forward from her past?

From the moment I opened my kindle, I was swept away into this lovely novel. Lisa is engaging and I loved to have a novel including my favourite thing, pets! Some great laugh-out-loud moments, this book will keep you smiling until the end. A great summer read that is very enjoyable.Struggling with her new job as a pet sitter, Lisa is a likeable character and I really rooted for her as the story deepens. The style of the author is immensely engaging and you'll be wanting to read more from this author after you have finished. A summer read to make you smile that I would recommend to pack for your holiday!


The blurb:
   
Introducing Lisa Blake, the purrfect pet sitter!

When Lisa Blake’s life in London falls apart, she returns to her hometown rebranding herself as ‘the purrfect pet sitter’ – which may or may not be false advertising!

But being back where she grew up, Lisa can’t escape her past. There’s her estranged best friend Flick who she bumps into in an embarrassing encounter in a local supermarket. And her first love, Nathan Baker, who, considering their history, is sure to be even more surprised by her drunken Facebook friend request than Lisa is.

As she becomes involved in the lives of her old friends Lisa must confront the hurt she has caused, discover the truth about her mysterious leather-clad admirer, and learn how to move forward when the things she wants most are affected by the decisions of her past.

Genre: Romantic Comedy
Publisher: Ruby Fiction, the new imprint of Choc Lit

Buying Links
  

View the book trailer: http://tinyurl.com/TPPS-booktrailer

About the author:
   
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 cafes working on her next book.



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



Website and Social Media Links: 
  

Blog:




Sunday, 29 April 2018

Review of 'Stop the World' by Sherry Mayes

Review of 'Stop the World' by Sherry Mayes


Buy the novel http://amzn.eu/1flJIe2
 
 Inspired by a true story:

SHE THOUGHT HER LIFE WAS OVER ... BUT IT WAS JUST BEGINNING

Jody Angel Taylor believes her life is all mapped out: Glamorous, clever and popular, and due to marry her handsome boyfriend, she has it all. Until one night she has a devastating car crash, ending up paralyzed — and her perfect world collapses.

Committing media suicide and publicly blamed for her own accident, everything around her falls apart. She becomes a lonely recluse, feeling she’s lost everything including her legs — her boyfriend to her best friend, her father to an affair, her mother to depression — but above all she fears losing her mind. What she doesn’t know is that someone across the globe is about to throw her a lifeline. Can she find the courage to take it? Determined to love again and clear her name, she embarks on a new adventure that will transform her life beyond all expectations.

If you like 'The Fault in Our Stars' by John Green and 'All the Bright Places' by Jennifer Niven then you'll love Sherry Mayes' inspiring novel.

My review

What an interesting and thought-provoking read. I liked the character of Jody from the outset, despite her perfections and successes in life she is written with depth and realism. The situation that arose after the car accident was shocking. The reactions of others from the crash and subsequent paralysis were realistically portrayed. You jump in straight at that point and literally, the book has you gripped. Everything has fallen apart and you're totally with Jody through this. It leads you to think, how would you react if that happened? Would people you know react like Jody's friends and family did? Would you if you were them? Totally addictive, I found this novel to be a complete page-turner and I read the novel engrossed from beginning to the end.  

I loved the writer's style. Fresh and simple, which bonds you with the characters immediately. As Jody's perfect life falls away after the accident, you wonder what is truly important in life. Written in a light-hearted manner, with a great understanding of teenagers, I was left rooting for Jody. I won't give away the ending, but I was pleased the author was able to leave me satisfied and with hope. I'd love to read more from this talented author.


About the author



Sherron, also known by her nickname, Sherry, has worked as a journalist for over twenty years. She has also written two self-help books, which were both published as paperbacks in January 2003 and 2004 by Hodder & Stoughton.

Her first YA novel, STOP THE WORLD was inspired by a true story.

Originally from Somerset, she currently lives in Berkshire, United Kingdom. 


WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING ABOUT STOP THE WORLD

'Poignant, Compelling, Unputdownable. Sherry really touched my heart with this uplifting story, revealing the comedy and pain behind the main characters challenging circumstances.' Daily Mail

'This book is for anyone who wants to read something that is in turns inspiring, emotional, gritty, heartwarming and funny. Currently, I'm thinking this is one of the best books I have ever read and if I could give 6 stars I would.' Phil Leader, reviewer and blogger.

'I thoroughly enjoyed this heartwarming story about a girl coming of age and succeeding against all odds. Beautifully written and very addictive – Once I started reading, I couldn’t stop until I finished. The characters are all so beautifully drawn and they still haven’t let go of me.' Renita D'Silva, author of 'The Forgotten Daughter.'

'This is a well-written, feel-good story with just the right ingredients to keep you in suspense, make you cry from the good and bad, and also make you laugh. If you liked John Green’s “The Fault In Our Stars”, you’ll love Sherry Mayes’ “Stop the world.” This novel is about triumph and disaster, and as in Rudyard Kipling’s “If,” treats those two imposters the same. The story is seen through the eyes of main character and beauty queen, Jody Angel Taylor. Although Jody is/was a beauty queen, she is the prototype flawed and beautifully crafted protagonist.' John Darryl Winston, author.

Saturday, 28 April 2018

Carol Thomas - Author interview Q&A - 29th April

 The Purrfect Pet Sitter - Author Interview!

Delighted to be on Carol’s blog tour for her fabulous new novel ‘The Purrfect Pet Sitter.’ I will be sharing a review of the book with you early next week, but today I’m sharing an author interview with Carol and some more information on her new novel. I am a huge pet lover so this novel was right up my street and I'm sure will appeal to lots of readers.




Introducing Lisa Blake, the purrfect pet sitter! 


When Lisa Blake’s life in London falls apart, she returns to her hometown rebranding herself as ‘the purrfect pet sitter’ – which may or may not be false advertising as she has a rather unfortunate habit of (temporarily) losing dogs!

But being back where she grew up, Lisa can’t escape her past. There’s her estranged best friend Flick who she bumps into in an embarrassing encounter in a local supermarket. And her first love, Nathan Baker, who, considering their history, is sure to be even more surprised by her drunken Facebook friend request than Lisa is.

As she becomes involved in the lives of her old friends Lisa must confront the hurt she has caused, discover the truth about her mysterious leather-clad admirer, and learn how to move forward when the things she wants most are affected by the decisions of her past.
   

Author Interview


What inspired you to write The Purrfect Pet Sitter?
  
I like the quote, “sometimes all you need is a second chance because maybe time wasn’t ready for the first one.” In my story, I wanted to explore the idea of second chances in friendship and love. Add to that, my daughter is a pet sitter, it’s a great job for meeting people, and pets who, like children, add a certain amount of unpredictability – giving rise to great opportunities when writing romantic comedy.

What are your favourite pets?
  
I am a dog lover, with a big soft spot for Labradors. My dogs get about a bit, inspiring the Labradors in my stories and appearing on my social media pages. But I have also had resident guinea pigs in my lounge on and off for over twenty years. They make great pets, being friendly, chatty, entertaining and, unlike my Labrador puppy, they don’t steal socks and tea towels in an attempt to get my attention when I am writing.


Are you anything like your protagonist Lisa?
  
The short answer to this is, no. Lisa has travelled, she doesn’t have children and as time has gone by she has lost touch with those she once felt closest to. Her character, personality and most of her experiences are quite different to my own. Now if you’d said Felicity, Lisa’s once best friend, I would have been confessing to more similarities.

What do you love the most about the writing process?
  
I love it when the writing is flowing, and ideas are coming so fast you can barely keep up.

How have you found the publishing process?
 
Getting my contract and working with the lovely people at Choc Lit and Ruby Fiction has been a great experience; one I hope to be able to repeat in the future. Having self-published my first contemporary romance novel, Crazy Over You, I’ve had to get used to not having the final say on things like title and cover. But they are small concessions in return for having achieved a publishing contract and being part of such a great team.

Has it changed you?
  
No, I don’t think so. But it may have made me busier, as I am feeling I don’t want to let my publisher down by not doing enough promotion or publicity. I want the book to do well for them as well as me. And I am putting more pressure on myself to write the next as I would love for that to be published by Ruby Fiction / Choc Lit too.

Have you any other books on the go?
  
Yes, two contemporary romance novels and a children’s book, as a Christmas sequel to my first, that I haven’t quite finished writing or mentioned to my illustrator.

What piece of advice would you give to aspiring authors?
  
Write and write often. Keep notebooks and note down interesting sentences and snippets you hear. For different bits, you are writing study the work of those you think do that aspect well, analyse what works and why.

Just for fun

What is your favourite ice cream?  

Mint.

Would you prefer to have endless free chocolate or free wine for life?
  
Hmm, I very rarely drink so chocolate would make sense but that really wouldn’t be good for me (my children’s Easter stash is too much of a temptation as it is). I’d have to say wine; I am sure I’d have a few relatives and friends who would like benefiting from that.

Where is your ideal holiday destination?
  
Canada or the Alps in France, I like big landscapes and changing seasons.

If you could own any pet in the world, what would it be?
  
Could I have my chocolate Lab Benson back? I was blessed to have him for almost sixteen years and miss him every day. Don’t tell my children I said that, and I passed up the opportunity to have a tiger, giraffe or unicorn!

Don't miss out on reading this fabulous novel. Find out more about the book and Carol below... 


The blurb:
   
Introducing Lisa Blake, the purrfect pet sitter!

When Lisa Blake’s life in London falls apart, she returns to her hometown rebranding herself as ‘the purrfect pet sitter’ – which may or may not be false advertising!

But being back where she grew up, Lisa can’t escape her past. There’s her estranged best friend Flick who she bumps into in an embarrassing encounter in a local supermarket. And her first love, Nathan Baker, who, considering their history, is sure to be even more surprised by her drunken Facebook friend request than Lisa is.

As she becomes involved in the lives of her old friends Lisa must confront the hurt she has caused, discover the truth about her mysterious leather-clad admirer, and learn how to move forward when the things she wants most are affected by the decisions of her past.

Genre: Romantic Comedy
Publisher: Ruby Fiction, the new imprint of Choc Lit

Buying Links
  

View the book trailer: http://tinyurl.com/TPPS-booktrailer

About the author:
   
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 cafes working on her next book.

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

Website and Social Media Links: 
  

Blog: