Author, Blogger, Book Blog, Interview

Exit Five From Charing Cross @ValerieKeogh1 #QA #Bookblog

Exit Five From Charing Cross By Valerie Keogh

The Real You By Valerie Keogh 

Italy Sep 16 (33)

Welcome to my blog Valerie, thank you so much for spending a little time here today.

Describe yourself using three words?

Imaginative, persistent,  self-doubting

What inspired you to write your first novel?

I’ve wanted to write for a long time. Fear of failure stopped me starting until  a few years ago – I haven’t stopped since and I’m now on my 9th novel.

What time of day do you like to write?

I try to do e-mails and promoting in the morning and get down to writing in the early afternoon.

What is your favourite book and why?

I love Kate Atkinson’s novel, Life after Life, a fascinating and challenging read. My all-time favourite novels are EF Benson’s Mapp and Lucia series of novels. Brilliant, witty and beautifully written.

How did you pick the title of your book?

I took the title for, That One May Smile, straight from Hamlet, I liked the sound of it and it seemed appropriate. Shakespeare is always a good one to borrow from.

I was sitting at a coffee shop outside exit five from Charing Cross when I came up with the idea for this novel so it seemed like a good idea to use it as the title for it. When I decide on a title I always check on Amazon to make sure it hasn’t been used already before I become too attached to it.

Are the characters in your book based on real people?

The characters aren’t but I often use mannerisms or quirks that people have to add complexity to my characters.

What’s your favourite word?

I don’t have a favourite word but I often overuse words as my editor points out! I’ve stopped my characters ‘nodding’ all the time.

If you were a colour what would it be?

Sometimes bright yellow and sometimes dark grey.

Do you plan your story beforehand or go with the flow?

I usually have a vague idea of the plot but definitely go with it once I start and almost allow the characters take over. I knew That One May Smile was going to be a series so the characters needed to be ones that readers related to and cared about.

When I wrote Exit Five from Charing Cross I started with the last chapters and then backfilled the story.

Who is your favourite Author?

There are so many – EF Benson, Kate Atkinson, John Connolly, Steven King – a wide range as you can see!

If you could give any literary villain a happy ending who would you chose?

Frankenstein’s monster – I think he was hard done by!

Are you working on a new project?

I’m always working on something but at the moment I’m working on three which is crazy! I’ve started the 4th in my Irish crime series plus two different stand-alone novels. I can’t decide which to focus on so hop from one to the other!

Do you have any upcoming events our members can attend?

I’m going to the Dublin Writer’s Conference in Dublin, 23rd-25th June. It should be a great conference for any writers out thereFacebook Cover Page final

Back Of The Book 

A life built on a lie.
Rich investment banker, Jake, has everything he’s ever dreamed about. Money, a beautiful wife, two children.
But nothing in Jake’s world is as it seems. He dislikes his wife, never sees his children and is in so much debt there doesn’t appear to be a way out…unless….?
Faced with the only decision that seems to make sense, he makes a choice that will change all their lives forever.

Order your copy today ~

Huge thanks to Valerie for being on the blog today. Come back soon.

We are running a Twitter giveaway ~ head over to our Twitter Page and see the pinned post.

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Blogger, Book Blog, Excerpt

Before You Were Mine @Quaintrellem @HQDigitalUK #ChapterExclusive

Heartbreaking

On the blog today I have a chapter excerpt from Before You Were Mine by Em Muslin. Published in May this year, from HQ Stories.  Enjoy!

Before You Were Mine By Em Muslin ~ Chapter One 

Apparently, I was a breech birth and – according to who you speak to – they think that all my problems come from that. I had decided to be a pain right from the beginning. ‘An awkward little belle,’ they used to say. All my brothers popped out like bubbles in an ice-cream sundae. Pop pop pop. But me? Me? I dug my elbows in and jumped out feet first.

My saving grace was that I was tip to toe a girl. Ma Bell had dreamed of having a little girl to dress up in lacy frocks and cotton socks that she would spend her days darning, whilst the boys and my Pa lay under oily cars drinking beer. So no matter about my pointed elbows, my Ma’s face was a picture. Bell’s Belle. Belle of the ball.

It’s rumoured that when the matron tried to cut my cord, my Ma was so determined we wouldn’t be separated, that she grabbed hold of the surgical scissors and chased her from the room. Can you imagine that? Again, it depends on who you ask. My eldest brother, Bert, says that’s just nonsense and she couldn’t wait to get me out. Pop pop pop. Eight pound and four ounces of little girl Bell. Ten tiny fingers, ten tiny toes.

My Pa, at the time of my birth, was changing a cam belt on an old Chevrolet and on hearing I was a girl, decided that whilst he was under the car, he may as well show my middle brother, Samuel, how to check the brake pads too. Shucks, that fatherly bond was strong.

Bert was approaching seventeen when my Pa and Ma discovered she’d fallen. Samuel was fourteen and Payton eleven years old. I hadn’t been planned and apparently not very welcome, but my Ma hung on and prayed every day that I would be a girl, and by golly just look at me. The prettiest girl in the US of A. Except I was broad-shouldered, big-boned, and covered in puppy fat. But her prayers had been answered. Hallelujah. There is a God. Praise be to the Lord. Amen.

Our house is the fourth one on the right, just off the main drag. The one with the painted picket fence and star-spangled banner dangling from the front porch, just like in the movies. JFK would have been proud. Except I think the paint is probably peeling off the fence still. My Pa had promised my Ma a thousand times he’d paint that damn fence, but every year the thick grey-white mass would peel away, bubbling under the heat of the day.

My Ma would sit me on her knee on the porch and rock me to and fro, checking my forehead for a temperature. How she’d be able to feel a fever in that heat, heaven only knows.

Inside was just like a home should be. The smell of cooking simmering in the corner of the kitchen and a table in the middle, where we’d all sit and eat as a family. A first-class American family. I’ve seen them in the movies too. Across the table of food, I could always smell the gasoline from my Pa’s overalls, and it was a smell I’d associate with fine home cooking. Finger lickin’ good. That food just ain’t no good if you can’t smell the gas.

Until I was three, I slept in my parents’ room. My two younger brothers shared and Bert had a room to himself, but after Bert was drafted, it made more room for me.

Springfield had a population of approximately four thousand. Four thousand hot sweaty people in a stifling, dusty town. But as of my first day at Springfield High, there was only one person who mattered to me and that was Daisy Jones. Daisy was approximately one inch taller than me and about ten times as pretty – maybe more – and ten times more self-assured. Having three older brothers ain’t the biggest confidence booster, let me tell you, and perhaps it was that one inch that made me look up to her and decide to stay right by her side.

Looking back, my stocky build and plain Jane face were probably the reason why Daisy Jones elected me as her best friend. It doesn’t hurt to look prettier than the girl next to you and she sure was pretty. Don’t get me wrong, I ain’t what you call ugly. Now Penny Hansen, she was ugly and in hindsight, perhaps if I’d have picked her as my friend then I’d have looked a damn sight prettier than I was. But like all the children at Springfield High, I was struck by Daisy’s golden hair, delicate freckles, and the confident air with which she strode across that playground.

On the way home from school, we would run through the fields of cotton past the apple orchard, behind Mrs Melrose’s shack, and if we were lucky she’d come out and bring us a fruit ice to quench our dry tongues. We’d return home with sticky raspberry juice dripping from our mouths, thirsty for more. My Ma would be outside in the backyard, hanging out the washing that blew like ships’ sails and Daisy and I would run around the billowing sheets playing tag until it was time to help my Ma prepare the supper for the boys.

I would sit at the table peeling potatoes and my Ma would pop Daisy onto the pedestal by the kitchen window, so she could look out for her Pa returning from work. Daisy’s Ma had run off a number of years ago, leaving her Pa Harold to look after her on his own. By all accounts he had done a damn fine job. That’s if you didn’t count the all-day drinking, the numerous jobs he had been fired from, and the fact he hadn’t spoken more than two words to Daisy since her Ma had left.

So, Daisy would sit staring out onto the dusty road, fluttering her eyelashes, whilst my Ma looked adoringly at Daisy’s golden hair and wistfully wished I could be that little bit prettier, that little bit slimmer, that little bit, little bit …

I didn’t mind my Ma paying Daisy so much attention. Hell, in fact more often than not I would encourage it. The more she looked at Daisy, the less she looked at me. The less she looked at me, the less I did.

You see, I wanted to be the perfect daughter for her but my angular nose, wide shoulders, and the gap between my two front teeth made me less than perfect. But finding Daisy? Finding Daisy, was like discovering the missing piece in the jigsaw. I wasn’t her friend just because she made me laugh, or because she told me how to dress, or even because it made me that little bit more popular. I was Daisy’s friend simply because she filled the hole I was unable to.

We were inseparable. Two peas in a pod, ripe and ready for picking. We’d spend Sundays after church playing hopscotch drawn out on the dusty road, watched by gawky boys who didn’t dare approach us for fear of encountering Daisy’s sharp tongue. She would tease them by hitching up her skirt and jumping as high as she could and the boys would lie on the sandy road in their Sunday best, trying to get the finest view.

I, on the other hand, would skip awkwardly across the numbers, holding my skirt down in fear of being hollered at. After she had got their attention, she’d glance over her shoulder, flutter her eyelashes, and run as far and as fast as she could. I’d trail behind, with my skirt flapping between my legs, giggling, watching the boys clamber up from the road to chase after her. Running across the backyards, through the orchard, past Melrose’s shack and into the dense growth that surrounded the east side of
town, we ran until we knew we were safe.

Catching our breath, we’d lie on our backs and look up at the burning blue sky, daring the other to stare directly at the sun for as long as possible. Both blinded by the saffron light, we’d roll around giggling, unable to see each other for the inky squiggles that would appear before our eyes. I’d lie there, blinded, knowing that Daisy was right by my side and it was then, in that moment, that I knew I didn’t want anything to ever change.

What is it they say? If you want make God laugh, tell him about your plans.

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Back Of The Book

Sometimes hope has a way of changing everything…

Just hours after giving birth, Eli Bell is forced to give up her newborn baby daughter for adoption. Devastated, she tries desperately to rebuild her shattered life.

Then, over thirty years later, Eli catches sight of her daughter. And she knows that she must do everything to find a way back into her life. Even if it means lying…

While her husband Tommy must grow to accept his own part in the events of her early life, he can only try to save her before her obsession with the young woman ruins them both.

Don’t miss the breathtaking debut Before You Were Mine by Em Muslin! Perfect for fans of Jodi Picoult, Alice Peterson and Lucy Dillon.

Order your copy today ~

 

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Author, Book Blog, Excerpt

The Breaking Of Liam Glass @chasharris @MarbleCityPub #ChapterExclusive #Preorder

The Breaking Of Liam Glass By Charlie Harris 
Published: By Marble City Publishing ~ 29 June 2017
Article: By Kelly 

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Charles Harris 

BRITAIN CINEMA HARRIS

Charles Harris is an international award-winning writer-director and a highly-respected script consultant, writing and directing for cinema, television and theatre. He is also a best-selling non-fiction author with titles including A Complete Screenwriting Course, Police Slang, and Jaws in Space. Several of his short stories have been published, with two shortlisted for awards.

Charles has a black belt in Aikido and teaches police, security personnel and the public, self-defence against street violence, including knife attacks.

Exclusive Excerpt ~ Sneak Peak 

  • No Pizza

How long? Ho-o-ow lo-o-o-o-ong can it take you, Liam? How long, Lia-a-a-a-am? I’m going out of my mind. Out. Of. My. Mind. How long, Liam-baby?

He’d been gone an hour already and his homework book on the kitchen table not even touched, and sometimes Katrina wished she had a man around, but not that man, not that man for sure, and the pizza man had been and gone and would have accepted the debit card himself. She hadn’t known. She went out and leant over the parapet, looked up and down in both directions.

Going out of my mind.

The cashpoint was right there – she could almost see it. But there was no-one below on Gordon Road under the street lights, just two Bengali teenagers, one tall, one short, kicking something small and dark on the ground. One more time she took her phone from her handbag.

‘Yo!’ His voice answered bright as ever and she said ‘Liam’ just in case, but of course it went on, ‘Leave that message, bro!’ Like he was black or something. He always refused to change it. She said, ‘Liam, Liam-baby, this is Mum again. Waiting. Like, the pizza  came and went back, and where the fuck are you.’

Katrina went back to the walkway. The Bengali teenagers were jumping in and out of the shadows now, hoods up, larking about, and she called out, ‘Hey!’ One of them looked at her and then they both ran off. The street was silent without them.

She thought about strangling Liam when he got back, good kid and all. He was mush-brain, except when it came to kicking a ball. Not the brightest shop sign in the High Street.

Liam-baby, where are you? She looked up and down and then stopped in her open doorway and thought of phoning his friends. She’d start with Shay and Zen, she decided, though they’d just had a fight with him about football. But she didn’t want to be a stupid mother, making a fuss about nothing. He’d be back in two minutes and asking for his dinner and getting on Facebook. But there was no-one and she felt a chill coming off the walkway. This was mad. She’d rented a DVD of Avatar to watch, and she had to iron her blouse for the morning and this wasn’t even doing any of it.

She went inside to grab her denim jacket and car keys to go look for him, and then she stopped. Perhaps she should wait in case he came back.

Her stomach felt sour with fear, but she drove to the cashpoint by the bank anyway and he wasn’t there. She looked around for those two Paki teenagers too – there was something about them, but they’d disappeared.

So she sat in the car and phoned Liam’s mates, all she could think of, Shay and Zen and Kyle that she was sure was into drugs, and Chardonnay who got him to dye his hair purple for a month. When she didn’t have the numbers for his friends she phoned their parents, even Mo Patterson, who was a pig and made sarky comments about people who worked in Tesco. But they all said no, shit, no, fuck, no, Shay, Zen, Kyle, Chardonnay, Mo, they hadn’t seen Liam at all. Not on a school night. They’d talked to him on Facebook – but that was well over an hour ago.

She came home and when she opened the door she called his name in case he’d come back, but the flat was silent and dark. So she lit a Lambert and Butler and turned on the light in his bedroom, which felt weird, too bright. And she sat at his computer, with all his clothes on the floor and his smell, sticky and male. She felt ill. She posted a message on his Facebook page, for what that was worth, and even tried some girl called Jules who he’d been messaging, but didn’t get a reply. Then she thought of phoning 999, but again she didn’t want to make a fuss.

She phoned 999.

‘I know this is like stupid,’ she said, ‘but have you arrested a kid called Liam Glass?’

The woman on the 999 asked why she was calling. Katrina said, ‘I don’t know where my son is.’

The other woman asked how old he was and when she last saw him, and said, ‘Most come back in the next twenty-four hours – two hours isn’t long at all, Mrs Glass, not for a kid of fourteen, they get up to all kinds of things.’

‘I’m sorry,’ Katrina said. ‘I didn’t know who else to call.’

‘You should phone the local hospitals. It’s worth it. For peace of mind.’

‘You think he’s in hospital?’ Katrina could hardly breathe. The phone, the woman’s voice, Liam’s clothes on the floor, his unmade bed, it wasn’t real. It was like she was in EastEnders.

‘He’s probably fine. But for peace of mind.’

So Katrina went onto Google and wrote down the numbers of the local hospitals and there were six. She didn’t want to do this but forced herself to be brave and started with the one that was closest. Her heart was in her mouth, just like in the stories in the magazines. She tried to breathe slower the way the writers always told you in articles about stress. She asked each operator if there was a Liam Glass, fourteen, and each operator told her they didn’t have anyone called Liam Glass. She double-checked they’d heard his name right, and they all said they didn’t have any fourteen-year-old kids at all, not tonight. And each time she asked if they were sure, and they were sure. Some were friendly, some not.

Then she ran out of hospitals and she didn’t usually like taking Valium, but she took one all the same

You can pre order your copy here ~

Thank you to Charles Harris and Marble City for being on my blog today.

We are running a Twitter giveaway ~ head over to our Twitter Page and see the pinned post.

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Author, Blogger, Book Blog, Crime Fiction Takeover, Interview

*CRIME FICTION* Sewing The Shadows Together ~ @alisonbailliex #Interview @matadorbooks

Crime Fiction (1)

Every day we will have Authors from different genres answering my exclusive questionnaire.

Today on the blog, is Alison Baillie, author of Sewing The Shadows Together 

Alison Baillie~ Crime Fiction Takeover Interview

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Which crime novel stayed with you long after you had finished?

  • Miss Smilla’s feeling for Snow by Peter Hoeg was the first Scandinavian crime novel I read (nearly thirty years ago) and I can still remember the intriguing main character and the haunting Greenland setting.

If you had, to sum up, Edinburgh in four words, what would they be?

  • Where my heart is

Who is your favourite fictional crime character and why?

  • John Rebus – because he is so complex and human. Reading Ian Rankin’s books I feel that I really know him as a person I’d like to talk to in the Oxford Bar.

What is your favourite part of Edinburgh and why?

  • Portobello. My mother came from there and I used to spend all my holidays there when I was a child. I love the beach and I make a ritual stroll along the prom every time I come to Scotland. It is also the setting for my book Sewing the Shadows Together.

If you could have dinner with four fictional crime characters who would they be?

  • John Rebus, of course, Roberta Steele (Stuart MacBride) Logan McLean (James Oswald) and Rhona MacLeod (Lin Anderson). I think we’d have a great conversation.

About your own work, where do you find inspiration for your books?

  • Mostly from places I’ve visited, people I’ve met and imagining ‘what if…’

If your current book had a theme song what would it be?

  • If you don’t know me by now (Simply Red)

Write the scene of a crime for us, set in Edinburgh, one paragraph long. Include these three items ~ Banana, Greyfriars Bobby and The Wash Bar.

Archie Kilbride walked up the Mound, watching the sun setting behind the dark silhouette of the castle. When he heard the sound of laughter coming from the Wash Bar he wished he could go in – Noir at the Bar was on tonight and listening to the readings might give him inspiration for his new career as a PI. But he was meeting his first client in the Greyfriar’s Bobby Bar in ten minutes and couldn’t be late.

Standing at the bar he sipped a pint, excited about meeting the man who was to give him his first case. A figure sidled up to him, his hand in the pocket of his long dark coat. The cloth bulged, pointing towards him. Archie felt a moment of panic. Was it a gun?

The stranger spoke in a low voice. ‘There’s no room for another PI in north Edinburgh. This is my patch.’

Archie gulped. Perhaps he’d been a little hasty in his decision to change career paths.

The other man withdrew his hand from his pocket. In it was a banana. ‘Remember you’re the monkey, and it’ll no be just a banana if I catch you on my pitch again.’  

Do you have any events lined up either online or in person that my readers could attend?

  • I’m thrilled that I’m part of a FREE fringe event at Bloody Scotland. Sharon Bairden is moderating a panel on indie authors with Alan Jones (Bloq) David Videcette (The Detriment) and me. It takes place at 3.30 on Sunday 10th September at the Curly Coo pub. Hope to see you all there!

Could you tell us about your current novel and how you got inspired to write it?

  • My current novel, provisionally called Echoes of Other Lives, is a psychological suspense about a young Scottish mother living in Switzerland. As her perfect family life begins to crumble dark secrets from her past begin to catch up with her.

Often people go abroad to escape something in their past (not me!) and the inspiration came from imagining what would happen if somebody’s past caught up with them.

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From The Back Of The Book 

Can you ever get over the death of your sister? Or of your best friend? More than 30 years after 13-year-old Shona McIver was raped and murdered in Portobello, the seaside suburb of Edinburgh, the crime still casts a shadow over the lives of her brother Tom and her best friend Sarah. When modern DNA evidence shows that the wrong man was convicted of the crime, the case is reopened. So who did kill Shona? Sarah and Tom are caught up in the search for Shona’s murderer, and suspicions fall on family and friends. The foundations of Sarah’s perfect family life begin to crumble as she realises that nothing is as it appears. Dark secrets from the past are uncovered, and there is another death, before the identity of the real killer is finally revealed… Set in Edinburgh, the Outer Hebrides and South Africa, Sewing the Shadows Together is a thoroughly modern murder mystery that keeps the reader guessing to the end. Filled with characters who could easily be friends, family or people we work with, it asks the question: Do we ever really know the people closest to us?

Purchase your own copy at Amazon UK

Huge thanks to Alison Baillie for taking part in our Crime Fiction exclusive.

We are running a Twitter giveaway ~ head over to our Twitter Page and see the pinned post.

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Book Blog, Book Reviews, Guest Reviews

The Transatlantic Marriage Bureau @aurumpress @womentoinspire #GuestReview By J A Warnock

The Transatlantic Marriage Bureau By Julie Ferry
Aurum Press ~ Feb 2017
Review ~ J A Warnock 

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On 6 November 1895 Consuelo Vanderbilt married Charles Spencer-Churchill, 9th Duke of Marlborough. Though the preceding months had included spurned loves, unexpected deaths, scandal and illicit affairs, the wedding was the crowning moment for the unofficial marriage brokers, Lady Minnie Paget and Consuelo Yzanga, Dowager Duchess of Manchester, the original buccaneers who had instructed, cajoled and manipulated wealthy young heiresses into making the perfect match.

Fame, money, power, prestige, perhaps even love – these were some of the reasons for the marriages that took place between wealthy American heiresses and the English aristocracy in 1895. For a few, the marriages were happy but for many others, the matches brought loneliness, infidelity, bankruptcy and divorce.

Focusing on a single year, The Transatlantic Marriage Bureau tells the story of a group of wealthy American heiresses seeking to marry into the English aristocracy. From the beautiful and eligible debutante Consuelo Vanderbilt, in love with a dashing older man but thwarted by her controlling mother, Washington society heiress Mary Leiter who married the pompous Lord Curzon and became the Vicereine of India, Maud Burke, vivacious San Francisco belle with a questionable background, this book uncovers their stories. Also revealed is the hidden role played Lady Minnie Paget and Consuelo Yzanga, Dowager Duchess of Manchester, two unofficial marriage brokers who taught the heiresses how to use every social trick in the book to land their dream husband.

The Transatlantic Marriage Bureau dashes through the year to uncover the seasons, the parties, the money, the glamour, the gossip, the scandal and the titles, always with one eye on the two women who made it all possible.

Review By J A Warnock 

Did you ever read an account of a historical event and think “Wow, I wish I had a seat at that dinner table” or “To have been a fly on that wall…”? If your answer is no then ‘The Transatlantic Marriage Bureau’ by Julie Ferry probably isn’t for you. If you answered yes, read on.

There is no question that a stupendous amount of research has gone into the production of this book but there is also a fair bit of imagination.  Ferry uses fictitious scenes of her own imagining to stitch together biographical accounts, contemporary journals, letters and social commentary into a giant (I do mean giant; it is not a short book) patchwork of a story. This makes for a style of writing that not everyone will take to. The flow of more traditional narrative storytelling is regularly interrupted by this or that opinion on the subject and, while it is interesting and reinforcing, it can get a little distracting.

The narrative meanders around the topic of the business of Transatlantic Marriage brokering and its key players with no real predictable structure. There is no attempted to build suspense rather events are presented a historical fait accompli sometimes all at once. It reminded me a little of those stand up comics who start a story at the opening of the show and distract themselves go off on tangents, have moments and asides then have to come back on for an encore because they didn’t actually ever get to the point. Although certainly planned and undoubtedly clever, this can be tiresome and a little disconcerting.

On the whole, Ferry offers up a fascinating insight into an industry (for that is truly what it was) about which I for one knew very little. Rather than provide a dry historical account, her imaginative spice makes this a hugely readable book. Her ideas about what might have gone behind closed doors add both colour and interest and help the reader to identify with characters that may otherwise have felt aloof and unreachable. She offers a fly on the wall view of events and invites you to a seat at several high powered dinner tables as the story unfolds.

You can purchase your copy here ~

Thank you to Julie Ferry and Aurum Press for the ARC copy for review.

We are running a Twitter giveaway ~ head over to our Twitter Page and see the pinned post.

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Book Blog, Excerpt

The Beta Mum, Adventures In Alpha Land @NHyummymummy #Excerpt @SilverWoodBooks

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Here, it isn’t a battle of who has the Rolls-Royce of strollers … these children actually roll in Rolls-Royces! 

When Sophie Bennett moves from a quiet, sleepy suburb of Toronto to glitzy west London, she doesn’t know where she has landed: Venus or Mars. Her three-year-old daughter Kaya attends Cherry Blossoms, the most exclusive nursery in London, where Sophie finds herself adrift in a sea of Alpha mums. These mothers are glamorous, gorgeous, competitive and super rich, especially Kelly, the blonde, beautiful and bitchy class rep. 

Struggling to fit in and feeling increasingly isolated, Sophie starts The Beta Mum, an anonymous blog describing her struggles with the Alpha mums. But when her blog goes viral, she risks ruining everything for herself and her daughter. How long will it be until they discover her true identity? Is her marriage strong enough to survive one of her follower’s advances? And will she ever fit in with the Alpha mums?

The Beta Mum, Adventures In Alpha Land ~ Excerpt

A huge life-sized, plush, golden giraffe with scattered spots stared at me giving me the eye, as if to say ‘I know who you are, Sophie Bennett, you’re not one of them. You’re one of us. You’re an onlooker.’ The winding staircase of Serafina’s member’s club had led me down into Serafina’s nightclub where I had found myself face to face with the giant giraffe.

I had read up on (googled) Serafina’s before coming; it was an exclusive member’s club costing £3,000 a year for a membership and had welcomed everyone from Tom Cruise to Prince William through its doors with three bar areas, two restaurants, one nightclub and 16 hotel rooms. The restaurant had poached a chef from Nobu and served fusion- food classics including tuna tartare, lobster tempura and black miso cod. The bar areas channelled the Dolce Vita vibe, with white- uniformed barmen, serving Martinis to show off their mixology skills and drinks made with ‘absinthe.’

The nightclub had an upscale, louche, bordello-like feel to it, in keeping with its location, the old respectable (or rather unrespectable) red light district in Mayfair. It was dark and windowless, with its burgundy walls draped with red velvet curtains. On my left stood a glittering bar where late twenty-somethings with youthful aspirations were dressed to impress and stood drinking champagne and colourful cocktails adorned with edible flowers. On my right, I saw some familiar faces from the nursery pick-ups and drop- offs heading towards the direction of a private room.   

I squeezed Michael’s hand as we walked in their direction. My heart pounded just a bit faster than I wanted it to and my social anxiety increased with every step I made towards the private room. I wanted to be anywhere but here, ideally sitting in front of our TV with my Roots sweatshirt/sweatpants combo or in front of my laptop, hiding behind a screen rather than exposing my vulnerabilities to the Alphas. This was not the usual parents evening in the school gym with soft-drinks-and-pizza-slices.

‘Champagne?’ said a waitress in a black and white, fitted, cleavage- – enhancing dress as we entered the room and found a spot near the door. Another woman similarly dressed waved a tray across us. ‘Fig and goat’s cheese tartlet with manuka honey or foie gras with grape and mango chutney on sourdough bread?’ she offered.

We both grabbed a flute of champagne each and I sipped the golden liquid, calming my nerves as I scanned the room. The women looked ready for a ‘Hot-Or-Not’ Oscars fashion-off; there were feathers, leather, lace and petticoats. The men stood dominantly in their suits, clearly not from Topman. Finding my perfect dress -– the A-line black dress that hid my extras – muffin tops, bingo wings and post-baby-belly -– had been exhausting but worthwhile. I still felt out of place, but the champagne and the dress were enough to give me a confidence boost to face the party.

Purchase your copy here ~

Thank you to Isabella Davidson for being on the blog today and HAPPY publication day!

 

We are running a Twitter giveaway ~ head over to our Twitter Page and see the pinned post.

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Book Blog, Exclusive, Interview

*CRIME FICTION TAKEOVER* #Interview @sarasheridan

Crime Fiction (1)

Every day we will have Authors from different genres answering my exclusive questionnaire.

Today on the blog, is Sara Sheridan Author of the Mirabelle Baven books.  

Sara Sheridan ~ Crime Fiction Takeover Interview

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Which crime novel stayed with you long after you had finished?

Margery Allingham’s Tiger in the Smoke. Kind of haunting.

If you had, to sum up, Edinburgh in four words, what would they be?

Big, black, sunny, bastard

Who is your favourite fictional crime character and why?

Always Miss Marple.

What is your favourite part of Edinburgh and why?

I like that there is always a new view. You look up and there’s something you’ve never noticed on a roof. At the moment cos they’ve knocked down two buildings on Sth St David Street, you can see the Cafe Royal (and usually that’s obscured) so I like that view at the moment. We live in a city littered with monuments – every one a story.

If you could have dinner with four fictional crime characters who would they be?

Marple (obviously) due to lifelong obsession

About your own work, where do you find inspiration for your books?

Sleep. Honestly. I go to sleep and I wake up thinking ‘if only I could kill this particular guy with some kind of poison’ or ‘why don’t I just have that person strangled’ I am a psychopathic sleeper.

If your current book had a theme song what would it be?

Well – there are 4 this year.
On Starlit Seas: Something by Schubert. It’s set in 1823!
Russian Roulette: Has to be Sixteen Tons by Tennessee Ford – it’s what was number 1 for 4 weeks the year the book is set and I really like it!
Bloody Scotland short story book: Wd probably be Julie Fowlis – something haunting in gaelic
Victoria (Non-fiction TV Tie in for the second series due to air September) Has its own theme tune – the Medieval Baebes sing it and it’s lovely – Alleluia by Martin Phipps

Do you have any events lined up either online or in person that my readers could attend?

www.sarasheridan.com

Could you tell us about your current novel and how you got inspired to write it?

I’m currently writing the 7th Mirabelle Bevan Murder Mystery. I’m on my third murder in it and I’ve only solved two of them. I’m crazed right now.  Probably need to go and have a nap to figure out what’s going to happen next…

How can my readers connect with you?

“Intelligent, interesting, accessible writing”
www.sarasheridan.com
Tweet me @sarasheridan
http://www.facebook.com/sarasheridanwriter

Sara’s books are available on Amazon UK

Russian Roulette: Brighton 1956

When Mirabelle’s on-off boyfriend, Superintendent Alan McGregor, is taken off a gruesome murder case because the key suspect is an old school friend, Mirabelle steps in to unravel the tangle of poisoned gin, call girls and high stakes gambling that surrounds the death. It isn’t long before McGregor’s integrity is called into question and Mirabelle finds herself doubting him. So when a wartime hero’s body turns up on the Sussex Downs, she is glad that McGregor is caught up in a mystery of his own as Brighton’s establishment closes ranks.

HUGE thanks to Sara Sheridan for taking the time to be on my blog today.

We are running a Twitter giveaway ~ head over to our Twitter Page and see the pinned post.

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Book Blog, Crime Fiction Takeover, Exclusive, Interview

*CRIME FICTION TAKEOVER* #QA #Exclusive @ReneeConoulty @KindredInkPress

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Every day we will have Authors from different genres answering my exclusive questionnaire.

Today on the blog, is Renee Conoulty author of Don’t Mean A Thing. 

Renee Conoulty ~ Crime Fiction Takeover Interview

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Which crime novel stayed with you long after you had finished?

Lock In by John Scalzi stayed with me for ages. It’s an FBI murder investigation story but the thing that had me most intrigued was the setting. It was set in the future when a virus has caused many people to suffer from lock in syndrome and the modern technology allows them to continue to interact with the world.

If you had, to sum up, Edinburgh in four words, what would they be?

That cold Scottish city

Who is your favourite fictional crime character and why?

Detective Ella Marconi from the series by Katherine Howell. I love her because I found her very relatable. I love strong Aussie women in fiction.

What is your favourite part of Edinburgh and why?

I’ve never been to Edinburgh, so I’d love to see everything. The best part of any city is the people and the best place to catch up with my friends who live in Edinburgh would be at a swing dancing class. https://www.facebook.com/EdinburghSwingDanceSociety/

If you could have dinner with four fictional crime characters who would they be?

I’d love to hang out with a bunch of women like me, so I’d look in the cozy mystery section for dinner companions. Maybe Corinna Chapman by Kerry Greenwood – she’d bring some fresh baked bread. Scout Davis by Maggie Groff – we could chat crochet and knitting then, maybe, yarn bomb the neighbours house whose dog keeps barking. Hannah Swensen by Joanne Fluke – lemon meringue pie, need I say more? And Ella Marconi, of course.

About your own work, where do you find inspiration for your books?

I find inspiration from my own life and the people around me. There are lots of anecdotes in my novel that are based on things that really happened, but there are also lots of things I made up myself when I imagined what might happen next.

If your current book had a theme song what would it be?

My debut novel is called Don’t Mean a Thing – it’s named after the song that features a few times – It Don’t Mean a Thing if it Ain’t Got That Swing. My publisher even put together a playlist for my book. https://youtu.be/ne2BNjgCt5U?list=PLxXufbj_JB747EpCl6mKkwXljEjUmPYMC

Write the scene of a crime for us, set in Edinburgh, one paragraph long. Include these three items ~ Banana, Greyfriars Bobby and The Wash Bar.

“Come on, Ben.” We all laughed as we approached but he didn’t move.

Ben was right where we’d left him. Stripped to his underwear and tied to the Greyfriars Bobby statue. The banana still protruding from the front of his jocks. We’d been kicked out of The Wash Bar before it closed. Drunk and disorderly – whatever, that’s what bucks nights are supposed to be. We were walking back to Ruaridh’s place, to continue the party, when we saw that grey dog. People do it all the time in the movies, it seemed like a great idea at the time. We only left him there for an hour. It was August, it hadn’t been that cold. Not cold enough to kill him.

Do you have any events lined up either online or in person that my readers could attend?

I don’t have any events currently scheduled but I always love to chat to readers on my Facebook page.

https://www.facebook.com/ReneeConoultyAuthor/

Could you tell us about your current novel and how you got inspired to write it?

I was inspired to write Don’t Mean a Thing because I wanted to read it. I’d been looking for stories set in Darwin, stories involving swing dancing and stories about women in the Australian military but I couldn’t find any. I decided to wrap all those things into one book.

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What if you finally took the lead, but life refused to follow?

Thirty-year-old introvert, Macie Harman, has finally found a career she is passionate about, and after months of training, she’s begun her new job in the Royal Australian Air Force. Leaving behind her family, friends, and the life she knew, Macie has travelled to the other side of the country where the only person she knows is Rachael, the extroverted girl she went through basic training with. Everywhere Macie goes, Rachael is there too.

While looking for a way to widen her circle of friends in her new town, Macie discovers a local swing dancing class. The jazz music captures her heart, and Matt, the sexy swing dancer, sweeps her off her feet. Matt has claimed the tropical Northern Territory as home and has no plans to leave. He loves his teaching career with its predictable routine and has a great bunch of friends. All he wants now is the right girl to make his house a home.

Military life is tougher than Macie expected, and not everyone can deal with the inevitable separations and last minute changes. Is this exciting but unpredictable life something Macie wants to fight for, or could she give it up and put down roots with Matt?

You can purchase your copy here ~ Amazon UK

Many thanks Renee for being part of our special Crime Fiction Takeover. Do come back soon.

Kelly x

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Book Blog, Guest Reviews

Buy Buy Baby By @HelenMacKinven @cranachanbooks #Guest Review J A Warnock

Buy Buy Baby By Helen MacKinven
Cranachan Publishing July 2016
Guest Review: J A Warnock 

 

The Review

If (like me) the thought of really getting inside a woman’s head fills you with abject horror, I suggest you stop reading now. There is absolutely nothing to see here; please move along. I have never before read a book that captures so well a woman’s contradictions, vulnerabilities, irationalities, sheer resourcefulness and force of will. At times the characters in Buy Buy Baby baffled me as much as many of my female friends and at points had me trying to shake some sense into them through the pages of my Kindle.

Speaking of Kindle, my review is of a relatively early Kindle draft which contained a couple of continuity blips which left me a little confused. Many thanks to the author for taking the time to answer my questions and for reasuring me that I wasn’t going mad. As they were all ironed out in the final draft, there is no need to dwell on them (or my sanity) here.

Buy Buy Baby is a character driven novel which often looks at events from multiple perspectives. This can have the effect of making progress a little slow but I like the twisting interpretations that this provides. I am the first to admit that what I think is not necessarily what I say or do and it is nice to see this reality captured in a book.

The structure of Buy Buy Baby should also be commended. Helen MacKinven takes two very different characters with completely different motivations and presents them with the same dilemma. This makes the moral questions more apparent and will make the reader question how they might have responded in similar circumstances. Without giving too much away, I was please to see that their responses weren’t always moulded to stereotypical type.

In summary, this isn’t really my sort of book but there were elements I enjoyed and I found much to commend. If this is your cup of tea then I am sure you will love it.

J A Warnock

Buy Buy Baby By Helen MacKinven

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What price tag would you put on a baby?

Set in and around Glasgow, Buy Buy Baby is a moving and funny story of life, loss and longing.
Packed full of bitchy banter, it follows the bittersweet quest of two very different women united by the same desire – they desperately want a baby.

Carol talks to her dog, has an expensive eBay habit and relies on wine to forget she’s no longer a mum following the death of her young son.

Cheeky besom Julia is career-driven and appears to have it all. But after disastrous attempts at internet dating, she feels there is a baby-shaped hole in her life.
In steps Dan, a total charmer with a solution to their problems.

But only if they are willing to pay the price, on every level…

Purchase your copy ~ Amazon UK

Huge thanks to Helen and Cranachan for the ARC copy for review.

We are running a Twitter giveaway ~ head over to our Twitter Page and see the pinned post.

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Book Blog, Interview

Summer At The Dog & Duck By @JillSteeples @Aria_Fiction #QA #AriaAddict

Summer At The Dog & Duck By Jill Steeples
Published By Aria Fiction 01/06/2017
Article by Kelly 

The Real You Interview ~ Jill Steeples 

Jill Steeples

Hello Jill, welcome to Love Books Group Blog please tell my readers a little bit about yourself and your publishing journey.  

Hello, Kelly! Thanks so much for inviting me onto your blog today, it’s lovely to be here. I live with my husband, two grown up children and a wayward English Pointer in a small market town in Bedfordshire.  I feel very lucky to be able to spend my days dreaming up romantic stories set in the English countryside.   When I’m not working on my books, you’ll find me walking my dog, concocting something in the kitchen, or spending time with family and friends.  

Describe yourself using three words?  

Curious, clumsy, creative

What inspired you to write your first novel?  

I joined a creative writing class as I’d always had a desire to write, but didn’t have the confidence to actually follow through on it.  All my early attempts never got beyond the first paragraph before I would delete it all in frustration. Joining a group and being with like-minded people who were encouraging and supportive gave me the confidence to finish a piece of work.  I started writing short stories and then when I had the idea for my first novel, I thought ‘why not just go for it?’

What time of day do you like to write?  

First thing in the morning or last thing at night.  There seems to be too many other distractions during the rest of the day.

What is your favourite book and why?  

The Country Girls by Edna O’Brien. It’s a coming of age story about two young girls growing up in rural Ireland. It’s beautifully written and very evocative and made a big impact on me when I first read it as a teenager.

How did you pick the title of your book?  

The story centres around a pub called The Dog and Duck so it was only natural to include the name of the pub in the title.  There are four books in the series and each one covers a certain period of time.

Are the characters in your book based on real people?   

No, although they are probably a mix of people that I know or have met. I’m very nosey and a proper people-watcher.  I often get told off by my family, for staring or tuning in on other people’s conversations when we’re out!  It’s all in the name of research though.

What’s your favourite word?   Champagne?’ – always sounds very lovely to me!

If you were a colour what would it be?   Lilac

Do you plan your story beforehand or go with the flow?  

I tend to go with the flow, although I know from experience that it can sometimes lead me into difficulties, so I try at least to have a vague outline these days, and an ending point too, so I have something to work towards.

Who is your favourite Author?   Jilly Cooper. I devoured all her books as a teenager and it gave me a lasting love for warm, light-hearted, feel-good fiction.

You are attending a dinner party with four fictitious book characters who would they be and why?  

Inspector Morse because although he’s not a great socialite, he’s a character I’ve always wanted to learn more about, Holly Golightly because she’d bring some glamour and sophistication to the proceedings,  Daniel Cleaver because he’d flirt outrageously with Holly and ensure there was never a lull in the conversation, and Miss Jean Brodie because she’d keep everyone in order if things got out of hand.

What book are you reading at the moment? Everything but the Truth by Gillian McAllister

Where in the world is your happy place? On the sofa, overlooking the garden, with a blanket wrapped around me and my dog at my side.

If you had one superpower what would it be? I’d love to have healing hands.  

If you could give any literary villain a happy ending who would you choose?   

Cruella de Vil.  I’d like to imagine her living on a remote farm, having seen the error of her ways, devoted to looking after all the stray and abandoned dogs.   

Are you working on a new project?  

 I’m currently writing the third in the Dog and Duck series.  It’s still very much in the early stages, but with weddings to organise, babies arriving, secrets bubbling and gossip flying around the village, it promises to be an eventful time for Ellie Browne, landlady of the pub.

Do you have any upcoming events our members can attend?   Not at the moment, although I’m always open to invitations!

 Summer at the Dog & Duck jacket

From The Back Of The Book 

The perfect summer read. Continuing the light hearted, uplifting dramas around the ‘The Dog & Duck’ pub and the life of its landlady Ellie Browne. Ellie Browne has found happiness running The Dog and Duck pub in the idyllic village of Little Leyton, and her blossoming romance with tall, handsome property developer, Max Golding, is going swimmingly. With her new best friend, Digby, the black Labrador at her side, life just couldn’t be sweeter. But their peace is shattered when Max’s younger sister, Katy, turns up unannounced with a whole heap of attitude. And Max’s loyalties are stretched further when his glamorous ex, Sasha, re-appears with her own burgeoning secret. With the master of the manor preoccupied with the demands of his ‘other women’, Ellie’s forced to consider if she has any role to play in Max’s life or in the village of Little Leyton. Can Ellie get her life and relationship back on track in time for the summer charity ball at Braithwaite Manor?

You can purchase your copy here as well as Winter At The Dog & Duck ~ Amazon UK both titles brought to us by Aria Fiction.

Many thanks to Jill and Aria Fiction for being on my blog today. Come back soon.

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Website: www.ariafiction.com

Facebook: @ariafiction

Twitter: @aria_fiction

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Greatly appreciated, with thanks. 

Kelly x

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