Friday, 29 April 2011

The Surprise Party - Sue Welfare

I’ve been so lucky that all the books I’ve reviewed so far have been wonderful.  The Surprise Party by Sue Welfare is another brilliant read to add to my collection. 

Sisters Suzie and Liz organise a surprise 40th anniversary party for their parents Rose & Jack, not knowing that this would uncover some shocking and colossal family secrets which have been dormant for years and that would change their lives forever.  With lives which were poles apart, Suzie is struggling to keep her family in tact while running a business, while Liz, a reality TV star, strives to keep her diva status in her life and her family and purposefully impacts on other people’s lives with her decisions and actions.    This replicates the relationship between their own mother Rose and her sister Fleur who were both very different personalities.  The party that they had been planning for so long, turns out not to be the party they imagined it would be.  You must read this book to learn about family values, love, laughter and absolute drama from all the family members in the story.  A brilliantly colourful plot and fabulous characters made this a really enjoyable experience.  

I’ve not been privileged to read anything by Sue Welfare before, so this was a real treat for me, to learn about another fantastic author who has an amazing gift of being able to create genuine characters and give you a real insight into their personalities and emotions.  I sympathised with the characters and could visualise them all really quickly.  This book gave me incredibly heavy eyelids and is one of the reasons why I haven’t slept much over the last few days.  I’m quite sad that this book has ended and I know that Sue commented to me that she feels the same about the characters when one of her books comes to an end.

Sue has written as Sue Welfare, Gemma Fox and Kate Lawson and is now back to writing as Sue Welfare.   She was born on the edge of the Fens and is perfect placed to write about life in East Anglia.  She has a family, sings in a choir, loves to garden and walk her dogs and enjoys photography and cooking.  She is also a scriptwriter, originating and developing a soap opera for BBC radio, along with the local town panto!   

Check out her website for more information on Sue, Kate and Gemma at

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Oh no! A hospital visit turns into Fallen Angel!

How bizarre that when visiting my poor old Dad in hospital this evening, I couldn't help but think about Maggie Wilson's Fallen Angel and the way that the staff on the ward were under suspicion for murdering the patients.  When one of the nurses asked one of the others to double check that she was giving out insulin, I started to wonder just how accesible all these hospital drugs are and whether they were carrying out the right procedures.

I did the same when reading The Birds & The Bees by Milly Johnson.  I emailed Milly to say that I'm sure I'd bumped into one of her characters in a shop! 

I think I'm getting just a little bit too much into this reading lark!  Or perhaps I just need to get out more!   

Monday, 25 April 2011

The Tapestry of Love - Rosy Thornton

What a delightful, gentle, lovely book!  Mountain views and wonderful scenes described so beautifully you could have almost reached out and touched them.  Colours and fragrances portrayed so vividly, you could see and smell them.  The pure escapism that The Tapestry of Love provided me with, had me wanting to pack my bags, and run away to a secluded French village, in the middle of nowhere and dodge the fast pace of English working life, to set up and cultivate my own fruit and veg and be all creative!  This is the first Rosy Thornton novel I’d had the pleasure of.  I shall certainly look forward to reading more from her.  

Single Catherine, with an ex husband and two grown-up, self supporting children, decides to put the past firmly in the past and uproot to France, starting a business as a seamstress.  Life is certainly very different when finally living there, and a little alone and a tad na├»ve, the French bureaucracy may mean that after making a new life and new friends, Catherine is not sure that she is able to stay.  Bereavement takes her home to England and while reminiscing with her family, she wonders where she really belongs.  I’ll leave you to find out whether she stays in France or returns to the familiarity of where she grew up by strongly recommending this wonderfully charming book. 

Rosy Thornton was brought up in a village in rural Suffolk but has since moved to Cambridgeshire.  She is a lecturer and Fellow in Law at Emmanuel College, Cambridge.  She lives with her partner, two young daughters, and two faithful spaniels.    To read more about Rosy and her books, please be guided to

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Tapestry of Love Rosy Thornton

Tapestry of Love by Rosy Thornton is the latest book I'm reviewing. Only the few first paragraphs in, but it's looking great so far!   

Fallen Angel by Maggie Wilson

Westwood General Hospital is in trouble and Sister Cate Carter finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation when four patients on her ward have died with no reasonable explanation.  DS Charlie Hammond is the investigating officer and the hospital brings back memories of him losing his wife a few years earlier.  Throughout the book, Sister Cate struggles to work out whether DS Hammond is flirting with her, or just being nice to her for investigative purposes. 

Believable characters, a great plot and an unexpected twist at the end had me picking up this book at every possible opportunity and going to bed early to read it.   An excellent, un-putdownable (if that’s a word!) book, that I totally enjoyed and would definitely recommend to other readers.  It was a gripping and exciting read, full of suspense and drama, and Maggie is definitely up there with other great crime writers.  Loved it!  Well done Maggie!

Maggie Wilson, a trained nurse and midwife, was brought up in the beautiful Berkshire. She has a number of years experience in Nursing and Midwifery, and has used her extensive career to draw on experiences in many clinical environments within her fiction writing.   Maggie says: 'The legacy of having made my mark in the world and leaving something behind is hugely inspiring to me. For my grandchildren to pick up my books in years to come will be a unique and exciting gift to have left for them.' She continues, 'I've come to realise that truth really is stranger than fiction and that sometimes, with great effort and personal discipline, dreams really can come true!'

Maggie’s next book Inside Out is released in October 2011.  Can’t wait for it to come out. 

For more information about Maggie and her books, check out her website

Thursday, 21 April 2011

What do you look for on the cover of a book?

Julie, Helen and I were chatting over lunch yesterday, and as I was relaying the story that Sue Welfare had told me about why she changed her name, it got us sharing thoughts about what makes us choose a book. 

I don’t look at the titles alphabetically, so the fact that Sue's surname started with “W” wouldn’t have mattered to me.  In fact one of my favourite authors is Isabel Wolff and I’d always find her books.  What I look for is a cover that I like the look of; a picture that's warm and inviting.  Being a bit of a magpie, anything colourful and sparkly appeals to me and also something that looks a bit on the girly side.  When Kate Long sent me "Mothers & Daughters" to review, I just adored the cover which was purple & pink, had textured sparkly and glittery flowers, handbags and shoes.  Just gorgeous!  If I’d seen this twinkling away at me in a book shop I’d have snapped it up straight away just on the cover alone. 

Julie said that she was a “blue” person and seems to be drawn to anything with a blue theme to it and Helen said that she was reading a classic Jane Austin at the moment but was struggling with it because the cover was quite dull and miserable.  Helen also prefers a book with an attractive cover and she complimented Waterstones, saying that they are great at setting up attractive book displays and said that she always browsed these books first. 

It sparked off quite a discussion which leads me onto my next question.  What do you look for in a cover of a book? 

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

What's in a name?

Today, while having a Facebook chat with writer Sue Welfare about her new book "A Surprise Party", which I'm really looking forward to reading and reviewing, I asked her why a writer writes under a different name?  Me being me, thought Gemma Fox, Sue Welfare and Kate Lawson were three different authors and I was a bit confused!   This is Sue’s answer : 
How long have you got! It's a bit of a nightmare really!! I started to write a Sue - my real name - I wrote for several years as Sue Welfare and had a good following, with six titles published.  Then we had a new marketing person come in who thought we could up my profile by changing my name - hence Gemma Fox (this name I really didn't like which is a pity as some of favourite books were written as Gemma).

The thoughts behind it were that Welfare sounds like it is made up and has slightly odd connotations, and when the promotions are over my books vanish down into the murky depths of the ‘W’ s on the shelves, where people just don’t browse. Unfortunately the week we launched our Gemma, a singer called Gemma Fox also made her debut – so if you Google Gemma Fox it isn’t my books you get by the other Gemma’s latest album.

Then Avon (a division of Harper Collins) suggested we work together and we decided to rename me again – which was how Kate Lawson was born - and then my lovely new editor Sammia Rafique suggested for this book we go back to my own name and so I’ve come full circle.

Only problem is at the moment my website is still as Kate Lawson – !! ( – So a bit of a nightmare as I said!!

Hope that hasn't bored you rigid - it's frustrating as, as Sue Welfare first time around I was beginning to get in the best seller charts and stuff and I think we lost lots of readers with each of the name changes - but hi-ho!!
Interesting answer I thought and as an avid reader, it's not something I've ever thought about before.  Thanks so much Sue for sharing that with me. 

I'd love to know from you other writers out there whether you write under a different name and if you do why?  If you don't, is there a reason why?  If you can share your reasons with us, that would be great.


Sunday, 17 April 2011

Delighted to say that my darling son has decided to take a Sunday afternoon nap so I'm about to start Maggie Wilson's first novel "Fallen Angel".  The customer reviews on Amazon are excellent and the description of the book sounds like its going to be a riveting read.

Here Come The Girls - Milly Johnson

Another fabulous book from the extremely talented Milly Johnson.  Milly writes her books in such a realistic and down to earth way, they entice you in right from the start and you just can’t put them down, shutting the outside world out completely. 

‘Here Come The Girls’ is about four ladies who have been friends since school; Ven, Roz, Olive and Frankie. They all have their own secrets and their own issues which they are dealing with, when Ven who really has had a crappy few years announces that she has won a competition and gives them tickets for an all expenses paid cruise to celebrate Ven’s 40th birthday.  With Roz who has relationship issues and Frankie who has secrets of her own, not speaking for the last few years and Olive living in an extremely unhappy and unfulfilling relationship, it was uncertain whether they would all go on the holiday, but unexpected events ensure that they all set off on the trip of a lifetime and they have the most fabulous time.   When the cruise comes to its closing stages, each and every one of them are left wondering what real life will be like when they return from the cruise and what the future holds for them. 

Milly has an amazing way of making the characters in her books turn into your best friends, with a little bit of my own friends in each of them.  I laughed out loud many many times while reading this book, with some hilarious moments that kept me grinning all day and still make me smile now when I think about them. 

I absolutely loved this book and while I couldn’t wait to get to the end to find out what happened, was also a little sad that this particular adventure was over.  Milly can’t write quick enough for me!  I discovered her first book ‘A Spring Affair’ which for me was quite a life changer and rushed online to buy all her others and enjoyed them all as much as the first. 

‘Here Come The Girls’ – her fifth novel - is pure delight, hysterical at times, full of every emotion possible and a real treat to read.  I’ve never wanted to go on a cruise before in my life, but it has certainly got me wishing I could take my best mates on a no expenses barred trip.  What a whale of a time we would have had too! 

Read more about Milly and her books at

Sunday, 3 April 2011

A delightful discovery on Mothers' Day

What a delight I have uncovered today! 

For Mothers’ Day, I decided that I would take Ollie to Barton Marina, which boasts a fabulous selection of shops and eateries, situated on the Trent and Mersey Canal close to Burton on Trent.

When I discovered The Book Barge on the canalside, I could have been accused of being similar to a child in a sweet shop!  Even though the Marina itself was hustle and bustle, the contrast of this delightfully relaxing sanctuary for book lovers was a pleasure to experience. 
Open daily except for Tuesdays, Sarah at The Book Barge sells and displays a range of classic, contemporary and children's fiction.

Step aboard this unusual and exceptional book shop to browse the carefully chosen range of stock, and come across both paperbacks and hardbacks which are new and some which are antique.  Sarah truly offers a quality alternative to the regular high street bookstore.

The Book Barge also offers a selection of gifts including Penguin stationery, kitchenware and furniture, typewriters, canvas book bags and beautiful notebooks.  Everything the book lover could need and desire.  The Book Barge also plays host to regular events including readings, signings, parent and toddler story sessions, book clubs, talks and creative writing workshops.

Checkout the website to find out about upcoming events.  Well worth a visit, The Book Barge is a true delight for bookworms to while away an hour or two in this wonderful treasure trove of delight.   I shall certainly be coming back when I don’t have a three and a half year old tugging at my coat tails!