Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Win some chocolate goodies by entering Crystal Jigsaw's Caption Competition

I'm delighted to be invited by my good friend Kathryn Brown to help her choose a winner for the caption competition that she is running on her blog this week.  

Pop over to Kathryn's blog, have a look at the gorgeous and hilariously funny picture of one of her dog's Sparky and get your suggestion in before 30th to be in with a chance to win some chocolate goodies. 

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Review - The Very Picture of You by Isabel Wollf

I’ve read every book that Isabel Wolff has written so it was with trepidation that I approached Isabel to ask her whether she’d allow me to review her latest book.  As a massive fan of her work, I was delighted when she said that she’d love me to. 

I was even more delighted when I discovered that The Very Picture of You was every bit as good as every other book of Isabel’s. 

This was the story of Ella, a portrait artist whose reputation is growing through painting some very high profile people as well as some sitters that she thought would be normal but that told some extremely interesting, emotional and heart warming stories.   When her mother cajoles her into giving away a portrait for a charity auction prize, she is devastated when her sister Chloe pays for her to her paint her fiancĂ© Nate who she really dislikes due to a conversation she has overheard him having whilst on the way to her sister’s party.   Being the professional that she is, and out of duty to her sister she agrees, and after a deep and meaningful conversation with Nate, they declare a truce so that the sittings can go ahead.  As the portrait develops, she sees a side to Nate that comes as a complete surprise.   All this at a time when her sister and Nate’s wedding looms nearer and nearer!

Ella has always wondered about her real father, even though she loves her step-father more than anything, and when he contacts her after seeing an article in the newspaper, she is thrown into complete turmoil as to whether she should contact him or whether he should stay firmly in the past where she believed he chose to be!

As I may have mentioned earlier, I love her work, and when Isabel described Ella as a child looking out of the window waiting for her absent father to come home, it just tugged massively at my heart strings.  The contrast of emotions that Ella felt about her sister’s fiancĂ©e were so well detailed, that you felt every single one of them.  The pages seemed to turn themselves in this wonderfully gentle story of love, family and regret.  When an author such as Isabel (have I mentioned that I love her work lately?) continually turns out such a fantastic quality of writing, time after time, it shows what a very clever lady she is. 

This is a lovely, gentle, heart warming, delightful story and I thoroughly enjoyed reading every page of it.  Keep on writing please Isabel, I can’t wait to read your next one! 

Born in Warwickshire, Isabel read English at Cambridge and after working in both the theatre and in advertising, she began to work at the BBC where she spent twelve very happy years at BBC World Service radio both producing and reporting in the Features department and in Current Affairs, and she also wrote freelance articles for newspapers and mags.  She was commissioned to write a column - Tiffany Trott - which along with Harper Collins developed into her first novel The Trials of Tiffany Trott, a hilariously funny book which introduced me to the world of Isabel Wolff.  I have since gone on to read all her other novels – and enjoyed every single one - have I mentioned I’m a fan?

Click here to buy The Very Picture of You from Amazon. 

For more information about Isabel and her work, please take a look at her website

You can also "follow Isabel on Twitter" or "like her Facebook page" with these links. 

Review - The One That Got Away by Jessica Strassner

A delightful, romantic, sentimental read!

Lucy, Kate and Jackson were all high school best friends, yet Lucy and Jackson’s relationship was “special”  and even thought they were they were true childhood sweethearts, it didn’t work out and they both went on to live other lives.  They both considered the other as “the one that got away”.  Jackson is now a successful businessman who is married to Sloane, a very intense and overpowering wife and they are trying to get pregnant.  Lucy lives with Matt, and is in an OK relationship, even though she doesn’t spend a lot of time with Matt as he is always working in his busy restaurant and she does most things alone. 

Ten years later, at Kate’s birthday party, she announces that she’s invited Jackson, much to Lucy’s surprise and eventually when the news has sunk in, delight.  He and Lucy meet up again at another time and it’s as if the years between haven’t happened.  They fall in love all over again.  But their lives are different now, are they meant to be together or are they just meant to continue their lives apart?  Are they going to cause upset to everyone around them, or do they just get on with their lives the way they are?

You can see the book trailer here :

This is a fairytale romance, and even with the moral dilemmas thrown in, it had a really big feel good factor.  It was a pleasure to read and you can so feel the love between Jackson and Lucy and are quite concerned about what the future holds for them both.  I felt as if I was following them, when they went on their moonlit walks on the Florida beaches and felt the deep love that they shared. 

The characters develop quickly and strongly so that right from the beginning you feel like you’ve known them forever.  I couldn’t wait to find out what was going to happen in the end, but if you think I’m going to tell you that – think again!

Jessica Strassner was born in Pittsburgh and moved to Florida in 1992.  It was when she was at high school that she decided that she would like to become a writer.  She met her husband in 1999 and she has been teaching since 2002, which is the same year that they were married.    

You can find out more about Jessica at  her website.

and you can follow her on Twitter.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Review - Stolen by Susan Lewis


That was my reaction when I finished this book.  Another amazing and incredibly emotional story from the fabulous Susan Lewis who comes up with the most unexpected plot lines that you can imagine.

Stolen is a story about Lucy Winters, whose parents have always been nothing but wonderful to her, who decides that she’d like to leave a life in London where she has always felt that something is missing, to take over the family auction business in a small village in the country.  Her daughter Hanna is going with her, much to Hanna's disgust, while son Ben is taking a year out to travel the world.  Lucy sees this as a trial separation from husband Joe who she is leaving behind in London.  He is an out of work actor and is in her eyes a drain on her and her resources.   When she arrives in Cromstone, she couldn’t be made more welcome and makes some wonderful new friends, not realising just how much of an important part they will be playing in her future.    She finally feels that she is starting to get her life together when astonishing events that she discovers, uncover a lifetime of lies and deceit and she is not sure if she will ever be able to forgive the people who are involved.   

I simply could not tear myself away from this book.  With the riveting story spanning 584 pages, I found that I had to make myself go to sleep at night and was very nearly late to take my little boy to school one day as I’d been reading it far longer than I should have!  I thought about it while I was at work, trying to put the pieces of the jigsaw together.  I even forgot about the dinner in the oven last night, as I was so into the story trying to find out how on earth it would end.  I sat and sobbed my heart out at one point last night, quite devastated by the actions of some of the characters.  This book really got under my skin – can you tell?

Susan is an incredible author.  The characters are so real and the places so authentic that you become involved in the plot very quickly becoming mesmerised and extremely concerned about people and events and I even heard myself sighing and gasping in certain places! Yes ok – a bit freaky even I admit!  She weaved a web of intriguing coincidences, which finally came together in a stunning climax and I honestly felt that I’d really gone through the mill with the characters in this book and felt completely exhausted when it was over.  I love it when you have finished a book, but are still worried about the people in it.  Ok - I think I’m going to quit now before you all realise that I really do need to get out more! 

Susan Lewis is the bestselling author of an impressive twenty-six novels.   Born and raised in Bristol, she started her career in the world of TV and after launching her writing career she moved to France, then California, back to England and once again in France.    After meeting her partner James, she has now settled in Gloucestershire.  You can find out more about Susan and her books at her website.

Susan is a supporter of the childhood bereavement charity; Winston’s Wish and of breast cancer charity; BUST.  She became involved in both of these charities as she tragically lost her young Mom to breast cancer when she was a mere nine years old and wanted to do what she could to help others in the same situation.   

Review - Travelling With Children by Catherine Cooper.

This book makes you feel like you can take on the world! 

I was asked to review this book for Have A Lovely Time, our family travel website.   The author Catherine gets you thinking about holidays in a whole different way, with planning a must, along with lots of forethought about what you want out of a holiday before you even book it. 
If you are anything like me, when I’d just had Oliver, the thought of going on holiday with a young child and all the paraphernalia that you need to take along with you, scared the life out of me.   I wish I’d known then about a fabulous book by Catherine Cooper called Travelling with Children, which is a really easy to read and understand parents’ guide.
The introduction and first chapter advises you to look at your expectations, and work out what you want before you book and go, but also informs you that research shows that more than anything the best part of a holiday for kids is that they get to spend time with their families.    The book covers a range of topics, from which form of travel to take, along with tips to ease the stress.   She looks at the different types of holidays that are available, and how to work out which one might be best for you, and if you do choose a particular type of holiday, how to get the most out of it for everyone.  The final chapter is called When Things Go Wrong, where there is some great advice to be found.  At the back of the book, there are a number of reference sites to look at to make the booking and enjoying of a holiday an easy and relaxed process.
This book is an education in itself and I can imagine that any new family would find it to be a Godsend.  Informative, helpful, useful and covered topics I hadn’t even thought of.  I really do wish that I’d read this before we took Oliver on his first holiday.  We chose a family friendly destination in Cornwall as it just seemed too much trouble when he was 5 months old to go on a plane.  While we had a great holiday, at February half term that year, it would have been nice to head for the sun and I’m sure if I’d have read this, I’d have been the first one at the airport check-in queue. 
Catherine Cooper is a freelance journalist and author based in SW France and London and she specialises in writing about children, travel, health and lifestyle.  To find out more about Catherine and her work, her website can be found here. 
Catherine is also one of the judges in the Have A Lovely Time Beautiful Britain family travel writing competition where the top prize is £200 with other prizes up for grabs too.   Hurry to get your entry in, as the competition closes on 1st October. 

Friday, 16 September 2011

Review - Autumn Crush by Milly Johnson

When you’ve read all the books that a writer has written so far, and they bring out a new one, you always wonder whether it will live up to the others.  Well, she’s only gone and done it again!  Milly Johnson has created another cracker of a book in the form of Autumn Crush. 

When thirty-something divorcee Juliet interviews for a flatmate with best gay friend Coco, they have almost given up hope when into their life walks the lovely Floz who is the perfect candidate and they all get on like a house on fire.   When Juliet’s twin brother Guy meets Floz, in his effort not to show her that he fancies the pants off her, he somehow becomes the clumsiest and grumpiest person in the world making her think he doesn’t like her at all. 

Juliet has always thought that Guy’s best mate Steve is in her words “a bit of a knob!” and is madly in love with her boss, who hasn’t noticed that she even exists! Floz appears to be keeping secrets from everyone else and they become worried about her but don’t know how to help her as she is very private about her past and won’t tell them what’s wrong.   And Coco just wants to be loved!

This is a tale of friendship and love and how things that seem to be one thing, could turn out to be another. 

I can’t possibly tell you anymore without giving much more of the plot away and you don’t want me to do that now do you?  You can find out for yourself when you read it.  With lots of twists and turns along the way, this is such an enjoyable book to read and had me SO looking forward to being able to go to bed early and catch up with the gang and their shenanigans.   

I absolutely love Milly’s writing.  From the very first book of hers that I discovered, I knew that I had to go out and buy every other one she had written and I loved them all just as much as the first .  You don’t want to put her books down from the moment you pick them up.  She writes in a simple but hilarious way with loads of one liners which will have you laughing for days.  Reading one of Milly's books transports you into another world, making you become part of the story.  Her descriptions are so vivid and colourful, and the characters so real and likeable. 

Thank you Milly for writing another brilliantly entertaining book which I’m sure will bring tons of pleasure to everyone who reads it. 

I was really lucky that Milly allowed me to interview her just after I read her last book Here Come The Girls and you can find that interview here.   She is a 5ft born and bred, half-Glaswegian Barnsley bird who has been writing for the greetings cards industry for a number of years.  She lives with her two sons in Barnsley and is a life long fan of wrestling. 

Milly is also the reason I became a book blogger.  To find out why click here.  Thanks again Milly for your motivation and the encouragement you gave to me.  I've never looked back and have enjoyed my reviewing more than anything else I've ever done (except of course for having my darling son)!   You are a shining star x

To buy Autumn Crush from Amazon, click here.

To find out more about Milly, her writing and all of her other books, you can find her website at www.millyjohnson.co.uk and her blog site at http://daftoldbag.blogspot.com

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Interview with Nicky Wells - Author of Sophie's Turn

This week I'm delighted that I've been able to share interviews with not one but two authors of debut novels. 

The second one of which is with the lovely Nicky Wells who has written Sophie's Turn which I was lucky enough to review when I went on my holidays recently and it was so good, I refused to move from my sunbed until I finished it!    If you haven't already read my review of this fabulous book, you can read it here.

Thanks Nicky for sharing gossip about your life, your family and your writing.  I can't wait to read your next novel as I loved this one so much!


Tell us about you and your life?

Wow, that’s a big question! I’ll have a go at ‘my life in 200 words or less.’

I was born in Germany (am still German, as it happens) and moved to the UK in 1993 to study for a degree in European Studies at Royal Holloway College.  I loved it here from the very first day and have never looked back.  When I finished studying, I found myself a job as a professional researcher in London.  I spent six years living in Tooting and had a blast—mostly.  When I met my husband, I instantly knew that he was the one; he must have felt the same way because we got engaged within the year, and married within another year.  That was eight years ago!  We moved to Bristol, I quit my job, wrote a book, and popped out two children.  Meanwhile I retrained as a teaching assistant and have taken great delight and satisfaction this past year from volunteering in my local primary school.

I love, love, love chick lit but I read almost anything.  I love, love, love rock music (as you may have guessed) and even now can be seen flouncing off to the odd gig here or there.  Thankfully my husband likes coming along!  I adore seafood (prawns, scallops, lobster: I’m a cheap date, huh?).  When I write, I alternate between chocolate binges and crisp binges.

There: my life in 213 words!

What makes you want to write?

I love making up stories.  When I was little, I used to make up stories in my head to get myself to sleep.  When I was at primary school, I used to have a little notebook by my bed, and after lights out, I would sit on the window sill and write my stories (in green ink: I can see my scrawly handwriting now…).  I don’t know exactly what makes me want to write, except for an urge to express ideas and play with words, and then not to forget it all.  That’s the basic answer.  The more complex, adult answer is that I also want to make people smile, laugh and feel happy.  And one way I can do that is through writing and sharing my stories.

You have a young family, how do you fit writing around being a Mom?

Oh God, how do I?  Not very well, at the moment. Sophie’s Turn was written before my first child was born.  In the intervening years, I just about managed to go through some editing and re-writing rounds here or there.  Now that the sequel is coming along in plan and outline form, I’m having to figure out when to actually write it.  Thankfully, my younger son starts school next week and bar the volunteering in school (or a paid position I can find one) I’ll be writing furiously during school hours (and possibly in the evenings).  It will be hard work, because I get extremely absorbed with my work and resent being interrupted.  So I will have to be disciplined about separating my writing time from time for the kids (and the husband!).

Tell us about the self publishing route that you took and why you took that decision?

I self-published Sophie’s Turn as an e-book via Kindle Direct Publishing, which is an amazon company. This means that Sophie’s Turn is only available as an e-book via Kindle at this time.  The great news is that I am in control:  I decided when to publish, where to publish, and at what price.  The royalty programme is very clear and I know exactly what to expect from each sale.  The downside is that I have to do all my own marketing, which is incredibly hard work as I am a totally unknown writer.  Also I have to confess that I am astounded at the amount of resistance I am running into regarding being a self-published, ‘indie’ author.  Some people won’t even consider reading the book simply because there’s no ‘official’ publishing label on it.  Hm.  Their loss?

I did also consider on-demand publishing of traditional ‘tree’ books but the options I saw at the time didn’t allow for competitive pricing, so I’ve put that on hold for the time being.

All in all, the self-publishing experience has been very empowering.  After all this time, I have finally presented my work to the world.  And I’ve been getting very encouraging feedback and reviews, which is what matters to me most at this time.

What advice would you give to a budding writer who would like to publish their own book?

My advice would be to get the social networking side of things sorted out early, preferably in advance of self-publishing.  I definitely did everything backwards and am finding it very hard work to catch up.  So, aspiring indie publishers out there: if you haven’t already done so, set yourself up on Twitter and Facebook (as an author, not an individual), create that blog, and get networking.  Have a strategy for publicising your book.  Identify some book bloggers and ask them to review your work.  Plan a book tour, virtual or otherwise.  Know your own work!  That sounds incredibly obvious, but actually coming up with the one-sentence blow-your-mind-and-get-you-hooked description of your work is fantastically difficult.  And lastly, don’t be shy.  If you don’t ask, you don’t get, if you don’t shout, you don’t get heard!

What's next for you, are you writing more and if so, can you tell us a little about your next novel?

I am writing more—just try and stop me!  And ok, the sequel has been a long time coming in the same way that self-publication of the first novel was a long time coming… but I am working on it.  I have completed several stages of planning and just have to flesh out my chapter-by-chapter concept a little more before I start writing ‘proper.’  There will be a sequel to Sophie’s Turn, probably within the year.

Sophie will return… and she’ll bring Dan and Rachel with her again.  Rachel will have a much bigger role to play, and one that is not always easy or pleasant.  There will be two weddings (I think) and at least one disastrous break up.  Sophie will continue her travels: there will be a number of trips to a variety of places in quite different moods.  And there will be some stunningly funny moments, I promise!

Where do you find your most inspiring place to write?

At the moment, I love writing on the sofa with my feet up and my laptop perched on my lap.  I can look out of the lounge window then and see the sunshine (or rain) and the sky, and that seems to inspire me.

What book are you reading right now?

Right now, I am in the middle of Kate Morton’s The Forgotten Garden. I found it hard to get into, probably because I only get to read just before bed and I wasn’t concentrating properly.  Now I am duly intrigued by Nell’s quest to find her origins! It’s a great read and I have no idea what to expect by way of ending…

What types of book do you like to read and who are your favourite authors?

I read almost anything, although chick lit is a firm favourite.  I like a bit of a lift, a bit of laughter, a bit of escapism!  The first chick lit novel I ever read was Catherine Alliott’s The Old-Girl Network.  That still sits on my shelf today although the copy is almost falling apart now, having been read so many times.  I also read literary fiction and David Mitchell, Margaret Atwood and Stephen Fry have written some of my favourite books there.  My husband introduced me to Terry Pratchett of late and The Unseen Academicals is one of my top reads of all times!

Thank you, Kim, for these fantastic and interesting questions and for the opportunity of featuring in an interview on your blog.  I really do appreciate all your support!

For those readers interested, I am on Twitter and Facebook and I blog at http://nickywellsklippert.wordpress.com/

Sophie’s Turn is available for download from amazon.co.uk and amazon.com.

If I could be anyone, I'd be Lois Lane!

If I could be anyone I'd be Lois Lane - why's that do I hear you ask? 

Can you imagine, how fab it would be if Superman was your Guardian Angel! 

If you are wondering why I have posted this bizarre statement, it's because today, we're celebrating the launch of Watching Willow Watts by Talli Roland

This is a fantastic book which I'm honoured to have reviewed before the launch date.  You can read my review here

Why not pop on over to Talli's blog to read more about her, her fabulous writing, and this wonderfully refreshing book.

And please do feel free to leave me your comments as to who you'd be, if you could be anyone.

I hope you'll join me by sending love and best wishes to Talli on the launch of her new book. 



Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Review - Watching Willow Watts by Talli Roland

Another exhilarating reading experience I had recently came in the form of Talli Roland’s latest ebook - Watching Willow Watts.

Willow Watts, a qualified florist, lives in a small, dreary village which she returned to, after her dear mom died, so that she could look after her father.  She thought that she could continue her relationship with Alex, the man she considered to be her soul mate, even taking the distance into account, but sometimes life doesn’t turn out the way you think it will.  Throwing herself into making sure her father can cope with his grief, and keeping him and his antique shop out of debt at the same time is her prime purpose in life, putting her dreams of being a successful florist to the back of her mind.   

When she is filmed doing an impersonation of Marilyn Monroe, someone does some tweeking to it and it gets posted and trends on You Tube, eventually gaining millions of viewers.  Her life is turned upside down as she is asked by the village to help promote it and bring tourists in and being the lovely girl she is, she finds it very difficult to say no.   At a really low point when she is really concerned about paying off her dad’s debts, slimy Jay approaches her and convinces her that she needs an agent, to make lots of money and that he’s the man for the job.  Thinking that he is the answer to all her prayers she takes him on, but her life spirals completely out of control with constant pressure from him to make changes to her personal appearance and perform as Marilyn which she really doesn’t want to do.  She feels like a complete fake!  All he wants to do is to make himself lots of money, a point which he manages to gloss over really well, yet Willow’s best friend seems to be able to see through him pretty quickly.     

How she gets on with her shows impersonating Marilyn is a question for you to answer yourself when you’ve read this refreshing book.  It’s hilarious, emotional and heart warming and the best part is that you won’t be at all disappointed with the ending.  Talli’s writing makes this such a joyful book that you simply can’t stop reading it.   A delicious, delightful, light and airy read which isn’t too strenuous at all to follow.  I got a lot of pleasure out of reading this and will be looking forward very much to her next book which is due out later this year.   Talli’s characters are colourful, emotional, imaginative, likable and enjoyable.  The village scenes that she describes are vivid and lively and are made totally realistic, so that you can imagine yourself on the village green. 

Talli writes funny and romantic fiction.  She lives in London and admits openly on her website to fancying Sir Alan Sugar!    Her debut novel, The Hating Game was in the top 100 on Amazon Kindle UK for over 75 days.  She also writes the 24 Hours travel guides under the name of Marsha Moore.    Her next book will be called Build A Man and will be available later this year.  You can find out more about Talli at her website www.talliroland.com or read her entertaining posts at her blogsite http://talliroland.blogspot.com

Interview with Sue Watson - Author of Fat Girls & Fairy Cakes

Last week I posted my review of Fat Girls & Fairy Cakes by Sue Watson which was launched on 8th September.  If you haven't already read my review, you can do so here.  It really is a fabulous, fabulous book which I thoroughly enjoyed. 

I was delighted when Sue agreed to do an interview for my blog.  Thank you Sue for sharing a little bit of your life with us, I wish you every success with this book and all your future ones. 

Here's to Gin in the Seychelles! Kim xxx

Can you tell us a little about you Sue and your life to date?

I’m from Manchester and am now based in the West Midlands. I’m a former journalist, TV Producer and cake obsessive who finally plucked up the courage to leave the day job and pursue my dream of writing for a living. To be honest I think I may have to wait a little while for that holiday home in The Seychelles, but I feel very lucky to get up each morning and write.... and bake.

When did you decide you wanted to write a book?
I think in a way I always knew I would write a book – it was in my head for a long time but it took a while for me to realise it. I remember once talking to someone at the BBC where I worked and she said she wanted to abandon her well-paid job and be home all day baking cakes ... I think that’s when the seed was planted for me on lots of levels. Leaving the BBC and a career I loved was a huge step and I decided I could only do it if I could achieve something better – which for me was writing a book.

How long has this book taken you to write?
The book itself probably took me 12-18 months to write – but I’m easily distracted and if a friend phones to go for lunch or lattes I’m off! Lunch and latte time does tend to eat into the day and I have vowed to be more disciplined ... until the next time! The writing is the fun bit – there’s a blank canvas and anyone can be or do anything – which is why I love fiction more than fact. However, by the time you edit you’re locked into characters and events and that can take longer and be far trickier than the initial writing of the book.  

How did it make you feel to know that your book was going to be published?

This is a dream I’ve always had and my road to publication has been very rocky (I have written an article on this for the Love a Happy Ending website) therefore it’s especially wonderful to hold the final copy in my hands. Of course the angst now is ...”will anyone like it?” “Will anyone buy it?” but all that aside I feel i have done something tangible, I can keep a pristine copy at the back of my cupboard for my daughter’s children to hand down to their children. They say what most writer’s really want to achieve is immortality and I can understand that - but I can die happy now.

Family is obviously important to Stella in your book, how important have your family been to you?

My family have been incredibly important. My husband has supported me financially (and my cake expenses are not inconsiderable) and my daughter, who’s twelve has been a cyber whizz kid helping me with all the technical computer stuff a writer has to embrace these days. My mum has always had absolute faith in me as have my lovely in-laws who have supported and encouraged me from the beginning.

What's next for you, are you writing more and if so, can you tell us a little about your next novel?

Yes my next novel is almost finished and it’s very exciting. It’s called ‘The Terrible Truth about Tanya Travis’ and is a story about a Jeremy-Kyle-style TV host – with a dark secret. I’d also like to take Stella (from Fat Girls and Fairy Cakes) to a glamorous, exotic location to meet gorgeous men and bake fabulous cakes... Flip Flops and Fairy cakes is the obvious title for the sequel... and I can’t wait to dip my toes into that azure pool!

Where do you write and what inspires you to write?

I write in the kitchen on the table from where I can see the garden and keep an eye on what’s going on. I sometimes think I’d like a lovely minimal office in white gloss with matching accessories, but it would feel too much like going to work...and I don’t do white or minimal because I’d just get cake crumbs everywhere. As for inspiration I only have to buy a few copies of Closer, Now or a fabulous baking magazine and I’m away. Oh and I have to say my lattes and lunches are all in the aid of research – there’s nothing quite like ‘the girls’ for a bit of inspiration.

What book are you reading right now?

I’m reading ‘Welcome to My World’ by Miranda Dickinson, a great opening and a very promising read so far... I loved her first book Fairytale of New York too. And I’ve just finished US writer Jen Lancaster’s Such a Pretty Fat – which is hilarious for anyone who’s ever tried to eat healthy and exercise to lose weight (like me!)

What types of book do you like to read and who are your favourite authors?

I love Jen Lancaster because she’s overweight, loves food and is addicted to trash TV (we must have been separated at birth!) I also love crime/psychological thrillers  from writers like Ian Rankin, Joy Fielding and Nicci French. Crime books can be scary so it’s a good excuse to comfort oneself with large chunks of cake or chocolate, washed down with hot coffee. Ooh and on the beach I read and would recommend The Particular Sadness of lemon Cake by Aimee Bender – quite different, I loved it... but as I was on hols I washed that down with iced coffee and BIG ice creams.

You are a featured writer on www.loveahappyending.com, what has being a member of this site meant for you?

Funnily enough Kim I was reading your excellent blog and spotted the logo for the site – I then looked into it and so it’s thanks to you that I’m a member! The site is a brilliant idea for us new writers to showcase our work – but more than that I have found the companionship and support to be fantastic. Writing is a lovely, but lonely business and it’s wonderful to know that there’s always another LAHE writer going through the same problems and good times as you. And talking of the good times – when a fellow LAHE writer’s book is launched or they have some good news, everyone is so supportive and genuinely pleased – it is inspirational.

Thank you so much for having me!

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Review - That Day In September by Artie Van Why

Artie Van Why lived in New York City for 26 years and worked across from the World Trade Center. He was there in the streets the morning of 9/11 and his book That Day In September is Artie's personal tribute to honor those who died.
That Day In September chronicles Artie's eyewitness account of the attack on the World Trade Center and the weeks and months following.  Most people remember exactly what they were doing on that dreadful day and where they were when they watched the televised footage of the horror that took place but is nothing compared to the atrocities and awfulness that people who were actually there must have experienced. 

This book is absolutely the most humbling book I've ever read.  The emotions that have come from someone who has actually experienced such trauma from the minute that when at work he heard the first boom and wondered what on earth it was, to finding out what it was and seeing, feeling and hearing how it was affecting both himself and the people around him at the actual time is remarkable.  They way in which Artie has perfectly written this personal tribute and memoir is reflective, overwhelming, amazing and is a piece of history which I will keep on my bookshelves and pass on to my very young son to help him understand what actually happened on that day, and for us all to look back at in years to come

I cannot possibly imagine how anyone who experienced this day for real would feel. For those who lost loved friends and relatives, my heart goes out to you.  Bless you all.  This tribute from Artie Van Why is simply perfect! 

Artie now lives in Lancaster County in Pennsylvania.  He moved there in October 2003, after having lived in New York for 26 years. 

Please find links to Artie's Facebook Page, Amazon (UK) page and Good Reads page. 

Review - Astral Travelling, The Avatar and Me by Richard Holmes

This book was a complete change from the chick lit books I've been reading lately. 

Split into two halves, the first half tells the story of how Richard managed to pull himself up from what he describes as “emotionally hitting rock bottom” and with some spiritual help he turned his life around.   He describes that he started to have out of body experiences which he eventually viewed as amazing adventures.  He describes these astral travelling journeys in an incredibly interesting and fascinating way that keep you spellbound and wanting to read more. 

The second half of the book talks about how he decided to take some time out from his “normal” life and spend some time at the ashram Prasanthi Nilayam, in Puttaparthi Southern India in 2009 and tells of the amazing people he encountered along the way, right from the person he sat next to on the plane, the taxi drivers at the airport, the people he shared a dormitory with, and then eventually a room with.  He talks about how he felt when he first saw the man he had learned so much about - Sri Sathya Sai Baba and how he got closer and closer to him. 

Richard is a fascinating writer and man.  The book is so written and in such an intriguing way that keeps you enthralled all the way through the book at times feeling that you were accompanying him on his journey.  The way he describes his voyage to India, the colours, the smells, the food, the places he visited and the energies that he felt while he was there make you feel that you are there right beside him. 

Richard is a medium and clairvoyant.  He has written a number of spiritual books and also produces meditation CDs aiming to help change the lives of many, many people from all backgrounds.    He turned his own life around from being an alcoholic and uses these methods and principles to help others with their struggles assisting them in finding their own potential and turning their negative mindsets around.

To learn more about Richard his website can be found at www.richardfholmes.com.uk or you can find his blog at http://richardfholmes.wordpress.com

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Review - Fat Girls & Fairy Cakes by Sue Watson

What a fabulous fabulous book!  Laugh a minute, cry a lot, relate to most of it, empathise tons and I enjoyed it absolutely loads! 

Fat Girls & Fairy Cakes is one of my most favourite books I've ever read!  Due for launch on 8th September, congratulations go to Sue Watson on her debut novel.  I'm sure she'll be celebrating many more in the future.  Next week I'll be running an interview with the author and later this week I'll be running a giveaway so you have a chance to win this fantastic book.  Let me tell you a little more  . . . . .

Busy Mom Stella works in the world of TV and husband Tom is a TV camera man.  Stella’s impossible super-bitch boss makes life as difficult as possible arranging meetings at ridiculous times and arranging for her to be away from home for weeks on end.  Tom is completely sick of being the main parent in charge, who gets to pick up the pieces and realises that his hopes and dreams are been quashed so that Stella can achieve hers. 

When Stella returns home after a spell of a few weeks ago producing a program in Yorkshire, she finds that she has come home to a different life to the one she left behind, a daughter that she doesn’t really know much about anymore and a husband who is not a happy bunny!  She starts to suspect that Tom might not be as honest as she thought he was and could be up to no good!

When Stella is stressed, she bakes to get rid of her worries and her tensions, making the most fabulous cakes and not realising how much of an important aspect of her future, her baking is to become.   

This is a story about bullying, bitchiness, friendship, love, tears, motherhood, revenge and about taking opportunities and making dreams come true.  It’s written beautifully, flows really well and is SO hard to put down.   One night I woke up in the middle of the night and instead of even attempting to go back to sleep, got up and read some more of this fabulous tale!

Stella is such a wonder character, having traits and personal issues that most women would be able to relate to.  Sue has an absolutely amazing way of making you feel the emotions of her characters, and making you step into their shoes. 

Fat Girls & Fairy Cakes is such a great story, and so well written that I find it hard to believe that this is Sue Watson’s first book.   If this one is anything to go by, I’m sure Sue will enjoy tremendous success for many books to come and will be up there with some of the best authors around!  I cannot recommend this book strongly enough.  An absolute cracker! Every woman should have it in their collection!  Just trust me and buy it!

Manchester born Sue Watson, moved to London and enjoyed working on tabloid newspapers and women’s magazines before moving in TV, becoming a producer at the BBC where she dreamt about writing. 

She lives in Worcestershire, with her husband Nick and daughter Eve.  She is currently writing her second novel.

You can find out more about Sue in the following ways :