Friday, 30 March 2012

Ladies & Gentlemen, please welcome my guest today - the lovely Janice Horton

I'm delighted today to host the lovely Janice Horton to my blog as my guest.  Thanks for joining me Janice, over to you! 

This weekend, it’s a whole year since I first launched my blog at and in that time so many amazing things have happened to me. I’ve made lots of new friends. I have launched not one but two novels as ebooks and each have gone on to feature in Amazon’s Top 100 Bestsellers lists. I have joined Twitter and been encouraged to share my writerly news on Facebook. In June last year, as a direct result of all of this social networking, I was invited to join an elite team of readers and writers on in innovative website Loveahappyending com. This June, I’ve been invited to speak at the Loveahappyending Summer Audience Event in Tetbury Gloucestershire. My talk is entitled ‘From Zero to my Latest Hero’. Tickets are now available and you can find out more about this event on my blog or from the Loveahappyending website.

Kim The Bookworm is one of the lovely people I’ve met over this past year and she has been so generous with her time and enthusiasm in reviewing both of my ebooks, Bagpipes & Bullshot and Reaching for the Stars on her review blog. This is in part what Kim had to say about my latest novel ‘Reaching for the Stars’.

“I love the way that Janice writes.  Her words flow so easily from page to page and her descriptions make the whole story come to life. You are whisked away to a part of Scotland where you feel you’ve always known and get so involved with the story that you feel that you are playing a star role in the book. You are left desperate to find out where the plot is going, and certainly in this case, left hanging on right to the very end with twists and turns along the way but also with a great deal of humour which again makes the read so enjoyable.  And there's always a great deal of romance thrown in as well as a gorgeous leading man and a beautiful leading lady, both of with which you fall in love with and would love to know in real life.  She is a charming novelist and can’t write quickly enough for me.”

Thank you Kim!

Over on my Janice Horton blog today, I’m hosting my first Blogiversary, so please do pop over to and join in the fun. There are yummy treats on offer as well as my latest ebook completely FREE on Amazon. Yes, my five star rated novel about a media stalked and disillusioned celebrity chef entitled ‘Reaching for the Stars’ is FREE today and over the weekend. So please help me to celebrate by downloading ‘Reaching for the Stars’ – and if you already have it then why not recommend it to a friend? Leave a comment on my blog today or retweet one of my @JaniceHorton tweets to be included in the draw for the yummy gifts!

Janice’s Blogiversary Blog:

Direct Link to or for you FREE copy of ‘Reaching for the Stars’

Find Janice Horton’s books on and

Janice’s Facebook Page

Follow on Twitter: @JaniceHorton

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Review - The Reiki Man by Dominic C James

WOW! A fantastic paranormal thriller that left me stuck for words (and there’s not much that can do that, I can tell you!).

Successful businessman Henry Mulholland is found murdered and the police cannot understand how someone can get into a secure building without triggering any alarm systems, dogs or security whatsoever.  The only evidence that was left at the scene of the crime is a mysterious symbol on a piece of paper which is left on his desk. Stella Jones, Mullholland's Head of Security and ex-special branch, recognises it but can’t quite remember why.  

She works on the case alongside a police officer called Jennings from special branch and she know that their only real hope is her ex-boyfriend Stratton, she is sure that he will know more about the symbols.   They find him and discover that it is an ancient Reiki symbol and that there is a wooden box with symbols carved on it hidden away somewhere and this appears to be what the murderer is looking for and he is happy to kill anyone who gets in his way.    Not only the murderer is after the box though and as Stella delves into a world of ancient knowledge and possible paranormal powers, their grip on reality and their lives are completely put at risk and to the test.
What an amazing writer Dominic James is! The characters and places were described so perfectly that I was transported from my world straight into the plot.  This was a fascinating book and I cannot believe that the Reiki man is Dominic's debut novel. It was full of mystery and intrigue throughout, thoroughly un-put-down-able and most enjoyable.  You really did not know what or even who was around the next corner. 

It was totally mesmerising, full of excitement and adventure.  It was gripping, breath-taking and just downright flipping awesome! The ending was so unexpected! I was completely stunned by it!  The last four words in the book made such an impact on me that I'm still thinking about it days later.  

As a Reiki practitioner myself, this story made me wonder even more about the power of the universe and how it can be used for both good and bad purposes. 

If you like a book that’s full of thrills, mystery and excitement with a plot that is forever twisting and turning, then go and buy this book – NOW!  

The Reiki Man is the first masterpiece of an already-completed trilogy. The second book, Fear of the Fathers, will be published in May 2012.  I for one am, as is, I'm sure everyone that has already read this book, awaiting this book with baited breath; it cannot come out quickly enough for me.  I simply cannot wait!

Dominic C. James is a writer and Reiki master. He has been a singer/songwriter in various indie bands, and has scratched a living as a freelance writer, barman, draughtsman and factory worker. On being made redundant two years ago he committed himself to full-time writing. 

The Reiki Man is his first full-length novel, and combines his passion for all things spiritual with his passion for all things temporal. He keeps a foot firmly placed in both worlds. He wants to bring practices such as Reiki to a wider audience by conveying Eastern ideals in an entertaining context.

Dominic's website is

You can follow Dominic on Twitter

You can like Dominic on Facebook

You can buy this amazing book via Amazon by clicking here

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Review - The Pile of Stuff at the Bottom of the Stairs by Christina Hopkinson

OMG! A most hilarious account of family life that makes you think and think and think!

Mary and Josh are married and have two lovely young boys who Mary adores but feels that she doesn't get enough quality time with them. At work she’s given all the crappy jobs because she’s part time and not as respected and isn’t given the same opportunities as those who are full time yet she is just as capable.  Mary also feels that she has to constantly compete with her friend Mitzi who has the perfect house, the perfect children, the perfect husband etc and who has just bought the perfect second house on the Norfolk Coast.

Home and their house is really getting on top of Mary. Josh is a nightmare around the house, leaving stuff all over the place and creating even more work for Mary to do every time he offers to help with the kids which she feels is quite rare in itself.  He’s untidy, he’s lazy, he leaves a trail of destruction behind him and he’s generally getting right on her nerves!  He doesn’t even take equal responsibility for the kids, she’s always the one picking them up, dropping them off, having to remember everything for both herself and the kids, while he just sorts himself out. Her life is really quite exhausting, but Josh just doesn't understand why!

As the kids have improved their behaviour by utilising star charts, she makes a drastic decision and compiles "The List".  She has set up a secret spreadsheet on her computer and gives and takes points depending on Josh’s behaviour and things that really annoy her.   She has decided to put him on a six month trial and if he exceeds his allowed points, she is going to ask him for a divorce.  So the list begins …….

What a hilarious and entertaining story!  I’m sure there are a lot of Moms who feel that they are put upon all the time, and a lot of Dads out in the world that think it’s ok for that to happen!
There are a lot of men who feel that their careers are more important than that of their wives.  A lot of women have to get straight home to pick up the kids, feed them then bath them, read them stories and get them to bed before getting prepared for school the next day, while the men  work late, pop into the pub on the way home then wander home when all the hard work is done, expecting their dinner while Mom has just sat down with a glass of wine to relax after a hectic evening.  Obviously – I’m not talking from personal experience here! I know it used to happen to my Mom when we were kids. 

I laughed out loud so much at many parts of this book and I shed a few tears towards the end of the story too.  It taught me to be careful what you wish for, and that the grass might not always be greener on the other side.  It also made me think that people are not always what they seem.  There is one particular part in which I was so shocked that I sat open-mouthed for a long time (Christina knows which bit!) and it left me quite discombobulated!  It certainly made you realise that you never really know people as well as you think you do.   It also made me realise that no-one deserves to be taken for granted and that parenting should be a shared effort and not the prime responsibility for just one of the parents. 

Christina is a fantastic author, a really strong story with wonderfully descriptive words, and fabulous characters, made this a book which will stick in my mind for a long time to come.   This was one of the most enjoyable and funny books I’ve ever read.  I loved it.  I would definitely recommend this to all the Moms and partners in the world. For some it will make you see that you don't deserve to be taken for granted and for others it will make you realise just how lucky you are! 

Christina Hopkinson was born in London and brought up in Cambridgeshire.  She attended Hertford College, Oxford reading Modern History and after graduating worked at Usborne Publishing and is a strong advocate for their books now she has kids herself.  She then worked as an au pair in Spain before writing for a number of magazines, websites and newspapers.  She now lives in North London with her three children and hubby who she strongly denies is not the inspiration behind this book.  

Learn more about Christina at

Follow Christina on Twitter at

You can buy this book via Amazon by clicking here

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Interview - Harriet Grace

Earlier this week, I posted my review of a great book which I recently read called Cells by Harriet Grace and you can read my review by clicking here
Harriet very kindly agreed to be interrogated oops I mean interviewed by me and it was really interesting to learn more about her and what makes her tick.
Thanks so much Harriet for sharing a bit about yourself with me and my readers. 
Please can you tell us a bit about yourself, what is your background?
I was born in London and brought up in a small village called Inkpen, which features in ‘Cells’.    I went to boarding school in Bristol when I was ten and left school at sixteen to learn a language and do a secretarial course, which my parents felt was the best way to fill in the time before I found the right man to marry!  This involved a term in a French protestant school in the Massif Central where Jewish children had been hidden during the war, although I only discovered this over thirty years later and I still haven’t written the novel about it; a secretarial course in Oxford; and eventually some ‘A’ Levels and a couple of credits with Open University in my twenties.  I worked as a secretary in publishing, spent six months in America doing temporary secretarial work, and then back in London worked for Macmillan’s Publishing before getting married.  I worked in PR, ran a nanny agency, had my first child, spent two years in South Africa at the height of apartheid, had my second child there, and wrote some articles which got published.  Back in the UK as I was recovering from measles – very nasty as an adult - I lay in bed and tried to write my first short story. 
Many years later my children and stepchildren are grown up and I have grandchildren.  I live in Kew, about five minutes walk from the Gardens, and can still type at 50 wpm!  For the last twenty years my working life has been divided in two both connected with people: writing fiction about relationships and working professionally as a career counsellor helping people through change or any kind of career problem. 
I have an MA Writing Distinction (Sheffield Hallam) and have had poems selected and published.  ‘Cells’ is my first novel and I’m currently working on a new one.
How long has 'Cells' been in the making?
It has had a long gestation.  I had written two novels that had done the rounds of the mainstream publishers and nearly made it, and when they didn’t I decided to do an MA in Creative Writing.  ‘Cells’ was the novel I wrote for that and it took me about three years to get my degree, and then I still felt it needed more work, which took another year!  I sent it to my agent but she didn’t like it!  So, I sent it to about 15 agents and found one who did like it.  It did the rounds of the mainstream publishers and was nearly taken by one of them.  When it wasn’t, I decided to self publish.

Part of the book is based in the US. Is this a place that you have been to or would like to go to and if so, why?
When I was twenty I worked in Washington DC for 6 months and then did a greyhound bus tour round the States, and the place we stayed in the longest was San Francisco.  We spent a whole week there and I wish I could have stayed a year.  It was magical with its hills and soaring skyscrapers, its flowering trees and water glimpsed between buildings. I’d never seen a city like it.   It was era of the film ‘Bullitt’ and Steve McQueen and that car chase.  Many years later, while my daughter was at Berkeley for a year, I returned.  It had its social problems but it was still magical and it was during that visit that I was inspired to include it in the novel.  My daughter now has a film business in Los Angeles so I know LA well.
What made you choose the topic of a childless couple to base the book around?
My novels tend to start with people rather than an idea or topic.  With ‘Cells’ I started out with an image of a woman looking across an open-plan office and seeing a younger man and some kind of spark happening between them.  She’s a successful career woman who has the job, the house, the husband.  He’s a loser from a dysfunctional family.  Then it came to me: she has no baby, she has tried IVF, it hasn’t worked and she’s trying to move on.  As I started to write about this subject I realised I had hit on a peculiarly modern dilemma.

I wanted to explore something I hadn’t experienced myself. Imagine, I thought, a woman who was brought up to have a career first and then, almost as an afterthought in her mid-to-late thirties, thinks about having a baby.  What happens if she doesn’t succeed, in spite of IVF treatment?  Is it the same for her?  Does she mind so much?  Won’t it interfere with her career? I was interested in the ambivalence that many women have about childbirth and rearing children – their longing to have a baby, create a new life, versus what it does to their identity and their career.  I tried to get in touch with the sometimes unbearable ‘extension of hope’ that IVF provides, and the despair when it fails.  Both these factors affect men too.

Where do you write and what is it about that place that gives you the inspiration to write?
I wrote ‘Cells’ mostly in a small room upstairs at home. But recently we built a ‘little house’, as my grandson calls it, at the bottom of our 60 ft garden in Kew – in brick and beautifully insulated! The first time I sat in the room with my new table, a book shelf, a pad of paper, pencils and my laptop I was scared. Just getting the table in the right position had been stressful. I worried that I wouldn’t like it, that I might not be able to work there.  But it has grown into a lovely room where I want to go, and I feel very lucky.  It is mine and I know I won’t be interrupted.  I can shout and scream if I want to, leave stuff all over my table and not clear it up, sit there and think if the mood takes me, and not feel silly if some days the words are slow to emerge.
Your characters are wonderfully created.  How do you go about developing your characters?
Thank you!   My characters can start from an image – see above – or an incident.  I see them in some kind of context that I feel excited about.  Gradually I identify who they are and how many characters I want to focus on.  From then on I need to do a lot of thinking. I write lots of notes, little scenes with them in.  ‘Dramatise, dramatise’ I believe Henry James said... and I try to think about them doing something, a scene where something happens, and I scribble it down. I write their bios in the first person - what happened when they were children, what their parents were like, their siblings.  Did anything horrible happen – will that be in the story, or just ‘lean’ on it, having its effect?  I research where they live – the geography, what they do, what they wear, what they like, etc.  But I don’t delay too long in starting.  I learn a lot about the character in the writing when they are in a relationship with other characters and when they are in conflict.  Most importantly, I try to get inside each character and see the world entirely from their point of view.
How do you fit writing into your everyday life?
Do what I say, not what I do...  ‘The best laid schemes of mice and men’.... etc. etc.  I dream of getting up, not looking to the right or left, ignoring emails, internet, visitors, lodgers, cats, husband, grown-up children, grandchildren, paid work, phone calls... and going straight to my room in the garden, every  morning and writing for several hours.  In reality, over the years writing has had to fit in with bringing up children, and working part-time developing a micro career in career coaching, and many other things.  At every stage I’ve moaned that I don’t have enough time.  At the end of every year, I’m certain I’ve become less disciplined!For me having a ring-fenced time and a place to write, definitely helps.  Doing it regularly and not letting the writing get ‘cold’ is important.  I should be writing now, but I’m doing this!!  I always plan to have a written timetable that I stick to, but it rarely happens. So, what I do is try and get out to my room every day if/when I can and in the morning if possible.
Are you a reader? If so, what type of books do you like to read?
I love reading and I mostly read novels, but also some biographies or books on psychology or psychoanalysis.  If I’m travelling I read guide books, history books and novels about the history of the place I’m visiting and the people who live there. ‘History’ and ‘people’ are probably key words.  I’m fascinated by how people have become who they are, what happened in their childhood – their history.  Similarly, with a new country I want to find out the history of the people there and how they have made it the way it is now. 
I’m interested in how people interact with each other, their relationships, what is going on underneath the surface, what is not being said, which is why I love novels and often find them ‘truer’ and more satisfying than factual books. A book I’ve read again and again is ‘Moon Tiger’ by Penelope Lively, a classic, must-read novel.  More recently and quite different is Jennifer Egan’s ‘A Visit From The Good Squad.’    Another amazing novel is Rose Tremain’s ‘The Way I Found Her.’  I could go on...
How do you find the whole 'social media world' that surrounds books and authors these days?
I’m a still a novice, getting slowly better at it, hopefully!  At first I didn’t want to know about it; it felt like a distraction.  I just wanted to try and write novels not blogs! But now I can see what an amazing potential social media has for finding an audience for my novel, getting reviews, learning from them, being in contact with other writers etc.  Trying to market my book locally not using social media was very hard work and it was almost impossible to reach a wider audience. 
Already I’m experiencing the effect of being an Author on the online group and having my book go on a blog tour.
What are your plans to write more? When will we be seeing more from you?
The last year or so I have been writing a film script, which is still in development.   I have several short stories I should be sending out, and am currently starting a new novel.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Review - The Child Inside by Suzanne Bugler

A deeply intense novel that I couldn’t put down. 

Understandably, Rachel has never got over the trauma of having to give birth to her unborn baby girl and she and husband Andrew throw all their efforts into bringing up their young son Jono who is the only thing that appears to be holding their marriage together.  When she finds out that she can’t get pregnant again, she resents both Andrew and Jono, and feels devastatingly lonely in her life as a housewife and mother. 

By pure coincidence, one day when Rachel is in a cafĂ©, she hears someone address an older lady as a name that she recognises, and thinks that she may be the mother of a childhood friend Vanessa, who died when they were teenagers.  Rachel always looked up to Vanessa and she was quite an influence on her life at the time.  She follows the lady, but when she finally plucks up the courage to approach her, she is told that she is not the person she thought she was. 

Convinced that the lady is not telling the truth, yet not understanding why, she eventually contacts Vanessa’s brother Simon and meets up with him.  This leads to an illicit affair, which despite the effect that this could have on their respective families if they are discovered, they seem unable to stop, when they have both shared a past with Vanessa. 

This is an extremely emotional story, describing the devastation that Rachel felt for many years after going through what she had experienced and how it has completely affected her future.  These emotions are described so deeply by this author, that it would be impossible not to feel sadness compassion for this lady who just wanted to have a family.  She is so wrapped up in how she feels, that she thinks she is the only one suffering and that because no-one else ever refers to it they have forgotten all about it, and it is completely destroying her on the inside. 

Her son Jono was so rude to her, that I found myself wanting to “have a word” with him, because he showed no love or respect towards her whatsoever! You felt for her husband too, as he didn't seem to know how to cope with the situation and it didn't matter whatever he did, it was always going to be the wrong thing.  She and Andrew seemed so far apart, yet stayed together in a marriage in which they were both very unhappy.

This book was written so well that you felt every emotion Rachel was experiencing, felt her pain and upset and also felt her excitement when she met Simon, while he was part of her past with Vanessa, she wasn’t reminded of her dead child, so she didn’t feel any resentment or anger towards him just relief that he didn't know about her situation. With her husband, it was always a matter never mentioned but that was always lurking about just under the surface. 

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book.  It was very deep and extremely powerful.  It was so moving that I felt like I wanted to reach out to Rachel and help her through these deep-rooted and issues that she was so clearly struggling with and that were making her so tragically sad.  Only a very talented author can make you feel like this and Suzanne Bugler is very clearly such an author.  It also made me once again, feel very grateful and blessed for what I have in my life. 

Suzanne Bugler lives in South-West London with her husband and two sons.  Her novel This Perfect World was one of eight titles chosen for Richard & Judy’s Spring Book Club 2011 with WH Smith.  She has also written two novels for young adults called Staring up at the Sun and Meet Me at the Boathouse. 

You can like Suzanne's facebook page by clicking here

You can buy this book via Amazon by clicking here

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Review - Cells by Harriet Grace

A book which made me think about how lucky I am!
Cells by Harriet Grace explores the thoughts and feelings of couples who are unable to conceive naturally.  Editor Martha is married to Grant who is a therapist.   They have a wonderful home, plenty of money, are able to do all the things they want to in life except to have a baby and even their attempts at IVF are unsuccessful. 

One day at work, Martha meets Jon, a character who intrigues her.  The reader finds out that Jon was brought up in a bizarre relationship where his abusive father puts him down at every opportunity and abuses his mother, who Jon loves dearly. 

Martha finds that she wants to help Jon to improve his life and skills and invites him to their home, and into their lives where both Martha and Grant create their own dilemmas and cross boundaries in the relationship for all three of them. 

Cells explores the heart-wrenching emotions that a woman has to experience when each month after hoping and praying that she is pregnant she discovers that she is not.  It also explores how a man in such a relationship goes through equally harrowing yet different emotions.  It shows how they worry about each other as well as the issue at hand.

This is Harriet Grace's first novel, yet it certainly doesn't show in her writing.  A controversial and powerful story line, with excellent character and scene building abilities, and the way that she delves into emotional traumas makes this author one that I'm sure will be a huge success and I shall be very much looking forward to more of Harriet's writing. 

I was very surprised at the ending of the book, won't say any more than that about it as I don't want to spoil it in any way but it was completely unexpected for me to end the way it did!

A thoroughly enjoyable read, that made me realise that I'm truly blessed to be a Mom and how not being able to have children can affect couples in many many ways.

Harriet was born in London, brought up in a village called Inkpen and now lives near Kew Gardens in London.  For the last twenty years her life has been divided into two: her writing life and working as a career counsellor.  She has an MA in Writing - Distinction from Sheffield Hallam and has had poems both selected and published.  Cells is Harriet's first novel.

Harriet's website is

You can like Harriet on Facebook by clicking here

You can follow Harriet on Twitter by clicking here 

You can buy Cells via Amazon by clicking this link