Friday, 30 November 2012

Tomorrow sees the launch of Realand by Dee Kirkby

Really pleased to be joined today by the fantastic D J Kirkby - an author whose books I have read and adored.  Tomorrow, the 1st of December, she's launching a completely different genre and is appealing this time to the younger reader.  My nephew did a very early read for Denyse, and when he rang me up to tell me he'd devoured it all in one go and said he was disappointed to reach the end and wanted to know what happened next, I knew that she was on to a winner!  I also knew that my nephew had turned into a proper bookworm just like his Aunty Kim! Yay!
 
I'll hand you straight over to Denyse and leave her to tell you all about her new book and hope you'll support her by leaving her a comment on this post to join me in wishing her all the success in the world for this series of books.  You can also join in at her online launch party for Realand tomorrow.  I know she'd love to see lots of activity on her site tomorrow, so do pop over and leave her a comment.  Over to you Denyse.
 
Hi Kim.  I am quite excited to be putting together the finishing touches to the December 1st online launch party for Realand - the first in the Portal Series for independent readers of 7 years and up.
 
This series came to life during my time as Writer in Residence for Portsmouth libraries when I did a lot of outreach work into schools, and realised that as an author for adults I had nothing to offer the children I was working with. So, I wrote Realand, then Raffie Island and I am now working on the 3rd book in the series, Queendom.
 
I would say my writing style in the Portal Series is a cross between Enid Blyton and Spike Milligan, though my editor described it as a cross between Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory and Narnia. One reader referred to the prequel to the series as "A great read which could become as epic as Harry Potter"! You can judge for yourself by reading the prequel on Wattpad.
 
Now, you're all welcome to come along to my blog on December 1st, and you can bring all your friends because there is plenty of room! There will be chances to win signed copies of Realand no matter where you live in the world. To kick things off you can visit my blog now and click on the Goodreads giveaway widget you will find there.
 
The dress code for the Realand launch party is all the colours of the rainbow so put on your best party clothes and head on over to my blog to describe your party outfit in the comment section for another chance to win a signed copy of Realand. There will be other ways you can enter to win on the day too. Looking forward to seeing you all!
 
Join Max and Laura on their first adventure in The Portal Series as they discover what rainbow corices are capable of and run into a bit of bother with a gang of albino slugs…just an average day in Realand.

Author of Without Alice. “Governed by duty, lost without love.” – Caroline Smailes
Author of My Dream of You. "
Evocatively written." Talli Roland
Author of My Mini Midwife



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Monday, 19 November 2012

My wonderful day out at the Festival of Romance.



Last week the wonderful Sue Fortin said that she had won a ticket for the Festival of Romance weekend in Bedford and as she was already going, asked whether anyone knew someone who might like to go. I would've loved to have gone but with Christmas coming up, my finances did not allow that to happen. So I said to Sue that I would love to go and was over the moon when she said that there were two tickets and they were all mine.
 
I therefore asked Margaret, a friend who is interested and involved in the writing world if she might like to come along with me and she said she would love to. Unfortunately we couldn't go for the whole weekend, so we headed down to Bedford for the day on Saturday morning.  Margaret is the Treasurer for Swanwick and we talked about the
Writer's Summer School which takes place every year in August on the journey. 
 
We arrived at The Lane cafe and were early for the 10.30 start but were very kindly invited in and asked to take a seat while they were preparing the coffee machine. The next person to come into the cafe was the wonderful Carole Matthews who is someone that I admire greatly and absolutely love her books of which I have read every single one. She joined us at our table and we chatted loads about her work and life in general. She is so lovely!


Carole Matthews reading from
With Love At Christmas
Following this a steady stream of brilliant authors came in and prepared to do their readings. It was also amazing to meet the very lovely Talli Roland as we've had many an email and twitter exchange and to meet her in person and give her a big hug was great.    
 
Hazel Osmond was another author who I reviewed when I first set up my blog and was delighted to meet along with Trisha Ashley, Philippa Ashley, Miranda Dickinson, Rowan Coleman and Rosy Thornton along with authors who were new to me which included Liz Fenwick, Sophie Pembroke, Hywela Lyn, Cara Cooper, and Evonne Wareham.  All of these authors read from their novels while their audience was totally spellbound.   I have to pay a massive compliment to The Lane as I had the most unbelievably scrumptious and humungous piece of carrot cake I’ve ever had in my entire life.
 

I was also dead chuffed to meet the lovely Dizzy CLBB aka Carol Wright who is a fellow reviewer and a lovely lady.
Me, Sheryl Browne & Linn B Halton
We then headed for the Romance Fair in the Corn Exchange where there were gifts, books, authors, chocolate and loads of fun going on in that room. I was particularly excited to see my Love A Happy Ending buddies Nicky Wells, Mandy Baggot, Linn B Halton, Sue Fortin and Carol E Wyer and next to them the fabulous Safket publishing stand with the hilarious author Sheryl Browne and Kim. After many many hugs and kisses we then headed off to Romance and Shopping which was happening in the Harpur Shopping Centre where a number of authors read from their work at the Readathon.


We then headed over to the meet the authors Rock Star party which was held at Rock Art and really enjoyed readings from Jane Lovering, Sue Moorcroft, Katherine Garbara, Fiona Harper, Mandy Baggot, Lucy Felthouse, Berni Stevens, Nicky Wells, Natalie Nicole Bates, Emma Cain, Kate Allan and Oscar Sparrow. After the readings everybody mingled with a glass of wine or two for some, and it was fabulous to catch up with both authors and reviewers alike and to finally meet the lovely Kate Allen too.
What a fab day!  I thoroughly enjoyed meeting the authors that I’ve chatted with over Facebook and Twitter and seeing those again, that I’ve become firm friends with over the couple of years that I have been book reviewing and blogging.  
 
I hope next year to be able to get the whole weekend at this event.  It really is a treat for authors, potential authors and readers.    On the Friday night, there was the Festival of Romance Ball and Awards.  On the Saturday, there were workshops galore on topics such as writing fiction for magazines, writing romantic novels and writing short romance novels and on the Sunday, there was an opportunity to pitch your novel and also a Romantic Fiction confernce.  There was also another opportunity to meet the authors at a historial afternoon tea. 

 
Awards

There were a number of awards won over the weekend and my congratulations go to the winners who were:

Best Romantic Read – Dearest Rose by Rowan Coleman

Best Historical Read – The Silent Touch of Shadows by Christina Courtenay

Best Short Romance – Dancing with Danger by Fiona Harper

Best Ebook – Miranda’s Mount by Phillippa Ashley

Best Author Published – The School Gates by Nicola May

Best Romantic Film – Jane Eyre

Best Romantic TV – Downton Abbey

Innovation Award (Publisher) – DC Thomson

Innovation Award (Author) – Mandy Baggot

Publisher of the Year – Choc Lit

Literary Agent of the Year – Jane Judd

New Talent Award – Lesley Eames with highly commended for Cathy Lennon & Sue Jackson

Piatkus Entice Win a Publishing Contract Competition – Celia Anderson, Beth Chamber & Terri Nixon

Hall of Fame Award – Katie Fforde, Black Lace, Laura Longrigg








 

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Review - With Love At Christmas by Carole Matthews

A festively fun read!

Carole Matthews is another of my all time favourite authors in the world having read every book she ever brought out.  Good job I’d read Milly Johnson’s A Winter Flame in a day so I could stick my beak into With Love At Christmas immediately.  

Juliet is many things to many people.  Firstly she’s mom of a lazy son who doesn’t want to work and treats the house like a hotel, and a daughter who already has one young child and another on the way, but who has taken the easy option and moved back in with in with Mom and Dad.

Then she’s wife of Rick, and daughter of her father Frank who is now living with the love of his life, and also of her mother Rita, who seems to be getting worse at knowing what day of the week or year it is let alone who everyone is. 

She’s also mother hen and chief cook and bottle washer at the estate agency that she works at lending a listening ear and advice to anyone who needs some help. 

The thing that Juliet loves most after her family, who she always puts first no matter how much they put on her, is Christmas.   And Christmas is getting closer and closer in this household and the preparations are well under way but what on earth will Christmas bring?  The book starts at the beginning of Juliet's preparations and ends on the evening of Christmas Day.

In true Carole Matthews style, this is yet another feel-good, romantic yet real, story of an adorable and wonderful lady whose life is her family.  A Mom that you want to put your arms around and give a great big hug to and know that if you are upset about something, she’ll do everything in her power to help you.  She really was the most wonderful character.  A character who is familiar, warm, hospitable, loving and inspirational.  Just how I feel that a Mom should be!  I think I recognised all the qualities that my lovely Mom had too! It’s no wonder that I miss her with all my heart! L  

As usual for Carole, there were hilariously funny instances all the way through the book and moments when you want to shout at Juliet not to let people take advantage and also shout at those others to pull themselves together and not to put on her. 

I loved the relationship between her and her hubby, trying to find snatched moments while chaos rained around them.   I also loved the way that the book tackled some really serious issues such as marriage, relationships, sexuality, illness, deceit and death.  I particularly thought that the way Carole wrote about the fact that Juliet’s mother might be ill was excellent.  It explored a light-hearted but serious possibility of having to accept the inevitable.

I could honestly believe that I lived in this mad-house, felt that I was sat around the table on Christmas Day while all hell let loose and that I was part of this completely bonkers but totally loveable family.  It also reminded me just how much I miss my Mom and the family Christmasses that she hosted!

This was a really entertaining, funny, warm, emotional and really, really adorable, fantastically festive read that has really got me in the Christmas mood.  Can’t believe it’s only November!  Come on Christmas – hurry up please!

Carole Matthews is the Sunday Times best selling author of 18 previous novels which have been translated into many languages and sold to Hollywood. When she entered a short story competition in Writing Magazine, she couldn't believe that she had won a thousand pounds! She spent this money on a writing course (much to everyone's surprise!). The tutor on the course liked what she was writing and recommended an agent who took her on straight away. She sold her first book, which became Let’s Meet on Platform 8 (a fabulous read and one of my most favourite ever books by the way!) a week later.

Read more at www.carolematthews.co.uk

Follow Carole on Twitter


 

 

Review - A Winter Flame by Milly Johnson

Another spectacular seasonal special from this fabulous author.
 
You probably all know by now that Milly Johnson is one of my most favourite authors ever, in the whole wide world (get my drift?)  When A Winter Flame plopped through my letter box, I was delighted that I had just finished a book and could make a start on this straight away. 


Eve is a young lady who lost her beloved solder boyfriend who was killed in action on Christmas Day. Since then, understandably, Christmas has never been Eve’s favourite time of year.  Following the death of her favourite Aunt, she is gobsmacked when she discovers that she has been left half of a winter theme park in her will!
 
As if that is not quite astounding in itself, she then discovers that the will also has a proviso that Eve must co-run this winter theme park with a person that she has never heard of called Jacques GlacĂ©. 

When she does meet him, even thought he is devastatingly dashing and handsome, she finds him extremely annoying and is irritated by everything he says and does!  However, she has to persevere with him as she does not want to fail her Aunt but she makes it her mission to find out just who this mysterious man is, where he has been hiding and why on earth would Aunt Evelyn have left him anything in her will. 
 
Milly Johnson has a fabulous way of manipulating her words to help you to visualise everything she writes within your mind without you actually realising that is what you are doing.
 
She manages to put a sparkle into everything she writes and her stories always leave you with an all-over warmed-up glow.  The characters that she creates jump out of the pages at you, as you become embroiled in the plot.   You want to be the main character and you slowly become the person that she has crafted.
 
This book is fun, romantic, warm, exciting, hilarious and purely delicious!  Every one of Milly’s books has never failed to put a smile on my face and a glimmer of hope and love in my heart. 
 
If you have never read a book by Milly Johnson, this is what I recommend you should do. Buy every single book she’s ever written, close your curtains, lock your front door, take the phone off the hook, put the heating on full blasyour fire. Then make yourself a pot of coffee, plonk yourself on the settee and lose yourself reading back to back her delectable tales of love, friendship, and families.   You will not be disappointed, I promise!

I was so lucky to interview Milly after I read her book Here Come The Girls and you can find that interview here and she also agreed to be a guest on Stafford FM when The Book Show first started.  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 the motivation and encouragement you gave to me at the time and now also. 

To buy A Winter Flame 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.


You can likeMilly on Facebook too.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Talli Roland’s Mistletoe in Manhattan!

Christmas is looming fast and I'm reading some wonderful Christmas books at the moment.  I'll be posting my reviews just as quickly as I can get them done, so you can decide which ones you want to put on your Christmas list and which ones you just can't wait that long to read and need to buy right now!

I wanted to share a real bargain that I’ve found out about.  It’s Talli Roland’s Christmas novella, Mistletoe in Manhattan! The novella also includes a bonus chapter of Talli’s next novel, The Pollyanna Plan.
 
Here’s more about Mistletoe:
As Little Missington's first Christmas baby in fifty years and the daughter of Christmas When You Like It party-planners, Holly West has been surrounded by the holiday spirit since birth. Trouble is, she's not exactly filled with festive cheer. In fact, Holly can't wait to ditch the tinsel and Santa suits for champagne and celebs, and become a party-planner to the stars.

When British TV star Dean Layton hires her parents' company to throw his holiday bash in Manhattan, Holly jumps at the chance to help, confident she can handle a little Christmas in exchange for access to Dean's exclusive world.

But New York and Dean's over-the-top demands are more than Holly bargained for. Can Holly deck the halls and make it a party to be proud of, or will this Christmas be one she'll never forget . . . even if she wants to?


It's now available in Kindle format on Amazon for 77p, a fantastic price and I wanted to tell my readers about it.

You can find out more about Talli Roland by clicking the links below.
 

Find Talli on Facebook and Goodreads

Monday, 5 November 2012

Review - A Merry Little Christmas by Julia Williams

 
A delightfully festive feel-good read.

The book starts in the New Year in the village of Hope Christmas where after a great Christmas three very different families have very different issues in the year ahead but merge together to be the best of friends.

Pippa has a wonderful loving family but with a daughter who is wheelchair bound with cystic fibrosis finds that her life is always busier than she ever felt possible. When her husband Dan suffers a terrible accident her world and her family is completely torn apart.


Marianne is a teacher with gorgeous young twins and a stepson she adores. Her husband's ex-wife makes their life as difficult as she possibly can, so balancing everything while constantly trying to keep everyone happy is tricky for her.

And finally there is Cat,  who with four children, a mother with dementia and a cookbook to write constantly has tons on her plate. When Mel her eldest daughter starts behaving particularly badly and she tries to find out why, she ends up with even more problems to deal with than she ever thought possible.

These three wonderful women all help each other get through what really is a difficult year for each of them, through the seasons of the year ending up at the following Christmas.


The book is about family, friendship, motherhood and love. Written beautifully by Julia Williams, this is a fabulously festive book set in the village of Hope Christmas. The start of the year is a good one and these women could never imagine the problems that they would have to face throughout the coming year.

They cheer each other up, they cry on each other's shoulders, they give advice, they listen, they depend upon
and are generally there for each other through thick and thin, through good and bad. Not only are they amazing women, they are also fantastic mothers who put their children above and before anything else in their lives. 

Friendships are incredibly important in life, and when you get good ones, you should hang onto them for as long as your lives allow you to.  I'm blessed to have been lucky enough to experience some amazing friendships throughout my life as well as having a wonderful Mom.  Hope you have been lucky in these respects too. 

The way that Julia wrote this book made me want to up and move sticks to the amazing village of Hope Christmas and live in one of these gorgeous farmhouses that I could so easily picture.  I wanted to become friends with these three sparky and gutsy women and sit around the table with a glass of wine and discuss life and issues while our kids were playing in another room.  

Julia really does have such a fabulous way of putting words together which allow you to conjure up so many images and almost act out her book in your mind. 
 

This was a beautifully warm, cosy, delightful book that I couldn't put down; I was totally and completely engrossed and wrapped up within the story.  It was yet another wonderful book which has filled me full of Christmas spirit! 

I reviewed The Summer Season by Julia Williams earlier this year, and that review can be found here

Julia Williams has always made up stories in her head and until recently she believed everybody else did the same. She grew up in London, one of eight children including a twin sister. She was a children's editor at Scholastic for several years before going freelance after the birth of her second child. It was then she decided to try her hand at writing. The result was Pastures New, which was her debut novel. It was a best seller and sold across Europe.

To find out more about Julia go to her website at www.JuliaWilliamsauthor.com

You can visit her blog at www.maniacmum.blogspot.com

You can follow Julia on Twitter
You can flike Julia on Facebook

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Interview with author Ann Lee Miller

Delighted today to be joined by Ann Lee Miller all the way from Phoenix, America.  Lovely to have her come over to the UK even if it is only for a virtual visit.  Ann has very kindly offered to give everyone the opportunity to receive a free e-copy of her book Kicking Eternity.  All you have to do is leave a comment on this post, with your email address or alternatively contact Ann for a free book via her website at AnnLeeMiller.com.  Thanks so much for offering this to my blog readers.  


So Ann, welcome to my blog and to the UK,  I have lots of questions for you today.   Let's go!
 
What was the inspiration/motivation behind the book?
As a young person, I dreamed of living as a hermit on the coast of North Carolina—which I had never seen—and writing. Instead I married and had four kids—and wrote. The hermit thing was a product of how I had been warped by a difficult childhood. The life I got oh-so-much-better suited me.

I’ve spent part of every year at camp for most my life—a natural setting for my book.

Who is this book written for?

Kicking Eternity is written for women 15-30.

How many years did your family live on the sailboat? Why did they?
My father spent several years building a forty-foot sailboat in our backyard. We launched it in the Miami River and lived aboard at Dinner Key Marina when I was eleven until I turned thirteen. At the time I didn’t realize how unusual it was to live on a boat and ride my bicycle down the dock each morning to attend school. All my friends at the marina did the same. After school every day, I tossed my books onto my bunk, shimmied into a swim suit, and jumped overboard.
Sailboats show up in all my books thus far. In addition to Kicking Eternity, The Art of My Lifedebuted in September, Avra’s God will launch in December, and Tattered Innocence next March.
Did you spend time in a convent?

I attended St. Hugh’s Catholic school in Miami, Florida, as a child, and was invited for a sleepover, along with my best friend, Jody, by our favorite bicycle-riding nun, Sister Sheila.

We had not quite recovered from the shock of discovering Sister Sheila had hair when the invitation came. The nuns had recently traded in their voluminous purple habits which covered all but their faces for scaled-back white outfits that, in Sister Sheila’s case, revealed two inches of mouse-brown hair threaded with silver.

Now we would find out if the nuns slept on boards and blocks of wood as we suspected, wore PJ’s, ate the host for dessert, or intoned the Gregorian chants for fun.

When we arrived, Sister Sheila whisked us into the inner sanctum of the convent, her sandals clicking across the terrazzo floor. A few minutes later, Jody and I gulped a breath and poked our heads into Sister Sheila’s white-walled bedroom. A crucifix hung over the dresser, but my eyes fastened on the twin bed draped in white chenille like the too-familiar spread on my mother’s bed.

At dinner the nuns, to our disappointment, talked and laughed like normal people. No hosts or communion wine appeared at table. No chants were uttered. Tucked into makeshift beds on chaise lounge cushions on the enclosed porch that night, we groused about not having spotted a single nun in her jammies. We plotted to take vows—once we got out of eighth grade, of course.

Though I gave entering the church five minutes serious consideration in my late teens, I had “boys” tattooed across my pupils. Jody became a business woman. Neither of us ever found out what nuns wear to bed.

Why did Sister Sheila’s hair jolt you into becoming a writer?

Discovering that Sister Sheila had hair the year she taught me fifth grade English somehow gelled in my mind with all her positive comments on my papers. My parents’ marriage was in meltdown, and encouragement was a rare thing at home. Sister Sheila made me believe I could write. A dream was born.

What do you hope your readers take away from Kicking Eternity?

I hope my readers are encouraged to figure out their dreams, then courageously step into them.
 

Back Cover:

Kicking Eternity—First Place Long Contemporary 2009 Romance Writers of America Faith, Hope, and Love Contest

Stuck in sleepy New Smyrna Beach one last summer, Raine socks away her camp pay checks, worries about her druggy brother, and ignores trouble: Cal Koomer. She’s a plane ticket away from teaching orphans in Africa, and not even Cal’s surfer six-pack and the chinks she spies in his rebel armor will derail her.

The artist in Cal begs to paint Raine’s ivory skin, high cheek bones, and internal sparklers behind her eyes, but falling for her would caterwaul him into his parents’ life. No thanks. The girl was self-righteous waiting to happen. Mom served sanctimony like vegetables, three servings a day, and he had a gut full.

Rec Director Drew taunts her with “Rainey” and calls her an enabler. He is so infernally there like a horsefly—till he buzzes back to his ex.

Raine’s brother tweaks. Her dream of Africa dies small deaths. Will she figure out what to fight for and what to free before it’s too late?

For anyone who’s ever wrestled with her dreams. 

 

“Ann Lee Miller writes stories straight from the heart with characters who'll become friends, remaining with you long after you turn that final page. You won't want to miss Kicking Eternity!”
Jenny B. Jones, Author of the Katie Parker Production Series from Think and The Charmed Life Series, and other single titles from Thomas Nelson.
 
Bio:

Ann Lee Miller earned a BA in creative writing from Ashland (OH) University and writes full-time in Phoenix, but left her heart in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, where she grew up. She loves speaking to young adults and guest lectures on writing at several Arizona colleges. When she isn’t writing or muddling through some crisis—real or imagined—you’ll find her hiking in the Superstition Mountains with her husband or meddling in her kids’ lives.


Blog: http://the-art-of-my-life.blogspot.com/

Twitter: @AnnLeeMiller


 

Buy Links:
http://www.amazon.com/Kicking-Eternity-ebook/dp/B0082GF8CE/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1347896437&sr=1-1&keywords=ann+lee+miller