Sunday, 27 July 2014

Join Paige Toon on her blog tour

Delighted today to kick-off Paige Toon's blog tour.  There's 13 stops on the blog tour and you can follow them all here.  
Paige joins me today specifically to tell us about the pictures that inspired Thirteen Weddings.  Reading this really does make the book come alive!  Over to you Paige:
Pics That Inspired 13W

Just before I started working on Thirteen Weddings, about a wedding photographer who falls in love with a groom, I was asked to take part in a local charity auction. The organisers wanted me to offer the chance to win a named character in my next book, so I agreed, but never in a million years did I think that the winning bid would be from a wedding photographer (who had no idea what my next book was about).

The name of the photographer is LinaOrsino, and she ended up helping me massively with my research. In my book, Bronte gets some part-time work with wedding photographer Rachel, who learnt everything she knows from a wedding photographer called LinaOrsino. She’s not wrong… I don’t know what I would have done without all of Lina’s help.

In reality, Lina is one half of Lina& Tom, and many of their stunning weddingshoots inspired scenes in Thirteen Weddings. Here are just a handful, but if you’d like to see more of their work or talk to them about photographing your wedding, here is their website: – but be quick, they book up early!

Groom in Ely Cathedral

Lina handles the front-of-church shots like this magnificent one of a groom with the vast expanse of Ely Cathedral behind him. This shot inspired the setting for Bronte’s eighth wedding. Lina’s partner Tom is at the back of the cathedral, capturing the bride’s arrival. Once the bride is past him, Tom’s primary focus is to capture the groom’s expression when he sees his bride for the first time. Lina, meanwhile, captures the corresponding shot of the bride. When Lina told me this, I decided to put Bronte at the back of the church – and this impacts on her heavily when she has to shoot the love of her life, Alex, on his wedding day.It’s just one example of how much Lina helped me.

The ‘Crazy Hat’ Wedding

Lina told me about this wedding, and even though I only mention it in passing in the book, I thought you might like to see it. The bride and groom and all of the congregation wore traditional wedding outfits from the neck down, but on their heads, they wore crazy headgear. Here the groom is wearing a Roman Centurion helmet, and the bride has a magpie’s nest on her head which is full of sparkling jewels. Lina and Tom think it’s great when people choose to do something a little bit different – I think they look amazing.

Kiss In The Rain

I talk about this shot in hindsight in the book, but originally I wrote about this scene in full. My editor thought it slowed the pace down (she was right) so it’s now one of my deleted scenes on this blog tour. (Visit on 1 August to read it!) Most brides and grooms would be disappointed if it was raining on their wedding day, but Linaand Tom prove that shots in the rain like this one can be beautifully romantic.


Lina and Tom excel at capturing candid snapshots of a couple’s big day, and when she told me about this moment, I just had to include it in Bronte’s first wedding. In the book, Bronte rushes outside the church, just in time for the bride and groom to burst out of the door, the groom shouting, ‘YES!’ How cute do they look? I love this shot.


A note from Paige: Sign up to my book club, ‘The Hidden Paige’, at for free short stories, competitions and the chance to find out more about me and my characters and what we’re all up to.

Follow me on Twitter @PaigeToonAuthor or visit me at

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Friday, 18 July 2014

Day 4 - Hot Chocolate and Tea Cakes by Amanda Prowse

Today I am super excited to share with you part four in the exclusive short story from Amanda Prowse.  The other stops are listed below.
Hot Chocolate and Teacakes by Amanda Prowse
‘Nah.’ Poppy looked at her scuffed toes, happy that he seemed concerned and yet slightly embarrassed that he was familiar with the taunts fired in her direction from Jackie Sinclair ‘you’re a stinky flea bag Poppy Day!’
‘I can’t write that essay on what we like most about our dad’s,’ she looked up, letting the obvious implication sink in. ‘I don’t know what to put.’ It was easy to admit things to Martin Cricket; as her Nan said, they were birds of a feather.
You don’t know what to put?’ he sighed, ‘I wrote a whole page but ripped it up and started again.’
‘What did you do that for?’ she was puzzled.
‘Cos when I read it back, it said, the best thing about my dad is when he is asleep or up the pub and not near me.’
Poppy laughed loudly. ‘We’re a right pair in’t we?’  It was all she could think of to mask the sadness that her friend’s comments revealed, life for him in a cramped flat with a bully was no fun.
Yesterday's instalment can be found at

Stop by for tomorrows instalment.

Will You Rememember Me? is out now! Get your copy from Amazon UK
After reading this incredible book this week, I was inspired to write a blog post about it.  You can read this post here.  
About Amanda:
Amanda has always obsessively crafted short stories and scribbled notes for potential books. Five years ago, she quit her job as a management consultant and began writing full time. The result was Poppy Day, the story of an army wife, whose incredible love for her husband gives her the courage to rescue him from hostages in Afghanistan. Originally self-published in October 2011 with 100% of royalties going to the Royal British Legion, Poppy Day quickly became a bestseller and Amanda was signed up by Head of Zeus publishers.
Follow Amanda on Twitter @MrsAmandaProwse

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Review - Will You Remember Me? by Amanda Prowse

WOW! What an incredible book! It broke my heart, it made me think about life and mortality, it stirred up lots of memories around my darling mom being stolen from us by that vile cancer disease.  Last night, I sobbed uncontrollably at this heart-wrenching book and at one point couldn't read anymore because I couldn't breathe for crying! I couldn't see the pages because they just blurred beneath my tears.  I think I got through a whole toilet roll before I calmed myself down and brought myself back to a state where I could read the end which was just beautiful!

I just want to order every book that Amanda Prowse has written and devour them one after the other.  I reviewed A Little Love last year, click here for my review.  I adored that book!

She has an incredible way of making you shut outside the world and totally focus on the story and her amazing characters.  She takes you on a rollercoaster journey of emotions as if the story was happening to you!  

Amanda Prowse - you are an incredible author.  To be able to stir up such huge emotions, truly is a gift.

Here's some blurb about the book, which I also have to say has one of the most gorgeous covers I've ever seen.  Then I wanted to share some thoughts I've had since I read that last page.  I'm sure that this must have been a difficult book for Amanda to write as some of the things in the book have occurred in real life. I would love to meet Amanda one day and give her a HUMUNGOUS hug!

Book Blurb

How do you say goodbye to your family for the last time?
Poppy Day is looking forward to her best year yet. She's thirty-two, married to her childhood sweetheart, and a full-time mum of two gorgeous children. She loves her clean little house in the countryside - a far cry from the London estate where she grew up. Her husband Mart, a soldier, has just returned safe and sound from his latest tour.

But Poppy is so busy caring for others, she hasn't noticed the fatigue in her body, or the menacing lump growing on her breast. If there's anyone strong and deserving enough to defeat cancer it's Poppy. After all, she's fought harder battles than this. But does life really work like that?

Here are the thoughts I'm feeling today: 

1. I've always wanted to write a letter to Ollie, so if ever anything happens to me, he knows just how much his mom has loved him from the minute I knew he was growing in my body. He has made my life complete! I have a memory box but it doesn't explain what the things in it are and the story behind them.  I would like to ensure he knows what each and every thing in his box meant to his mom. I need to do it now! Who knows what is around the corner. Don't put something off that is important to you.

2. Life is short, don't fall out with people who are really important to you and that you've had years of happiness with.  Sometimes we do and say silly things and they are not always done to hurt you, they're just done.  If you can get past things that have hurt you, you can be at peace with yourself. Forgiving someone doesn't take away what happened, but it does take away the hurt and pain that you are feeling inside and that is eating you up inside. You can't ever change something that happens but you can change how you feel about it.  Hurt goes away.  Don't let important people do the same.
3. When I die, I want to leave wonderful memories behind me so that people remember me with love and happiness.  I plan to make beautiful memories that my son will hold in his heart forever.

4. I have never forgotten my mom and I think about her every day.  She was the best mom that I could have ever wished for.  I pledge to do all I can in my life to be the best mom I could ever be to Ollie so that when I'm not around, he remembers me with love and happiness and knows just how loved he has been.

5. When I die, I will always be around the people that I love helping and supporting them.  I will also
use an amazing lady called Michelle Davies if she'll let me to come back and prove to you that I am around you! You just won't be able to see me anymore but I will do everything in my power to let you know I'm still around you! I will drop feathers, I will put things in your way to make you stop, I will move things, I will be there! And I promise to scoot off when 'personal' things happen! Believe me, I have no wish to see my friends on the loo or doing rudies!

6. I know now that I have NEVER got over losing my mom.  I have learned to live with the fact that she's not in my life anymore but I will not let it be a thing that I hold onto with sadness and grief.  I will remember her as being the person who gave me life and loved me whatever I did even if she didn't agree with me (in many cases!).  I will make her proud of me. 

7. I don't have to tell people who are crap just how crap they are even if their actions and behaviour has affected my life massively.  They have to live with themselves.  Telling them what I think of them (which I would dearly love to do to some people) is not productive for me.  It might make me feel better but it is something that they then have to live with.  They probably already know that they are crap! They probably already feel awful about it.  However, if you are this person who is crap - you can do something about it.  Be someone

8. Life is precious, life is a gift and one day we will all die.  It's the cycle of life.  I am not afraid to die.  I believe that my mom will be waiting for me.  I believe that mom and dad are together now and one day I will see them again. Part of me is really looking forward to that, although I have so much more to do here before I'm planning on leaving. 

9. Don't let things that have happened to you in the past, shape your future.  Too many people say that they're the way they are because of something that affected them years ago!  Life is for living, not being bitter and twisted over something that you can't change! Get over it! Move on! Be the person, you want to be not the person you think that other people have made you.  YOU control your destiny. 

10. Don't whinge and whine! If you don't like something - change it! You have the power to do that! People will be around to support you, but they can't do it for you.  Pick yourself up, dust yourself down, get help if you need it, but you have to help yourself.  You make a choice in the morning when you wake up to be happy or miserable.  People want to be surrounded by upbeat, happy, positive people.  Negativity is like poison! Get rid of it! Do you want to be remembered as a miserable old git that no-one wants to be around or a person who people love to be around?

11. Think about others more than yourself.  Treat people how you would like to be treated. If you treat people with respect, kindness and try your hardest to be nice to people.  And don't forget if you are horrible to me, remember what I said in No 5! I'LL STILL BE AROUND YOU KNOW!

I don't think a book has ever had such an impact on me! I'm feeling SO emotional today!

Amazon UK

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Review - Holiday Reads by Elaine Spires

Seven short stories for your sun-lounger - or wherever you read them in fact, will be thoroughly enjoyed in this anthology of entertaining, interesting and delightful tales.

Seven women, each with a different holiday problem. Meet, Olivia, who wishes she wasn't on a tennis holiday; Estelle, alone on a cruise; Fiona who's flying too close for comfort; Shelley, who shouldn't have got involved with a foreigner; Alison who finds out her husband's off on a cruise - but not with her!; Eloise who's having a rotten time in Ibiza and Karla who's desperate for her family holiday in Corfu to go well. 

I've read all of Elaine's books and have enjoyed every single one of them.  She's great at writing twists into her plots and creating characters that are believable and you can relate to.  I immediately become immersed in her books which while I normally find hard with short stories, I found really easy when reading Holiday Reads.  I could quite happily have gone on to read a book about each of the women in this collection, the characters were so engaging.

She's also really great at making you create the place she's writing about from her descriptions.  This, I think is a really great skill.  I feel like I've been around the world with these stories.  This also goes to show that you can go anywhere when you are a reader! And I have to add that I love the cover of this book! It's my dream!

Elaine Spires is an author, playwright and an actress.  She spends her time between her homes in Essex and in Antigua (I am sooooo not jealous!).  She has used her background in education and tourism to capture the quirky characteristics of people and humorous observations which she shares in her novels.

She is also an entertaining and informative after-dinner and motivational speaker and eulogist.

You can buy Holidays Reads via Amazon UK 
You can find out more about Elaine Spires and her other fabulously entertaining books at
You can follow Elaine Spires on Twitter
You can like Elaine Spires Author on Facebook

Friday, 4 July 2014

Review - The School Gate Survial Guide by Kerry Fisher

Feisty Maia Etxeleku is a cleaner for ladies who lunch. She spends her life wiping up spilt Sauvignon and hoovering around handbags before rushing back home to skivvy after her children's feckless father on an estate where survival depends on your ability to look the other way.
But an unusual inheritance catapults her into a different world where no child can survive without organic apricots and Kumon maths classes – and no woman can contemplate a week without Pilates and pedicures.
As she blunders through a middle class minefield, dashing from coffee mornings to her mops and buckets, she is drawn to the one man who can help her family fit in. But is his interest in her purely professional or will her modern My Fair Lady experiment end in disaster?

This was such a good book, which I couldn't wait to read more of.  I loved and connected with the character of Maia from the very first page.  She was a mom first and foremost who was doing what she thought was the right thing for her children even if that meant putting her own happiness to the back of the pile.  I could completely relate to this and loved her for it. 

Her partner was abusive to her, not particularly physically but certainly mentally, and completely dragged her down each day with his laziness, grumpiness and general lack of respect for her and his children.  When she met people who showed her that people can be nice, and made new friends, she realised that there was more to life and she took control which is such a difficult and brave thing to do.

I'd have loved to be friends with Maia and also with her new friend from school: Clover who was completely fabulous.  She didn't care what people thought of her and Maia learned a lot from her.  Mr Peters was also a bit of a hero in my eyes.  I liked his character a lot!

The plot was great, the writing was brilliant, the characters adorable (except for Colin who I hated with quite a passion - the lazy arse!), the ending was perfect and fabulous.  It really was an excellently entertaining read that I would highly recommend.   

The only thing that I struggled with in this book was pronouncing Maia's surname as I found myself skipping over it each time as my head couldn't get round it! I know it was explained at one point in the book, but I still couldn't say it!

I will definitely read more from this author.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book!

Kerry was brought up in Peterborough.  She now lives in Surrey with a very tolerant husband and two children.  She studied at Bath University and speaks fluent Italian, Spanish and French.  She also trained as a journalist at City University, then went on to write travel guides for Thomas Cook.

After landing her dream job working on women's magazines, she discovered that she wasn't able to write about real people in case their families got upset. 

The Writer's Program at the University of California helped her to move from fact to fiction - the perfect forum for exploring human emotions without worrying about some poor mother weeping over her son's account of his childhood.

Find out more about Kerry at her website

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