Archive for August, 2013

The Valentine Present, and other Diabolical Liberties

Lynda Renham

valentines presentOn arriving home after a friend s posh wedding, launderette worker Harriet, finds her life irrevocably changed when she discovers her flat ransacked and her boyfriend missing. In a matter of hours she is harassed by East End gangsters and upper crust aristocrats. Accepting an offer she can’t refuse, Harriet, against her better judgment becomes the fiancée of the wealthy Hamilton Lancaster, with dire consequences. What she had not bargained on was meeting Doctor Brice Edmunds. The Valentine Present and Other Diabolical Liberties is Lynda Renham’s funniest novel so far. A cocktail of misunderstandings, three unlikely gangsters, a monkey and a demented cat make this novel a hysterical read. Follow Harriet s adventure where every attempt to get out of trouble puts her deeper in it.

Harriet Lawson is my kind of gal. Feisty and with a great sense of humour, she has some fabulous one liners and is a great main character for this book. Unfortunately she is partnered with a bit of a smarmy loser, Julian, who has done the dirty on her big time – but not in the way you might think.

Having given up on her dream to nurse in underprivileged areas abroad in order to support Julian in his new venture, and having to work in a launderette whilst trying to keep up with her studies, Harriet is frustrated and just trying to make the best of a bad situation – a situation that is going to get a whole lot worse.

In the mean time the very rich and pompous Hamilton Lancaster is in a fix as he is desperate to inherit his grandmothers shares – but has to show himself to be responsibly settling down as soon as possible in order to do so. After all, his grandmother only has six months to live….

A chance meeting at a mutual friends wedding leads to Harriet receiving a very interesting proposition and while she feels uncomfortable with it – it could solve her increasingly mounting problems. What could go wrong? And who is the very gorgeous guy she also met at the wedding who caused her to tingle in all sorts of places?!

This was an hilarious read. Harriet’s character is brilliant and she had me in stitches. She is very much your normal average girl thrust into a ridiculous situation and trying to muddle her way through it. Just when you think things can’t get any worse – they do. Initially I felt sorry for her as she is seemingly blinded by her love for Julian – but thankfully as events transpire she comes to realise that what she thought was love, really isn’t at all. More a relationship of convenience – and mostly convenient for Julian.

There is a delightful selection of characters from the faithful and ‘all over the place’ best friend Fi and her stuttering boyfriend Alistair who is the butt of many a joke, to the bumbling wannabe East End gangsters and the very upper class family to which Hamilton belongs – and who are all hiding secrets of their own.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. A carefully written story with many intricacies woven in and yet told in such a witty and relaxed style that as the reader I was pulled in and kept there – wanting to keep turning the page to find out hat was going to happen next.

Verdict: I was already a fan of Lynda Renham having read and enjoyed ‘Pink Wellies and Flat Caps’, ‘Wedding Cake to Turin’ and ‘Coconuts and Wonderbras’. Her latest release therefore, ‘The Valentines Present’ has firmly established her as one of my favourite authors.

Publisher: Raucous Publishing
Publication Date:September 2013
Format: eArc
Pages: 288
Genre: Chick Lit
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Lesley
Source: Provided by author
Challenge: British book

‘The Valentine Present’ has to be my favourite book of yours to date. I loved the combination of working class, upper class and gangsters all being brought together. What inspired you towards this particular plot line?
Thank you so much. I am thrilled you enjoyed it. I was so worried about this book. I started three different stories to begin with and found myself drawn to Harriet. The inspiration came from the building work we had done on our house. We had no kitchen or bathroom for almost six months and had to go to the laundrette. I remember watching everyone in there and thinking what a great character could come out of this. Now you have her. The plot unravelled as the book progressed. But was influenced by the film ‘The Long Good Friday’ I am influenced by everything. I enjoyed writing about the stuttering Alistair. The book is dedicated to all stutterers of which I was one. I had a terrible stammer as a child. It is better now and only surfaces when I am excited or angry. But I believe you have to laugh at everything.

Which has been your favourite book to write and why?
I think possibly this one. It was great fun to write and I enjoyed creating the gangsters very much. I also loved ‘Pink Wellies’ and especially the research. I was far from a country girl when I researched the book. Even though I live in the country my Essex roots are still with me. You can read the fun story of my research forthat book on my blog here. Mud, dung, and the real Molly are funnier than the book. Alice’s fear of spiders is very much my own. I’ve been known to stand on a chair for hours because a spider was sharing the same room J

Who is your favourite author?
I have many. I read an assortment of Genre’s. I love Kimberley Chambers, Iris Murdoch and I have just finished Graham Rawle’s ‘Woman’s World’ which was sheer brilliance.

What/who was inspirational in getting you started on the road to being a successful author?
People who make a difference inspire me. My husband Andrew has been my greatest inspiration. I actually stopped writing many years ago. It was him who got me started again. If it hadn’t have been for him I would still be working in the health sector. The stepping stone to comedy was watching ‘The Holiday’ and wondering can I write a novel that gives you the same feel good feeling. I hope I have achieved that.

What favourite drink/nibbles to you keep close at hand whilst writing?
Oh, my goodness. This is my biggest procrastination. I swear my head is in the fridge more than anywhere else. Popcorn and biscuits. I love oatcakes. My keyboard is bunged up with the stuff J I eat copious amounts of yogurt too. I swear I eat constantly. I’m a grazer. Worse than a cow, that’s me J

lynda renhamLynda Renham has been writing for as long as she can remember and had her first work published in a magazine at age nine and has continued writing in various forms since. She has had several poems published as well as articles in numerous magazines and newspapers. Recently she has taken part in radio discussions on the BBC.
She has studied literature and creative writing and has a blog on her web page: www.renham.co.uk
Lynda lives with her second husband and cat in Oxfordshire, England. She is Associate Editor for the online magazine The Scavenger and contributor to many others. When not writing Lynda can usually be found wasting her time on Facebook.

Review and interview by Lesley

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The Ravenous Beast

Naimh Sharkey

ravenous beastThe ravenous beast is hungry, hungry, hungry. But is he the hungriest animal of all? “Nonsense smonsense,” scoff the other animals, and “Hokum Pokum!” But they want to watch out or the ravenous beast might just gobble ’em up and swallow ’em down!

This is a lovely, fun picture book. Ravenous beast announces that he is ‘Hungry, Hungry, Hungry!’ and is the hungriest beast of all. The other animals all tell him how hungry they are too, they want to eat lots of weird and wonderful things (‘a bucket and spade and some red lemonade’). So we have to read on to discover who really is the hungriest of all.

This is written in rhyme and my children chant along with parts of the story. They giggle at all the different ways the animals are going to eat ‘munch ‘em, crunch ‘em’ and so on. There is great use of repetition which always makes things catchy.

The pictures are cute, bright and colourful and illustrate the animals weird tastes beautifully.

Verdict: This is a great, light-hearted book for children.

Reviewed by Helen

Publisher: Walker
Publication Date: 2009
Format: Picture book
Pages: 32
Genre: Picture book
Age: Early readers
Reviewer: Helen
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: None
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The Mortal Instruments City Of Bones Movie

Director: Harald Zwart
Writers: Jessica Postigo (screenplay), Cassandra Clare (based on the novel by)
Stars: Lily Collins, Jamie Campbell Bower, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Lena Headly

TMI-website-one-sheetHave you seen New York City’s dark side?
Clary Fray (Lily Collins) thought she was an ordinary teenager living in Brooklyn until one night in a downtown nightclub she encounters the sexy, mysterious Jace. Upon witnessing Jace hunt down and kill a demon in the crowded club, Clary begins to wonder if she is that ordinary after all. Especially as she appears to be the only one who can see him…
Jace Wayland (Jamie Campbell Bower) is a Shadowhunter. Part of a secret cadre of half-angel warriors, he is tasked with protecting humanity in an ancient battle against demonic forces. This battle has been fought secretly in our midst for centuries, but the stakes have just been raised.
When Clary’s mother is viciously attacked and taken from their home, she discovers her connections to Jace run deeper than she could ever have imagined and beneath surface of the city exists another world…one she unknowingly belongs to.
As both Clary and best friend Simon (Robert Sheehan) are drawn into this dark and dangerous world, Clary realises Jace is both the key to uncovering her past and protecting her future.
Based on Cassandra Clare’s bestselling novel, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones is directed by Harold Zwart and also stars Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Lena Headey.
Discover a world hidden within our own

It’s no secret that I love the work of Cassandra Claire (read my fan girling here). I’m sure that you can imagine my reaction when I received an email from the lovelies at Walker Books, inviting me to the press preview of The Mortal Instruments City Of Bones. The term kid on Christmas morning doesn’t quite cover it!

Arriving at Odeon West End in London’s Leicester Squire (the smaller cinema located south of the square), I shuffled past the long queue of very excited, very patient, Mortal Instruments fans waiting for their screening, to the press entrance. I was immediately directed to sign a non disclosure agreement, preventing me from talking about the film until now. Paperwork complete and “stele” pen in hand I explored the cinema. I was greeted by darken rooms, extremely tall “shadow hunters” serving canapés and a delicious bramble flavoured “Brooklyn Cocktail”.

Grabbing my drink, I made my way to the screening to meet up with fellow book bloggers Caitlin from The Cait Files (visit her blog here), Andrew (The Pewter Wolf) and Casey (from Dark Readers) both of whom I’d met for the first time queueing at a Cassie Claire signing ( read event repot here), and book tuber Katie (visit her you tube channel, Oh Cakey, here)

After what felt like a very brief catch up the movie began.

For a little taste of the movie check out this trailer.

In honour of my first ever movie “review” I decided to pluck up the courage to film my first ever volg (video blog).

I have to say a massive thanks to faye ( read her fabulous book blog, A Daydreamers Thoughts, here). Without Faye’s editing skills you would be subjected to at least four minutes of “ummm”‘s, not to mention a dozen or so more uses of “slick”, “energetic”, “firstly”,”so” and “I feel”.

So here it is, my thoughts and feelings on The Mortal Instruments City Of Bones movie.

Image and blurb take from eOne Films UK. For more information on The Mortal Instruments City Of Bones and other films you can visit the site (here).

Posted by Caroline

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My Busy Being Bella Day

Rebecca Patteson

busy being bellaBella is going to have a very busy day at nursery – but what about baby brother Bob? He gets to stay at home with Mummy, and Bella can’t help but imagine all the wonderful things he’ll get to do. But Bella discovers there’s some good things about being bigger and going to nursery after all, and maybe she’ll be surprised about what Bob and Mummy have been doing without her…

It was a joy to hear Rebecca Patterson read us this book at the Random House Spring Showcase. How exciting to hear the author read with the emphasis and expression she intended it to have. I really enjoyed bringing it home to my children and passing her rendition on to them myself, but if you haven’t had this chance don’t be put off, the layout of the text and the use of bold and large sized print in places makes it easy and a delight to read aloud. It also fully expresses the way a young child might think and speak about the things they are experiencing.

This story follows Bella in her time at Nursery, spending some of it convinced that brother Bob is having a much better time at home, until she gets caught up in pre-school activities and forgets to think about Bob, then she goes home to find out if her assumptions were correct. This is so true to life, it fits the conversations I have with both my girls who each think the other is probably having more fun than they are. There is real insight into the world of a pre-schooler.

It is also a funny story, the humour is in the everyday things, banana’s with SPOTS, licking foam, being the noisiest teapot. There is humour in the pictures, the facial expressions, the situations and the pictures of Bella’s thoughts. The illustrations are bright and colourful. I enjoyed the fact that they started right at the beginning before there was any text and continued after the story had finished. It gave us an extra insight into Bella’s day and also made my girls look more closely at the pictures to try and see what they told us about the story.

Verdict: This is a lovely funny story with a sweet ending and on a theme that any child with a brother or sister can identify with.

Reviewed by Helen

Publisher: Random House Children’s
Publication Date: May 2013
Format: Paperback
Pages: 32
Genre: Humour, School
Age: Picture book
Reviewer: Helen
Source: Provide by publisher at event
Challenge: British book
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Book Excerpt: Breaking The Reins

Today we are delighted to share an excerpt from Juliana Haygert‘s Breaking The Reins.

breaking the reinsHorses, mansions, tea parties, and lies are twenty-year-old Hannah Taylor’s life. To others, her family and her relationship with Eric is perfect. But she knows the truth. She lives it.
After a fire takes her grandma’s life and kills her horse, Hannah’s immaculate life spirals out of control. Her father disapproves of her decision to run her grandma’s ranch instead of focusing solely on learning the family business; Animal Control brings her Argus, a mistreated horse that she can’t turn away even though she’s not ready for another horse; and her boyfriend, Eric Bennett, a world famous polo player, becomes possessive and authoritarian. Despite her best efforts to disguise it, Hannah grows wary of him.
Then, Leonardo Fernandes struts onto the polo scene. A cocky rookie with a messy life of his own, he’s drawn to Hannah and isn’t afraid of showing it, even when Eric makes it clear she is his and he’ll do whatever it takes to keep it that way. Hannah suffers for Eric’s jealousy. The abuse only gets worse when Leo steals the title of best polo player in the world from Eric.
But the title isn’t enough for Leo. He wants Hannah too, and she can’t deny her attraction to him either. Somehow, she must find a way to break free from abusive Eric before he breaks every bone in her body.
**New Adult Contemporary Romance Novel**

I stepped toward the big French doors when I heard a shout and stopped. I looked around, trying to find the source, but didn’t see anyone. Letting my curiosity win, I descended the porch steps and followed the short stone path around a tall wall. Perhaps I shouldn’t spy, but I was concerned it could be someone who’d been riding and fell or something.

What I didn’t expect was to find Leo arguing with his father. In Portuguese.

I should have left. I should have retreated, pretended I never saw anything, and went back inside the main house and back to my mother and her friends.

But I caught a few words and sentences whispered in fast, harsh tones. Disappointment. Make me proud. Grow up. Work hard and stop playing.

My curiosity piqued, making me stay glued to my spot in the corner.

“Me deixa em paz, tche!” Leo shouted, turning his back to his father and stalking away.

I stepped back and hid behind the wall, hoping for all that was holy that he hadn’t seen me. My hopes went down the drain when he stepped around the corner three seconds later, his hard eyes on mine.

“I’m sorry,” I whispered. “I didn’t mean to.”

His jaw tightened, and he crossed his arms over his blue T-shirt. The color emphasized his bright eyes, and the fabric clung to him, especially over his stomach, where a dark blotch of sweat showed off his hard abs. His goddamn white practice pants and the sweat-damp hair didn’t help either.

“How much did you hear?” he asked.

I swallowed, forcing my mind to push back images of his god-like body. “Not much. But I only understood a couple of words here and there.” I shifted my weight, uncomfortable under his gaze, not only because I’d seen and heard something I wasn’t supposed to. Keep your mouth shut, Hannah. Keep your damned mouth sh… “Want to talk about it?”

The shine in his eyes changed, and the tension in his neck seemed to lessen. He shook his head. “Don’t worry. It’s just the usual banter.”

Usual? I didn’t like the sound of that. His family seemed so perfect, so warm, so close, so happy. His sister had said he rarely smiled, which seemed odd since I had seen him smiling before. I was dying to know why he and his father usually argued.
Instead, I started a new subject. “I heard you’re staying.”

He nodded. “It was the plan all along.”

“Really?”

“Sim. Polo in Brazil isn’t that strong. Here, though, is another story.”

“I see.” I looked from side to side. “Do you and your brothers plan on staying for … long?” I pressed my lips together, chiding myself for almost saying forever.

“We don’t know. Perhaps, if all goes well.” He took a step closer, his eyes still on mine, making me slightly breathless. His body loomed closer, the difference in our heights and widths almost hilarious, if it wasn’t for the fact it turned me on.

Crap.

“I hope we do.”

A shiver rolled down my spine.

juliana haygertAbout the Author:
New Adult author and contributor at NA Alley blog (visit here)
While Juliana Haygert dreams of being Wonder Woman, Buffy, or a blood elf shadow priest, she settles for the less exciting—but equally gratifying—life of a wife, mother, and author. Thousands of miles away from her former home in Brazil, she now resides in Connecticut and spends her days writing about kick-ass heroines and the heroes who drive them crazy.
To learn more about Juliana and her work visit her at her website (here),her blog (here), Facebook page (here) and Goodread’s authors page (here). Alternatively you can converse with her on twitter (here).

Breaking the Reins was published on the 19th of August and is available to buy from Amazon.com (here), Amazon.co.uk (here) and Kobo Books (here).

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The Detectives Daughter

Lesley Thomson

detective's daughterKate Rokesmith’s decision to go to the river changed the lives of many. Her murder shocked the nation. Her husband never pressed charges and moved abroad under a cloud of suspicion. Her son, just four years old, grew up in a loveless boarding school. And Detective Inspector Darnell, vowing to leave no stone unturned in the search for her killer, began to lose his only daughter. The young Stella Darnell grew to resent the dead Kate Rokesmith for capturing her father’s attention in a way she never could.
Thirty years later, Stella is dutifully sorting through her father’s attic after his sudden death. The Rokesmith case papers are in a corner gathering dust: the case was never solved. Stella knows she should destroy them. Instead, she opens the box, and starts to read

As it says in the blurb this is the story of Stella taking on an unsolved murder mystery when her policeman father dies. The murder happened 30 years previously when Kate Rokesmith was killed by the river Thames in front of her 4 year old son, Johnathon Rokesmith, one summers day. DI Darnell was unable to solve the case and it has come to represent to Stella her father’s absence in her life due to his devotion to his job.

When Terry (DI Darnell) dies suddenly in a small seaside town Stella is forced to confront some of her feelings about him and their relationship. After finding the boxes with all the papers for the case and some hints that Terry was continuing to try and resolve it Stella can’t let it go. Then when she meets the enigmatic Jack Harmon and one of her clients (Stella runs a cleaning agency) dies in strange circumstances all sorts of ‘co-incidences’ come together to spur on Stella’s curiosity and involvement in the case.

This story has many twists and turns. It also has flashbacks to the time of the murder and what happened afterwards scattered through the novel. We get the information we need in bits and pieces to put together a picture of what happened that day and how that has impacted the present day. I really enjoyed this and the levels of suspense that it maintained. I also liked the way that often we have more information than Stella and can sometimes be one step ahead of her in the race to solve the case. Lesley manages to keep you guessing and wondering if your theories about what happened are actually right and to keep questioning the characters and how they are related.

I particularly enjoyed the fact that I did solve the mystery correctly, but I didn’t know if I was right until the end, consequently it was a book I found really difficult to put down, I definitely wanted to know what happened! Plus as the tale reached it’s climax I was gripped waiting to see if there would be another murder…

This is a page turner with a heart though as through the whole story there is Stella struggling to come to terms with losing a Dad she loved but wasn’t close to. The whole theme of loving and losing your parents as experienced by both Stella and Jonathon gives the novel a bigger emotional punch.

I definitely recommend this book.

Reviewed by Helen

Publisher: Head Of Zeus
Publication Date: May 2013
Format: eBook
Pages: 480/1713KB
Genre: Crime
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Helen
Source: Own Copy
Challenge:British Book
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The Hunger Games

Suzanne Collins

the hunger games ebookCould you survive on your own, in the wild, with everyone out to make sure you don’t live to see the morning? In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister’s place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before—and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that will weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

I’m sure you’ve heard of the Hunger games already, but don’t always judge a book by its movie! I read this book in two days flat and I think it’s addictive! It’s set in the ruins of North America in a place called Panem in which there are 12 districts; district 1, district 2 and so on. The higher the number of your district, the higher poverty rates are. All of the 12 districts are run by the Capitol, the capital city and where the President, President Snow lives.

16 year old Katniss Everdeen lives in district 12 in a tiny house with her little sister Primrose, Prim for short and her mum. Because the capitol want to show the districts who is the best and to stop them revolting, they declare every year, that all children from the ages of 12 to 18 are to have their names put into a bowl and then, in each district, a male and female, will be selected to fight to the death in an arena, and it would be called the hunger games. The reaping day was when they picked out the names, and as you got older the more times your name would be put into the selection bowl. Katniss was in there 24 times, Prim was in there once. Before the Reaping, Katniss went out hunting in the woods, which was forbidden but she and her hunting partner Gale knew how to hunt.

So at the reaping, they line up the children from district 12 and they first pick out a girl. Out of 7000 people, Primrose Everdeen is picked. Katniss volunteers in place of her little sister. But out of the Boys Peeta Mellark is picked and he becomes very prominent in the next part of the book. Find out how Peeta confesses his love for Katniss, we meet some strange but amusing characters, they train hard, make an alliance with a little girl but does Katniss defeat the odds and rise to victory? Well find out yourself!

Verdict: you have to read this book! I mean it! I took no time to finish it, but the book has so much to it I couldn’t write it all down! I’m soo glad that there are two other books after it because I was left hanging off the edge. The most Thrilling, adrenaline pumping book you have ever read. You don’t want to miss out on it! I give it 10 out of 10 nothing else said.
Verdict the Second: Are you reading it yet? Don’t forget to read: Catching Fire (book 2) and Mockingjay (book 3), I’m reading Mockingjay at the moment, highly recommended!

Reviewed by Daisy(12)

Publisher: Scholastic
Publication Date: September 2009
Format: eBook
Pages: 387
Genre: Dystopian, Adventure, Romance
Age: YA
Reviewer: Daisy (12)
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: None
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Shhh! Don’t Wake The Royal Baby

Martha Mumford and Ada Grey (illustrator)

dont wake the royal babyIt’s chaos at the Royal Palace – the Royal Baby just won’t go to sleep. Waaaaah! Waaaaah! Waaaaah!
The Royal Family has tried everything to pacify the little bundle of joy – from proferring the golden royal dummy to death-defying parachute jumps with the Queen. But, just when the little one seems to be settling, another disturbance is just around the corner. From yip-yapping corgis to marching guards and noisy party planning, the palace is awash with noise. Will it ever be peaceful enough to lull the baby off to sleep?
A laugh-out-loud celebration of the new addition to the Royal Family, guaranteed to raise a few giggles.

As the description said the royal baby just won’t sleep and the royal parent s and grandparents try a whole host of ways to try and get him to settle down. The Duke takes him for a helicopter ride, the Queen takes him parachuting, he is read stories and so forth. But every time they succeed in getting the royal baby to sleep something in the royal household wakes him up again, my personal favourite was Prince Harry and Pippa preparing a party to celebrate his arrival with the cry of ‘More blini’s’. Indeed this is a funny book, seeing the royals trying to get this baby to sleep in weird ways is amusing, some of the humour made me smile more than my daughters who didn’t always get the joke.. They did enjoy the story and find some of it funny though.

The illustrations are a great back up to the story, the depictions of the royal family are recognisable and add to the enjoyment. The Queen in a onesie with crowns all over it and pink fluffy slippers was great (but one of things that will have made me smile more than my daughters). The girls liked the pictures of the soldiers, the corgi’s and the funny things they did with the baby.

Verdict:This is a light-hearted story that can please adults as well as children. Any parent knows the frustrations of trying to and quiet down a crying baby! It is a nice piece of memorabilia for children to enjoy now qand look back on later.

Reviewed by Helen

Publisher: Bloomsbury Childrens’
Publication Date: July 2013
Format: Paperback
Pages: 32
Genre: Humour
Age: Picture book
Reviewer: Helen
Source: Provide by publisher
Challenge: none
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Self published Sunday: Interview With Emma Louise

We are delighted to welcome Emma Louise Dagnall to Self Published Sunday. The Mistake is Emma’s debut novel and was self published through CreateSpace on Thursday 13th June 2013.

the mistake A romance novel set in West Didsbury, Manchester where a bride and a groom celebrate their love on their wedding day. However, cracks begin to show. Will their happy day turn out the way they expected it? It just goes to show that brides should never keep secrets… This is part one of two. The sequel which is called The Regret will be available in October 2013.

What do you do when you are not writing?
I read a lot, mainly romance novels such as Nicholas Sparks, Paige Toon, anything that catches my eye really. I enjoy watching films as I’ve done a Film degree. I also enjoy blogging on www.emmaiswriting.wordpress.com

What inspired you to become a writer?
It all happened back in the good old days of 1997 when I was about to turn seven years old. A book was published and that book changed my life. It sounds silly, I know, but I wouldn’t be a writer if it hadn’t been published. Then came six other books and I feel madly in love with the characters, the magic and Daniel Radcliffe. I am of course talking about Harry Potter. I’m known to everyone as “The Harry Potter Girl” because I’m that obsessed. It helped me through the bullying during high school and J.K Rowling allowed me to believe that dreams do come true. I love Hogwarts and I’m honoured to have read the books and watched the films. It was after that when I began to write. My Nanny D always gave me pens and paper whenever I went to her house, she’s the best. She’s a huge inspiration to me.

What was your inspiration for The Mistake?
The inspiration for both The Mistake (my debut novel) and The Regret (the sequel) came from a Fiction seminar during my second year at Edge Hill University here in the North West of England. My tutor, at the time, asked us to write for five minutes about flowers. I instantly thought of a bouquet that a bride was holding but she wasn’t just your average bride. She had a dark past, one that I was about to reveal to all…

Tell us about your book?
The Mistake is a romance novel with a large helping of drama – I love it! It is a love triangle between Daniel, Nina and Thomas. There are a lot of home truths to be told and it is left on a huge cliff hanger. I have so many people hating on me on Twitter because I left it that way *laughs* but the sequel, The Regret reveals all and it’s kind of another cliff hanger. I’m mean, sorry!

What research did you do for this book?
Most writers tend to visit places, either abroad or where they’re from but I did no research for these two books in terms of visiting places. My research would have to be books. You can learn a lot from a single paragraph and you don’t even realise it. Nicholas Sparks is the reason I write romance so I’d have to say that he is my research. I love that man.

Are any elements of your book based on real life experiences/people?
Yes! Lucy and Christopher who are the parents of Thomas and Daniel are based on my best friend Lucy and her boyfriend of six years Christopher who you may have spotted on CBBC as a presenter. They’re two of the nicest people I’ve ever met and I love them both to pieces. They’re the definition of love and I’m honoured to have included them in my first two novels.

What are you currently working on?
I am currently working on The Regret. It is with my editor at the moment, but whilst it’s there, I’m writing something new. It’s called Business Love and I have no idea whether I’ll publish it or not. For now, it’s a bit of fun and I’m inside the head of the witty main character called Laura who is a bit of bossy bitch!

What is your writing process?
I don’t really have a routine, I just write whenever I want. I’m always reading because I write a lot of book reviews for my blog. I stick to my laptop for writing. On the odd occasion, I’ll use my owl notepad to jot something down.

Do you use anything to sustain you during the writing process? Coffee? Chocolate? Music?
Music distracts me too much! But I have often listened to The Script whilst I’m writing. They’re a band from Ireland and they’re just beautiful. You may have seen the lead singer Danny on The Voice UK. I hate coffee so I stick to tea. I’m a big tea lover. My friend got me PG tips one Christmas, says it all really.

What prompted you to self publish The Mistake?
Sending your manuscript to an agent or publisher takes time off your hands. They say that you can’t send to more than one agent/publisher at a time because what happens if two accept you? How do you choose? It looks unprofessional on you then. I decided to self-published because I wanted to be in control of everything when it came to my debut novel and I’m only twenty-two. Self-publishing means you have to have a lot of balls (sorry!) and a strong back-bone. You’re doing it alone. You have no team to support you. It’s you, and your book going at it alone. I’m grateful to have people on Twitter and through my University who have been very supportive but you’re always going to receive some haters. I’ve got them now on Amazon and their petty reviews are quite upsetting but they’ve not got the balls to do what I’ve done. If only people knew how hard I’ve worked, they may understand.

Can you tell us about the challenges in writing and publishing your first novel?
The main challenge was writing a unique piece. I’ve never read about a wedding before, so I decided to go with that. Publishers want something brand new, something fresh that’ll make people want to read more and more. When it came to self-publishing, I struggled to get people on board but once I grew a readership, it just flowed afterwards.

Do you ever experience writers block? How do you overcome it?
Oh, all the time! I overcome it by going to see my nephew. He’s currently three months old and he’s smiling all the time. He’s very beautiful and because he needs attention, it takes my mind away from my writing. Last week, I told him I had to go back to work and he started crying. He’s too cute, right?

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
I’m going to say the same thing that Nicholas Sparks tells his readers… READ! Read a lot of the genre you wish to write in. Read. Read. Read until your bank balance has dried up.

Why did you choose to write your particular genre?
I would say that The Mistake is romance/drama but it is also young adult. I’m a young adult so it’s easy to reach across to people my own age. My book isn’t aimed at a certain age. My Nan is 82 and she’s read it!

How did you choose the genre you write in? What inspired you to write it?
I’ve always read romance novels, so that helped me to write in the romance genre. I was inspired through Nicholas Sparks and the way he takes a simple love story between two people and makes it completely fresh like it’s never been done before.

What books have inspired you?
Overall, it has to be Harry Potter. That started my writing career off. My favourite book from the series is *thinks for ten minutes* The Order Of The Phoenix. That’s when the readers begin to learn about the connection between Harry and the bad ass Voldemort. Also, I love Gary Oldman so I couldn’t wait to see him in the film!

What was your favourite book as a child/teenager?
I read a lot of Roald Dahl, yet sadly on the year that I was born, he passed away. His books are beautiful. I love The Twits!

What are you currently reading?
I am currently reading Pastures New by my wonderful friend Julia Williams.

What was the last book you recommended to a friend?
I’m always texting my friend Hannah from High School about books to read. The last one I told her about was Chasing Daisy by Paige Toon.

What/Who inspired you as a reader?
J.K Rowling and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Just for Fun:

If The Mistake was made in to a film which actor(s), past or present, do you envision in the lead role(s)
A reader of mine sent me a collage of the actors who I’d love to be in the film. I have no idea how she knew because I have kept it to myself.
Daniel – Neil Patrick Harris (Barney from How I Met Your Mother)
Thomas – Ben Affleck
Nina – Courtney Cox

If your book had a soundtrack which artists would feature on it?
Jessie J and The Script

Paper, Audio or eBook?
Paperback! I won’t even both explaining how much I dislike Kindles…

Tea or Coffee?
Tea please with milk, one and a half sugars

Slippers or barefoot?
Slippers in winter and barefoot for summer

Shower or Bath?
Shower

Marmite: Love it? Hate it?
Never tried it

Email or postcard?
Both – email for important things and postcards because they’re fun!

emmaiswritingI am Emma Louise and I currently twenty-two years old. I have a Bachelor Honours Degree in Joint Creative Writing & Film Studies, and I also have a Masters Degree in Creative Writing. When I’m not writing, you can find me reading, watching films/reality TV or blogging. I am a huge fan of Harry Potter and I collect key rings. I can be found on Twitter @EmmaIsWriting and also at my blog: www.emmaiswriting.wordpress.com

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The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Mary Ann Schaffer and Annie Barrows

potato peelIt’s 1946 and author Juliet Ashton can’t think what to write next. Out of the blue, she receives a letter from Dawsey Adams of Guernsey – by chance, he’s acquired a book that once belonged to her – and, spurred on by their mutual love of reading, they begin a correspondence. When Dawsey reveals that he is a member of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, her curiosity is piqued and it’s not long before she begins to hear from other members. As letters fly back and forth with stories of life in Guernsey under the German Occupation, Juliet soon realizes that the society is every bit as extraordinary as its name.

I bought a bundle of books from a well-known online book retailer in part because it was a great deal and in part because it contained this book. I’ve wanted to read it for ages having missed it when our book club read it. It was one of those books everyone seemed to have enjoyed and I didn’t want to miss out! Thankfully I wasn’t disappointed.

Written in the form of letters this novel is the story of Juliet discovering what it was like to live on the island of Guernsey during World War Two. As the Channel Islands were the only part of the British Isles to be occupied during the war their perspective is a unique one. I found this book to be jammed full of anecdotes and details that made it all come to life and it was truly fascinating. Never before had I realised that all communication with the mainland was severed so Islanders really didn’t know what was going on (apart from the illegal radios). Their children were evacuated a few days before the German troops arrived and they had no contact at all with them for the duration of the war. I also didn’t know how scarce food became or how Guernsey people were sent to concentration camps if they were caught stepping out of line too far.

But enough of the history lesson! All the stories about life during the war are told to Juliet who is at the heart of the story. Having survived the war in London, writing a column for a newspaper, Juliet is looking for material to write a novel when through a chance letter she begins to correspond with the Islanders, all of whom were members of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society. What she finds is shocking, touching, humorous and courageous and through the letters Juliet makes friends as well as finding the characters for her next work.

Juliet ends up going to Guernsey to visit the society’s members. Her trip there completely changes her life. I really liked Juliet, she is charming, funny and pretty blunt at times. Her attempts at warding off an unwanted suitor had me smiling.

Juliet also discovers the story of Elizabeth. Elizabeth started (unintentionally) the Literary Society and was later taken to Ravensbruck by the Germans for helping a slave worker. Her story brings together all the tales told by the others in their letters, she is an inspiring character, to those in the book and to us as the reader.

Verdict: I so enjoyed this novel, it is full of information and yet you don’t notice it as you read. It has a fabulous range of characters, people who would never mix apart from these extenuating circumstances. It is realistic but still manages to be gentle, many stories are hideous but written with humour and in a way that is heart-warming. It reminded me again that friendship and courage are both so vitally important in the face of any adversity.

Reviewed by Helen

Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication Date: June 2010
Format: Paperback
Pages: 256
Genre: Fiction, WW2
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Helen
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: None
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