Archive for the ‘Adult’ Category

The Positive Birth Book: A New Approach to Pregnancy, Birth and the Early Weeks

Milli Hill
Work out what kind of birth you really want, and learn how to maximise your chances of getting it, in this refreshing, warm and witty guide to pregnancy, birth and the early weeks. Packed with vital and cutting-edge information on everything from building the ultimate birth plan, to your choices and rights in the birth room; from optimal cord clamping, to seeding the microbiome; from the inside track on breastfeeding, to woman-centred caesarean, The Positive Birth Book shows you how to have the best possible birth, regardless of whether you plan to have your baby in hospital, in the birth centre, at home or by elective caesarean. Find out how the environment you give birth in, your mindset and your expectations can influence the kind of birth you have, and be inspired by the voices of real women, who tell you the truth about what giving birth really feels like.
Challenging negativity and fear of childbirth, and brimming with everything you need to know about labour, birth, and the early days of parenting, The Positive Birth Book is the must-have birth book for women of the 21st century.

What are your overall thoughts?
It’s rare for Big Book Little book to feature a non-fiction book, even more so to feature a pregnancy book. For the most part, while I love to indulge my passion for all things birth, I rarely read pregnancy and parenting books, my tastes tend to be a little less mainstream-parenting handbook, more evidence based textbook. Despite my own leanings I realize that for the the number of BBLB readers who would be interested to read an entire book on the hormone oxytocin are likely to be fewer than those who are interested to hear my thoughts on the latest speculative fiction offering from Maggie Stiefvater!

However, when I heard about The Positive Birth Book, I just knew that I was going to have to make an exception, I just had to take a look to see if it lived up to its promise- a no nonsense, factual evidenced based, relatable book about birth with a positive birth slant.

It is fair to say that I started reading The Positive Birth Book with high expectations. On finishing the book I have to confess to feeling torn. On the one hand, The Positive Birth Book completley fulfilled its promise as the new birthing bible. On the other hand, I feel as though the book so successfully covers all of the essentials in the lead up to birth and the birth itself, that my job as an antenatal educator is now redundant!

Hill beautifully manages to balance a humorous and relaxed approach to birth with her informal chatty and friendly tone while managing to clearly explain and explore complex biological, scientific, political and legal issues.

Not only is The Positive Birth Book filled to the brim with evidence based information, explained in clear lay language, Hill also explores exactly where that evidence comes from and provided reliable resources for the reader to obtain further information should they wish to.

The book has a fabulous practice element, in addition to providing an excellent explanation to the well known decision making “BRAIN” mnemonic, Hill has created HEART, a wonderful concise tool to help couples who births might not be following plan A.

She strongly encourages couples to research and develop their own unique birth plans (and plan B’s and C’s…) providing different examples for illustration, and she has co created some beautiful iconography for couples to use when developing their very own visual birth plans.

One of my favorite element of this book is the fantastic use of content from experts. From obstetric consultants, midwives and lactation specialists through to the biggest experts, mothers, Hill has found birth story’s, experiences, tips and examples across the birthing spectrum and in all settings to inspire and reassure any kind of birth can be a positive birth. This liberal sprinkling of women’s lived experiences is very reminiscent of the inspirational stories in Ina May Gaskin’s 1975 Spiritual Midwifery, but with the language and sensibilities of 21st century couples.

Would you recommend this book?
This well written and well-researched book aligns so well with my professional philosophy of care and information provision as a Midwife and antenatal educator, that I am happy to recommend this book with no hesitations. In fact I have already gifted a copy to a soon to be birthing mother!

The Positive Birth Book is a wonderful resource for all pregnant women, whether they are setting out on their pregnancy journey and getting to grips with all of the birth choices before them, or have already developed a strong sense of where and how they wish their birthing experience unfold.

It would also be a valuable resource for birth workers starting out in their career and experienced even for birth workers looking for inspiration for way to effectively communicate complicated ideas.

Verdict: Spiritual midwifery for the 21st century mother

Reviewed by Caroline

*I need to take a quick moment to disclose that although I have never met the author Milli Hill personally I am aware of her work though The Positive Birth Movement (see website here), for which I am a group facilitator. It is through the Positive Birth Movement that I first became aware that Mill was working on and later publishing this book. This has no way affected my review.

Publisher: Pinter and Martin
Publication Date: March 2017
Format: eBook
Pages: 352
Genre: Non-Fiction Pregnancy, Birth
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Caroline
Source: Own copy
Challenge: British book
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Never Forget

Richard Davis

Saul Marshall is on the run.
As a wave of seemingly random assassinations engulfs California, Marshall finds himself drawn into a situation spiralling out of control.
He soon discovers some of the webs’ most secure protocols have been compromised by a rogue team of former Chinese agents. When Marshall realises what they plan, the stakes are raised…
And that’s before the Secretary of State gets involved. Can Marshall unravel the deceit and tricks before it’s too late? Can he stop the carnage, or will he become part of it? One thing is for certain: either way his enemies will never forget.

If you had to explain your book in a tweet (140 characters), how would you describe it?
Bodies are turning up in California. The Dark Net, a disturbing corner of the internet, has something to do with it. Saul must find out what

Where on earth do you write your books?
I do most of my writing at home – a tiny flat in North London. However, because I understand that it’s good for my immune system to sometimes expose myself to other human beings, I occasionally work in the West End: either from the University College London library or a coffee shop.

Do you have any bad habits while you write?
Loads. Probably my worst is the fact that I compulsively chew things as I write – pens, pencils, phone cases, cutlery – and by the end of the day, my desk is scattered with shards of plastic. I’m sure there’s probably something quite Freudian about this, but I try not to over think it.

What is your favourite part about being published?
The amount of pride it brings my grandparents.

If you could befriend any fictional character, who would you choose and why?
Godot from Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. Hell, it would be good just to meet him, let alone befriend him – after all, he must be the most elusive character in literature. And imagine the bragging rights if I actually managed to track him down!

If you could live in any fictional world, which world would you choose and why?
I’d quite like to live in the world evoked in the Shrek series of films. I really love how its writers appropriate fairy-tales and fables and redeploy them in clever, comedic ways – it’s a thoroughly postmodern piece of cinema. I think inhabiting that world – with its talking animals, fantastical creatures, and irreverent humour – would be pretty good fun.

What is favourite thing about writing crime books?
The plotting is definitely the most rewarding (and difficult) aspect of writing in this genre. I always plan the entire novel before starting, and this involves me dreaming up a number of complicated situations – which amount to complex riddles – then spending many, many long hours figuring out how to resolve them. It’s frustrating as hell, but really good fun.

If you had to give some advice to aspiring authors, what would you say?
Make sure you plan things thoroughly. At least, that’s what works for me. I personally find it far easier to see a project through when I know exactly where I’m going.

Questions by Faye


Richard Davis graduated from University College London in 2011 and Cambridge University in 2012. The Saul Marshall series was born from Davis’s extensive travels around the United States and his long-standing obsession with thriller fiction. He lives in North London, UK, with his girlfriend.

Publisher: Canelo
Publication Date: February 2017
Format: Ebook
Pages: 364
Genre: Crime
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: British book
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The Elisenda Domenech Investigation Series

Chris Lloyd

An intense and brilliantly realised crime thriller set in the myth-soaked streets of Girona
A killer is targeting hate figures in the Catalan city of Girona – a loan shark, a corrupt priest, four thugs who have blighted the streets of the old quarter – leaving clues about his next victim through mysterious effigies left hung on a statue. Each corpse is posed in a way whose meaning no one can fathom. Which is precisely the point the murderer is trying to make.
Elisenda Domènech, the solitary and haunted head of the city’s newly-formed Serious Crime Unit, is determined to do all she can to stop the attacks. She believes the attacker is drawing on the city’s legends to choose his targets, but her colleagues aren’t convinced and her investigation is blocked at every turn.
Battling against the increasing sympathy towards the killer displayed by the press, the public and even some of the police, she finds herself forced to question her own values. But when the attacks start to include less deserving victims, the pressure is suddenly on Elisenda to stop him. The question is: how?

1. Where did you get the ideas from these books?
The whole idea for the first book began when I was researching for a travel guide. I was in the city archives in Girona when I came across a whole load of legends about the city. The more I looked, the more myths and stories I discovered – it was tremendously exciting. One of the stories was of a statue of the Virgin Mary that stood over one of the medieval city gates. She was called the Virgin of Good Death, and she was there to give a final blessing to condemned prisoners as they were led outside the city walls to be executed. The gate was not far from the archive, so I went to find the statue and it was there in a niche above the archway. It was seeing the statue and the idea of the legends that sowed the seed of someone using Girona’s history and myths to bring what they thought was justice to the city, announcing their attacks using the statue – a blessing for the condemned.

2. Do you have any writing habits? (i.e. you have to drink coffee/can only write in a cafe)
That probably comes down to rock music and cups of tea. I always start a writing session listening to music through headphones to immerse myself. I associate every character with a song or piece of music, so if I’m going to write about a specific character, I listen to their song to get me into the zone. For Elisenda, I’ve got about half a dozen songs – most of them by her favourite Catalan rock band, Sopa de Cabra – and I listen to a song or two depending on the mood I want for the scene I’m starting with.
Another of my rituals is to leave a handwritten note the previous session that roughly tells me what the first line I’m writing the next day has to say. Having that to hand makes it easier to get the first words on screen – always the hardest moment for me.
And the final ritual is tea. Getting up from my desk to go downstairs and make a cup of tea is a great moment for gathering my thoughts and thinking of the next scene while the kettle’s boiling. The problem is I nearly always let the tea go cold when I start writing again!

3. Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Ha, I reckon I’m probably somewhere between the two. EL Doctorow said that writing was like driving at night – you know where you’re going, but you can only ever see as far as the end of your headlights at any one time. And that’s probably true for me – it often feels like having a road map with pages missing and tea stains on the important bits! I roughly know how things are going to end up, although that changes more often than I’d like to think, but I don’t always know what’s going to happen along the way. I try to map out the key scenes (knowing full well they’re never written in stone), then make a few notes on how I think the story might get to those points and what has to be included and which characters should do and say what, and then I just start writing. As the story develops, other strands and characters present themselves, but the milestone I’m heading for usually stays pretty much the same. Then once I reach that, it’s onto the next milestone and so on until the first draft is finished.

4. If you could be any fictional character, who would you choose and why?
As a kid, I always wanted to be William from the Richmal Crompton books. He was always well-meaning, but still got into scrapes and adventures – when I was a child, it always struck me as being a pretty neat way of going about things!
As an adult, it might seem strange (and I dread to think what it says about me), but I’d quite like to be Bernie Gunther from the Philip Kerr books about a German detective during WWII. Almost like a much more radical William, he’s an ordinary man trying to be good in bad times. An iconoclast and anti-Nazi, he has to work with the bad guys to work against them. He’s constantly trying to set things right as far as he can in a world going horribly wrong, and he’s often thwarted but still keeps going. I’d love to have his steadfastness and courage, and the front to stand up to scary authority figures the way he does.

5. If you could live in any fictional world, which would you choose and why?
There are plenty of fictional worlds I’d love to visit, but I’m not sure I’d want to live in any of them – that sounds far too scary. The obvious one here is Terry Pratchett’s Discworld. I’d be fascinated by Unseen University and sentient furniture, but I know I really wouldn’t want to hang around somewhere as terrifying as Ankh-Morpork too long. I’d want to know that I could get out of there any time I wanted.
The same is probably true for the alternative Swindon of Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next novels. In these, Thursday is a literary detective chasing fictional characters who escape from the books they’re supposed to be in. She has a pet dodo called Pickwick and she gets to meet all the greatest characters in literature when they decide to go AWOL. It would be great to meet Jay Gatsby and Jane Eyre, but then imagine being stuck in a world where Moriarty and Hannibal Lecter live just around the corner.
I’d also want to visit the Aberystwyth of Malcolm Pryce’s hugely imaginative Louie Knight stories, about a 1930’s-style gumshoe in a parallel Wales where beautiful Welsh spies dance the tango and druids run speakeasies. But even that’s too frightening a prospect. So, instead of living in any of them, if anyone could arrange a short holiday to these worlds, I’d be at the front of the queue. Just don’t ask me to stay there forever.

6. If you had to give advice to aspiring authors, what would you say?
That’s a really hard question, as we’re all motivated in different ways. One of the pieces of advice you often hear is to write what you know. I’d say that more than that, you should write what you feel. I got my first book deal because I was so incensed by a travel guide unfairly denigrating a part of the world I loved that in a wave of self-confidence I’ve never felt before or since, I wrote to them and told them I could do better… and they called my bluff. I ended up writing four travel guides about Catalonia for them.
The same goes for the Elisenda series. I have a passion for Catalonia and for the many things about the country that I love and that I admire, especially the way they maintain their traditions while embracing change. When there is something like that – it can be a place, a person, a cause, a historical period, anything – it’s so much easier to harness that passion and let it come across in your writing. You also can’t always know everything, but you can feel it or empathise with it. No matter how much I research, there are always going to be aspects of Elisenda’s life and her work that I can’t know, but by using what I feel and my own similar experiences and by transposing that onto her situation, I can put myself in her place and (I hope) convey her world in my writing. The secret is to know your passions and let them take you somewhere you might not have thought you’d go.

7. When you’re not writing, what do you do all day?
That’s easy… thinking about writing.
I also work as a freelance translator from Catalan and Spanish into English. Ideally, I try to translate all morning, leaving the afternoon and evening free to write, although sometimes that doesn’t always go to plan as a rush translation will come in and I have to drop what I’m writing and get it done before the deadline. Even when I’m translating, though, ideas come – especially as the stories are set in Catalonia and the texts I translate are in Catalan – so I keep a notebook next to me all the time to jot anything down. It’s surprising how much the day job can send you off on a train of thought when you least expect it.
When I’m not doing either of those, my life is a hectic social whirl of sitting at home reading, watching TV or listening to music… I also love walking – the Brecon Beacons are half an hour one way and the Gower is half an hour the other, so we’re spoilt for choice – and going to live music or stand-up in Cardiff. My wife’s a painter, so we often go to gallery opening nights and exhibitions, which are great fun – artists are a pretty cool crowd! And, of course, I’m forever planning my next trip to Girona.

8.​ Do you have any more books that you’re working on?
I have a few Elisenda stories swirling around inside my head, but right now I’m working on a new idea that I’m finding really exciting. It’s another police procedural, but very different, both in terms of time and place. The story is set in Paris in 1940 in the early days of the Nazi Occupation. It’s a period that’s always fascinated me, and at the moment, I’m devouring newsreels, films and books from the time to immerse myself in the atmosphere.

Lastly, thank you for hosting me on Big Book Little Book today.

Chris was born in an ambulance racing through a town he’s only returned to once and that’s probably what did it. Soon after that, when he was about two months old, he moved with his family to West Africa, which pretty much sealed his expectation that life was one big exotic setting. He later studied Spanish and French at university, and straight after graduating, he hopped on a bus from Cardiff to Catalonia where he stayed for the next twenty-four years, falling in love with the people, the country, the language and Barcelona Football Club, probably in that order. Besides Catalonia, he’s also lived in Grenoble, the Basque Country and Madrid, teaching English, travel writing for Rough Guides and translating. He now lives in South Wales, where he works as a writer and a Catalan and Spanish translator, returning to Catalonia as often as he can.
He writes the Elisenda Domènech series, featuring a police officer with the newly-devolved Catalan police force in the beautiful city of Girona. The third book in the series, City of Drowned Souls, is published on 6 February 2017.

Interviewed by Faye

Publisher: Canelo
Publication Date: July 2015
Format: Ebook
Pages: 318
Genre: Crime
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Faye
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Sneak Peak: Playlist for a Paper Angel

Jacqueline Ward

One child found, one child missing – what’s the connection?
DS Jan Pearce is still searching for her missing son. When she finds a little girl, Elise, alone in a pram in a busy town centre, she must unravel a mystery that takes her to the edge of her emotions. Then another child, Dara Price, goes missing.
Lisa Connelly, Elise’s mother, has been forced into a life of prostitution and has been leaving her little girl alone. Her gangland boss is holding her prisoner but she wants her little girl back.
Jan finds herself balancing her search for her son with finding Dara. Her right hand man, Mike Waring, is on another case so she and her temporary partner, profiler Damien Booth, must solve the puzzle and find Lisa before time runs out for Dara.

Our reviewer Faye reviewed the first on her own blog last year.

You can find that review here.

This follow up sounds just as enticing, don’t you agree?


Jacqueline Ward writes short stories, novels and screenplays. She has been writing seriously since 2007 and has had short stories published in anthologies and magazines. Jacqueline won Kindle Scout in 2016 and her crime novel, Random Acts of Unkindness, will be published by Amazon Publishing imprint Kindle Press. Her novel SmartYellowTM was published by Elsewhen Press in 2015 and was nominated for the Arthur C Clarke Award in 2016. Jacqueline is a Chartered psychologist who specializes in narrative psychology, gaining a PhD in narrative and storytelling in 2007. She lives in Oldham, near Manchester, with her partner and their dog.

Playlist for a Paper Angel is now available to purchase from Amazon UK

Publisher: Kindle Press
Publication Date: January 2016
Format: Ebook
Pages: 282
Genre: Detective Fiction
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: British book
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Sneak Peek: Chasing Shadows

Today I am here to share with you all the wonderful sounding Chasing Shadows by T. A. Williams

Amy had it all – money, brains and beauty. And then the accident happened.
The Present Day: Left blind and without her family, Amy feels she needs to get away. On a trip along the Camino, she is accompanied by the mysterious and troubled Luke. Having been set up to help Amy by a mutual friend, Luke finds he is also running from his past…
1314: A Templar Knight, Luc, is also running. He meets the wife of a former comrade, now blinded in a terrifying attack: Aimee. Taking her under his wing, they must journey together through a dangerous world.
As they travel through the stunning scenery of Northern Spain, this couple, so very like Luke and Amy, emerge from the shadows of time carrying a treasure of inestimable value.

Definitely has a strong premise, wouldn’t you agree?

My name is Trevor Williams. I write under the androgynous name T A Williams because 65% of are read by women. In my first book, “Dirty Minds” one of the (female) characters suggests the imbalance is due to the fact that men spend too much time getting drunk and watching football. I couldn’t possibly comment. Ask my wife…
My background, before taking up writing full time, was in teaching and I was principal of a big English language school for many years. This involved me in travelling all over the world and my love of foreign parts is easy to find in my books. I speak a few languages and my Italian wife and I still speak Italian together.I’ve written all sorts: thrillers, historical novels, short stories and now I’m enjoying myself hugely writing humour and romance. My most recent books are the What happens…series. What happens in Tuscany reached #1 in the Amazon.uk Romantic Comedy chart and What Happens on the Beach, the last in the series, came out in July. Chasing Shadows is still romance, but with the added spice of a liberal helping of medieval history, one of my pet hobbies. I do a lot of cycling and I rode all the way to Santiago de Compostela on a bike a few years back. This provided both the inspiration and the background research for Chasing Shadows.
I’m originally from Exeter, and I’ve lived all over Europe, but now I live in a little village in sleepy Devon, tucked away down here in south west England. I love the place.

Chasing Shadows is available to purchase now on Amazon UK and Amazon US

Publisher: Canelo
Publication Date: January 2016
Format: ebook
Pages: 245
Genre: Romance
Age: Adult
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A Very Merry Manhattan Christmas

Darcie Boleyn

Lucie Quigley hates Christmas. It’s the time of year when everything goes wrong in her life. So this year, when she’s asked to be a bridesmaid at her friend Petra’s Manhattan wedding, she jumps at the invitation to escape the festivities.
Dale Treharne has been best friends with Lucie for as long as he can remember. He’s used to looking out for his oldest friend and when she asks him to be her plus one, he can’t seem to find a reason to refuse. Instead, he sees it as a way to help Lucie get through what is, for her, the most miserable time of the year.
In New York, as the snow starts to fall, Lucie and Dale start to realise that their feelings run deeper than just friendship. But can they overcome their pasts, and make it a very merry Manhattan Christmas?

Five Things Faye Would Do in Manhattan at Christmas

1. Relish in the beauty.
Manhattan is beautiful in the summer but I can only imagine how wonderful it would look in the winter covered in the snow with lights shining across the city. So one of the things I would make sure to do would be to take it all. Take actual and mental pictures so that I could essentially return whenever I needed to.

2. Ice Skate
It’s something that I actually haven’t done since I was a teenager but I would definitely strap on some boots and go skating on an outside ice rink because… well… how magical would that be?

3. Visit the Rockefeller Christmas Tree
I can really only imagine how beautiful this tree must look up close.

4. Taste of Home Gingerbread Boulevard.
Sounds bizarre, yes? But it also sounds really great. Amazing and beautiful gingerbread houses all lined up and ready for you to visit while you munch on chocolate and drink coffee – I mean, yes please!

5. Wrap up warm, curl up inside and drink hot chocolate.
Maybe this is boring, and could be done anywhere but this is always my favourite part of Christmas and I’m not going to miss out on doing it just because I was in Manhattan!

Reviewed by Faye

Publisher: Canelo
Publication Date: November 2016
Format: Ebook
Pages: 201
Genre: Romance
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Provided by publisher
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Blog Tour: The Puppet Master

Abigail Osborne

Manipulated by fear and love…could you cut the strings and take back control?
Billie’s hiding from the world, believing it to be the only way to take control of her life as she lives in fear of the man who nearly destroyed her. But what she doesn’t realise is that she’s exactly where he wants her; isolated and afraid. A chance meeting with budding journalist Adam sparks a relationship that could free her from the terror that controls her. But will Adam be able to see the real Billie buried under her terror and pain?
Adam knows exactly who Billie is and is determined to expose her and get justice for the lives she ruined. But first, he needs to convince her to open up to him but as unwanted attraction and feelings blossom between them, Adam is forced to realise that all is not as it seems.
Most of their lives have been unknowingly governed by the desires and needs of someone who considers himself their master. He has influenced and shaped them for years, meticulously weaving a web of lies and control around them. Can Billie and Adam survive the betrayals in store and cut the strings that bind them?
One thing is for sure. The master wants his puppets back – and he’ll do anything to keep them.

Let’s start simple, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Hello, thanks for having me. Well, I’m a Needs Assessor, which involves helping students with disabilities at University. I live in the West Midlands with my husband and my two crazy cats Poppy and Lulu. I also have my own book reviewing website called Many Books, Many lives. I love to read and my spare room has so many book cases there is a very real possibility the floor may cave in.

Writers should be readers too, so… what is your favourite book at the moment?
Oh that is so hard, I have so many but if I had to say my all-time favourite book it would be Jane Eyre. It was the first book that made me realise how much power writing had and how gripping it can be. It gave me friends when I didn’t have any and just made me feel less alone. I reread it all the time.

Where did you get your inspiration for the Puppet Master?
I got my inspiration from various things that have happened to me and my friends. I always find it fascinating how people can have many faces. They can control you without you realising and what’s more, they think they have every right to do that. I have experienced manipulative people in my life and I wanted to write a book that showed not only the different ways people can be manipulated but also that these people don’t have to win and it is possible to take back control.

What is your favourite beverage to have while writing?
I am a massive diet-coke addict. I don’t drink coffee or tea so for me it is the only way to get a caffeine fix. It wakes me up and gives me energy when I’m lagging. I don’t even think I particularly love the taste I just think it’s the energy boost I like.

What was your favourite part of writing the Puppet Master?
My favourite part was writing the parts that came purely from my imagination. I would read it back and I would think to myself – where did that come from. It’s a really strange and enjoyable feeling reading back something that didn’t exist until you wrote it down, if that makes sense.

If you could live inside any book world, which world would you choose and why?
That is very hard. It’s going to have to be Harry Potter’s world. I mean magic wands and apparating! Don’t even get me started on playing Quidditch (FYI – I would totally be playing professionally!)

If you could be best friends with any fictional character, who would you choose and why?
One of my other favourite books is The Name of Wind and I would love to be friends with Kvothe, I really love his character and his personality, plus you know there is going to be adventure wherever he is!

Can you describe your book in a tweet? (140 characters)
My book is about the power manipulative people can wield and the strength it takes to overcome horrific ordeals and not let them define you.

Interview questions by Faye


Abbie was born in the Lake District and has moved all around the UK since then until she met her husband at University. She lives with him and their two crazy cats in the West Midlands. She is a Needs Assessor for students with disabilities and has her own book reviewing blog called Many Books, Many Lives. Even though she did English Literature at University it wasn’t until she started reviewing books that she realised how much she loved to write. The Puppet Master is her first novel but it certainly won’t be her last.
You can follow her on @Abigail_Author or @MBequalsML.

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Blog Tour: Making Arrangements

Ferris Robinson

Against all odds, cancer survivor Lang Ellis is celebrating the one-year anniversary of her “death sentence” when her beloved husband drops dead on the tennis court.
Devoted to him, she reels from the loss, focusing on her precious granddaughter but struggling with her bossy only child, Teddy, and his aloof girlfriend, Sarah.
With her historical family estate in jeopardy, Lang realizes her husband wasn’t as perfect as she thought.
The secret he carried to his grave can ruin her life.
If she lets it.

Excerpt
What do you wear the day after your husband dies? Lang wondered, damp from the shower. She put on her old sweatpants and Jack’s practically disintegrated Auburn sweatshirt because they were so soft. She wanted to feel something easy on her skin. She pressed the frayed ribbed collar to her nose and breathed in the sharp smell of aftershave and bacon grease. Jack’s smell.

Teddy sat hunched over the kitchen counter with Sarah and Katie D. on either side of him. Sarah leaned into him, her cloud of pale hair floating out over the back of Teddy’s brown sweater, hovering with static electricity. Lang watched the three of them for a moment from the doorway. She could hear murmurs of their sentences: Katie D.’s singsong voice, Teddy’s hoarse rumble, apologizing for something, and Sarah speaking so tenderly her voice didn’t sound human.

Lang closed her eyes, holding on to the doorjamb for balance, and felt Sarah’s words like they were something physical, covering her softly. Gently.

“Mom!” Teddy said, scraping the chair away from the counter. She jerked to attention.
He looked like he hadn’t slept in days; the collar of his button-down shirt was uncharacteristically wrinkled, and his azure eyes were flat.

“Oh! I didn’t hear you!” A. J. said, appearing suddenly from the hall bathroom. She looked Lang up and down, grimacing. “You still got that rubber band around your wrist.” Lang pulled the frayed cuff down to her knuckles, holding the soft fabric in her fists.

A. J. looked like a different person except for her crumpled tennis clothes. Her hair was styled and her eyes were bright and her skin was dewy. She looked like she’d found a day spa in the hall bathroom. Lang sniffed the air, detecting vanilla and deodorant.

“I smell something,” Katie D. said.

“Halston,” A. J. said, flapping her hands in circles about her neck in an effort to spread the heavy perfume around the room. Katie D. crinkled up her nose.

Lang ran her fingers under her own eyes, trying to remember the last time she’d looked in a mirror. She should have put on some makeup after her shower. Concealer under her eyes at least. She reached her hands out toward her son, then curled them into useless fists as she shook her head slowly.

Teddy wrapped his arms around her, and she felt her boy sink into her, collapsing for a second. His breath caught, and his chest shuddered against her shoulder.

“Shhh,” she said. “Don’t cry.” She felt him stiffen before he stepped away.

“How you holding up?” Teddy asked brusquely. “Who would have thought, huh? Sorry, bad joke. Dad would have laughed, though.”

Lang squeezed the edges of her mouth up into a semblance of a smile. No one would have ever thought Jack would be dead instead of her. Hilarious.


A former columnist for the Chattanooga Free Press, she is the editor of the Lookout Mountain Mirror and the Signal Mountain Mirror. Her work has been published numerous times in The Christian Science Monitor and the “Chicken Soup for the Soul’ series. She is a columnist at chattanoogan.com.
The author of several cookbooks, including “Never Trust a Hungry Cook,” which she wrote in college and the “Gorgeless Gourmet’s Cookbook,” Ferris was featured on the cover of Women’s World magazine. Promoting her super-easy but healthy recipes, she made numerous television appearances and sold 10,000 copies of the Gorgeless Gourmet’s Cookbook, pre-Internet. Paid subscribers from every state in the U.S. received her newsletter featuring “practically fat-free recipes for super-busy people.”
Her book “Dogs and Love – Sixteen Stories of Fidelity” has 94 reviews on Amazon, and her other books include “Authentic Log Homes.” “Making Arrangements” is her first novel.

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Author Interview: Hemmie Martin

Hemmie Martin
G&G-1Alice Calwin finds herself without purpose in life after the death of her mother, whom she’d been caring for following a stroke. Theo Edwards, a literary journalist, has a sour outlook on life, bolstered by his ongoing divorce, and is feeling the pressure to revitalise his column in the newspaper. They encounter one another at a writers’ retreat in France, but Alice’s shameful past and Theo’s deceptive reasons for being there end up affecting them both in very different ways. When someone finally acknowledges their mistakes, is it ever too late to make amends?

Where did the initial idea for Garlic and Gauloises come from?

I lived in France for six years, which inspired me to write a story located there. But I also needed the loneliness and starkness that can accompany living in London (I lived there too), so I used both locations. I had the vision of a rambling chateaux run by a British couple, who advertised it as a retreat for writers and guest house, hence the writing group taking a vacation there. Alice just developed in my imagination, as did Theo, and the story blossomed from there. I let the characters develop and guide me through the story.

What was your favourite part of writing this book?

I loved developing the cast of characters – they all brought me much joy in so many ways, albeit tinged with a soupcon of sadness. That’s why a writers’ retreat was a dream to write, as I could have a diverse group of people who perhaps would not normally meet, all in one location – rather like a play.

I love writing characters with depths of sadness, and flaws that required overcoming. I’m attracted to the arena of mental health due to my background in forensic mental health nursing, and I like the complexities it can bring to a story.

What is your favourite part of being an author?

Removing myself from reality and immersing myself in a world born from my imagination. I love devising new characters, or developing ones that are part of my crime series. People fascinate me, which is why I’m usually people-watching when out and about. Some people would just call me nosey.

I also love the solitude, although that can be hard to find with a semi-retired husband in the house, and when my daughters return home from university for the holidays.

What made you decide to set this book in France?

After living in the south of France for six years, I have a love and affinity for the country and the people. I lived in Aix-en-Provence and Marseille, although I did visit Bordeaux which I felt was a more fitting setting for the story. I still love France, and was deeply saddened by recent terrorist atrocities.

What is your favourite place in France? (if you’ve ever been!)

Oh tough question, as there are many places I love. Paris offers so many cultural delights, Aix-en-Provence and Marseille were my homes for a few years (between the age of 16 and 21, hence my 18th and 21st birthdays were celebrated in France – oh the memories) However, I will answer your question by saying Juan-les-Pins as it was the first beach I braved sunbathing topless with a female French friend who encouraged me!

Are you writing another book?

I’m currently writing the fifth book in my DI Eva Wednesday crime series. I enjoy writing two genres as I believe it keeps my mind and my writing fresh.

Are you a planner or a panther?

Crime novels take a lot of planning – I use a mind map to keep track of characters and their movements, especially with regards to the crimes that take place. I have to do a lot of research with regards to the method of killing someone – I have a pile of books on poisons and forensic methods next to my bed, and my search history on my laptop is quite eye-opening. My husband believes if he dies suddenly, I would be the first suspect thanks to my reading material and research history!

If you had to describe your book in 140 characters (a tweet) how would you describe it?

Garlic & Gauloises – set in London & France. When someone finally acknowledges their mistakes, is it ever too late to make amends? #women’scontemporaryfiction

Interview questions by Faye
Hemmie MartinHemmie Martin spent most of her professional life as a Community Nurse for people with learning disabilities, a Family Planning Nurse, and a Forensic Mental Health Nurse working with young offenders. She spent six years living in the south of France. She now writes full time.
Hemmie created the DI Wednesday series, featuring DI Eva Wednesday and DS Jacob Lennox, set in and around Cambridge, with fictional villages. There are four books in the series so far. Hemmie has also written a psychological thriller, Attic of the Mind, and two contemporary women’s fiction, The Divine Pumpkin and Garlic & Gauloises. Mental health often features in her novels due to her background of forensic mental health nursing. Hemmie is a member of The Crime Writer’s Association.
You can find out more about Hemmie and her work on her website (here),
Twitter account (here)or
Facebook page (here).

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Five Fabulous…Things That Make Me Choose A Book

fab-five-logo-e1397403514389Five Fabulous Books is an original feature here at Big Book Little Book. The aim of the feature is to showcase fabulous books and bookish things, with connecting themes, there by promoting reads we have enjoyed and sharing recommendations for similar books. We love to share contributions from fellow bibliophiles, bloggers, vloggers and twitter users. We love to hear from you too, so don’t forget to comment with your favourite themed books. You are very welcome to use the Five Fabulous feature on your own blog just be sure to link back to Big Book Little Book and leave your link in the comments below so we can check out your recommendations! Feel free to copy and paste our Fabulou5 graphic or create one of your own.

” Ip, Dip, Do…”

1. The Cover or any other prettiness
If there’s an map or prettied chapter headings, some foil, a book mark or any other adornment, the magpie in me cannot resist.

2. Blurb
Ok so this is hardly earth shattering but after the shiny has caught my attention I will turn the book over to see if the blurb hooks me in some way. I am attracted to lots of different genres and will usually pick my read based on my mood, going through phases where I read more contemporary, historical or fantasy. More often than not my choice will contain 3 in some form and very often 4.

3. Romance/ romantic tension
I just love reading about human connection, particularly developing relationships. I love the build up and the tension, usually more than the pay off of the established relationship.
I simply can’t resist a book that hints at a “will they, wont they” relationship with antagonistic origins.

4. Speculative fiction
I’ve already said that my reading habits are dictated by mood and what takes my fancy at the time, but more often than not I am drawn to books with fantastical elements. I think that this is because reading for me is formost about escapism. I find it easiest switch off and become absorbed when there is some element of other about the book.

5. Recommended by one of my blogging friends.
I am so lucky to be surrounded by a wonderful group of friends who share my passion for fantastic reads. I haven’t been let down yet by any of their recommendations. Handily for you they also share their thoughts to the wider world through their fantastic blogs and vlogs. I thoroughly recommend that you take some time check out these wonderful YA blogs:

A Daydreamer’s Thoughts
Snuggling on the Sofa
Ya Yeah Yeah
Bookish Brits
Winged Reviews

Posted by Caroline

How do you pick books to read? Do you have less conventional methods of book selection? What patterns do you notice about your favourite books?

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