Friday, 20 October 2017

Emma's Review: Heartaches and Christmas Cakes by Amy Miller

Reviewed by Emma Crowley

December, 1940: All that Audrey Barton wants is her family together for Christmas. But the war changes everything… 

The Barton family bakery in Bournemouth has been at the heart of the town for generations: Audrey and Charlie Barton have never been rich, but their bread and cakes – and their love and advice – have enriched the lives of others in the town for many years.

When war breaks out, it doesn’t take long for trouble to arrive on the bakery doorstep. Audrey’s brother William has joined up to fight, and William’s fiancé Elsie fears she may lose him before their life together has even begun. Audrey’s stepsister Lily comes to stay, but Lily is clearly hiding a dark secret. 

And a silent and strange little girl is evacuated to the town – will Audrey get to the heart of what is ailing her? 

Audrey battles to keep hope and love alive in tumultuous times. But when disaster strikes at Christmas, will her efforts be in vain? 

Amazon Affiliate Link: Kindle

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Author Interview: Catherine Ferguson

I love chatting to authors and getting to know more about their books and writing processes, so it's my pleasure today to welcome Catherine Ferguson back to the blog as part of the blog tour for her latest book Christmas at the Log Fire Cabin

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your writing journey?
I’ve always wanted to be a writer, ever since about the age of nine when I devoured Enid Blyton books and wrote mystery stories in my bedroom. I became a journalist but books were always my passion. I tried writing a romantic comedy years ago but the rejections shattered me so I gave up, and it was twenty years before I tried again. This time, thankfully, I succeeded! I signed my first book deal with Avon in 2014 – Humbugs & Heartstrings - and I’m now writing my seventh book. I love it and I can’t imagine ever doing anything else now.   
If you had to give an elevator pitch for Christmas at the Log Fire Cabin, what would it be?
When Poppy’s drain-cover enthusiast boyfriend Harrison proposes, he gives her the Twelve Days of Christmas to mull it over. Excited Poppy thinks she knows the answer already. But she hasn’t counted on her first big dinner party client, Jed Turner, being quite so disturbingly attractive . . .

Poppy and Erin want to set up their own dinner party catering company, what would your dream dinner party menu be - Christmas or otherwise?
Ooh, I’d have half a dozen oysters with lemon and tabasco for starters, then a delicious chicken and seafood paella, followed by the richest chocolate mousse ever.  

If you were locked away in a log cabin, what Christmas movies would be on your watch list?
Every Christmas Eve, without fail, we all sit down and watch the Jim Carey version of ‘Scrooge’. It gets everyone in the mood and feeling extra excited for the Big Day. Then we always watch ‘The Snowman’ on Christmas Day. Apart from those two essentials, I love ‘The Holiday’, ‘While You Were Sleeping’ and ‘Christmas on 34th Street’.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Emma's Review: Christmas at Hope Cottage by Lily Graham

Reviewed by Emma Crowley

When twenty-eight-year-old food writer Emma Halloway gets dumped then knocked off her bike, she’s broken in more ways than one, and returns to her family’s cosy cottage in the Yorkshire Dales. Emma hasn’t been back in some time, running from her crazy relatives and her childhood sweetheart, Jack Allen.

Emma’s grandmother is determined to bake her back to health and happiness, as the Halloways have done for generations. Surrounded by old friends and warm cinnamon buns, Emma starts to believe in her family’s special talents for healing again. But then in walks Jack with his sparkling hazel eyes, stirring up the family feud between them. 

As the twinkly lights are strung between the streetlamps, Emma remembers just why she fell for Jack in the first place... and why a Halloway should never date an Allen.

The infuriating new lodger, Sandro, doesn’t believe anyone should have to choose between love and family. With a little bit of Christmas magic, can Emma and Jack find a way to be together, or will Emma find herself heartbroken once more?

Amazon Affiliate Link: Kindle

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Debut Spotlight: L M Milford

Today it's my pleasure to be shining the spotlight on author L M Milford and her debut novel A Deadly Rejection which was published last week.

By day, I work in PR and communications; by night (and at weekends) I write crime fiction (as well as baking pies and chocolate brownies).

In a previous life worked as a local newspaper reporter. This gave me the inspiration for the story that has become my first novel, A Deadly Rejection.

I live in Kent and spend far too much time on trains commuting into London for work, which does however give me time to work on plotting and writing my books.

You can keep tabs on what I’m up to by following me on Twitter @lmmilford or by checking out my blog I write about what I’m working on, advice on what I’ve learned through my work and how to move forward with writing.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your writing journey? 
I’ve wanted to be a writer almost as long as I can remember. As a youngster I was swept away by The Famous Five and wanted to do what Enid Blyton did. I suppose that meant telling stories and hopefully having some adventure along the way. Later I was inspired by Murder, She Wrote. I loved the credits, where JB Fletcher sat there typing away and then solved lots of crimes. 

I think I started writing from a young age and attempted a children’s novel (I think I was about 11 at the time so it can’t have been a very long book). But it wasn’t until Year 9 when my English teacher set us the challenge to write the opening chapter of a book as a homework assignment. It had to feature several specific words – I can’t even remember what they were – and mine turned into an Agatha Christie-style house party, opening with a detective arriving at the country house. It was set in modern day and I absolutely loved that opening. So much so that I tried to turn it into a novel. I never got very far – as my mam pointed out ‘There are too many people, I’m confused’ – but I’ve still kept it. It may yet see the light of day, but it’ll need a lot of work!

I toyed with that idea and others throughout university, but it wasn’t until I was working as a journalist that The Big Idea arrived. It started from a council meeting – the Innovation Panel, I think – where I was sitting near a group of councillors and officers who were speaking in quiet voices. I’d been taking notes throughout the meeting and while we were on a break I was marking up sections in my notebook to making writing up the story easier. When I put my pen to the page, the whole group stopped talking and moved away from me. ‘Aha,’ I thought. ‘What don’t they want me to overhear?’ And that was that, the concept of A Deadly Rejection – a journalist finds out something they shouldn’t and how far would someone go to stop them reporting it?

It took me two years to write the book – writing around a full-time job and having a life (sort of) – and after unsuccessfully trying to get agents interested, I put it to one side and wrote a second one. Then about two years ago, I shook myself by the scruff of the neck. Being published has always been my dream and I was going to make it happen. So it’s taken a long time and a lot of work, but now I’ve realised my dream, and it feels amazing!

If you had to give an elevator pitch for A Deadly Rejection, what would it be? 
It’s difficult to distil a whole book into such a small amount of time. I’ve tried lots of different versions over the years and never been happy with any of them. Then recently someone at an event asked me what my book was about and I responded automatically ‘It’s about a journalist who thinks he’s onto a big story. But then his source is found dead and he’s implicated. He tries to find out more about the story but then a second source dies. He has to decide what’s more important, the story or his life’.

It came as quite a surprise as that’s the first time I’d been able to come out with something coherent and the person said they liked the sound of it!

Monday, 16 October 2017

Emma's Review: Coming Home to the Comfort Food Cafe by Debbie Johnson

Reviewed by Emma Crowley

Moving to the little village of Budbury, Zoe hopes the crisp Dorset sea breeze and gentle pace of life will be a fresh start for her and her goddaughter, Martha.

Luckily for them both, the friendly community at the café provide listening ears, sage advice, shoulders to cry on, and some truly excellent carrot cake. And when Martha's enigmatic, absent father suddenly turns up, confusing not only Martha but Zoe too, the love and support of their new-found friends is the best present they could ask for.

Have Zoe and Martha truly found their home at the Comfort Food Café?

Amazon Affiliate Links: Kindle or Paperback