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?

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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?

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Sunday, 15 October 2017

Emma's Review: Secrets of the Shipyard Girls by Nancy Revell

Reviewed by Emma Crowley

Sunderland, 1941
As the world war continues the shipyard girls face hardships at home, but work and friendship give them strength to carry on.

Gloria is smitten with her newly arrived bundle of joy, but baby Hope’s first weeks are bittersweet. Hope's father is missing at sea, and with their future as a family so uncertain, Gloria must lean on her girls for support.

Meanwhile, head welder Rosie has turned her back on love to keep her double life secret. But her persistent beau is determined to find out the truth and if he does, it could ruin her.

And there is finally a glimmer of hope for Polly and her family when Bel and Joe fall in love. But it isn’t long before a scandalous revelation threatens to pull them all apart.

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Saturday, 14 October 2017

Emma's Review: Summer at Hope Meadows by Lucy Daniels

Reviewed by Emma Crowley

Newly qualified vet Mandy Hope is leaving Leeds - and her boyfriend Simon - to return to the Yorkshire village she grew up in, where she'll help out with animals of all shapes and sizes in her parents' surgery.

But it's not all plain sailing: Mandy clashes with gruff local Jimmy Marsh, and some of the villagers won't accept a new vet. Meanwhile, Simon is determined that Mandy will rejoin him back in the city.

When tragedy strikes for her best friend James Hunter, and some neglected animals are discovered on a nearby farm, Mandy must prove herself. When it comes to being there for her friends - and protecting animals in need - she's prepared to do whatever it takes...

Amazon Links: Kindle or Paperback