Saturday, 29 April 2017

Books Read & Giveaway: Orange Blossom Days by Patricia Scanlan

In a beautiful southern Spanish town, where the sea sparkles and orange blossoms scent the air, the gates of a brand new apartment complex, La Joya de Andalucía, glide open to welcome the new owners.

Anna and Austen MacDonald, an Irish couple, are preparing to enjoy their retirement to the full. But the demands of family cause problems they have never foreseen and shake their marriage to the core.

Sally-Ann Connolly Cooper, a feisty Texan mother of two young teenagers, is reeling from her husband’s infidelity. La Joya becomes a place of solace for Sally-Ann, in more ways than one.

Eduardo Sanchez, a haughty Madrileño, has set out with single-minded determination to become El Presidente of the complex’s management committee. But pride comes before a fall.

Jutta Sauer Perez, a sophisticated German who aspires to own her very own apartment in La Joya, works hard to reach her goal. Then the unthinkable happens.

As their lives entwine and friendships and enmities develop, it becomes apparent that La Joya is not quite the haven they all expect it to be…

Amazon links: Kindle or Hardcover

The Write Stuff with... Tarn Richardson

Today it's my pleasure to be handing over the blog to local author Tarn Richardson to talk about why he wrote, or anyone should consider writing, a trilogy.

Writing a novel is not easy. Look at the number of people who have tried to write one and failed. It takes persistence, determination, belief, motivation, ideas (lots and lots of ideas!), faith and courage, a good year of your life and a steely skin to handle all the rejection, criticism and ridicule from readers, critics and family alike.

So, considering how hard it is to write a single novel, why would anyone in their right mind want to try their hand at writing a trilogy, three interlinked books dragging the reader through a lavish set up, an intriguing middle and a jaw-dropping, heart-pounding finale?!

Well, quite simply because it’s great fun! Yes, it’s a demanding and, at times, depressing undertaking that takes up years of your life (for me it was four and a half years of my life given over to The Darkest Hand trilogy). It also probably helps if you’re lacking a little in the sanity stakes (don’t worry if not, you will be by the end!). 

But there’s nothing like that sense of achievement when you’ve produced, made or done something HUGE - and writing a trilogy is huge. Not much comes bigger, in a literary sense, at least.

Writing a trilogy opens up a whole new side to yourself, things about you that you never realised; your ability to manage thousands of facts, juggle timelines, organise teams of bit part actors, ‘become’ your main characters in thought and voice, and, perhaps, most importantly of all, discover that you do have the talent, the patience and the strength to stay the course and finish your epic work. 

Friday, 28 April 2017

Louise's Review: Faithless by Kjell Ola Dahl

Reviewed by Louise Wykes

Oslo detectives Gunnarstranda and Frølich are back … and this time, it’s personal… 

When the body of a woman turns up in a dumpster, scalded and wrapped in plastic, Inspector Frank Frolich is shocked to discover that he knows her--and their recent meetings may hold the clue to her murder. 

As he begins to look deeper into the tragic events surrounding her death, Frolich's colleague Gunnarstranda finds another body, and things take a more sinister turn. 

With a cold case involving the murder of a young girl in northern Norway casting a shadow, and an unsettling number of coincidences clouding the plot, Frolich is forced to look into his own past to find the answers--and the killer--before he strikes again.

Amazon links: Kindle or Paperback

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Author Interview: Amanda James

Today it's my pleasure to welcome Amanda James back to the blog for a chat about her new book Behind The Lie which was published last week.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your writing journey? 
Hi Sharon, it’s great to be here today and thanks for inviting me.

I have always written since I was a child. Sometimes it would be poems, songs and often short stories. I never thought that one day I’d be published though.  But about fifteen years ago I started writing seriously – novels mostly. They got nowhere because I didn’t really know how to write! I had great ideas and plots, but the telling left much to the imagination. I read about writing, read lots of novels and practised, and I eventually got a short story published in 2010. That was for Gentle Footprints, an anthology to raise awareness for Born Free. Because of this I found myself on stage at the hay Festival next to Virginia McKenna. I read an extract of the story to a thousand people and decided I quite liked this writing malarkey! Then in 2011 I had my first novel published and Behind the Lie will be my seventh. I have other unpublished ones (some are a bit quirky!) - So altogether I have written a total of twelve so far.

If you had to give an elevator pitch for Behind the Lie, what would it be? 
A young woman loses one of her twins near to the end of her pregnancy, but is this terrible tragedy really down to 'just one of those things’, or is there something more sinister behind her son’s death?

The birth of a child should be a happy occasion, what inspired you to write about a woman pregnant with twins and the subsequent trauma /grief of having to deal with the death of one of her babies?  
I have no idea. Often ideas just come to me, mostly when I‘m out walking on the beach. The day I had the idea for this book I was on the beach, which I now know as Holly’s beach, my main character. I looked up at a gorgeous house overlooking the ocean and imagined who lived in it and what their story was. The bare bones of Holly’s story appeared and I filled in the gaps over the next week or so.

Did you do much research about stillbirths and grief before you started writing Behind the Lie? 
Yes. I think it’s important to try to get things right. Over the years I have known people that have lost a child too, sadly. And while writing the story I had to deal with illness and diagnosis of a terminal disease of someone I’m close to. As a writer, all experiences affect your writing, good or bad.

The cover is very dramatic, did you have much creative input into its design?  
Yes, I was asked for the kind of cover I envisaged, and I think HQ has done a really great job!

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Kelly's Review: The Comfort of Others by Kay Langdale

Reviewed by Kelly Spillane

Minnie and her sister Clara, spinsters both, live in a dilapidated country house in the middle of a housing estate, built when their father sold off the family's land. Now in their seventies, their days follow a well-established routine: long gone are the garden parties, the tennis lessons and their suffocatingly strict mother. Gone, too, is any mention of what happened when Minnie was sixteen, and the secret the family buried in the grounds of their estate.

Directly opposite them lives Max, an 11-year-old whose life with his mum has changed beyond recognition since her new boyfriend arrived. Cast aside, he takes solace in Minnie's careful routine, observed through his bedroom window.

Over the course of the summer, both begin to tell their stories: Max through a Dictaphone, Minnie through a diary. As their tales intertwine, ghosts are put to rest and challenges faced, in a story that is as dark as it is uplifting.

Amazon links: Kindle or Paperback

National Stationery Week: Paperchase goodies to be won

Today is World Stationery Day so I've decided to share the love of all things stationery with giveaways for a few goodies that I have bought recently from one of my favourite shops Paperchase.

Monday, 24 April 2017

Books Read: Lie to Me by Jess Ryder

Three minutes. That’s all it takes for Meredith’s entire world to fall apart when she watches the videotape of her four-year-old self with Becca, the mother who abandoned her.

Meredith can’t believe what her eyes have seen. Yet what if her memory has locked away the painful reality of her childhood? Can there be any truth in the strange and dangerous story her mother forced her to tell on camera?

The search for answers leads Meredith to Darkwater Pool, the scene of the murder of a young woman, Cara, over 30 years ago. What could possibly be the link between her mother and the victim?

To find the truth Meredith must search through a past that is not her own. The problem is, she’s not the only one looking…

Amazon links: Kindle or Paperback