Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Author Interview: Helena Fairfax

Today I'm delighted to welcome Helena Fairfax to the blog to talk about her book A Way From Heart to Heart which was published last week. 

After the death of her husband in Afghanistan, Kate Hemingway’s world collapses around her. Her free time is spent with a charity for teenage girls, helping them mend their broken lives - which is ironic, since her own life is fractured beyond repair. 

Reserved, public school journalist Paul Farrell is everything Kate and her teenage charges aren’t.  But when Paul agrees to help Kate with her charity, he makes a stunning revelation that changes everything, and leaves Kate torn.

Can she risk her son’s happiness as well as her own?

Can you tell us a little bit about your latest book, A Way from Heart to Heart? 
A Way from Heart to Heart is the story of a young woman who loses the husband she adored to a suicide bomber in Afghanistan. At first sight, Kate’s story seems quite stark, but as the novel progresses, you see that there are so many strands of love woven around Kate, through her son, through her best friend, and through her husband’s oldest friend, who has always been there for her, though the darkest times.

Where did the inspiration come from to write about rebuilding a life following the death of a loved one, especially one killed in Afghanistan?
I sometimes find it hard to pinpoint where my initial ideas spring from. This particular idea just seemed to come to me fully-fledged and felt “right”. I’d suffered myself from the loss of a loved one, and maybe subconsciously I wanted to write my way through the pain of loss. Of course as an author you have power of life and death over your characters. I wrote about a husband who died in Afghanistan because I wanted to show that deaths in war torn countries aren’t just another news item that we can forget about next day. They happen to real people, whose deaths affect the loved ones left behind for ever.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Guest Book Review: Katherine Webb - The Night Falling

Reviewed by Emma Crowley

Puglia, 1921. Leandro Cardetta, born into poverty, emigrated to America to make his fortune and has returned home to southern Italy a rich man, accompanied by his glamorous wife, Marcie, an ex-showgirl fighting middle age. Now Leandro has money enough to hire renowned English architect, Boyd Kinsgley, to renovate a crumbling palazzo into an Art Deco statement of wealth, and host Boyd's teenage son and his diffident young second wife, Clare, for one extraordinary summer.

Under the burning sky, beyond the luxury of Leandro's home, tensions are high. Veterans of the Great War are desperate for work and food. Among these is Ettore, Leandro's nephew. Gripped by grief at the loss of his fiancée, Ettore has sworn to identify Livia's killer, and take his revenge. He is too proud to go to his uncle for charity, but when he injures himself one day, he has no choice but to knock on Leandro's door. Meeting Clare there will change everything - and in the most violent way.

During the fierce summer of 1921, all these lives converge. Exactly how did Leandro grow rich in America, and what is the strange hold he has over Boyd? What happened to the first Mrs Kingsley, and what secret haunts the outwardly exuberant Marcie Cardetta? Hearts will be broken, blood will be spilt and the hardest of life's lessons will be learnt as shadows fall.

Amazon links: Kindle or Hardback

Monday, 24 November 2014

Guest Book Review: E.F. Benson - Mapp & Lucia

Reviewed by Sarah Brew

The arrival of the snobbish Mrs Emmeline Lucas (know as Lucia to her friends) to the small seaside town of Tilling causes waves as she threatens the queen bee of Tilling's social circle, Miss Elizabeth Mapp. Against a backdrop of genteel tea parties and bridge evenings a series of hilarious conflicts ensue between the two power-hungry women as they battle on the social stage to gain the ultimate place as the first lady of society.

This edition includes three of E. F Benson's satirical stories of inter-war Britain: Mapp and Lucia, Queen Lucia and Miss Mapp.

Amazon links: Kindle or Paperback

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Books Read: Jo Thomas - The Chestnut Tree

When Ellie Russet leaves home and her restaurant in the wake of disaster to housesit in the Kent countryside, the last thing she wants to do is cook for a living - ever again. 

Ellie's new neighbour, Daniel Fender, is struggling to make ends meet as a furniture maker. Could the answer to his problems lie in the chestnut orchard at the bottom of the garden?

Only Ellie can help Daniel unlock the delicious secret that will bring them the fresh starts they need. And as autumn approaches, romance will blossom amid the glowing embers of the chestnut fire...

Amazon links: Kindle

Guest Book Review: Gabrielle Mullarkey - Hush Hush

Reviewed by Tanya Phillips

Widowed a year ago, thirtysomething Angela has retreated into her shell, reluctant to dip a toe back in the job market – let alone the dating game. Between them, her bossy mum and her best friend gently nudge Angela back to life, persuading her to find a job and even try a solo holiday – which ends with a luggage mix-up and an encounter with a rugged Irishman called Conor. 

Back home, Angela resolves to take her new romance slowly, particularly as Conor’s (non-holiday) baggage includes the original ‘child from hell’ and a temperamental ex-wife with Pre-Raphaelite hair. Since Angela’s never liked winging it, is a future with Conor too uncertain to contemplate? 

But as she’s about to discover, her old life was far less secure than she thought. And the past won’t let go until she confronts its long-buried secret. 

Amazon link: Kindle

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Giveaway: Win a copy of He Who Kills the Dragon & Falling Freely, As If In A Dream by Leif GW Persson

Although I do try and review all the books that are sent to me I am struggling to keep on top of the ones I've agreed to review, let alone books that I receive out of the blue.  So I've had to reluctantly go through the books received unexpectedly to make a decision about which ones I will be able review and which ones I sadly won't be able to.

Two of the books that fall into the latter category are He Who Kills the Dragon and Falling Freely, As If In A Dream by Swedish author Leif GW Persson.  As I am not going to be in position to review either of these I have decided to offer these as a giveaway prize to one lucky follower instead.

It should have been an open and shut case: two drunks meet for something to eat and considerably more to drink, fall into an argument.  And then one of them brings their evening together to a close by beating the other to death.

A strangely banal and yet puzzling scenario for Detective Superintendent Evert Bäckström, whose legendary poor temper has not been improved by strict orders from his doctor to lead a healthier life. His gut feeling proves him right: within days, his team has another murder linked to the first on their hands.

Suddenly the nation needs a hero.  Who better than Evert Bäckström, misanthropic, ostentatious, devoid of morals, Hawaii shirt-clad, and, latterly, armed?  Once again an unholy combination of timing may yet rescue him from the perils of his fifteen minutes of fame... 

Guest Post: Where Do You Work? by Betsy Tobin

Today I'm joined by author Betsy Tobin whose latest book Things We Couldn't Explain was published this week. 

An innocuous enough question, and one that usually translates into: what do you do?  But for us authorial types, it tends to be a bit more literal.  When I tell people at drinks parties that I write books for a living, they genuinely want to know physically where I work.  I suppose they want an image of me hard at it: scrunched over a desk, closeted away in a garret, tucked up in a library carrel, etc.  Over the years this question has probably vexed me more than any other, not because of who’s posed it, but of the difficulty in giving a satisfactory reply. 

Where indeed?  The answer has been as varied as the number of people who’ve asked it.  Over the last fifteen years my office has been:  at the kitchen table, up a ladder in a closet-sized loft, in a damp spidery barn, in bed with no heat in the dead of winter, in a well-lit closet, on the sitting room sofa cornered by pets desperate to be taken out, locked into the basement with my children screaming above, in the quiet study room of the local library surrounded by twitchy homeless people, or in a greasy café with builders leering at me.

Guest Review: Marian Keyes - The Woman Who Stole My Life

Reviewed by Emma Crowley

'Name: Stella Sweeney. 
Height: average. 
Recent life events: dramatic.'

One day, sitting in traffic, married Dublin mum Stella Sweeney attempts a good deed. The resulting car crash changes her life. 

For she meets a man who wants her telephone number (for the insurance, it turns out). That's okay. She doesn't really like him much anyway (his Range Rover totally banjaxed her car). 

But in this meeting is born the seed of something which will take Stella thousands of miles from her old life, turning an ordinary woman into a superstar, and, along the way, wrenching her whole family apart. 

Is this all because of one ill-advised act of goodwill? Was meeting Mr Range Rover destiny or karma? Should she be grateful or hopping mad? 

For the first time real, honest-to-goodness happiness is just within her reach. But is Stella Sweeney, Dublin housewife, ready to grasp it?

Amazon links: Kindle or Hardcover