Thursday, 8 October 2015

Guest Post: Other People's Skin by Diane Chamberlain

Today on the blog I have something a little different, a challenge for you from bestselling author Diane Chamberlain.  Since I first discovered Diane's books whilst on holiday in 2005 she has become one of my favourite authors so I'm looking forward to reading her latest novel Pretending to Dance which is published today.

I have a call to action for you.

I spend a good part of every day imagining myself inside the skin of fictional people. I see what they see and hear what they hear and I feel what they feel. It’s challenging but so important if I want to create characters my readers will relate to. Once a month, however, I do something far more challenging: I imagine myself inside the skin of the real people I encounter throughout the day. It’s a tough assignment I give myself, but the rewards are great. 

It may sound trite, but I have a firm belief that we’re all connected. I think we’re on this journey together and we need to help each other along the way. Putting myself in other people’s skin is my way of reminding myself of that kinship. Oh, I still get angry at some people or harbor negative feelings about them, but for one day a month, I nurture our interrelatedness.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Cover Reveal: The Little Bookshop on the Seine by Rebecca Raisin

Today it's my pleasure to be taking part in the cover reveal blitz for Rebecca Raisin's latest book The Little Bookshop on the Seine, the first in her new series The Little Paris Collection. Here it is in all its gorgeousness...

What do you think?  Isn't it a beauty?  I have to confess that this is my favourite cover of Rebecca's books so far so the cover designer has a lot to live up to for the remaining books in the series ;)

Le Vie En Rose

Bookshop owner Sarah Smith has been offered the opportunity to exchange bookshops with her new Parisian friend for 6 months! And saying yes is a no-brainer – after all, what kind of a romantic would turn down a trip to Paris…for Christmas?

Even if it does mean leaving the irresistible Ridge Warner behind, Sarah’s sure she’s in for the holiday of a lifetime – complete with all the books she can read!

Emma's Guest Review: Talli Roland - Christmas at Cranberry Cottage

Reviewed by Emma Crowley

Home is where the heart is . . .  

With a whirlwind lifestyle travelling the world, the one thing Jess Millward relies on is Christmas with her gran in cosy Cranberry Cottage. When her grandmother reveals the house is directly in the path of a new high-speed railway, Jess is determined to fight. 

Can Jess save the cottage from demolition, or will she have no home to come to this Christmas? 

Amazon link: Kindle

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Author Interview: Cathy Kelly

I'm a huge fan of Cathy Kelly's writing having read all of her books over the years since I first picked up a copy of her debut novel Woman to Woman when I was on holiday in Ireland in the late nineties (which sadly ages us both!).  So it's my pleasure to invite Cathy to the blog to talk to her about her latest book Between Sisters which is published this Thursday. 

Between Sisters is a little bit mysterious – it starts with a nearly forty-something mother-of-two going to work and staring at older women, the way she always does, because she wonders which of them might be her mother. Her mother – and her little sister, Coco’s mum – left when they were small children and has never returned. This secret – why did she leave? – is at the heart of the book. The girls were brought up by their grandmother, Pearl, who lives in pretty Delaney Gardens and is a huge presence in the women’s lives. But she knows her granddaughters are not entirely happy. Coco is commitment-phobic, a throw back to her childhood because she can’t trust people – because people leave. Cassie is afraid of never coming first and she sees that she never does with her husband. 

Then a tragedy occurs and things change, new people come into their lives and they have a chance to solve the mystery….. where did their mother go? And would she like to see them now? 

What inspired you to write about two adult sisters wanting to re-connect with their absent mother who walked out on them when they were young?
I was half-way through It Started With Paris and I had two sisters who are not exactly estranged but like – and a selfish man – had come between them. They’d once been close but this closeness had gone.  Leila’s allegedly-fabulous husband had kept her from her family and then he’d run off, but when she was with him, she didn’t see much of her mother or her single-mum sister, Susi.

I began to think about writing a book with the opposite dynamic: sisters who are incredibly close.  Cassie and Coco are closer than many sisters because their mother left them when they were small. Cassie was seven and Coco was one when this happened. Coco relies hugely on her older sister, even though they’re loved and adored by their granny, Pearl. But that closeness remains – I think that the loss of their mother when they were young, makes them cling to each other. And it also makes them think that important people in your life can leave, which is vital to the story in that Coco has a broken engagement and Cassie is worried about her marriage

Between Sisters features some great characters, who did you have most fun creating, Cassie, Coco or Pearl? 
Coco was a joy to write because she was so sparky, had so much fun with her best friend, Jo and Jo’s adorable nine-year-old daughter, Fiona – and also because she ran a vintage shop. I love vintage clothes and know a bit about it but don’t really wear vintage because I look like I am in a play. Cassie was harder because she is this lovely woman who has what looks like the perfect marriage but it’s not and that dynamic is always harder to write. Pearl was a joy to write as she’s this wonderfully enlightened lady in her late seventies, who has a youthful soul, a dear male friend, and huge love in her heart. Also, she has a pug, Daisy. Who can’t like writing about pugs?

Monday, 5 October 2015

Emma's Guest Review: Kathryn Hughes - The Letter

Reviewed by Emma Crowley

Tina Craig longs to escape her violent husband. She works all the hours God sends to save up enough money to leave him, also volunteering in a charity shop to avoid her unhappy home. Whilst going through the pockets of a second-hand suit, she comes across an old letter, the envelope firmly sealed and unfranked. Tina opens the letter and reads it - a decision that will alter the course of her life for ever...

Billy Stirling knows he has been a fool, but hopes he can put things right. On 4th September 1939 he sits down to write the letter he hopes will change his future. It does - in more ways than he can ever imagine...

Amazon links: Kindle or Paperback

Around the World Blog Tour: Irish Leg with Caroline James

The Around The World Blog Tour is a partnership between TripFiction and #BookConnectors ~ bloggers and authors, travelling the world, through fiction.

TripFiction was created to make it easy to match a location with a book and help you select good literature that is most pertinent and relevant to your trip. A resource for armchair and actual travellers, it is a unique way of exploring a place through the eyes of an author. We blog, and chat books and travel across Social Media, and love to meet authors and bloggers as we take our literary journey.

Book Connectors  was created as a place on Facebook for Bloggers, Authors and small Publishers to share their news. We encourage book promotions; information about competitions and giveaways; news of events, including launch events, signings, talks or courses. Talk about new signings, about film deals .... anything really. Book Connectors is  a friendly group, there are no rules or guidelines - just be polite and respectful to each other.

Today it's my pleasure to welcome Caroline James to the blog as we're taking part in the Irish Leg of the Around the World Blog Tour.  

So, You Think You're a Celebrity… Chef? is set partly in Ireland, what inspired you to set the story there as opposed to one of the culinary capitals around the world?
The town of Kinsale lies a short drive away from Cork on the southern coast of Ireland and plays host to the annual Kinsale Gourmet Food Festival - a renowned culinary event. My background is from the world of hospitality and I have worked with many chefs over the years. A hero of mine was the infamous Keith Floyd.

Floyd was invited to the Kinsale Gourmet Food Festival in the 90s and the residents of Kinsale took him to their hearts; he was so taken with Kinsale that he bought a property there and spent many glorious years in the delightful foodie town. I wanted to follow his footsteps and find out why he was so entranced. My first visit to the festival convinced me that the riotous goings on over the course of the festival weekend would provide the perfect setting for a novel. 

Kinsale is unique - like no other foodie capital, a place where you will find Irish hospitality at its best.

Is your fictional town of Kindale , where the food festival is being held, based on an actual town or village in Ireland?  
Kindale is of course Kinsale - the beautiful little port where part of the book is set. Kinsale has a thriving restaurant scene with a plethora of fine dining establishments as well as some gorgeous pubs and eateries - perfect for the make-believe world of the chefs in So, You Think You're A Celebrity… Chef?

How much research did you need to do about Southern Ireland before you started writing SYTYACC?  Had you visited Ireland in the past? 
I had never been to Southern Ireland and I spent some time trawling the internet to be sure that all my facts and figures were correct before putting pen to paper. I combined this with a trip to the Gourmet Food Festival in Kinsale; which is a story waiting to be written as every hour unfolds over the course of the weekend. 

The festival has many events, including The Mad Hatters Food Trail, where large groups of guests, wearing an entertaining display of headgear, are escorted by Alice in Wonderland characters, around the town to venues hosting a plethora of local delicacies and drinks. The weekend is an incredible amount of fun and having survived the mayhem and madness, I felt that the festival deserved to be included in the book as a tribute to the wonderful people of Kinsale.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Blog Tour: Extract from Make a Christmas Wish by Julia Williams

Today it's my stop on Julia Williams' Make a Christmas Wish blog tour and thanks to the lovely people at Avon I am able to share with you an extract from Part One featuring Adam, a year after the accident.  

Last Christmas, when Livvy was knocked down in the supermarket car park, she certainly wasn’t ready to actually be dead! For months now she’s floated on the edge of the afterlife, generally making a nuisance of herself.

And she’s not ready to go just yet! She’s furious about the new woman in her husband’s life and she’s worried about her beloved son who doesn’t seem to be adjusting to life without her at all.

This Christmas, Livvy is given one last magical chance to make everything right. Will she take it and give her family the perfect Christmas?

I can remember the day I first met Livvy as clearly as if it was yesterday. It was our first term at uni in Manchester, and there was this bright, vivid, red-headed girl standing in the student bar, downing shots in a competition and drinking all the boys under the table. I was too shy to talk to her that first night, but gradually I found myself more and more drawn to her, and to my surprise my interest was reciprocated. It was Livvy who took the initiative from the first, kissing me suddenly and fiercely one night when we’d sat out all evening staring at the stars together. She was so unlike anyone I’d met: a free spirit, spontaneous in a way I wasn’t. She breathed life into me, showing me there was more than the staid and rather restrictive outlook my parents had given me. It was a magical, wonderful time. Since she’s died, I often think of those days and wonder how it could have gone so badly wrong.