Short Story Spotlight: A Piece of Cake by Trisha Ashley

1 Sep

Today I’m delighted to be the final stop on Trisha Ashley’s blog tour for her new ebook short story, A Piece of Cake. Trisha lives in beautiful North Wales, together with the neurotic Border Collie recently foisted onto her by her student son and an equally neurotic but also vain, bad-tempered and chancy Muse!

piece of cakeProfessional cake-maker Kate doesn’t have time for a man in her life, especially a boorish, sports-mad one like Wes. He’s definitely not her type.

But at her best friends wedding, when one crisis follows another, Kate begins to wonder whether she’s misjudged Wes.

Can love be the sweetest thing of all?

I’m a big fan of Trisha Ashley’s books and having loved her previous short story, Finding Mr RochesterI was very much looking forward to reading this one.

I wasn’t disappointed! A Piece of Cake is another warm, funny and sweet tale from Trisha and shows her skills as a romance writer perfectly. I loved the tension between handsome football player Wes and cake-maker Kate as they both try to play their roles in their best friends’ wedding!

Trisha takes a tongue in cheek look at footballers and their lifestyles and contrasts them nicely with hardworking Kate’s delicious sounding cake creations! As Kate promises to help her best friend Laura with her wedding preparations she is thrown together with footballer Wes and the sparks fly. I love how Trisha creates brilliant chemistry between her characters and this story is no exception.

Perfect for reading during a tea or lunch break (preferably accompanied with a large slice of cake!) and guaranteed to leave you with a smile on your face.

5/5

Find out more about Trisha and her books and sign up to her fab newsletter at: http://trishaashley.com/

A Piece of Cake is out now in ebook formats.

I’d like to thank Sabah at LightBrigade PR for sending me a review copy of this story.

Please do check out the other stops on the tour for extracts, reviews and recipes from Trisha.

POC Blog

Giveaway! Win a copy of Quarter Past Two On A Wednesday Afternoon by Linda Newbury

26 Aug

Earlier today I posted my review of Linda Newbery’s excellent debut novel for adults, Quarter Past Two On A Wednesday Afternoon and as part of Linda’s blog tour to celebrate release, I have a copy to give away to one lucky reader!

Quarter Past Two on a Wednesday Afternoon

It was the day when everything stopped.

At quarter past two on a hot afternoon in August, Anna’s beautiful, headstrong elder sister Rose disappears.

Twenty years later, Anna still doesn’t know whether Rose is alive or dead. In her early thirties now, she sees her future unfolding – with sensible, serious Martin and a grown-up, steady job – and finds herself wondering if this is what she really wants.

Unable to take control of her life while the mystery of her sister’s disappearance remains unsolved, Anna begins to search for the truth: what did happen to Rose that summer’s day?

To enter this giveaway just leave a comment in the box below and I’ll draw a winner using Random.org after the closing date.

This giveaway is open to UK residents only and will close at midnight on Sunday 31st August.

Good luck!

Book review: Quarter Past Two On A Wednesday Afternoon by Linda Newbery

26 Aug

Quarter Past Two on a Wednesday AfternoonIt was the day when everything stopped.

At quarter past two on a hot afternoon in August, Anna’s beautiful, headstrong elder sister Rose disappears.

Twenty years later, Anna still doesn’t know whether Rose is alive or dead. In her early thirties now, she sees her future unfolding – with sensible, serious Martin and a grown-up, steady job – and finds herself wondering if this is what she really wants.

Unable to take control of her life while the mystery of her sister’s disappearance remains unsolved, Anna begins to search for the truth: what did happen to Rose that summer’s day?

The cover for this novel caught my eye  - I love the image of the two girls on it and  I was intrigued by the title as soon as I read it. The title refers to the exact time that eighteen year old Rose leaves her house and disappears. Her younger sister Anna and her parents are left with the immediate impact of loss and fear followed by a longer term set of questions which, nearly twenty years later, Anna is determined to discover the answer to.

This is a complex and layered novel that builds up a picture of a seemingly ‘normal’ family trying their best to deal with the loss of a loved one, then reveals a web of past decisions and secrets that had me absolutely gripped and changed my view of the family members completely!

The narrative moves between the present; where Anna feels unable to put down roots and settle to a job or relationship and still feels heavily the weight of Rose’s presence in her life and her mother Cassandra is becoming increasingly fragile; to snapshots of the past as Rose and Anna grew up together and then delves further back into the family history with episodes from Cassandra’s life as she grew up, married and had children.

Loss, forgiveness and family are key themes, as is the way that past events and actions can reverberate into the future with unexpected repercussions and I was surprised more than once as I read at how my opinions of individuals changed as I read.

I found Anna particularly intriguing and although I started off as sympathetic to her, I didn’t find her particularly likeable for much of the book. But as I read on, I began to understand the motivations behind some of her seemingly strange decisions and as she began to delve further into Rose’s disappearance, I found myself wanting her to get the resolution she needed so much.

Similarly, I was very surprised at the strength of Cassandra’s story and the heartbreaking chain of events that led her to become the fragile person that we meet as the novel opens and was very much willing her to reveal all and find peace as the story progressed.

This is Linda’s first adult novel and I think it is a winner with a satisfying ending. The many layers and intriguing ‘what would you do if …?’ questions make it ideal for reading groups to dissect and discuss and I’m not surprised it was chosen to feature in the Radio 2 Book Club.

Linda is already an established author of children’s and young adult fiction and winner of the Costa Children’s Book Award. A Quarter Past Two On A Wednesday Afternoon is set to be just as big a hit in adult fiction – add it to your reading lists now!

5/5

A Quarter Past Two On A Wednesday Afternoon is out now in hardback and ebook formats.

I’d like to thank Naomi at Transworld for sending me a review copy of this novel.

Find out more about Linda and her writing at: http://www.lindanewbery.co.uk/

Book review: The Mill River Redemption by Darcie Chan

25 Aug

Mill River RedemtionHaving unexpectedly lost her husband and lacking the means to support herself, Josie DiSanti and her two daughters take refuge in the small town of Mill River, to live with Josie’s aunt, Ivy. The sisters, Rose and Emily, are inseparable growing up – until a shocking tragedy tears them apart.

Years later, Rose and Emily return to Mill River for the reading of their mother’s will, where they learn that Josie would do anything to force their reconciliation: the sisters must move into neighbouring houses for the summer and work together to locate the key to Josie’s safe deposit box, which contains their inheritance. And so, left with no choice, Rose and Emily reluctantly begin their search. But in a place known for its magic and miracles, little do they know that an even greater treasure awaits them . . . 

The Mill River Redemption is Darcie Chan’s second novel; following on from the New York Times best seller, The Mill River Recluse. Both books are set in the fictional town of Mill River but if like me, you haven’t read Darcie’s first novel, don’t worry, this is a complete standalone story although there are some linkages that only made me want to go straight out and grab a copy of The Mill River Recluse as soon as I’d finished reading this book. Having loved The Mill River Recluse, I can’t wait to read more from Darcie!

Darcie Chan’s writing reminded me of some of my favourite authors and I think The Mill River Recluse with it’s quirky characters, close knit community and family tensions and mysteries will appeal to fans of Beth Hoffman and Sarah Addison Allen. This is a tale of love, family and grief but despite heartbreaking moments, I found it an uplifting read filled with wise words.

The story focuses on Josie Di Santi and her two daughters, Rose and Emily and the main story line is split between their past, starting in 1983 as Josie and her young daughters flee to Mill River in the wake of tragedy and the present where Emily and Rose no longer speak and return to Mill River following the death of their mother.

Told in alternating chapters that eventually meet in the present, I enjoyed getting to know Josie, her family and the occupants of Mill River and seeing how the characters changed over time. Chan builds a picture of a warm and welcoming community at the heart of which is Josie’s Auny Ivy, who she seeks refuge with following the death of her husband.

Ivy was one of my favourite characters in the book and I wish I could visit her fabulous shop, The Bookstop. A love of reading and books is a key theme and I loved how Darcie wove books into the story. The novel features a list of Darcie’s own favourite books at the end, many of which get a mention in the story and all of which I’ve now added to my own reading list :-)

Rose’s book-loving son, Alex was another favourite character and his story really pulled on my heartstrings! I also enjoyed reading about Josie as she put her life back together and seeing how the family grew up. The contrast between the young Rose and Emily and the sisters in the present is stark and the mystery of their estrangement kept me guessing and turning the pages, as did the challenge that Josie sets them in her will.

Chan writes with warmth and sensitivity but also with a wonderful sense of humour and there are many moments that made me smile while I read The Mill River Redemption as Rose and Emily are forced to live side by side and work together to claim their inheritance. This is a gripping read filled with surprises and I didn’t want it to end. I’m excited to see that Darcie is working on a third Mill River book and can’t wait to visit the town again.

A perfect read to cosy up with this autumn!

5/5

The Mill River Redemption by Darcie Chan (Sphere) is published tomorrow (26th August) as an eBook.

Find out more about Darcie Chan and her writing at: http://www.darciechan.com/

Guest post: Ireland as Inspiration for Summer at Castle Stone by Lynn Marie Hulsman

20 Aug

Today I’m welcoming the lovely Lynn Marie Hulsman back to One More Page to tell us about the location inspiration for her new novel, Summer At Castle Stone. Lynn Marie lives in New York with her family and her favorite thing to do is write Romantic Comedy. Welcome Lynn Marie!

Photo-Lynn-Marie-300x201Of all the experiences I’ve had in my life, travel ranks as one of the most important. It falls only below giving birth and becoming a mother, moving to New York City and making it my home for life, and publishing as a contracted author. When I’m not traveling, my favorite pass times are reading and writing. Being sucked into the “world” of a novel thrills me. I enjoy living vicariously through a book’s characters. What is it like to taste the cuisine of a place? What does a city sound like before dawn? How do the streets smell at high noon?

When I write fiction, I feel a thrill when I’m in a character’s skin, sensing what she is sensing. Now, as a novelist, it’s nearly impossible for me to visit somewhere without taking mental notes of what it’s like to navigate my days and nights in a place that’s unfamiliar to me.

When I co-wrote the cookbook The Irish Pantry for chef Noel McMeel, I was given the opportunity to travel to Ireland to do research, and to trail him in his kitchen and restaurants. From the moment I landed in Dublin, I felt a shift. Everything moved more slowly than in New York City, where I live. The stakes of little things, such as getting ahead in the customs queue or finding the best seat on the bus to the city center, seemed lower. For me, Ireland felt like the right place at the right time.

I’d been stressed, and feeling depleted. I had been buying into ideas that made me suffer, such as comparing the décor and size of my apartment to those of acquaintances whose spouses work on Wall Street, and worrying that if my kids didn’t get into the “right” middle school that they’d surely never get into the “right” high school, or university and were therefore doomed for life before reaching the age of 10. Without trying to sound like a drama queen, I realized on the spot that Ireland offered me the chance at a spiritual awakening.

During that trip, I stayed in and cooked with old and new friends, taking the time to really listen people as they talked instead of making to-do lists in my head. On the train trip north to Fermanagh, I looked out the windows at the countryside instead of burying my face in my phone. Instead of spending an hour doing my hair and makeup, and choosing an outfit, I used that hour to walk the lanes of the village with my friend’s big, slobbery Labrador retriever, observing the difference in the trees and shrubs to what I knew in New York, and my birthplace, Kentucky.

When I returned to New York from that trip, the sights, sounds, and smells of Ireland stayed with me. An idea for a new novel, which was to become Summer at Castle Stone, slowly took shape. I’d write down a note here about the smell of baking soda bread, and another there about the voices I heard at the early morning green market near Great Georges Street in the North end of Dublin. I could see, hear, taste, smell, and feel the world, but what was the story?

The answer lay in my bones, of course. The story’s roots were in food, cooking, restaurants. I’d traveled through the world. It Summer at Castle Stoneneeded only finishing touches from my imagination. But who would live there? A jaded girl, of course, exhausted and world-weary from shadow-boxing against opponents whose defeat didn’t matter. Boom! There was Tom O’Grady. Zip! There was Shayla Sheridan. They meandered around my mind picking up my memories of turf fires in 17th-century thatched-roof cottages, of colcannon and cod served with pints of stout that were meals unto themselves, of charming men with mischief in their eyes and flirty words that bordered on insulting but drew me in with their witty challenge, of the kind of damp, cold air that slowed my blood to a crawl, making rushing anywhere impossible, even if I’d been inclined to accomplish much.

I suppose it wasn’t strictly necessary to return to Ireland early this summer in order to gather more information for the final, polishing details of Summer at Castle Stone, but I’m glad I did it. Had I not, I wouldn’t have experienced County Wexford, my new favorite place in Ireland. Its combination of sophisticated arts community and unspoiled, rural village life left its mark on me. Visiting grand estates such as Wells House informed my book. So did spending time with locals ranging from George Lawlor, the Lord Mayor, Billy Roche, the celebrated playwright, Maria Nolan, who spearheaded the organization of the Wexford Literary Festival, to my dancing partner at Screen Village’s local pub – Freddie’s Bar – who was described as “a maverick, that fella” by a local Irish mammy.

The details of rugged, wild, beautiful, ancient, wise old Ireland burned into my brain won’t lose their sharp edges soon, I predict. The impact was too great. I predict I’ll write more books set on The Emerald Isle. But not without another visit or two first…

Thanks Lynn Marie!

Summer At Castle Stone is out now in ebook formats. Click the image below to find out more and please do check out the other stops on Lynn Marie’s blog tour!
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Giveaway! Three copies of With a Friend Like You by Fanny Blake to be won!

19 Aug

In celebration of the release of Fanny Blake’s excellent new novel, With a Friend Like You, Fanny’s lovely publisher Orion has given me three copies to give away to lucky readers!

This is my favourite of Fanny’s novels yet and is warm, funny and thoughtful; getting right to the heart of complicated but wonderful female friendships!

friend like you large

To enter this giveaway just leave a ‘pick me’ comment in the box below and I’ll draw three winners using Random.org after the closing date.

This giveaway is open to UK residents only and will close at midnight on Monday 25th August.

Good luck!

Guest post: Writing for a Women’s Magazine and Being a Published Author by Fanny Blake

19 Aug

Today I’m delighted to welcome Fanny Blake back to One More Page on the latest stop of her With A Friend Like You blog tour. Fanny loves reading and started her career as an Editor before moving on to write books of her own. She is the books editor of Women & Home magazine and has also been a judge for a number of literary awards including the Betty Trask Award, the Desmond Elliott Award, the Romantic novelists’ Association Award, the Costa First Novel Award and the Costa Short Story Award. With A Friend Like You is Fanny’s fourth novel and is out now. Welcome Fanny!

fannyblakeBeing the books editor of Woman and Home is my dream job. For more years than I care to count, I’ve been reading and recommending books on their monthly book pages. I’m lucky to work on a magazine with an editor who loves books and believes in the pleasure of reading. Almost every day, the postman turns up with anything between two and ten book proofs from publishers. I read as many as I can and choose which ones to feature, making sure there’s something to appeal to almost every taste. I used to commission a short story every month from established authors, too. However this year we rang the changes and now we’ve upped the book coverage from one to two pages and dropped the story. Instead I interview one author every month, getting a portrait of the person behind the bestseller.

 Before I was a writer, I was a publisher so my whole life has been spent reading for a living: reading quickly, at that. Although I didn’t originally plan to be a writer, I do believe that reading is a really important part of a writer’s life: reading and of course actually doing the writing. Talking about it is much easier!

I took a roundabout route to writing novels. After publishing, I became a journalist and then began writing books that tied in with TV series, as well as ghosting autobiographies. All of this taught me so much, not least that I could actually finish a book. But I also learned about structure and voice. The more I wrote, the more I began to have ideas for my own novels and the more I wanted to write them.

When it came to writing my first novel, What Women Want, I found that all my experience helped no end. That has continued to befriend like you the case right up to my latest With a Friend Like You. It may make me very critical of my own efforts, but at the same time everything has dovetailed wonderfully well. All the reading I do for Woman and Home makes me keep going and aspire to being a better writer with every novel I write.

With a Friend Like You (Orion) and The Secrets Women Keep (Orion) by Fanny Blake are both out now.

Find out more about Fanny and her books at: http://fannyblake.co.uk/

Please do check out the other stops on Fanny’s blog tour and look out for a chance to win a copy of With a Friend Like You later today here on One More Page!

Perfect reads for Wedding Season (and beyond!)

18 Aug

Weddings are everywhere in fiction this year! Here are ten books to see you through wedding season and beyond!
thirteen weddingsThirteen Weddings by Paige Toon (Out now!)
One of my favourite books of the year so far and covers a wonderful array of weddings through the eyes of wedding photographer, Bronte. You can read my full review here and read about Paige’s own wedding day here!
Sometimes you have to step out of the light to see clearly again…

Bronte never expected to see Alex after their one night together, but she never stopped thinking of him. So when she arrives at work one day to find that Alex is a new colleague, she is secretly thrilled. The only problem is that Alex is now engaged to Zara, the girl he was on a break from the night they met.

Determined to move on with life, Bronte becomes a part-time wedding photographer, alongside her day job. Surrounded by loving couples, warring couples, tearful bridesmaids, mischievous pageboys and interfering mothers-in-law, she tries to navigate her way through wedding after wedding while her heart is being torn apart. 

As Alex’s own wedding day draws ever nearer, Bronte and Alex’s chemistry becomes harder to ignore, and Bronte must decide whether to fight for the man she loves, or to let him go forever.
Two Weddings and a Baby by Scarlett Bailey (Out now!) two weddings and a baby
The first summer novel from lovely Scarlett Bailey – a lovely, funny, romantic summer read!

From reluctant bridesmaid, to accidental mother.

Tamsyn Thorne has not been back to her home town of Poldore for five long years.

But now her brother, Ruan, is about to get married and she has no excuses left.

Her plans to arrive in Cornwall looking chic and successful are dashed when a huge storm turns her from fashion goddess to a drowned rat. Worse, she ends up insulting the local hunky vicar – and then finds a tiny baby abandoned in his churchyard.

badbridesBad Brides by Rebecca Chance (Out now!)
Another fabulous read from Rebecca Chance – be warned, this one really sizzles!!
Good brides promise to obey. Bad brides wouldn’t dream of it…

Milly Gamble is an up-and-coming actress, and the perfect English flower child. At 23, she’s always been cast as the innocent heroine. But looks can deceive. Calculating and fiercely ambitious, Milly is determined to be the most famous star in England. And how better to achieve her goal than by dating Tarquin Ormond, lead singer of the biggest folk band of the moment? Tarquin is madly in love with Milly; Milly is only in love with herself. 

Brianna Jade is an all-American pageant girl. The daughter of Tamra Maloney, a stunning billionairess, Brianna is a sweet, pretty girl who is more than happy to go along with her mother’s ambitious plans for her. Now Tamra’s brought her to the UK and hooked her up with an Earl. He has a crumbling stately home and needs a rich wife to help restore it to its former glory. Tamra is as ambitious and determined as Brianna is sweet and innocent – is this more a case of mother-in-law-zilla than bridezilla?

Both Milly and Brianna’s upcoming weddings will be huge, lavish events that garner national press. But with the cover of the biggest magazine in the country to be won, things are about to get very dirty…

 

Lily Does LA by Nicola Doherty (e-book short story published on 25th September) LILY does LA
The second installment in Nicola Doherty’s fab new five-part Girls on Tour series. I really enjoyed the first story in the series and am looking forward to jetting of to LA with Lily!

Lily is an actress. At least, that’s what she tells people, even though she’s currently working in a call centre and her last big part was an ad for Sofa Warehouse. So when she’s invited to her cousin Alice’s wedding in LA, it’s a dream come true. Alice’s fiancé Sam is actually a Hollywood agent; how can Lily fail to get talent-spotted? There’s only one problem; not only is Lily banned from mentioning acting, parts or producers to Sam, she’s expected to spend the entire week doing wedding-related prep (read: chores) with Sam’s boring groomsman Jesse. But Lily firmly believes that rules were made to be broken …
after the weddingAfter the Wedding by Roisin Meaney (Out now!)
I’ve heard so many good things about Roisin’s books so am looking forward to reading this one soon.
It’s the beginning of May on the island of Roone and Nell Mulcahy, having called off her wedding to the handsome Tim Baker, has finally admitted her love for his brother James – a love everyone else on the island recognised long before she did. Now Nell is setting off for County Clare, to a church overlooking the sea, to say ‘I do’ to the Mr. Baker she was meant for all along.

But when James and Nell return to their home after the wedding, they find Roone rocked by the disappearance of a young girl holidaying on the island.

As the summer progresses, and Nell and James navigate the ups and downs of life as a married couple – along with Tim’s return to Roone – the search for the girl continues. And the island residents discover that everything can change in a single moment. But will happiness be restored before autumn comes?
The Wedding Speech by Isabelle Broom (Ebook short story released on 28th August)
 wedding-speech-9781471138980_lg
I’m looking forward to discovering a new author when this short story is released at the end of the month!
Ed waited until all the eyes in the room were on him before he began. He took a deep breath, inhaling as he did so the sweet scent from the lilies, which were arranged extravagantly in front of him. ‘Ladies and gents, I promise to try and keep this short and sweet…’

When Billy asked his best mate Ed to be his best man, Ed knew he would have to make a speech and he was dreading it. But he also knew how important it was to Billy – and to his soul mate and wife-to-be, Amelia. So Ed is determined to do them proud. But little does he know that it will be the most important speech he will ever make, and his toast – ‘To Billy and Amelia – together forever’ – will mean more than he ever thought.

A beautiful short story to remind you of the importance of love.
youre the one that I wantYou’re the one that I want by Giovanna Fletcher (Out now!)
A second huge romantic hit for Giovanna Fletcher and one of my favourite covers of the year so far!

Maddy, dressed in white, stands at the back of the church. At the end of the aisle is Rob – the man she’s about to marry. Next to Rob is Ben – best man and the best friend any two people ever had.

And that’s the problem.

Because if it wasn’t Rob waiting for her at the altar, there’s a strong chance it would be Ben. Loyal and sensitive Ben has always kept his feelings to himself, but if he turned round and told Maddy she was making a mistake, would she listen? And would he be right?

Best friends since childhood, Maddy, Ben and Rob thought their bond was unbreakable. But love changes everything. Maddy has a choice to make but will she choose wisely? Her heart, and the hearts of the two best men she knows, depend on it…

The Wedding Bees by Sarah-Kate Lynch (Out now!) WeddingBees_US_final_cover-330

I loved this sweet and magical book – full of Southern charm!

Sugar Wallace did not believe in love at first sight, but her bees did. . . .

Every spring Sugar Wallace coaxes her sleepy honeybee queen—presently the sixth in a long line of Queen Elizabeths—out of the hive and lets her crawl around a treasured old map. Wherever the queen stops is their next destination, and this year it’s New York City.

Sugar sets up her honeybees on the balcony of an East Village walk-up and then––as she’s done everywhere since leaving South Carolina––she gets to know her neighbors. She is, after all, a former debutante who believes that manners make the world a better place even if they seem currently lacking in the big city.

Plus, she has a knack for helping people. There’s Ruby with her scrapbook of wedding announcements; single mom Lola; reclusive chef Nate; and George, a courtly ex-doorman. They may not know what to make of her bees and her politeness, but they can’t deny the magic in her honey.

And then there’s Theo, a delightfully kind Scotsman who crosses Sugar’s path as soon as she gets into town and is quickly besotted. But love is not on the menu for Sugar. She likes the strong independent woman she’s become since leaving the South and there’s nothing a charmer like Theo can do to change her mind . . . only her bees can do that.

The Wedding Bees is a novel about finding sweetness where you least expect it and learning to love your way home.

honeymoon hotelThe Honeymoon Hotel by Hester Browne (Released on 11th September)
I’m a big fan of Hester’s books and can’t wait to read this new novel!
The Bonneville Hotel is the best-kept secret in Mayfair: its art deco suites and glittering ballrooms a former home-away-from-home for royalty and movie stars alike. Recent years haven’t been kind, but thanks to events manager Rosie, the Bonneville is reclaiming some of its old cachet as a chic retro-glam wedding venue.

While Rosie’s weddings are the ultimate in romance, Rosie herself isn’t; she’s focused on the details, not the dramas. But when the hotel owner appoints his eccentric son Joe to the Bonneville staff, Rosie finds herself up against an unprecedented challenge: a rival whose predilection for the unconventional could derail not only Rosie’s own career, but the most elaborate, high-profile wedding the Bonneville has ever seen.
From Notting Hill with Four Weddings … Actually by Ali McNamara (Published on 23rd October)four weddings
The third novel in Ali McNamara’s From Notting Hill series and one of my most anticipated books of the year. It’s not out for a while yet but I’m sure it will be worth the wait!

Movie addict Scarlett O’Brien is finally living the jet-setting life she’s dreamed of – but it all hangs by a shiny, golden thread.

Flying between London and New York, running two businesses, planning her wedding to handsome fiancé, Sean, with best friends Oscar and Maddie – life couldn’t be better.

But then Scarlett meets paparazzi darling, Gabriella Romero, and life suddenly becomes even more extravagant and glamorous. As she begins to experience the other side to being rich and famous, it’s not only Scarlett’s perfect wedding that’s put in jeopardy, but her whole world.

Guest post: Being a ‘Proper Novelist’ by Claire Sandy

6 Aug

I’m very excited that The Great British Bake Off is back on our screens tonight and doubly excited to have Claire Sandy as guest on One More Page to celebrate her new novel, What Would Mary Berry Do? The perfect read for fans of The Great British Bake Off, this is a story about family life, unfriendly rivalry and flat Victoria sponges! 

Claire Sandy lives in Surrey with a husband and a daughter and loves lots of things, such as baking, reading, writing, eating, chatting about matters of global importance with her nine year old, dressing up her dog and inventing new things to do with gin. She’s worked at many things – advertising, radio jingles, a wool shop – and thanks her lucky stars that writing What Would Mary Berry Do? involved every single item on her list of loved things. Welcome Claire!

9781447253495Writing for a living is what I’ve always wanted to do. I was derailed for years on end, and I don’t regret one moment of my wool shop manageress-ing, my radio producing, my voiceover agent-ing or even my wine bar waitressing, but it was nice to finally get paid to write.

I knew it wouldn’t be as easy as it looked. By now, we all know that about practically everything , right? And I knew it wouldn’t be plain sailing; many writers before me had waved their rejection letters like bunting. But one thing I didn’t suspect; how wonderful it would be.

Having a manuscript on the go is like having a lover. A secret lover, at that. You don’t want to talk about this lover because nobody would quite understand. You don’t want their paws all over his flesh. He’s yours and yours alone. You’re interested in every inch of him, every childhood memory, each ambition, which flavour Cornetto he prefers.

When you’re out and about you fantasise about getting back to him again, closing the door so it’s just the two of you. Time loses its meaning when you’re together. You lift your eyes and half a day has gone by.

OK, I’m stretching my metaphor here. But not that far. Nobody prepared me for how attached I would feel to my manuscript. Time spent either tinkering aimlessly, or speeding ahead, or reading it for the umpteenth time, or even staring at that shrub outside my window that I now know so well, is all precious.

Some writers claim that writing is therapeutic. None that I’ve met, I hasten to add. Any writers I meet are too busy trying to catch the waiter’s eye to ask for another bottle and lamenting the nearness of their deadline, to quack such touchy-feely stuff. We’re professionals. If we wrote to work out our demons I doubt anybody would want to read it. I mean, you’re busy folk; d’you really want to hear how my potty training affects my relationships? We don’t wait for the muse to bite (is that what muses do? Maybe they nudge or prod or bake cakes) because we have deadlines to meet and publishers to appease.

Oh, and lives to lead. I’m not sure who I thought would do the laundry and burn my daughter’s fishfingers when I became a Proper Novelist, but I didn’t think it would be me. Perhaps I could persuade the muse to do the washing up; she’s certainly been dragging her feet lately.

Thanks Claire!

What Would Mary Berry Do? is out now in paperback and ebook formats. 

*** This is a work of fiction, in no way endorsed by Mary Berry, and where neither Mary Berry herself nor her recipes feature. ***

Please do check out the other stops on Claire’s blog tour!

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Book review: Landline by Rainbow Rowell

5 Aug

landlineGeorgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble. That it’s been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and he still loves her – but that almost seems besides the point now.

Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells him that she can’t go. She’s a TV writer, and something’s come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her – he is always a little upset with her – but she doesn’t expect to him to pack up the kids and go home without her.

When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally done it. If she’s ruined everything.

That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts…

Is that what she’s supposed to do?

Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened?

Confession time! Landline is the first book by Rainbow Rowell that I’ve read. Despite the fact that I have gorgeous editions of all of her books to date on my shelf, like so many other books since I’ve been book blogging, the ones I’ve bought myself have sat waiting patiently for me to read them. I plan to change that while I’m on my summer holidays though!

So, back to the point; Landline is the first Rainbow Rowell book I’ve read and I loved it. Rainbow’s writing is smart, funny and perceptive and right from the off I liked leading lady Georgie. One of the reasons I liked her most is that she’s far from perfect but she’s a really good representation of the constant juggling that goes with being a working Mum. I had so much empathy with her as she worried what her job was doing, not just to her relationship with her daughters but her husband too.

Set in the run up to Christmas, Georgie and her writing partner finally get the chance to pitch their show to a big network. The problem? They have to write 5 episodes in a week and Georgie is supposed to be leaving the next day to spend Christmas in snowy Omaha with her family and in-laws.  Georgie stays behind and as her world begins to fall apart a little she heads to her mum’s for some TLC. It’s there that she discovers she can talk to her husband in the past via her mum’s old landline phone!

I loved how Rainbow worked the ‘magic’ telephone line into the story so that I actually felt it was believable.  I love stories with a little bit of magic in them and with Landline I think Rainbow Rowell gets it just right. Landline reminded me a little of classic films like Big or 13 going on 30 :-)

As I read, I felt like Rainbow really ‘got it’ and it was refreshing to see a love story that was so real. Landline is perceptive and heartbreaking but also magical and uplifting. I thoguht the ending was brilliant and I could absolutely see this book as a film. Romantic, funny, sad and real, Landline left me with a warm glow and I can’t wait to read the rest of my Rainbow Rowell collection!

4/5

Landline is our now in Hardback and ebook formats.

Find out more about Rainbow and hr writing at: http://rainbowrowell.com/blog/

With thanks to Orion for providing a review copy of this novel.