Giveaway! Three copies of When We Were Friends by Tina Seskis to be won!

17 Apr

Today I kicked off the blog tour for Tina Seskis’s exciting new novel, When We Were Friends. Tina’s publisher, Penguin have kindly given me three copies of the book to give away to lucky readers!

when we were friends

 

It had always been the six of us.

Since we met at university twenty-five years ago, we’d faced everything together. Break-ups and marriages, motherhood and death. We were closer than sisters; the edges of our lives bled into each other.

But that was before the night of the reunion. The night of exposed secrets and jagged accusations. The night when everything changed.

And then we were five.

To enter this giveaway just leave a 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 Wednesday 22nd April.

Good luck!n

Character profile: Meet Camilla from When We Were Friends

17 Apr

Earlier today I posted my review of Tina Seskis’s gripping new novel When We Were Friends. As part of the blog tour to celebrate the launch of the book, Tina has written an exclusive character profile on one of her leading ladies … it’s time to meet Camilla!

When-We-Were-Friends-packshot-cropped-178x300

 

Camilla

Camilla, the granddaughter of a baronet, grew up in Surrey, and had what seemed an idyllic childhood of riding and hunting and playing polo.

Despite her background and extremely posh voice Camilla is very down-to-earth and treats everyone the same.  She can be somewhat bossy, loves cooking and home-making, and is rather insistent on everyone else adhering to her own high standards when it comes to entertaining.

She is married to James, a stockbroker, and they have enjoyed a long and happy marriage.  They have two sons who she categorically refused to send away to board at Eton, despite that being the family tradition. 

Camilla is short and a little stocky, with mid-length brown hair always held back in an Alice band, big blue eyes, and a penchant for stripy shirts with the collars turned up, strings of pearls, and jumpers slung around her shoulders – and she has never dressed any differently. 

She has a heart of gold and always tries to see the good in people.  She is the mother hen of her group of university friends, but it seems that for some reason she is rather more desperate to hang onto the friendships than the others are…

When We Were Friends is released in paperback and ebook formats by Penguin on 23rd April.

Book review: When We Were Friends by Tina Seskis

17 Apr

when we were friendsIt had always been the six of us.

Since we met at university twenty-five years ago, we’d faced everything together. Break-ups and marriages, motherhood and death. We were closer than sisters; the edges of our lives bled into each other.

But that was before the night of the reunion. The night of exposed secrets and jagged accusations. The night when everything changed.

And then we were five.

When We Were Friends is the second novel from Tina Seskis and follows on from the huge success of her debut One Step Beyond. A group of six university friends meet for a reunion picnic by the Serpentine celebrating 25 years of friendship. But by the end of the night secrets have been spilled, arguments and resentments brought into the open and a web of complex relationships, events and history revealed. Of the six women at the picnic, only five return to their homes.

The book is structured in short snappy chapters that really keep the pace and the constant movement between characters, places, past and present had me turning the pages as quickly as I could to find out the next twist, turn or answer.

Although it took me a little while to get each character and their partners straight in my head, once I did I enjoyed getting to know this group of women thrown together by the fate of ending up living in the same accommodation at university. Juliette, Camilla, Siobhan, Sissy, Renee and Natasha are all now successful women, however, as we meet them, each is facing a particular set of demons from unhappy marriages, unruly children to affairs and uncertainty about the future – each has secrets to hide and issues from the past to deal with.

When We Were Friends is as much a novel about relationships on all levels as it is a gripping page turner of a read. I found myself completely caught up in the dramas of the individuals lives and I enjoyed the different perspectives that Tina threw into the mix. As I started reading I couldn’t help but be caught up in the ups and downs of the groups lives and I was impressed that the story kept throwing surprises at me right to the very end.

This is a clever and well though out novel; at times dark, I found myself changing my opinions of key characters as I read and I enjoyed the way that the full picture slowly built. The friends have a complicated history and at times I wondered why they had stayed friends at all! I found a number of the characters wholly unlikable for large parts of the novel but I had to know what had really happened to them and led them to their behaviour at the picnic.

As the novel came to an end my perspectives changed again and since I read the final page I’ve found myself thinking back on the group and their individual stories. Unsettling, fast paced and clever, When We Were Friends is set to be another big hit for Tina and if you’re looking for a great page-turner this summer, I’d highly recommend it.

4/5

When We Were Friends is released in paperback and ebook formats on 23rd April.

Find out more about Tina and her writing at: http://tinaseskis.com/

Stop by later today for an exclusive post on one of the key characters from When We Were Friends and for the chance to win a copy of the book!

Guest post: My Top 5 Superheroes by Stefan Mohamed

15 Apr

Today I’m super excited to welcome debut author Stefan Mohamed to the blog to share his top five superheros with us. Stefan is an author, poet and sometime journalist. He graduated from Kingston University in 2010 with a first class degree in creative writing and film studies and won the creative writing prize for his year.

He went on to win the unpublished writer’s category of the Dylan Thomas Prize for his coming of age superhero novel, Bitter Sixteen, which is out now. Stefan lives in Bristol, where he works as an editorial assistant, writing stories and performing poetry in his spare time. Welcome Stefan!

Stefan Mohamed

Stefan Mohamed

Superman

We might as well start with the most iconic superhero. People have their issues with Superman – he’s so powerful that it saps any drama from his stories, he’s a do-gooder which isn’t  very interesting, etceteras. The first of these I would agree with, to a point, although a good enough writer should be able to come up with a dramatic, involving story no matter how powerful the protagonist, but the second I entirely disagree with, because Superman’s essentially altruistic, benevolent nature is what makes him Superman. He’s the Platonic ideal of the superhero; not just because of his ludicrously overpowered nature (effectively invulnerable, super strength, super speed, able to fly, laser eyes, hurricane breath, X-ray vision, firing miniature versions of himself from his hands, although to be fair he doesn’t really do that any more) but because he is, at heart, good. He wants to help people, his moral compass remains true when all else are losing theirs, and, perhaps most importantly, this isn’t because of the basic goodness present in all humanity or some such nonsense. He ain’t human, after all. He has been brought up this way, he has chosen to follow this path.

Yes, you can play with darker versions of Superman. Sometimes they’re interesting – Mark Millar’s Red Son, in which baby Supes lands in Stalin’s Russia rather than Kansas, US, is one of the better examples. But ultimately, Superman is a good guy. He’s the good guy. And to him, a suicidal girl standing alone on a ledge is, at that moment, as important as any world-ending threat.

So leave him alone.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

She doesn’t wear a cape or tights. She wasn’t born in the pages of a funny book. But Buffy Summers is as much a superhero, and as much an influence on my writing, as any costumed crusader. Plucked from obscurity and given a destiny she did not ask for and frequently wishes she could shed, the trials that Buffy undergoes throughout the seven seasons of her show would break a lesser individual. At times they nearly do. But she endures. She keeps fighting the good fight, with a punch, a quip and a somersault. She makes mistakes along the way, of course, and some of them are pretty bad. At times she’s not even that likable. But, as her Watcher Rupert Giles says, “She’s a hero, you see. She’s not like us.”

Ms. Marvel (Kamala Khan)

The new Ms. Marvel hasn’t been around very long (she first appeared in 2013, inheriting the mantle from Carol Danvers, who is now Captain Marvel), but Kamala Khan is already resoundingly popular, with her first trade paperback No Normal one of the best selling comics of last year. And with good reason, because she’s awesome.

In wider cultural terms she’s a meaningful presence, because at a time when Muslim communities are routinely and shamefully demonised and ostracised, having a Muslim character headlining a high profile, relatively mainstream Marvel comic takes on real symbolic importance. But writer G. Willow Wilson never lets her political and cultural significance get in the way of telling a good story, and taken purely on her own terms she’s just a great character. Her powers are dynamic and visually exciting. She has a well-drawn supporting cast. And she represents every teenager who feels unsure of themselves, who feels left out or bullied for being different, who wishes they were someone else.

Bitter 16Batman

Is Batman a superhero? Maybe not. There’s nothing specifically supernatural in his background. But he is in peak physical condition, he’s a tactical genius, he’s a martial arts expert, a weapons expert. His superpower, effectively, is being the best that a human being can be – to the extent that he can stand shoulder to shoulder with titans like Superman and Wonder Woman.

More importantly, he’s the perfect, iconic illustration of the dark side of heroism (for the purposes of this, we’re defining heroism as “fighting bad guys”). For while Batman does have a strong moral code and sense of justice, he is also driven by grief and rage. Plenty of writers across the years have asked whether he’s good for Gotham City or merely a symptom of the disease that afflicts the place, or whether half the terrifying individuals in his rogue’s gallery – the best in comics, by the way – would actually be a problem if it weren’t for his presence. And the fact that Batman’s work is never done represents both the natural conclusion of superheroic obsession and a fairly bleak interpretation of existence – there is no final victory. There will always be bad guys, always be evil; it’s a fact of life. Bleak, yes, but potent, and ripe with storytelling potential.

Dr Manhattan

In the same way that Batman represents one possible (disturbing) conclusion of superheroism, so Dr Manhattan, from Alan Moore’s masterful Watchmen, represents one possible (and equally disturbing, in its way) conclusion of having superpowers. Like Superman, but more so, Dr Manhattan is so powerful that he’s effectively a god. He can manipulate matter at its most basic level, travel in time, pop to Mars and build a palace, whatever he fancies. But unlike Superman, he has entirely lost touch with humanity. He is disconnected from the world and from the concerns of mere mortals – to Dr Manhattan, we’re ants. Not ants he wants to crush, necessarily, but ants to whom he’s basically indifferent. He’s a fascinating character, and a thought-provoking exploration of what unlimited power could do to an individual if they lacked the grounding presence of friends, family and morality; I don’t think that any conversation about the consequences of superpowers is complete without him.

Thanks Stef – a great list!

Bitter Sixteen by Stefan Mohamed is out now in paperback and ebook formats, published by Salt.

Giveaway winner! Vets on Call by Cathy Woodman

14 Apr

Vets on Call

 

The winner is …

Claire

Congratulations! I have sent you an email. Thanks to everyone who entered. Look out for more giveaways very soon!

Author interview: Dorthe Nors

14 Apr

I’m very excited to welcome the very talented Dorthe Nors to One More Page today. Dorthe was born in 1970 and is one of the most original voices of contemporary Danish literature. She holds a degree in literature and history from Aarhus University and has so far published four novels and joins me today to talk about the collection of stories and novella that have just been published in the UK .

Norsʼs short stories have appeared in numerous publications, including Harperʼs Magazine and the Boston Review, and she is the first Danish writer ever to have a story published in the New Yorker magazine. Nors was awarded the Danish Arts Agencyʼs Three Year Grant for ʻher unusual and extraordinary talentʼ in 2011. In 2014, Karate Chop won the prestigious P.O. Enquist Literary Prize. Welcome Dorthe!

Nors Dorthe 2008_1  Foto Simon Klein KnudsenYour short story collection Karate Chop  and novella, Minna Needs Rehearsal Space have just been published in a single bind up volume in the UK. Please could you tell us a little about the books and the inspiration behind them.

Well, I wrote the first of these, “Karate Chop”, after a period in my life where I had been traveling a lot, and I think back on the book as a sort of log book. There’s a story from most of the places I stayed during those years and a lot of the experiences I had on my way sort of poured into these stories. The stories were written pretty fast and with great intensity and became my first short story collection. It gave me an international breakthrough in the U.S. For instance, the collection contains the first story ever written by a Dane to be published in The New Yorker (!). A few years later I wrote the novella “Minna Needs Rehearsal Space”. The inspiration was the way we express ourselves on Facebook – and then it just took on a life of its own: The character Minna led the way.

I loved the format of Minna; why did you choose to write the story in this way?

I found that the modern (wo)man was expressing herself more and more in headlines. Headlines are used a lot on social media and in the news: it’s the sentence that is the easiest to read and in the tsunami of information and communication we have to endure, we turn to the headline to be understood. But I thought: Can I write a story that is deep, profound, poetic, entertaining and still expressing existential complexities using only headlines? I made up this Minna character who is somewhat of an alter ego (and a mermaid) and let her have a go at it. It worked, I think, and I had so much fun writing it. It was like being a kid again playing with LEGO.

I think a lot of readers will identify with Minna in some way; if Minna took to Twitter what would her bio say?

Minna’s mom (that’s me) is so new to Twitter, that she hardly knows how to behave on it without tweeting something horrific, so I guess Minna would be in the same predicament. She would tweet: “@DortheNors I’m lost in her, HELP, where’s the door out and what is this button f”

 Karate Chop brings together fifteen short stories, all of which pack an emotional punch in only a few pages; what is your key advice for writers who want to perfect their short story technique?

Basically I think short stories call for writers with a certain talent for precision. You have to be able to build a character and burn down a village in one sentence and make it look easy. I would say that having a GOOD ear for music, a love of poetry and a joy in literature that moves through the power of language (and not through the power of action like a thriller does) is necessary. And to all people who want to be good at writing there is – I think – only one way of getting there: READ READ READ READ.

You explore both the light and dark sides of relationships in these stories; what would you like readers to take away from Karatethem?

I love to mirror people and we all have both sorrow and joy, darkness and light, greatness and pettiness in us. We are both great and mediocre at the same time, and oh, we are so complex. I love to study, investigate, mirror these complexities  and to make literature a place where we’re not alone, where we can spend time with the true sides of ourselves and our neighbours. I don’t like stories that are only cheerful. I don’t like stories that are only sad. Both stories are lying about something. Joy and sorrow walk hand in hand.

Who are your literary influences and what is the one book you’d recommend to everyone (apart from your own!)

I was trained in a Swedish tradition (studied Swedish literature at University) so writers like Kerstin Ekman, Thomas Tranströmer, Selma Lagerlöf, Per Olof Enquist and many more inspired me and gave me the courage to have a go at writing myself. I had favourite books in my twenties, and other favourites in my thirties. A couple of years ago I was reading a lot of Ingmar Bergman, and loved his memoir “The Magic Lantern”. Right now I’m rediscovering the work of my childhood heroine Astrid Lindgren.

And finally… what can we expect next from Dorthe Nors?

A novel, I think (I hope) – and speaking of which: I’m writing it now, so I gotta go!

Thank you Dorthe and good luck with the new novel.

Karate Chop & Minna Needs Rehearsal Space by Dorthe Nors is out now in paperback and ebook formats published by Pushkin Press.

Find out more about Dorthe and her writing at: http://www.dorthenors.dk/

 

Book review: The Liar by Nora Roberts

13 Apr

the liarWhen her husband Richard dies in a freak accident, Shelby Pomeroy is devastated. But his death reveals a horrible truth – Richard was a liar and a cheat. Now Shelby is left with the consequences – huge, terrifying debts and mounting proof that her late husband betrayed her in every conceivable way.

Heart-broken but unbowed, Shelby is determined to fix her problems – if only for the sake of her gorgeous little daughter Callie. Returning home to Tennessee and the family she thought she’d lost for ever, she discovers a new sense of strength and freedom. And hope, too, in the handsome form of carpenter Griffin Lott – a straight-dealing man who couldn’t lie to her if he tried.

But not everyone is thrilled to see Shelby Pomeroy back in town. And when a shocking act of violence is traced back to Richard’s shady business, it becomes clear that she is not safe from him, even in death. With her life in danger, Shelby must face the lies of the past – or lose everything.

The Liar is the latest novel from bestselling author, Nora Roberts and will be released in hardback and ebook formats on Thursday. Since I started blogging, I’ve seen many readers rave about Nora’s books but until this point I hadn’t read any of them so when I was offered the chance to read The Liar I grabbed it! The new hardback edition comes with a sticker on the front that says “Totally Addictive or Your Money Back” which is quite a challenge to live up to but I’m happy to say that The Liar passed the ‘addictive read’ test for me with flying colours.

Nora has a style of writing that is very easy to read but at the same time absolutely gripping and I was drawn into this story quickly and completely. We meet lead character Shelby shortly after the untimely death of her husband Richard. It’s quickly revealed that Richard hid many things from Shelby and her life wasn’t as she or many of the people around her imagined it to be. I loved how Nora delivered shock after shock for Shelby and had me turning the pages as quickly as I could to find out what twist would be revealed next but what really held my attention in the story was the way that Shelby dealt with everything thrown at her.

Shelby has a three year old daughter, Callie who certainly adds a cute factor to the book and I admired the way that Shelby pulled herself together and her drive to protect and give security to Shelby. After a tense first third of the novel, the pace changes when Shelby returns to her home town and we meet her family and the friends and townspeople that she grew up with. Having enjoyed the tense start to the story I really enjoyed the relocation of the action to Tennessee and the characters that live there, particularly Shelby’s mother and grandmother were my favourites in the book.

The second part of the novel reminded me of some of my favourite Southern fiction and I the descriptions of the scenery and locations were wonderful and such a contrast to the rich but hard edged world that Shelby had left behind. As Shelby worked her way back into the community I felt like I got to know the real Shelby and I really enjoyed the romance of the story. Despite the beautiful surroundings and warmth of Shelby’s family, Nora kept the twists and shocks coming and right to the final chapters I couldn’t predict the exact outcome although that didn’t stop me trying to guess!

I can easily see why Nora Roberts keeps hitting the best-seller lists if all her novels are as gripping and enjoyable as The Liar. With tension, drama and romance, I really did find this an addictive read and look forward to reading more from Nora very soon.

4/5

The Liar is released in hardback and ebook formats on 16th April.

Find out more about Nora and her writing and read the first three chapters of The Liar at: http://www.nora-roberts.co.uk/

 

Book news: Resistance is Futile by Jenny T. Colgan

12 Apr

I’m a big fan of Jenny Colgan’s books but  my interest really sparked when I saw the details of this new book that she’ll be releasing in May with Orbit books, writing as Jenny T. Colgan. I absolutely love the cover and my inner geek is incredibly excited by a book that promises Sci-Fi and romance!

Take the square root of a love story, multiply by an awkward mathematician, add on extra-terrestrial life forms and cringe-worthy close encounters, and what you’ll get is Resistance is Futile – a whirlwind adventure by Sunday Times bestselling author Jenny T . Colgan.

Connie thinks she’s never met anyone quite like Luke Beith before.

She has no idea how right she is.

As a high-ranking mathematician in a male-dominated field – with bright red hair – Connie’s used to being considered a little unusual.

But she’s nowhere near as peculiar as Luke, who is recruited to work alongside her on a top-secret code breaking project.

Just what is this bizarre sequence they’re studying? It isn’t a solution to the global energy crisis. It isn’t a new wavelength to sell microwave ovens. The numbers are trying to tell them something . . . and it seems only Luke knows what.

The truth is out there. Will Connie dare to find it?

Resistance is Futile will be released on 28th May.

Find out more about Jenny and her writing at: http://www.jennycolgan.com/

Guest post: Welcome to Astonvale by Carla Caruso

12 Apr

My guest today is author Carla Caruso who joins us to talk about the setting for her new series. Carla was born in Adelaide, Australia, and only ‘escaped’ for three years to work as a magazine journalist and stylist in Sydney. Previously, she was a gossip columnist and fashion editor at Adelaide’s daily newspaper, The Advertiser. She has since freelanced for titles including Woman’s Day and Shop Til You Drop. These days, she plays mum to twin lads Alessio and Sebastian with hubby James. A Pretty Mess is her fifth novel. Visit www.carlacaruso.com.au. to find out more about Carla and her writing.

Carla Caruso, author pic, HarperCollinsHello lovely fiction fans… and welcome to Astonvale!

That is the setting of my new rom-com mystery series, which comprises the titles, A Pretty Mess, Pretty Shore, and Pretty Famous.

Astonvale is a well-heeled (fictional) suburb in South Australia, with mansions set among leafy streets, ladies who brunch, and shiny four-wheel-drives galore. Think Desperate Housewives meets Gossip Girl.

Celeste Pretty has just bought her own postage stamp-sized abode in the area, which is very different from the ‘burbs where she grew up. The professional organiser de-clutters people’s homes and offices for a living and hopes to find many a client in her new ‘village’.

She does, but as tends to happen when you’re rifling through people’s possessions, she can’t help uncovering the occasional skeleton in the closet and becoming a reluctant sleuth on the side…

At her first gig in town, she meets the hunky builder, Lenny Muscat. There’s an immediate attraction but Lenny is the very definition of a commitment-phobe.

This is a little of how their first meeting goes… “Celeste looked up and into the coal-black eyes of an Adonis. An Adonis in a dirt-stained grey tee, cargo shorts and steel-capped boots. The coal-black eyes – which matched the healthy head of mid-length, wavy hair and faint stubble – were shielded by clear safety glasses. He was pushing a wheelbarrow of bricks, flaunting biceps like Rafael Nadal and sturdy, muscular legs like, well, Serena Williams – in an entirely good way. The mouthful of dust lodged in Celeste’s throat. She couldn’t decide whether she wanted to scrub the guy or jump him, even though clean-cut men were her usual type. Like Mitchell, her sometimes date from the lawn tennis club.

Celeste and Lenny are central to a colourful cast of characters. Celeste’s assistant is the very Gen-Y fashionista, Filippa Belmont, or ‘Flip’ as she likes to be known. Flip gets to share the spotlight with Celeste in Book 2, Pretty Shore, in which she falls for a holidaying model/polo player.

Flip’s diminutive grandma, Dolores, also drops in for a visit quite a bit. The sixty-something is known for wearing loud prints, even louder lipstick and her short brassy blonde hair in spikes. She gets about with her pet parakeet on her shoulder, too.

Dolores is a friend of Celeste’s hoarder dad. Yup, Mr Pretty is a hoarder despite Celeste being such a neat-freak. This seems to be his way of coping with the pain of losing his wife to ovarian cancer when Celeste was a child.

Then there’s Celeste’s nemesis, Imogen Karmel, who gets her time in the sun, alongside Celeste, in the third book, Pretty Famous. Imogen is an uber-blonde interior designer and Celeste’s former boss. Imogen is elitist, ruthless, good-looking and knows it, and her lifelong ambition is to marry a prince à la her idol, Grace Kelly.

There are more characters, too, like Celeste’s best friend, Betty-Lou, who is a baking addict and a nanny to triplets, but I don’t want to give everything away ;) Anyway, hope you’ve enjoyed a bit of an introduction to Astonvale and thanks kindly for your time!

Thanks Carla – I’m looking forward to visiting Astonvale!

Pretty Famous is out now in ebook formats from Harper Collins: http://www.harpercollins.com.au/9781460704127/pretty-famous-an-astonvale-novel

A dark secret from Hollywood’s Golden Age. A possible prince-in-hiding. Astonvale’s about to implode… eCOV_PrettyFamous_C1D2

Professional organiser Celeste Pretty swore she’d never work with uber-blonde interior designer Imogen Karmel again, but then she’s presented with a project she can’t refuse.

The prestigious Astonvale College is celebrating its centenary and needs the pair to ensure the festivities go off without a hitch.

As Celeste sets to work in a flurry of activity – in between organising her own engagement party – she finds herself blowing away the cobwebs on a sixty-year-old secret.

Meanwhile, Imogen becomes enamoured with a substitute teacher, Hudson Addison, who may or may not be a royal in hiding. And there’s nothing Imogen dreams of more than becoming a princess. Will all be revealed on party night?

Follow Carla at:

Blog – www.theunitalianwife.com

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/carlacarusoauthor

Twitter – https://twitter.com/carlacaruso79

Giveaway! Vets on Call by Cathy Woodman

2 Apr

Earlier today I interviewed Cathy Woodman about her latest novel, Vets on Call. Cathy’s publisher has kindly given me a copy of the book to give away to one lucky reader!

Vets on Call

 

Motorbike-riding, leather-clad Ross looks like a bad boy, but underneath the leathers, he’s a good-looking charmer and he soon worms way into the hearts of everyone in Talyton St George. Even vet nurse Shannon warms to him. So when she needs a place to live, it makes sense to move in with Ross. Just as a friend, of course. As they grapple with escaped snakes and feral cats, their friendship deepens, until they can’t deny their feelings for each other any longer. But when a terrible accident leaves Shannon’s life in tatters, it changes their relationship forever. Because how will she ever know whether Ross is staying with her out of love or pity?

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 Monday 6th April.

Good luck!