Archive | June, 2012

Author interview: Kate Lord Brown

30 Jun

I’ve loved both of Kate Lord Brown’s novels and am very excited to be the latest stop on the blog tour for her new release The Perfume Garden. Mine is the only interview on the tour so I’m delighted that Kate agreed to answer my questions. Welcome Kate!

Your second novel, The Perfume Garden was released earlier this month, please could you tell us a little about your inspiration for the book.

This is a very personal novel, inspired by the years we lived in Spain. In fact, it brings together a lot of the places we’ve lived and loved – London, New York, Valencia. I also wanted to find out about modern Spanish history, to discover why there was this ‘pact of forgetting’ in place about the Civil War. So The Perfume Garden is really inspired by my personal experiences, and years of historical research.

I learned a lot about the Spanish civil war reading The Perfume Garden; why did you feel that this was an important story to tell?

I’m glad! Researching the book was heartbreaking, learning how such a beautiful country literally tore itself apart. It’s very recent history, but so much isn’t talked about still. I was moved by the way that ordinary men and women from across the world joined the International Brigades to fight for democracy against fascism, which is why I chose to focus on them.

 Your previous novel The Beauty Chorus was completely set in the past but The Perfume Garden is partly set in the past and partly in the present. Why did you choose to tell the story this way?

I wanted the story to be redemptive – if I had focussed solely on the historical strand, this would have been hard to do because the events were so devastating. I wanted to show that families and people recover, and chose the house as the heart of both stories. Also, as a writer it is a technical challenge weaving together twin time-lines, and I wanted to see if I could do it!

 Perfume is an important element of the novel, showing how scent, like music can evoke powerful memories. What are your three favourite scents or smells?

I love perfume, and the best Christmas present I ever had as a child was a perfume making kit. I was forever concocting bottles of ‘scent’ with rose petals and flowers from the garden. In nature I love cut grass, the smell of a bonfire on an autumn day, the smell of gardenia and jasmine … I could go on forever! In terms of perfume, I really love fragrances like Annick Goutal’s Eau du Sud, and Jo Malone’s Orange Blossom or Ginger and Nutmeg.

 I loved your descriptions of Valencia; did you spend a lot of time there during your research?

We were lucky enough to live in Valencia for three years, which is when I started writing The Perfume Garden. We went back last year, for me to do some final research, and we showed our daughter where she was born, which was wonderful.

 The Perfume Garden looks at war from a number of very personal viewpoints and is often heart-breaking to read. What was the most difficult aspect for you to research and write?

As a mother, learning about the horrific treatment of the women and children in the jails really broke my heart. Writing Rosa’s story, I had a box of Kleenex by the computer.

 You have a flair for bringing history alive in your stories but if you could actually visit any time and place, where and when would you choose?

Thank you – I really love the challenge of breathing life into forgotten histories. I would love to be able to visit Paris in the 20s and 30s, and see the legendary artists and writers hanging out in the cafes like the Deux Magots. I loved Woody Allen’s ‘Midnight in Paris’ – it was like my dream coming true!

 What do you like to read when you’re not writing?

There are always too many books and not enough bookcases in our house. I read really widely – everything from historical texts for research, to contemporary fiction. I really admire writers like James Salter, William Boyd and Sebastian Faulks. I read a lot of poetry too, and it’s a great way to see how to create rhythm in your own work.

 And finally, what can we expect next from Kate Lord Brown?

I’ve just finished writing my next book – it’s set in France during WW2, and is filled with all the things I love: a beautiful house, brave and remarkable forgotten heroes, independent, bright female characters, art, jazz, espionage … When I first read about the true story it is inspired by, I just thought: this is incredible, why doesn’t everyone know about this man? I’m very excited about it and look forward to sharing it with you soon.

Thank you Kate.

You can find out more about Kate and her books on her website at: http://www.katelordbrown.com/ and on her book sites at: http://perfumegarden.blogspot.co.uk/ and http://thebeautychorus.blogspot.co.uk/

Read my reviews of The Beauty Chorus and The Perfume Garden

Book review: Summer Nights by Allie Spencer

29 Jun

Flora Fielding has been dumped on her 30th birthday. And left stranded in San Francisco. With nowhere else to turn, she seeks out her cousin Bella who’s been working as a nurse in the city for the past few years.

But when she arrives at Bella’s apartment, Flora is shocked to find that her cousin’s in even more trouble than she is. Because instead of leading the fast-paced life of an emergency room nurse that Flora has imagined, Bella is eking out a living as the lead singer in an Abba tribute band.

But as Flora soon learns, although life in San Francisco with Bella may be uncertain, it’s never ever dull. What with the tense Battle of the Tribute Bands, the threat to the local area by an evil developer, and the attentions of a very persistent computer geek, Flora soon begins to wonder whether she wants to go home at all.

I was excited about Summer Nights before I’d even read a page. Firstly, there’s the brilliant cover – it’s a perfect summer cover and really stands out on the shelves (you might know Mr Adrian Valencia had a hand in it). I love it and it matches Allie’s previous book Summer Loving which is always a good thing in my opinion. Secondly, the story is set in San Francisco which is my dream city to visit and finally Allie was recently shortlisted for the Melissa Nathan award for comedy romance so I was eager to read one of her books!

Summer Nights is a lovely escapist rom-com read and I really enjoyed discovering San Francisco with Flora. I love it when a book has a great sense of community and Allie Spencer has created one of my favourite groups of people in a long time with the residents of Hope Street (such a great name!).

Hope Street is almost a character in itself in the novel with its eclectic mix of residents and independent shops who rely on each other. Flora meets the Hope Street gang through her cousin Bella and they take her under their wing as she tries to enjoy her holiday. I was really caught in the plot as Hope Street comes under threat from developers and Flora begins to hatch a plan to try to save it.

Flora is also trying to save her cousin Bella who has fallen on hard times. Bella introduces a fab musical element to the book as she’s part of an Abba tribute band as well as a singer and songwriter. The Battle of the Tribute Bands competition is fun to read and sets the scene for many of the funniest moments of the book.

There’s plenty of pace in this story with several plot-lines running at once and the action really picks up in the second half of the novel with some excellent twists to the story. The romance element to Summer Nights is also one of the highlights of the novel as Flora reluctantly develops feelings for IT whiz Josh. Their fledgeling will they/wont they romance had me glued to the pages and Allie Spencer did a fantastic job of keeping me guessing right to the end if anything would come of it or would Flora return to England alone? I also loved the other romantic sub-plots of which there are plenty; there is certainly a lot of love in Allie Spencer’s San Francisco!

Summer Nights is definitely one to pack in your beach bag this summer  – filled with warmth, humour and romance, it will leave you with a lovely warm glow!

5/5

Summer Nights is out now and I’d like to thank Philippa at Arrow for sending me a review copy.

You an find out more about Allie and her writing at: http://www.alliespencer.com/

Video exclusive! Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness

28 Jun

I got a very exciting email from Caitlin at Headline last night which included a link to this video that Deborah Harkness (author of the brilliant A Discovery of Witches and soon to be published sequel Shadow of Night) has recorded for bloggers and fans of the series which gives a sneaky peek at some of the new characters that we’re going to meet in Shadow of Night!

 

Deborah has also recorded a walking tour of Elizabethan London with clips being released on the Shadow of Night website in the next couple of weeks.

Shadow of Night is out on 10th July and if you haven’t read A Discovery of Witches yet, I’m giving a copy away at the moment. I’ll also be running an amazing competition to win the chance to meet Deborah or signed copies of Shadow of Night so look out for details coming very soon!

Seeking safety, Diana and Matthew travel back in time to London, 1590. But they soon realise that the past may not provide a haven. Reclaiming his former identity as poet and spy for Queen Elizabeth, the vampire falls back in with a group of radicals known as the School of Night. Many are unruly daemons, the creative minds of the age, including playwright Christopher Marlowe and mathematician Thomas Harriot.

Together Matthew and Diana scour Tudor London for the elusive manuscript Ashmole 782, and search for the witch who will teach Diana how to control her remarkable powers…

Giveaway! Win a copy of Revelry by Lucy Lord

27 Jun

Did you enjoy Kirsty’s review of Revelry earlier? Now you can be in with a chance of winning a copy! To enter this giveaway, just leave a comment in the box below telling me your favourite or dream place to party! I’ll draw a winner using random.org after the closing date.

The closing date for this giveaway is midnight on Sunday Ist July. UK entries only please. Good luck!

Guest book review: Revelry by Lucy Lord

27 Jun

I’m very excited to welcome the first of my summer guest reviewers, Kirsty, to One More Page today. Kirsty has been a lover of books from the time the Jolly Postman caught her imagination and can now be found reading chick lit, romance and biographies. Her favourite books include the I Heart … series by Lindsey Kelk,  Divas Las Vegas by Belinda Jones and Summer Sisters by Judy Blume. Welcome Kirsty!

One summer can change everything…

What happens when a friend breaks the one rule that should never be broken?

Best friends Bella and Poppy are living the dream – Notting Hill glamour, Shoreditch lofts, exclusive parties and drop-dead gorgeous men. But sometimes living life to the max catches up with you, and even the strongest friendships can be pushed to the limit.

Poppy, Bella and their friends spend the summer having as much fun as they possibly can – from the hedonistic escapades of Ibiza to doing Glastonbury in style. But amongst the laughter come tears, betrayal and backstabbing and one devastating decision threatens to bring it all crashing down. And, once the sunglasses have come off, Bella is forced to question if her lifelong friendship has been broken beyond repair.

With Revelry being Lucy Lord’s debut novel, I didn’t really know what to expect. From the synopsis it sounded like something I would enjoy. A book that promises ‘The perfect escapist read, Revelry will have you laughing, crying and gasping with shock’ is definitely worth a read, in my opinion. I found this book to be everything it promised and more. Once I had started it, it seemed to consume my days.

Bella is the main character of the book and it’s from her perspective that we follow the story. I found that Bella was the character I sympathised with most, not just because of the situation that unfolds within the story but also because she doesn’t realise the value of her own self worth.

With the exceptions of Ben and skinny Alison I would say that all the characters are likable if a little flawed. This book deals with a lot of issues and it’s through dealing with these that the characters’ weaknesses appear. Over one summer they are faced with problems from illness to adultery and I enjoyed going on the adventure with them as they discovered things about themselves and each other. The book follows them from Ibiza to Glastonbury ending in London with the ultimate betrayal.

One of my favourite parts is where Bella meets a dwarf in Ibiza, it really was a laugh out loud moment and definitely not the only one in the book. The scene at Glastonbury had me blushing and to this day I am still intrigued as to Bernie’s story, what is it that he does for a living?

I am very open minded about what I read and in most cases I live vicariously through the pages of what I am reading, but if you are against swearing, sex scenes and the mention of drugs in a book then please consider this your warning.  I would like to say though that these things don’t define the book and they are there to add to the context of the story.

If you want a book that will help you escape from the troubles of your day I would recommend this one.  The sequel to Revelry will be released in January of next year and is called Vanity. I for one cannot wait to read it!

5/5

Thanks Kirsty!

With thanks to Harper for providing a review copy of the book.

You can find out more about Lucy Lord and her books at: http://www.harpercollins.co.uk/Authors/11335/lucy-lord

Lucy has also written an ebook short story as a prelude to Revelry called Party Night which is just 49p on Amazon at the moment!

Book review: The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

26 Jun

‘It is never what you worry over that comes to pass in the end. The real catastrophes are always different – unimagined, unprepared for, unknown…’

What if our 24-hour day grew longer, first in minutes, then in hours, until day becomes night and night becomes day? What effect would this slowing have on the world? On the birds in the sky, the whales in the sea, the astronauts in space, and on an eleven-year-old girl, grappling with emotional changes in her own life..?

One morning, Julia and her parents wake up in their suburban home in California to discover, along with the rest of the world, that the rotation of the earth is noticeably slowing. The enormity of this is almost beyond comprehension. And yet, even if the world is, in fact, coming to an end, as some assert, day-to-day life must go on. Julia, facing the loneliness and despair of an awkward adolescence, witnesses the impact of this phenomenon on the world, on the community, on her family and on herself.

The Age Of Miracles is a really interesting concept for a novel; Karen Thompson Walker has an amazing imagination and has cleverly taken the premise that earth’s rotation is slowing, day by day, making the days and nights longer and completely turning our concept of time on its head. As the days and nights expand, at first by minutes, then hours and finally days, the story explores the effects of ‘the slowing’ on our world and in particular on the life of 11year old Californian resident Julia and her family.

The most frightening thing about this novel is its believability – it’s clear that the author has done her research into the possible physical effects of longer days and nights and a slower rotation of the Earth but it’s the combination of the impact of a potentially catastrophic change to the planet with an almost everyday story of a girl growing up in California that puts ‘the slowing’ into thought provoking perspective.

On the one hand Julia is a young girl grappling with familiar issues; the boy she has a crush on, her best friend leaving, her football practice and piano lessons. On the other hand, Julia’s whole life has changed dramatically at a crucial time . I found the impact of the slowing on the simple tasks of everyday life completely fascinating; the change in the social order affected by a fall in school attendance, Julia’s loneliness as she becomes very conscious that she is an only child and also Julia’s approach to the possibility of disaster – she finds it mildly exciting initially. The sense of confusion and isolation felt by Julia really comes across in the writing and makes the story all the more poignant.

As a character, I found Julia interesting and her story gripped me, but I have to say that I didn’t completely warm to her. Her narrative comes from an unknown future point and although it gives some perspective on the events and their impact on the community that she lives in, I found that it made me feel a little distanced from her. Despite not feeling particularly strongly for Julia though, there were characters in the book that really captured my imagination and whose own supporting stories had me gripped. In particular, Julia’s friend Seth and her neighbour and piano teacher Sylvia both have their own interesting sub-stories.

Other characters show the variety of reactions to the slowing; denial, attempts to escape, panic and stockpiling. Karen Thompson Walker takes one small community and examines the impact of ‘the slowing’ on it, charting the various responses to the event. There were a number of plot twists that surprised me and I was fascinated by the way that the community split into two factions based around their choices to follow the natural turn from night today (no matter how many hours long the days became) and those who stuck to the government approved ‘clock time’.

The Age of Miracles is an original and thought provoking debut. As the story drew to a close, I found that I had more questions than answers but, despite my liking for having everything in the books I read tied up nicely, I enjoyed this book and found it refreshing to read something completely different. Karen Thompson Walker is definitely one to watch!

4/5

You can find out more about Karen Thompson Walker and The Age of Miracles at: www.theageofmiracles.com  and www.theslowing.com

The Age of Miracles is out now and I’d like to thank publisher Simon & Schuster for providing me with a review copy.

 

Book news: Second Time Around by Erin Kaye

25 Jun

Just had to share the gorgeous cover for Erin Kaye’s new release Second Time Around which is out on 5th July. It sounds like a really interesting story too – I’m looking forward to reading it soon and for bargain hunters the Kindle edition is only 99p to pre-order at the moment :-)

Divorcee Jennifer Irwin has it all – a successful interior design business and two loving children. But as her 45th birthday approaches and her children prepare to start their own lives, Jennifer is left feeling lonely in her empty nest.

That’s when she meets Ben Crawford – a man 16 years her junior – as their attraction heightens, Jennifer realises what she’s been missing. But mindful that the small-town Ballyfergus residents would never approve, they conduct their affair in secret.

But a secret is never a secret for long…

As the affair surfaces, Jennifer encounters opposition from friends and family, especially her daughter Lucy. Enraged by her mother’s relationship, Lucy seeks comfort in the arms of charismatic but troubled, Oren. Jennifer knows that Oren is not the man he seems, but can she convince her daughter of that?

And with everything going against them, can Jennifer and Ben’s love survive? Or will she risk losing her daughter to be with the man she loves?

Happy Blog Birthday One More Page!

23 Jun

One More Page is two years old today! And what a wonderful couple of years it’s been.

A huge ‘thank you’ to all of the bloggers, tweeters, readers, publishers, and authors, who have chatted, commented, recommended books and supported me since I launched One More Page. I love blogging almost as much as I love reading now and to celebrate two of my favourite hobbies I’ve got a fab blogoversary giveaway for you!

The prizes are *drumroll please*…

Two e-copies of Construct a Couple by Talli Roland (International)

Construct a Couple is the sequel to the fab Build A Man  and lovely author Talli has given me two e-copies to give away.

With a great job at a reputable magazine and a man who’s the perfect match, Serenity Holland thinks she’s laid the foundation for an ideal London life. When a routine assignment uncovers a shocking secret threatening her boyfriend’s company, Serenity decides to leave nothing to chance, taking matters into her own hands. Soon, though, she realises keeping secrets isn’t as easy as she thought . . . and the consequences are far worse than she ever imagined.

One paperback copy of The Making of Us by Lisa Jewell (UK only)

I only read this recently when is was released as a paperback with the lovely new cover on the right. It’s a brilliant book – one of my favourite reads so far this year.

Lydia, Robyn and Dean don’t know each other – yet. They live very different lives but each of them, independently, has always felt that something is missing. What they don’t know is that a letter is about to arrive that will turn their lives upside down. It is a letter containing a secret – one that will bind them together, and show them what love and familyand friendship really mean…

One paperback copy of One Perfect Summer by Paige Toon (UK only)

Paige is firmly established as one of my favourite chick lit authors. I haven’t read this one yet but have been lucky enough to end up with two copies so I’m giving one away to a lucky reader :)

‘Do you still love him?’

Every second of every minute of every hour of every day…

Alice is 18 and about to start university while Joe’s life is seemingly going nowhere. A Dorset summer, a chance meeting, and the two of them fall into step as if they have known each other forever.

But their idyll is shattered, suddenly, unexpectedly. Alice heads off to Cambridge and slowly picks up the pieces of her broken heart. Joe is gone; she cannot find him. When she catches the attention of Lukas – gorgeous, gifted, rich boy Lukas – she is carried along by his charm, swept up in his ambitious plans for a future together.

Then Joe is there, once more, but out of reach in a way that Alice could never have imagined. Life has moved on, the divide between them is now so great. Surely it is far too late to relive those perfect summer days of long ago?

One paperback copy of A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness (UK only)

I love this book and am so excited that the sequel is out soon. If you haven’t read it, this is your chance to win a copy just in time to read it before Shadow of Night is released!

It begins with absence and desire. It begins with blood and fear. It begins with a discovery of witches.

When historian Diana Bishop opens an alchemical manuscript in the Bodleian Library, it’s an unwelcome intrusion of magic into her carefully ordered life. Though Diana is a witch of impeccable lineage, the violent death of her parents while she was still a child convinced her that human fear is more potent than any witchcraft. Now Diana has unwittingly exposed herself to a world she’s kept at bay for years; one of powerful witches, creative, destructive daemons and long-lived vampires. Sensing the significance of Diana’s discovery, the creatures gather in Oxford, among them the enigmatic Matthew Clairmont, a vampire genticist. Diana is inexplicably drawn to Matthew and, in a shadowy world of half-truths and old enmities, ties herself to him without fully understanding the ancient line they are crossing. As they begin to unlock the secrets of the manuscript and their feelings for each other deepen, so the fragile balance of peace unravels…

Entry is simple – just tell me which of the books you’d like to win (you can enter for all if you wish) in the comments box below and I’ll draw the five winners using random.org after the closing date.

Parts of this giveaway are open internationally (please check on the individual item descriptions). The closing date for entries is midnight on Saturday 30th June 2012. Good luck!

Book review: The Circle by Sara B. Elfgren and Mats Strandberg

20 Jun

One night, when a strange red moon fills the sky, six school girls find themselves in an abandoned theme park, drawn there by a mysterious force. A student has just been found dead. Everyone suspects suicide. Everyone – except them.

In that derelict fairground an ancient prophecy is revealed. They are The Chosen Ones, a group of witches, bound together by a power, one which could destroy them all. But they soon learn that despite their differences they need each other in order to master the forces that have been awakened within them.

High school is now a matter of life and death.

Because the killing has only just begun.

Imagine you suddenly developed the ability to be invisible or to make people do whatever you want; these are just two of the powers that individual witches of The Circle find themselves grappling with alongside the usual teenage angst of fitting in, strained relationships with parents, boy troubles and self esteem issues. The Circle isn’t afraid to tell it like it is and one of the things that impressed me most about the writing was that it didn’t shy away from difficult topics; the book touches on eating disorders, bullying, depression, suicide, loneliness and grief with an almost harsh realism that certainly kept me thinking about the characters each time I put the story down.

The story jumps straight into the action with the death of a student and although I probably shouldn’t have expected anything else from a book published by the Hammer imprint, it’s quite an horrific start to the story. This is a very visual book and I had no trouble imagining the scenes that make it up – my threshold for gore and scary bits is quite low and parts of The Circle were just about at the limit of what I enjoy. In places The Circle is definitely the literary equivalent of those films I used to watch when I was younger, half hidden behind a cushion!

Despite my squeamishness, I do love books about witches and as that element of the plot came out and ‘The Chosen Ones’ began to find out about their destiny and their powers, I was hooked. Having six main characters certainly kept me interested and the girls all have such varied lives, backgrounds and personalities that there was plenty of scope for sub plots and as the story switched between characters I was reading as fast as I could to find out what happened next. There’s plenty for readers to identify with in the female leads and I particularly liked studious Minoo.

The story has good pace and there are some excellent twists to the plot which really surprised me. Although there are elements of romance in the book, this is definitely not a paranormal romance. I can see why it has been such as huge hit in its native Sweden; there’s a great Gothic feel to the novel which is very dark at times but there’s also an element of Buffy (minus the vampires) in that the authors have captured the zeitgeist well.

The Circle is part one of a trilogy but also reads well as a story in itself. I’m already eager to get my hands on the next book in the series but I was pleased to see that ending to this part of the story tied up the main plot nicely and didn’t leave me dangling on a cliffhanger whilst still leaving plenty of scope for future story lines. Recommended to those who like their heroines with attitude and supernatural stories that will keep you on the edge of your seat!

4/5

The Circle is out now and I’d like to thank Philippa at Random House for sending me a review copy.

You can find out more about the trilogy at: http://engelsfors.blogspot.co.uk/

 

 

Book news: When I Fall in Love by Miranda Dickinson

19 Jun

Everyone probably knows by now how much I love Miranda Dickinson’s books and I’m predicting another hit for her later this year when When I Fall In Love is released. How gorgeous is this cover?! And check out the fab book trailer below – soooooo exciting! When I Fall in Love will be released on 8th November – put it on your wish lists now!

Elsie Maynard never expected to be starting again… 

…but eighteen months on from the biggest challenge of her life, she is doing just that –because she made a promise to the person who believed in her the most. 

Determined to step into her uncertain future, Elsie meets handsome Oliver Hogarth, who seems intent on winning her heart; she inadvertently founds a choir, and overcomes obstacles – most of which involve arrogant Torin Stewart. 

Then a heartfelt request brings her to Paris – and the final item on ‘The List’ that she never dared complete. 

Can Elsie follow her heart and put her past to rest?

 

You can follow Miranda’s journey to publication on her blog: http://www.coffeeandroses.blogspot.co.uk/ and on her website at: http://www.miranda-dickinson.com/