Archive | July, 2013

Giveaway! Three copies of Cocktail Hour by Tara McTiernan to be won!

31 Jul

Earlier today I published a lovely guest post from Tara McTiernan. Tara has very generously given me three copies of her book to give away to lucky readers. I have two copies of the ebook of Cocktail Hour to be won with entries open internationally and one copy of the paperback which is open to USA residents only.

Spring in glamorous uber-rich Fairfield County, Connecticut is a time of beginnings: a new diet for the approaching summer spent out on the yacht, fresh-faced interns being offered up at the office as the seasonal sacrifice to the gods of money, and corporate takeovers galore. Five women in their thirties have a brand-new friendship, too, one that’s fed and watered regularly at local hotspots over cocktails. With all of their personal struggles – Lucie’s new catering business is foundering due to vicious gossip, Kate’s marriage is troubled due to an inability to conceive, Chelsea’s series of misses in the romance department have led to frantic desperation, and Sharon’s career problems are spinning out of control – the women look forward to a break and a drink and a chance to let their guards down with their friends. And letting their guards down is the last thing they should do in the kind of company they unknowingly keep with the fifth member of their cocktail-clique: Bianca Rossi, a woman who will stop at nothing to have it all.

As each woman’s life is affected by this she-wolf in sheep’s clothing, the truth starts to come out, but will they see it before it’s too late? Or will their doubts about their own perceptions and gut feelings stop them from protecting themselves in time? 

To enter this giveaway just leave a comment in the box below telling me what your favourite cocktail is and stating whether you are entering for an ebook or paperback copy. I’ll draw the three winners using Random.org after the closing date. Part of this giveaway is open to USA residents only. Entries will close at midnight on Sunday 4th August.

Good luck!

Guest Post: Addicted to Stories by Tara McTiernan

31 Jul

Today I’m welcoming Tara McTiernan to One More Page with a wonderful guest post on her love of reading. Tara grew up in Greenwich, Connecticut and loved reading and writing from childhood. In her early forties, she competed her first novel Barefoot Girls, which received praise from critics as well as being named “Best Beach Read” on Chick Lit Cafe’s Best Books of 2012. Cocktail Hour, was published in March of 2013. Her third novel is scheduled to be released in 2014 and she is currently at work on her fourth.  Tara lives with her husband, Ash, in North Carolina. Welcome Tara!

I was a stubborn child. Mulish, nothing could budge me once I’d made up my mind about something. In first grade, I made up my mind I didn’t want to learn how to read. My teacher cajoled and then kept me after class. My parents wheedled and then threatened various punishments. Nothing would move me. Finally, my teacher suggested my mother spend a half hour every day reading with me.

As we sat together in the afternoons after school on our brown living room couch, my mother patiently coaching me while I resisted all the way, I started to notice something. This was a story that I was reading. I adored stories! My mother read me and my brother bedtime stories every night and I awaited every installment of whatever book we were reading with a combination of excitement and impatience. I couldn’t get enough stories – loved it whenever someone read me one, my eyes alight with visions as I slipped into another world.

But if I was sitting here reading a story, that meant…that I could have a story whenever I wanted one! Any time! I could just pick up one of the books on the bookshelf, not have to wait until bedtime or for a relative or a librarian to read to me! This was fantastic!

Suddenly, I took to reading like a fish to water. I read everything, graduating quickly from children’s stories to young adult fiction to fiction better suited to a high school student. But there were certain stories I just couldn’t get enough of: A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett, Grimms Fairy Tales, the Narnia books, Charlotte’s Web, The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare, The Littles by John Peterson, and many more. Some of these books were given to me as gifts, but others could only be obtained at our small grammar school library.

So I took them out.  Again and again and again. When I loved a book, I reread it endlessly, reaching the end and then turning back to the first page to devour it once more like a favorite treat. This went on until it became clear that I didn’t want to return these books. This was a problem, especially as there was only one copy or maybe two of each book available. The school librarians sternly told me that I was no longer allowed to take these favorite books out, that other children wanted a chance to read them too. I was devastated. I couldn’t have my favorite story anymore? Life was suddenly a bleak and dark place.

This went on until my mother started taking me to our town library, which was bigger than the school library and had many more books. Once again I started my pattern of renewing the same book. Everything was going to be fine after all: I had my favorite books back! What I didn’t know was that this library had a policy: you weren’t allowed to renew a book more than three times. When I found this out, I tried to think of a way around it, even considering…not returning the book! Although I knew I’d get in trouble, this was the tactic I settled on. And eventually, the librarians called my mother and we all sat down for a little discussion about their resident book addict: me. In the end, the rule was maintained and the town librarians started to keep a keen eye on me in the same way the school librarians did. They were troubling times and I never got over not being able to have some of my favorite stories when I wanted them.

Today I still cling to certain books with a steely grip, never lending them out to even my closest friends. I guess it all comes from those years of painful book cravings. These days, of course, the books are written for an adult audience. They include Gone with the Wind, Summer Sisters by Judy Blume, The Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells, and every book by Amy Tan, Rosamunde Pilcher, Stephen King, and Elin Hilderbrand. In the same way as when I was a child, I reread these favorite books, sometimes to an obsessive level. I love them so much I can’t get enough of them. They are my not-so-secret vice. But now there are no barriers, no librarians shaking their index fingers at me. The only criticism I ever hear from friends and family is, “Are you reading that again?”

Yes. I am. And it’s wonderful!

Thank You Tara – the Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood is a long time favourite of mine to :-)

You an find out more about Tara and her writing on her website at: http://taramctiernan.com and on her blog at: http://taramctiernanfiction.blogspot.co.uk/

Cocktail Hour is out now in paperback and ebook formats. Please stop by again later today when you’ll have the chance to win one of three copies of Cocktail Hour!

Book review: The Wild Girl by Kate Forsyth

29 Jul

The Brothers Grimm left one tale untold . . .

Once there were six sisters. The pretty one, the musical one, the clever one, the helpful one, the young one . . . And then there was the Wild one.

Dortchen Wild has loved Wilhelm Grimm since she was twelve years old. Under the forbidding shadow of her father and the tyranny of Napoléon’s army, the pair meet secretly to piece together a magical fairy tale collection. The story behind the stories of the Brothers Grimm.

I absolutely loved Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth when I read it earlier this year so I jumped at the chance to read her latest novel, The Wild Girl which has just been released. Like Bitter Greens, The Wild Girl interweaves real life with fairy tales; in this case revealing the story of Dortchen Wild, the woman behind many of the stories made famous by the Brothers Grimm.

The Wild Girl combines history, romance and fairy tale to create a story that you won’t forget. I was gripped by Dorchen and Wilhelm’s forbidden romance; shocked and horrified by the details of Dortchen’s life and fascinated by the historical detail as the novel plays out against the backdrop of the Napoleonic Wars. Kate Forsyth has clearly done her research and The Wild Girl is a breathtaking work of historical fiction that sets the events of the time into a very real social context by showing the impact on the Grimm and Wild families.

The two families are neighbours; Dortchen one of six Wild sisters and Wilhelm, one of the now famous Brothers Grimm. Dortchen loves Wilhelm from a very young age but their story is anything but straightforward as his family’s poverty, her father and many other circumstances force them apart. The Wild Girl is by no means an easy read with some very dark scenes and shocking descriptions, particularly towards the end of the book. Dortchen’s life was certainly no fairy tale. I was full of admiration for her character, strength, spirit, kindness and bravey and my heart broke for her a number of times throughout the novel as I wondered if she would ever get to enjoy a happy ending.

This is a book that is in turns dark, romantic, magical and horrifying mirroring many of the original tales that Dortchen, her sisters and family tell to Wilhelm and Jakob Grimm. I enjoyed learning more about the influences on the brothers and how the original stories came to be the ones we know so well today. There is a wonderful theme throughout the book about the beauty and power of words and storytelling. I don’t normally share quotes in my reviews but I can’t resist this one which sums The Wild Girl up perfectly, “No story was just a story, though. It was a suitcase stuffed with secrets.”

Kate Forsyth is clearly an expert in her field and her books are as beautiful to read as they are to look at. Once again, Kate has taken the story of a little known woman and given her her rightful place in history. The Wild Girl is an unforgettable novel of forbidden love, war and fairy tale and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

5/5

The Wild Girl is out now in hardback and ebook formats.

I’d like to thank Amy from Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for inviting me to be part of the tour for this book and publisher Allison and Busby for providing a review copy.

You can find out more about Kate Forsyth and her writing at: http://www.kateforsyth.com.au/

Follow The Wild Girl Blog Tour at:  http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/thewildgirltour/

Please stop by again on Thursday when I’ll have a brilliant guest post from Kate!

Giveaway! Win a copy of Rip it up by Richard Wiseman

26 Jul

Rip it up is a new self-help book from Richard Wiseman and promises, “The radically new approach to changing your life”. I’ve never read a self-help book before but I will admit to being intrigued by this one which advocates positive action over positive thinking. I’ll be delving into it this weekend and will report back with a review next week but in the mean time, publisher Pan Macmillan has provided me with an extra copy to give away!

 Most self-help books encourage you to think differently; to think yourself thin, imagine a richer self or to visualize the perfect you. This is difficult, time consuming and often doesn’t work.

 Drawing on a dazzling array of scientific evidence, psychologist Richard Wiseman presents a radical new insight that turns conventional self-help on its head: simple physical actions represent the quickest, easiest and most powerful way to instantly change how you think and feel.

So don’t just think about changing your life. Do it.

To be in with a chance of winning just leave a ‘pick me’ 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 Wednesday 31st July.

Good luck!

Guest Post: A Sense of Place: My Secret Reading Disorder By Fiona Valpy

25 Jul

Today I’m delighted to welcome Fiona Valpy to One More Page with a wonderful guest post about her reading habits! Fiona lives in France, having moved there from the UK in 2007. She left behind a career in Marketing and Public Relations to explore new avenues. Having renovated an old rambling farmhouse, when she’s not writing she now teaches yoga and runs a B&B in the Bordeax winelands with her husband.  Fiona’s debut novel, The French for Love was released earlier this month. Welcome Fiona.

Okay, I confess: I’ve always been a Binge Reader. From an early age I’d devour three or four novels at a time, insatiable and voracious, guzzling down an eclectic literary feast. Currently there is the usual teetering stack of books on my bedside cabinet (whilst on my husband’s side there is one solitary paperback and a copy of yesterday’s newspaper, neatly folded to the Sudoku). And of course these days, my Kindle sits atop the pile of paperbacks, with a further two or three books on the go.

When I stop to think about it (which I don’t often – too busy reading!) this should be a recipe for disaster. Flitting from book to book like some flibbertigibbet butterfly, how can I possibly do justice to any of them? Let alone focus on my own writing.

Well, the answer is simple: it’s all about a sense of place.  The books I love to read transport me to other places, other lives, where I immerse myself fully. It’s pure escapism. And we can only ever be in one place at any one time.

Tonight when I go to bed, I’ll see where I feel like going. For old time’s sake, I might pop across the Channel to London and re-connect with places and personalities that are familiar from the years when I worked there, as I open John Lanchester’s Capital; or I might decide to immerse myself in the heat and light and exotic scents and sounds of the India which Renita d’Silva describes so vividly in Monsoon Memories. Then again, perhaps I’ll pick up a book of Alice Munro’s short stories, Too Much Happiness, which has to be consumed in smaller bites in any case, as her writing is as rich and dense – and as North American – as a chocolate fudge brownie. And, although it’s still in the pile as it hasn’t quite made its way into a bookcase yet, I’ve just finished reading Joshilyn Jackson’s A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty, spending time kicking my heels and peering over fences in a small town in the Deep South, where dark secrets are buried in everyone’s back yards.

Good writing can do that. It immerses us in new places – which we might never get to in real life – and in relationships with new people – whom we will never meet in reality. I reckon I would be perfectly at home if I were, for example, suddenly parachuted into Georgian society (thanks to copious reading, and frequent re-visiting, of Jane Austen’s novels); I could hold my own if I were cast-away in a log cabin on the vast expanse of the American prairies (Laura Ingalls-Wilder, in my formative years); I could navigate my way blindfold around Edinburgh (Kate Atkinson’s Jackson Brodie novels – although it helps that I did live there for a number of years too); or I could successfully negotiate the politics that are an essential facet of life in an archetypal English village (Joanna Trollope’s earlier works)…

My husband and I made the move to south-west France five years ago, once our two sons had gone off to university. It was a complete change of lifestyle from our full-time jobs in the frozen north of Britain, but thanks to some preparatory reading of the likes of Peter Mayle, Patricia Atkinson (The Ripening Sun) and Patrick Moon (Virgile’s Vineyard), I felt very much at home from the moment we arrived.

If you’d like to come and explore the area too, then I hope you’ll join Gina Peplow, the heroine in my debut novel, The French for Love, as she embarks on a new life in a foreign culture. Travel with her to sun-drenched vineyards of France, where ancient houses of honeyed stone slumber in the heat of the afternoon, holding family secrets close to their hearts. Like a crusty baguette thickly spread with garlic-spiked pâté, The French for Love should be devoured with gusto, in large bites, and preferably washed down with a glass or two of chilled Bordeaux wine. Bon appétit!

The French for Love is available now in paperback and ebook formats.

You can find out more about Fiona and her writing at: http://fionavalpy.com/

Book review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

24 Jul

Meet Celaena Sardothien.
Beautiful. Deadly. Destined for greatness.

In the dark, filthy salt mines of Endovier, an eighteen-year-old girl is serving a life sentence. She is a trained assassin, the best of her kind, but she made a fatal mistake. She got caught.

Young Captain Westfall offers her a deal: her freedom in return for one huge sacrifice. Celaena must represent the prince in a to-the-death tournament – fighting the most gifted thieves and assassins in the land. Live or die, Celaena will be free. Win or lose, she is about to discover her true destiny. But will her assassin’s heart be melted?

While I was away on my holiday last week I took the opportunity to read some books that have been on my ‘to read’ pile for far too long. One of those books was Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Mass. I’d heard so many excellent reports of this book (it’s one of my favourite bloggers favourite books) and the tension is already building on Twitter, Facebook and book blogs for the sequel, Crown of Midnight which is out next month with whispers of it being even better than the first book!

So, did it live up to my raised expectations? In short – YES! Perhaps because I’ve been reading a lot of chick lit and contemporary fiction lately, it took me a few chapters to get into the story but once I did I was swept away on a brilliant adventure and desperately grabbing my copy to read a few more pages at every available opportunity!

Throne of Glass made me fall in love with the fantasy genre all over again as I followed Celaena Sardothian on her journey from slavery in the mines of Endovier, through her quest to become the King’s Assassin. This is a story packed with drama, intrigue, magic, romance and adventure – it really is the full package.  The characters are strong, interesting and varied. I thought Celaena was just the right mix of teenage girl and trained killer.

Throne of Glass is very much Celaena’s story and introduces us to her strengths and weaknesses. There were a lot of hints and snippets of her back story which helped to build up a picture of her character but also maintained a good level of mystery about her which kept me interested. I’m looking forward to getting to know her better as the series develops and one of the things I loved most about Celaena and this book was that the story is only just beginning and has so much potential!

Celaena’s love interests are both excellent too and for the first time, I couldn’t decide which man I wanted our heroine to end up with! I loved that Sarah J. Maas kept me guessing and again, I can’t wait for the second book to see where Celaena’s relationships with handsome playboy prince Dorian (with an emerging deeper side) and tough Captain of the Guard Chaol (with an emerging softer side) go! As the book ended I think I’d settled on Chaol as my favourite …

The story centres around Celaena’s bid to win her freedom by becoming The King’s Champion. The plot moves swiftly through a series of challenges set against the backdrop of the ruthless King’s desire to conquer all lands and the mythology that Sarah J. Maas has created is detailed and sweeping. With Magic banished, Celaena is surprised to find strange markings in the palace and as a series of gruesome murders take place, Celaena finds herself discovering much more than she bargained for about magic that should not exist.

Throne of Glass has elements of fairy tale, mystery, romance and drama and is underpinned by an absorbing mythology which is only just beginning to be revealed. I now count myself one of its many fans and am eagerly awaiting the next instalment!

5/5

I’d like to thank Ellen at Bloomsbury for providing a review copy of this book. Throne of Glass is out now in paperback and ebook formats. Crown of Midnight is released in paperback and ebook formats on 15th August.

Find out more about Sarah J. Maas and her writing at: http://sarahjmaas.com/

Going Back Giveaway Winners!

22 Jul

 

The winners are …

Annegret, Lindsay, Zarina, CraftyGreenPoet and Caroline!

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

Book news: Coco's Secret by Niamh Greene

22 Jul

Who doesn’t love a vintage handbag?! Niamh Greene’s latest novel sounds like a brilliant read and I love the cover too. Coco’s Secret is released on August 15th in paperback and ebook formats!

Coco Swan has always been embarrassed by her name.

With a name like Coco, she thinks people expect her to be as exotic and glamorous as the famous designer, not an ordinary-looking small-town antiques dealer who could win an award for living cautiously.

But when a vintage Chanel handbag turns up in a box of worthless bric-a-brac, Coco’s quiet world is turned upside down. Where did it come from? And is it just coincidence that it’s the same bag Coco’s late mother always wanted for her?

When Coco discovers a mysterious, decades-old letter hidden in the bag’s lining, she sets off on a quest to piece together the story behind it, stumbling across secrets that span three generations as she goes.

Could the beautiful Chanel bag be about to teach Coco more than she wants to learn? Or will it show her just where her heart can take her if she lets it lead the way?

 Find out more about Niamh Greene at: http://www.niamhgreene.com

Giveaway! 5 copies of Little Beauty by Alison Jameson to be won!

12 Jul

I’m taking a little break from the blog for the next week but I’ll leave you with this fantastic give-away! Publisher, Transworld have kindly provided five hardback copies of Alison Jameson’s beautiful new novel, Little Beauty for me to give away to lucky readers.

A unforgettable story about one woman’s struggle to do the best for her child

1975: Laura Quinn has spent her life on the remote and beautiful Inis Miol Mor – Whale Island– off the west coast of Ireland. After the death of her parents, and faced with the continuing reluctance of her lover, Martin, to marry her, she realizes she needs to leave the island for her life really to begin.

She accepts a job as a housekeeper with a wealthy couple on the mainland. But a year later, Laura is back, and this time she is not alone. She has at last found the love of her life: a baby son named Matthew. But what sort of life can an unmarried mother have on a remote Irish island in the 1970s? In this complex situation is revealed a picture of a tightly knit community where Laura inevitably comes under pressure to conform to the rules of society.

At times humorous and ultimately heart-breaking, Alison Jameson’s Little Beauty is a brilliant portrayal of love, motherhood and sacrifice that will mesmerize readers and linger long in the mind.

To enter this giveaway just leave a ‘pick me’ comment in the box below. I’ll draw five winners using Random.org after the closing date. This giveaway is open to UK and Ireland residents only and will close at midnight on Friday 19th July.

Good luck!

Little Beauty is out now in Hardback and ebook formats.

You can find out more about Alison and her writing at: http://alisonjameson.com/

Book review: The Sea Sisters by Lucy Clarke

12 Jul

Two sisters, one life-changing journey…

There are some currents in the relationship between sisters that run so dark and so deep, it’s better for the people swimming on the surface never to know what’s beneath . . .

Katie’s carefully structured world is shattered by the news that her headstrong younger sister, Mia, has been found dead in Bali – and the police claim it was suicide.

With only the entries of Mia’s travel journal as her guide, Katie retraces the last few months of her sister’s life, and – page by page, country by country – begins to uncover the mystery surrounding her death.

What she discovers changes everything. But will her search for the truth push their sisterly bond – and Katie – to breaking point?

I don’t know where to begin saying how much I enjoyed this book. It captured my love of the sea and the wonderful feeling of freedom and adventure that comes from exploring new places. It made me want to pack my bags and travel to somewhere sunny and far away. It made me determined that I will one day learn to surf and it made me a thoroughly happy bookworm to read such a well crafted and gripping story.

The book opens with Katie being told the news that her sister, Mia has died. What follows is a bitter-sweet read that tracks Mia’s journey around the world in flashbacks as Katie follows in her footsteps in an attempt to understand what happened. I thought the format of the story was excellent, moving between past and present to tell the story but also to allow me as a reader to get to know Mia and Katie in depth.  The two sisters are very different; Katie the sensible organised older sister to free spirited and impetuous Mia and I enjoyed reading their reactions to the same places an people. Through Mia’s travel journal, Katie takes the same journey and the revelations it brings were surprising and at times dramatic building a complex picture of family relationships.

Having grown up by the sea and missed it since I moved to London I felt an instant connection to the character of Mia who feels stifled by London and her sister but I could also see a lot of myself in Katie and I think that’s one of the reasons I enjoyed this book so much. Together with the mystery of the events surrounding Mia’s death, I was gripped by the ups and downs of both girls’ lives. There are some dramatic twists to the story and right up and until the reveal in the very last pages I couldn’t guess what had led to Mia’s death.

Lucy Clarke has got sibling relationships spot on and although she captures the relationship between the two sisters brilliantly there is a much wider theme of siblings and family in general in The Sea Sisters that made me reflect on my own relationships with my brother and parents. Clarke shows the ripple effect through a life of incidents from childhood very well and I found her characters fascinating; particularly Noah and his brother Jez as they cope with their own tragedies in different ways.

Filled with exotic locations, intricate and complex relationships and hinging on the mystery of what really happened to Mia, I can’t recommend this book enough for readers looking for a gripping story this summer and I can’t wait to read more from Lucy Clarke.

5/5

The Sea Sisters is out now in paperback an ebook formats.

Find out more about Lucy and her writing at: http://www.lucy-clarke.com/