Archive | November, 2013

Book news and extract: Sound Bites by Rachel K Burke

30 Nov

Harper Impulse has just released details of a fab New Adult romance that will be out next week! I love this cover! Sound Bites is Rachel K Burke’s New Adult debut and I can’t wait to read it. Click on the button below to read the first three chapters now!

 What happens when you find yourself caught between a painful past and an uncertain future… 

Renee Evans has a knack for trouble. After walking in on her best friend and boyfriend in bed together, twenty-five year-old Renee flees her dream job as a music journalist in sunny Los Angeles and returns to her hometown of Boston – only to meet Dylan Cavallari, the mysterious, aspiring musician who lives in her apartment building.

Dylan’s piercing gaze and womanizing demeanor make him exactly the type of guy that Renee should steer clear of – which is most likely the reason she falls for him. But when Renee’s troublesome ex comes back and threatens to drive her and Dylan apart, Renee is forced to face her past and save her relationship with Dylan before it’s too late.

Sound Bites is a novel about love, friendship, betrayal, forgiveness, and the power of music to help you find your way.

Visit

Sound Bites is released in ebook formats on 5th December.

Find out more about Rachel K Burke and her writing at: http://www.rachelkburke.com/

Author interview and Giveaway: Jenny Barden

29 Nov

Today I’m delighted to welcome author Jenny Barden to One More Page to answer my questions about her Elizabethan adventure, The Lost Duchess.  Jenny has had a love of history and adventure ever since an encounter in infancy with a suit of armour at Tamworth Castle. Impelled by a fascination with the Age of Discovery, she has travelled widely in the Americas, and much of the inspiration for her books came from retracing the footsteps of Francis Drake in Panama. Welcome Jenny!

 Your new historical novel, The Lost Duchess has just been released; please could you tell readers a little about it and the inspiration behind it?

The Lost Duchess is an epic adventure with a love story at its heart. It’s set against the backdrop of Sir Walter Raleigh’s attempt to found the first permanent English settlement in America, one that met a mysterious fate and has become known as the ‘Lost Colony of Roanoke’. The book follows Emme Fifield, a lady-in-waiting to queen Elizabeth I, and Kit Doonan, a mariner with a troubled past, in their endeavour to begin a new life in the New World. They encounter treachery, hostile Indians and danger beyond comprehension, and they have to fall back on all their reserves of fortitude and trust in one another in order to survive. The story was inspired by a fascination with the enigma of the disappearance of the Lost Colony, and the more I found out about what really happened – at least as much as is known – the more I wanted to write a story about characters caught up in the drama of that enterprise.

The book is an Elizabethan adventure; what drew you to this particular period of history?

My debut, Mistress of the Sea, was based on Francis Drake’s first triumph against the Spanish – his raid on the ‘silver train’ – the mule train carrying bullion from Peru across the isthmus of Panama. Investigating that episode in history in the early part of Queen Elizabeth’s reign led me to consider other aspects of Drake’s career which were to have historical significance. One of these was his evacuation of the first English garrison established in what became known as Virginia. I wanted to find out more about that, and what happened afterwards. Once I came across the story of the Lost Colony I was hooked. It’s one that is little known in the UK, though it’s of immense importance in the context of the history of modern America, and its resonance is compelling. In the story there is the best and worst of humanity, the contrast between the hope of paradise and grim reality, a unique conflict of cultures, and the enormous courage of those who left everything for a fresh start in a land that was then completely unknown. I found it breathtaking.

How did you go about your research for the book and what is your favourite fact that you learned?

My initial research was online and through reference books, then I went to museums and all the locations of key relevance to the story, including Roanoke Island in what is now North Carolina, and Puerto Rico, which was one of the stopping off points for the Lost Colonists on their way to America. Finding as many of the original sources as I could was important to me, and a reprint of the diary of the Colony’s Governor was always on my desk, along with catalogues of his wonderful paintings which were a great inspiration.

A fascinating fact I learned was that many of the indigenous Algonquian Indians thought Englishmen were dead men returned who could never be killed (something which accounted for their pale skin). The belief of the elderly leader of the dominant tribe in the region was that the English could never be destroyed because they would only come back from the dead to cause the Indians more harm. In a way he was right – the English did keep coming back and eventually, of course, the Indians were almost completely wiped out.

On a lighter note I’ll mention Queen Elizabeth’s pet name for Raleigh which was ‘Water’ – I found that delightful.

For readers interested in finding out more of the history behind the novel; which books would you recommend to them?

I’d recommend ‘Roanoke the Abandoned Colony’ by Karen Ordahl Kupperman and ‘Big Chief Elizabeth’ by Giles Milton; they’re both magnificent.

How would you sum up leading lady Emme Fifield in one sentence?

Emme is bold and courageous but also vulnerable because of the damage that has been done to her by the Earl of Hertford with the result that her natural passion is suppressed; she’s a complex character behind a puzzling mask, at once impulsive and loyal, headstrong and caring.

Who was your favourite character to write in ‘The Lost Duchess’ and why?

Because my two leading characters are so many-layered with backstories that give them emotional hurdles to overcome, I very much enjoyed writing about both of them. Kit Doonan, the hero of ‘The Lost Duchess’, was particularly fascinating to write about because of his guilt concerning the fate of his Cimaroon lover and his relationship with his mulatto son, Rob, who does not even realise that Kit is his father. Kit has inner demons to contend with, but he is also immensely brave and a charismatic leader. On balance, I think Emme was the character I enjoyed writing about the most mainly because of the scars left by her abuse and the way these interfered in the development of her relationship with Kit. Emme is a deep character and it took me a while to understand her fully – but by the end of the book I hope I did!

If you could time travel to any time and place, where and when would you go and what would you do when you got there?

I’ve become so wrapped up in the story of the Lost Colony that I’d love to go back to Roanoke Island in the late summer of 1587, just after Governor White left, and observe what the colonists did next. I’d probably want to warn them to leave and not wait for Wanchese and his warriors to attack, but I wouldn’t attempt to interfere with the past. I’d just like know a little more about it.

And finally … what can we expect next from Jenny Barden?

Next, almost certainly, will be another love story in the context of an epic Elizabethan adventure – this time with the Spanish Armada as the backdrop. I’m developing my ideas for that now and I’m getting excited about them already. The truth is, I can’t wait to begin the writing proper…

Thank you Jenny for sharing your adventures with us – what a fascinating period of history.

The Lost Duchess is out now in paperback and ebook formats.
Find out more about Jenny and her writing at: http://www.jennybarden.com/

Giveaway!

Emme Fifield has fallen about as far as a gentlewoman can.

Once a lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth, her only hope of surviving the scandal that threatens to engulf her is to escape England for a fresh start in the New World, where nobody has ever heard of the Duchess of Somerset.
Emme joins Kit Doonan’s rag-tag band of idealists, desperados and misfits bound for Virginia. But such a voyage will be far from easy andEmme finds her attraction to the mysterious Doonan inconvenient to say the least.
As for Kit, the handsome mariner has spent years imprisoned by the Spanish, and living as an outlaw with a band of escaped slaves; he has his own inner demons to confront, and his own dark secrets to keep…

Jenny is very generously providing a first edition copy of this wonderful novel as giveaway to one lucky reader.

To enter this giveaway just leave a ‘pick me’ comment in the box below and I’ll draw one winner using Random.org after the closing date. This giveaway is open to UK residents only and will close at midnight on Thursday 5th December.Good luck!

Book review: The Most Expensive Night of Her Life by Amy Andrews

28 Nov

Her million-pound question! Supermodel Ava Kelly is more used to luxury yachts than London canal boats. But she desperately needs a refuge from the paparazzi and delectable Blake Walker’s boat will provide the perfect bolt-hole. This brooding ex-soldier is bound to rescue her, right…? Wrong. Pampered princess Ava is the last person Blake wants in his personal space – she’s far too tempting! But with a million-pound charity donation hanging in the balance Blake can’t say no. Now that Ava’s close enough to touch, keeping his hands off her is pretty difficult too! Maybe money isn’t the only thing at stake this Christmas…

This is the second romance by Amy Andrews that I’ve read this year and another great read. The book is set in the UK and sees British super model Ava Kelly needing a place to hide after being attacked in her own home. Cue Blake Walker, the ex soldier turned craftsman who puts his training into action when Ava needs it most, protecting her without thinking. Ava and Blake are complete opposites and as pampered diva Ava looks for a refuge it is to strong brooding Blake that she turns.

I loved the ‘opposites attract’ tension that Amy builds into the story as both Blake and Ava make negative first judgements of each other and I really enjoyed how events conspired to throw them together. Blake offers the perfect hideaway for Ava on his canal boat but is more than reluctant to let her stay with him. Ava makes him an offer he can’t refuse by promising the million pound donation that his sister’s charity needs to keep going and the tension between them begins to build!

There’s a strong military theme through the book. Blake is an army veteran and is not only coming to terms with the physical scars of battle but also the mental ones associated with surviving when others didn’t. Blake’s sister runs a charity that supports service families. Amy Andrews certainly isn’t afraid to tackle sensitive issues directly and Blake’s experiences really made him stand out as a male lead for me. It was great to see a male lead with a disability in a romance story and having a very hot encounter with a supermodel!

But this story goes well beyond passion in the bedroom and is a wonderful tribute to those who serve and have served in the military. Amy explores complex feelings of guilt, loss and fear against a backdrop of a ‘will they/won’t they’ romance that sizzles off the page.

As Ava finds herself letting go of her pampered and glam lifestyle Blake finds himself opening up more than he ever has since he left the army and both characters begin to discover that first impressions aren’t always right. Amy keeps the tension high right to the final chapters as the book ends on Christmas Eve in London.

The Most Expensive Night of Her Life is a fab quick romance read from the Modern Tempted series and I’d recommend it to those looking for a fresh contemporary romance with characters that matter.

4/5

The Most Expensive Night of Her Life is released tomorrow in paperback and ebook formats.

Find out more about Amy Andrews and her writing at: http://www.amyandrews.com.au/

 

Book review: Lighthouse Bay by Kimberley Freeman

27 Nov

1901: Isabella Winterbourne has suffered the worst loss a woman can know, and can no longer bear her husband nor his oppressive upper-class family. On a voyage between London and Sydney to accompany a priceless gift to the Australian parliament, Isabella is the sole survivor of a shipwreck off the sun-drenched Queensland coast. But in this strange new place, she finds she cannot escape her past quite as easily as she’d hoped.

2011: A woman returns from Paris to her beachside hometown to reconcile with her sister. But she, too, has a past that is hard to escape, and her sister is not in a mood to forgive her. Strange noises at night and activity at the abandoned lighthouse raise her curiosity, and she finds herself investigating a century-old town mystery.

I’m always drawn to books with a seaside theme and I loved the atmospheric cover for Lighthouse Bay as soon as I saw it. I also love time-slip novels so the setting of the story (or stories) in 1901 and 2011 very much appealed to me. As soon as I started reading I was hooked and this was a novel that I just didn’t want to put down.

From the dramatic prologue onwards, Kimberley Freeman sets up a number of mysteries surrounding her two leading ladies. In 2011 Libby Slater is hit hard by the death of her lover and decides to return to her native Australia and the town that she hasn’t set foot in for twenty years due to events that saw her flee from her family and friends. In 1901 Isabella Winterbourne is also grieving as she too sets out for Australia with her overbearing husband. Within the first few chapters I had a million questions; what happened to shatter Libby’s relationship with her sister? What are the mysterious comings and goings at the local lighthouse? How is Libby’s story linked to that of Isabella over 100 years before?

Lighthouse Bay reads almost like two separate books each with their own set of characters and distinct events. I loved the historical detail and drama of Isabella’s adventure and as a character I thought her strength and determination to survive were amazing. The tragedy in her life was truly heartbreaking and I felt a lot of empathy for her as I read. It took longer for Libby to grown on me; she comes across, at least initially, as quite a selfish character but I enjoyed her story nonetheless and I thought her emotional journey in the book was well done.

The linkages between the stories are clever and I liked the way that minor characters were woven into the plot with their own sub-plots. I particularly enjoyed Libby’s sister Juliet’s story. This is an emotional book which deals with themes of grief, bereavement and separation but despite the darkness of these topics, the overall message and feel of the story is a positive one of moving forward and triumph over adversity.

I thoroughly enjoyed the adventure and romance of this book and would recommend it to anyone looking for a sensitive and thought provoking yet gripping read.

5/5

Lighthouse Bay is out now in paperback and ebook formats.

Find out more about Kimberley Freeman and her writing at: http://kimberleyfreeman.com/

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

 

Book news: If You're Not the One by Jemma Forte

26 Nov

I’m a big fan of Jemma Forte’s books and have been eagerly awaiting a new release from her so I was very excited to read about If You’re Not the One on Twitter the other day. I love the cover of this book and the premise is brilliant – I can’t wait to read it!

Has she married the wrong man?

Jennifer Wright has a seemingly perfect life a husband, two kids, a lovely house. She also isn’t entirely sure if she’s happy. Frustrated with her lack of career and a husband who barely seems to notice her, she can’t help but wonder, is this it?
At 38 she’s hurtling toward middle age and a mid- life crisis. And she starts to think what her life would be like had she made different choices along the way…

Would she be happier if she d stayed with sexy, carefree, unconventional Aidan? Or fabulously wealthy Tim? Would she be living happily ever after with sweet, kind, harmless Steve? Jennifer’s about to find out. After a terrible row with her husband she has a life threatening accident, and, whilst unconscious, is given the gift of seeing what would have happened if she’d stayed with each of these men from her past. And then Jennifer’s left with the biggest decision of all…

If You’re Not the One will be published in paperback and ebook formats on 7th February 2014.

Guest Book review: A Christmas Wish by Lizzie Lane

25 Nov

I’m welcoming my Mum back today as guest reviewer with her first festive review!

Can her family ever be reunited?

Magda Brodie’s world is torn apart when her mother dies in the workhouse two weeks before Christmas. Her wastrel father arranges for her sisters to be sent to their grandparents, her brother to be adopted, and Magda to live with her Aunt Bridget.

But her aunt holds a bitter resentment towards her, and Magda’s dreams of reuniting her family seem hopeless…

We are dropped straight into this heart-wrenching story, as we are introduced to Magda and her siblings still mourning the loss of their Italian-born Mother. Set initially in 1926, the reader is not spared any details of the gruelling grime, poverty and illnesses of life in the East End of London. Lizzie does an excellent job with the descriptions in this book – so much so, that after only a few chapters I really doubted whether I had the stamina to read on but I am glad I did!

Throughout this emotional family saga, Magda and her siblings demonstrate so much hope and determination to overcome adversity that this story made me stop and think how difficult life can be. Magda, at the tender age of ten, has to survive. She made a promise to her sisters and brother that one day they would be re united and she means and believes what she says.

Magda’s story and those of her and her twin sisters Anna Marie and Venetia run parallel through the book and follows each of them as they strive to get their ‘Christmas Wish’ of being together as a family again. Magda’s life is one of survival, her Aunt having only feelings of hatred towards her leaving the reader with an ache in their heart to match Magda’s own. Whilst across the sea in Ireland, life with their paternal grandparents is not a bed of roses for the twins, either, but for different reasons.

Venetia being the more domineering of the two girls brings somewhat unnecessary hardship into their lives by her desire to reach America and to reach the heart of the man she is determined will go with her. Almost cruel events act against one sister, but in favour of the other. Strangely and cleverly it is often the least expected that has the most impact on them both. As the storyline progresses we see threads of hope. Some are snapped and dashed as quickly as they were discovered – but they always there!

Characters such as Winnie One Leg and Bradley Fitts, are introduced – Winnie the most unlikely person to provide guidance and support, due to the unsavoury ties she keeps, turns out to be a good case for not judging a book by its cover! As for Bradley Fittts, ‘like father like son’ sums him up! A very unsavoury person, he wants to get his claws into Magda and is determined she will see things his way!

These people feature greatly in Magda’s life and as the years pass Magda has the opportunity to ‘make a difference’. Each child, through the years, no matter how life treats them and what heartbreaks are thrust upon them, holds onto hope that they will all be re united as a family. The book concludes as the Second World War has just begun. Lizzie has a wonderful way of making the reader realise how important it is for hope to begin with the individual, before it can be for the world – she concludes this story at a point where many might think hope is already dashed, but in my view she sends a very strong message of even the darkest cloud having a silver lining if we just open our eyes wide enough to see it.

Spanning the years 1926 to 1939, I found, A Christmas Wish a very worthwhile read. Despite the title it isn’t a particularly Christmassy read but I did really enjoy it and would love to read a sequel.

5/5

We’d like to thank the publisher for providing a review copy of this book.

Find out more about Lizzie and her books at: http://www.randomhouse.co.uk/authors/lizzie-lane

Short story spotlight: The Last Kiss by Brigid Coady

19 Nov

First kisses are the ones that every one celebrates, the ones you remember. The ones you hope to treasure as it happened, storing up your memories to take out and relive.

But what about the last kiss?

Those clever people over at HarperImpulse are trying something new again with this (very) short story. The Last Kiss is the first in a series of ‘kisses’ which are intended to be read on a mobile phone. It’s an interesting concept; the story is only 1000 words – and for a reader like me who is used to getting through two or three full length novels a week this seemed very short indeed.

But it works!  The story captures the bitter-sweetness of the last kiss between Ryan and Katie and got me thinking. I’m sure that the scenario that Brigid writes will be familiar to many and it certainly struck a chord with me.  Coady shows her writing talent by getting maximum emotion into her 1000 words and she’s certainly an author to watch for me as I loved her style.

These mobile shorts are a great introduction to romance if you want to try something different and perfect for people who are on the go and don’t have much time to read. The Last Kiss is like a little literary canapé – one delicious bite and it’s gone but it certainly left me wanting more and I’m looking forward to reading The First Kiss which is released on 12th December.

4/5

I’d love to hear what you think about this new format – leave your thoughts below!

With thanks to HarperImpluse for providing a review copy of this story via Netgalley.

Visit

Book review: Charm by Sarah Pinborough

18 Nov

CHARM is a beautifully illustrated re-telling of the Cinderella story which takes all the much-loved elements of the classic fairytale (the handsome prince, the fairy godmother, the enchanted mouse, the beautiful girl and, of course, the iconic balls) and puts a modern spin on the characters, their motives and their desires.

Charm is the second book to be released from Sarah Pinborough’s linked trilogy of fairy tale reinventions and is a brilliantly twisted take on the traditional Cinderella story. Like the first book to be released, Poison, which re-told the Snow White story, in Charm Sarah Pinborough takes all of the elements of the familiar tale and puts her own unique spin on them.

All of the familiar elements are there but with a slight twist. From a rather naughty Buttons to a Cinderella with very grown up fantasies about her handsome prince charming, this book is sexy and dark, magical and captivating. I loved how Pinborough gave Cinderella real consequences for her actions as she makes a deal with her fairy godmother and the role that the glass slippers played in the tale was an excellent twist.

For me the characters in this book really came to life and although I enjoyed Poison I fond myself more engaged by Charm. I also liked having my perceptions turned on their heads and feeling sympathy for Cinderella’s step-sister Rose.

But it was the links to the previous book that set this novel apart for me; Sarah hasn’t just retold a fairytale, she’s created a whole new world where familiar fairytale characters live and interact delightfully (wait ’till you read the twist at the end of Charm and you’ll see what I mean). I’m fascinated by the way that these books link together and as Charm seems to be the end of the story I’m now very intrigued to read Beauty, which was released last month and completes the set and I suspect once I’ve read them all, I’ll go back to the beginning and read them again to appreciate all the links and strands.

Charm is beautifully illustrated and I’d thoroughly recommend splashing out on the hardback editions of these books as they look so good on the bookshelf together. Recommended for fans of dark fairy tales and paranormal romance.

5/5

Charm is out now in hardback and ebook formats.

I’d like to thank the publisher for sending me a review copy of this book.

Find out more about Sarah Pinborough and her writing at: http://sarahpinborough.com/

3000 follower giveaway winner!

17 Nov

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The winner is …

Vika

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

Book news: Diplomancer by Steve Peacock

17 Nov

I heard about Steve Peacock’s debut on Twitter. It sounds like a fun fantasy read and I love the sound of the female protagonist Miranda!

When her friend and colleague dies, his soul apparently being struck from his body by supernatural means, the show of total indifference demonstrated by the emergency services forces Miranda Ertras to start her own investigation. With his untimely death making it impossible for her to apologise for an earlier argument, Miranda takes it upon herself to uncover the real cause of death and try to clear her conscience.

Teaming up with her former boss, university professor and retired assassin Raoul Fury, Miranda finds herself stumbling into a world of magic and ancient conspiracies fuelled by forgotten texts. Can the pair of them work together long enough to unravel a conspiracy that threatens to unmake the world itself?

Can they stop a man armed with the very power of creation?

Diplomancer is out now in ebook formats.

Find out more about Steve and his writing at: http://stevekpeacock.com/