Archive | September, 2014

Book review: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

29 Sep

station elevenDAY ONE

The Georgia Flu explodes over the surface of the earth like a neutron bomb.

News reports put the mortality rate at over 99%.


Civilization has crumbled.


A band of actors and musicians called the Travelling Symphony move through their territories performing concerts and Shakespeare to the settlements that have grown up there. Twenty years after the pandemic, life feels relatively safe.

But now a new danger looms, and it threatens the hopeful world every survivor has tried to rebuild.

Moving backwards and forwards in time, from the glittering years just before the collapse to the strange and altered world that exists twenty years after, Station Eleven charts the unexpected twists of fate that connect six people: famous actor Arthur Leander; Jeevan, a bystander warned about the flu just in time; Arthur’s first wife, Miranda; Arthur’s oldest friend, Clark; Kirsten, an actress with the Travelling Symphony; and the mysterious and self-proclaimed ‘prophet’.

Thrilling, unique and deeply moving, this is a beautiful novel that asks questions about art and fame and about the relationships that sustain us through anything – even the end of the world.

I really wasn’t sure what to expect when I started this book but the promise of a wonderful story and rave recommendations on Twitter from fellow bloggers had me looking forward to jumping in! Not only did I love Station Eleven; it’s one of my favourite books of the year so far. So, what can you expect? Well, this book is like nothing else I’ve read this year (or ever actually!). It’s an engaging and interesting story of one man’s life as he rises to fame, it’s a tribute to Shakespeare and comic books and the story of a brilliantly imagined, yet believably realistic and beautiful, horrifying future.

The story opens with the death of actor Arthur Leander, followed swiftly by a pandemic (unrelated to Arthur’s death) that devastates the world. Mandel’s imagining of what would happen if a virus really did wipe out ninety-nine per cent of the Earth’s population is scarily believable and cleverly thought through. I loved how the story moved back and forth between past and present to show how much was lost but also what was gained when the world changed forever.

As the story went on it was heartbreaking to read of lost loved ones and new dangers but there was also a wonderful sense of adventure and bravery to the story and a world sent back to basics. In the present, we follow a troupe of travelling entertainers who bring their Shakespearean talents to the small towns and collectives that have sprung up as survivors find each other. There’s plenty of tension as rumours of the mysterious and dangerous ‘prophet’ circulate and one of the most enjoyable aspects of this book was the tension that Mandel creates and builds as the travellers move forward.

Populated with a captivating mix of characters who are tied together throughout the story in ways that I’d never imagined, I read Station Eleven in a couple of days (thankfully I was on holiday at the time!) My imagination was completely captured by the Museum of Civilisation; a collection of artifacts from ‘before’ and I found it fascinating how as time moved forward, technology and innovations that we take for granted seemed magical or just impossible for those who were very young or born after the collapse to imagine. This is an incredibly well thought out book and made me appreciate the world I live in but despite the bleak premise, Station Eleven is a book filled with hope and I cannot recommend it highly enough!


Station Eleven is out now in hardback and ebook formats.

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

Find out more about Emily St. John Mandel and her writing at:




Book review: A Wartime Family by Lizzie Lane

28 Sep

I’m delighted to welcome my lovely Mum back to the blog today with her thoughts on A Wartime Family by Lizzie Lane.

wartim familyA scandalous woman?

Having left her abusive husband for very good reasons, Mary Anne Randall finds herself judged harshly by her neighbours, especially after she has the courage to risk a second chance at happiness.

But with the only man she has ever loved away fighting, Mary Anne is less concerned by her tarnished reputation than with keeping her children safe, as the bombs fall on Bristol – all too close to home.

(Note: Originally published as Secret Sins by Jeannie Johnson)

After reading A Wartime Wife I was very much looking forward to this follow on and wondering how things would turn out for Mary Anne and her family.

I wasn’t disappointed; Lizzie Lane continues to keep the reader intrigued (maybe not on the edge of their seat) but she certainly drew me into this story. Daughter Daw seems to be oblivious to her mother’s plight, in her eyes her father can do no wrong, unlike daughter Lizzie, who condones her mother’s actions and encourages her to follow her heart and find the happiness that she has so long dreamed about, but never ever thought, would be hers.

Lizzie finds herself re-living her mother’s life in more ways than one, but decides the outcome will not be the same.  Mary Anne’s past seems to come back to haunt her and there are times when I did wonder if she could ever free herself from the stigma, the hurt and the losses she had encountered. Always the loyal mother, she endeavours to provide for young son Stanley, even if it means doing without herself, or enduring physical and mental hardship.

Although set in wartime, the story focuses mainly on the emotions and loyalties of family life. Wartime scars do have an impact but as with everything else that is thrown their way, the family resolve to deal with life on a day to day basis and still have the thought and loyalty to support their neighbours and others who, as strange as it might be, seem worse off than them.

Elder son Harry finds his own way of dealing with the issues and stigmas of both war and reputation. Besides the ravages of war, bomb damage, looting and meagre means, Mary Anne has to cope with an unknown source of vengeance and I read with trepidation to see how she would cope. This is a novel written to show that love and endurance win through.

A refreshingly true to life story – thank you Lizzie, I look forward to the next one!


A Wartime Family is out now in paperback and ebook formats.

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

Find out more about Lizzie Lane and her writing at:


Book news: Say It With Sequins Series

22 Sep

I love the covers for the Say It With Sequins series and I was excited to see that the cover for the third novella in the series, Say It With Sequins: The Charleston has just been released.

sequins ch

A must read for Strictly fans, this latest book will be out on Thursday but if you haven’t caught up on this series yet, the first novella, Say It With Sequins: The Rumba is currently FREE in ebook formats. Just click the link below to go to the Harper Impulse website and choose the format that you want.


And if you enjoy that; the second book in the series, Say It With Sequins: The Waltz is just 99p!



Book review: The Beach Hut Next Door by Veronica Henry

21 Sep

beach hut next doorSummer appeared from nowhere that year in Everdene…and for those lucky enough to own one of the beach huts, this was the summer of their dreams.

For Elodie, returning to Everdene means reawakening the memories of one summer fifty years ago. A summer when everything changed.

Vince and his brother are struggling to come to terms with the death of their father – but they have very different ways of coping.

And for Jenna, determined to put the past behind her, the opportunity to become ‘the ice cream girl’ once again might just turn her life around.

But this summer is not all sunshine and surf – as secrets unfold, and some lives are changed for ever…

Four years ago, not long after starting this blog I read one of my all time favourite summer reads, The Beach Hut by Veronica Henry. I’ve always dreamed of owning my own beach hut and I immediately fell in love with the world Veronica created at Everdene. I was delighted see Everdene revisited in the short story, A Sea Change which was written specially for the World Book Day Quick Reads campaign last year, but was still hoping for another full length novel set in Everdene. So you can imagine my excitement when I saw that The Beach Hut Next Door was being released.

The Beach Hut Next Door absolutely lived up to expectations and I loved the variety of the stories told in its pages. As with The Beach Hut, there are a number of separate but linked stories that make up this novel and a thread into the past as Elodie tells her story which is woven through the book. I loved the distinct voices and how very different the characters were. From hardworking Vince (who is in love with someone he shouldn’t be!) and his brother Chris, who is dealing with his own set of demons to Kiki who is looking for a new start, it was great to meet a new set of characters with their own interesting stories.

I also loved revisiting characters from previous books; particularly Tim and Rachel and Jenna whose story began in A Sea Change. Their stories stand alone here but if you have read the previous books, you’ll enjoy catching up with old favourites and the familiar characters added to the sense of community at Everdene for me.

Elodie’s story of family betrayal, love and heartbreak grabbed my attention and had me turning the pages as fast as I could to find out what happened next to her. I loved visiting the Everdene of the 1960’s and the glamour of her life in London too.

With love, friendship, romance, hope and the promise of new starts, The Beach Hut Next Door is a wonderful read to curl up and escape with at any time of the year. I hope I get to visit Everdene again soon. How about Christmas at the Beach Huts next please Veronica?


The Beach Hut Next Door is out now in paperback and ebook formats.

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

Find out more about Veronica Henry and her writing at:

Author interview: Claudia Carroll

13 Sep

Today I’m delighted to welcome number one bestselling author Claudia Carroll to One More Page to celebrate the ebook release of her new novel, Love Me Or Leave Me. Claudia was born in Dublin, where she still lives and where she has worked extensively both as a theatre and television actress. For fourteen years, she appeared in Fair City, (Ireland’s answer to Eastenders) playing a character she likes to describe as ‘the horrible old cow that everyone loves to hate.’ She is now a full time writer. Welcome Claudia!

claudiaYour new novel, Love Me or Leave Me is out now, please could you tell us a little about it?

Of course! Just to tell you a little bit about the inspiration for the story first though; I stumbled on an article about a hotelier in the Netherlands who happened to be going through a divorce. He was stunned at how long and dragged out the whole process was and thought, hang on, you could actually agree a divorce settlement in a weekend, that’s all it should take and no longer. So – and this is a true story, by the way – he opened up the world’s first divorce hotel and it took off from day one. The idea is you check in married and check out single… of course, when I read that, I was instantly hooked!

My imagination started to run away with me and I fell to thinking about all the disastrous weddings I’ve been to over the years – and you’d be surprised at how many of them there have been. Then I started imagining the different types of couples who would all stay at a hotel like this and what their marriages would actually be like.

So LOVE ME OR LEAVE ME is essentially a romantic comedy about life on the other side of the altar rails. What happens when three very different brides from three very different walks of life, finally take off the Vera Wang wedding dress, and realise that happy ever after isn’t all its cracked up to be?

Well of course, a divorce hotel seems like the answer to their collective prayers. Why not come to a calm place of tranquil reflection and work out all the nitty gritty finer details of your separation and divorce there, over a single weekend? And even better; all taken care of with room service, cocktails and maybe a little harmless lookout for husband no. 2 on the side? As Chloe Townsend, the hotel’s general manager can tell you, divorce can actually be painless and fast. And she of all people knows exactly what’s she’s talking about; after all, she’s living breathing proof that even after the most  devastating of breakups, there’s still hope, even after all that hopelessness.

First we’ve got Dawn and Kirk, both mid twenties and who look too young to even have got married in the first place, let alone be on the brink of divorce. Then there’s Jo and Dave, late thirties and barely able to be in the same room as each other, never mind discuss legal and real estate matters amicably. Biggest mystery of all though, has to be Jenny and Andrew, early fifties and still so obviously mad about each other. No one can understand what could possibly have driven such a devoted couple to the point of breaking up?

And so over the course of probably the most intense weekend of these couples’ lives and amid all the mayhem, mishaps and mis-matches, we discover exactly what lies beneath the surface of each once-happy romance. And more importantly, just how will each love story play out in the last and final reel.

If leading lady and hotel manager Chloe Townsend was on Twitter, what would her bio say?

Hmm. Interesting question. I think probably something like, ‘@ChloeTownsend. Fixer. Go-to person. Dependable rock of sanity, discretion 100% guaranteed.

The novel focuses on three very different couples and their stories; did you have a favourite couple to write?

Oh God, that’s like asking a mother to pick her favourite child. Impossible, but I will say this; I loved, loved, loved writing Chloe in LOVE ME OR LEAVE ME. She’s had her heart smashed and been publicly humiliated in the worst way imaginable, yet still manages to keep hope alive that ‘The One’ is out there for her.

The descriptions of the rooms at the Hope Street Hotel are lovely; where would your ideal hotel be and what treats wouldimage002 your room include?

My ideal hotel? Well, I’ll give you a laugh. Years ago a few pals were all going to Mexico on what the travel agent told us was an ‘all inclusive’ package. Now this was a new concept at the time, one that none of us had ever come across before. And we were genuinely stumped. All-inclusive? What did that mean? Food covered but not drinks? Or the other way around?

So off we tropped, all buffed and spay-tanned, to the Moon Palace hotel in Cancun. And Oh. My. Actual. God. Turned out all-inclusive mean just that…absolutely everything. You name it, everything. You want room service at 2 a.m. with a bottle of champagne on the side? Covered. Cocktails at the pool whenever you feel them one? Covered. Or you fancy breakfast and lunch and a full afternoon tea, followed by a four course dinner, where you don’t even have to bring you purse with you? Ditto.

Well, we were only stunned. Now that’s my kind of hotel and my dream is to get back there one day.

The novel isn’t all about endings; what do you think are the top three ingredients for a happy marriage?

It’s easy for me to say, as I’m not married myself, so I stand to be corrected on this, but I would say the top three ingredients would be the same as for any relationship really. Marry your best friend. Respect them and try to have a good laugh together every day.

And finally … what can we expect next from Claudia Carroll?

I’m currently editing my new book, to be published in 2015. Our working title is WOULD I LIE TO YOU? And it’s about catfish…the internet kind, not the kind that swim! If you’d like to see a little snippet from my next book, here it is, the very opening paragraph…but I’m not giving any more away!

Exactly 8pm on a Saturday night and here I am. Sitting all alone at a table for two in Fade St. Social, only one of the swishiest restaurants in town, primped and preened to within an inch of my life.

Peppering with nervous tension of course, but we’ll come back to that.

It’s a perfect table too; if I’d planned it, I couldn’t have chosen any better. I’m right in the middle of the restaurant at a gorgeous table facing the door, so that every time it opens, I get a clear view of exactly who’s just arrived. And more importantly, so that when my date gets here, he can’t miss me.

          Can he? I think, a tad anxiously.

No, course he can’t.

Now there is there’s the slight-ish concern that he hasn’t a clue what I look like in the flesh, or I him. But then we did exchange photos via the Two’s Company website and although mine is a slight bit of a cheat – taken ten years ago at twilight and with the light behind me so as to minimize the wrinkles, and come on, who of us hasn’t done it? Point is though, if his photo is even halfway accurate, then I’m seriously onto a winner here.

Thank you Claudia!

Love Me or Leave Me is out now in ebook formats from Avon and will be released in paperback on 23rd October.

Please do check out the other stops on Claudia’s Love Me Or Leave Me blog tour!


Book news: The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman

11 Sep

I do love a good fairy tale re-imagining and this one looks amazing! This beautifully illustrated hardback will be out next month from Bloomsbury. It’s already on my wish list! sleeper spindle   A thrillingly reimagined fairy tale from the truly magical combination of author Neil Gaiman and illustrator Chris Riddell – weaving together a sort-of Snow White and an almost Sleeping Beauty with a thread of dark magic, which will hold readers spellbound from start to finish. 

On the eve of her wedding, a young queen sets out to rescue a princess from an enchantment. She casts aside her fine wedding clothes, takes her chain mail and her sword and follows her brave dwarf retainers into the tunnels under the mountain towards the sleeping kingdom. This queen will decide her own future – and the princess who needs rescuing is not quite what she seems. Twisting together the familiar and the new, this perfectly delicious, captivating and darkly funny tale shows its creators at the peak of their talents.

Lavishly produced, packed with glorious Chris Riddell illustrations enhanced with metallic ink, this is a spectacular and magical gift.

Event News: Festival of Romantic Fiction 2014

11 Sep

festival romanceThe Festival of Romantic Fiction is taking place this weekend in Leighton Buzzard! There are lots of fabulous events happening, full details of which can be found on the Festival website.

I really wish I could go to the festival – not least because I’m nominated for the Romance Blogger of the Year Award (squeeee!!) but it’s  my son’s 6th birthday party on Saturday so I can’t miss that but I will be there in spirit and wish all of the wonderful nominees the very best of luck.

Highlights of the festival include:

Friday 12th September:

7.30pm until 9pm Girls Night In with romantic fiction authors Rowan Coleman, Jane Lovering, Mandy Baggot and Jill Steeples. Leighton Buzzard Library.  Tickets: £3.50 available from Leighton Buzzard Library or Theatre Box Office.

Saturday 13th September:

10am to 3pm Book Fair. Leighton Buzzard High Street
Unique one off book fair with chance to meet the authors and get signed books. 17 stalls

2.30pm to 3.30pm Afternoon Tea with Fiona Harper, Tracy Bloom, Liz Fenwick and Carmel Harrington. With special guest Katie Fforde. Leighton Buzzard Theatre. Tickets: £3.50 available from Theatre Box Office.

4pm to 5.30pm pm Traditional Afternoon Tea The Green House, Market Square, Leighton Buzzard
with special author guests Christina Courtenay, Jan Jones, Sue Moorcroft, Terri Nixon, Laura Purcell and Talli Roland.  Tickets: £9 to include tea/coffee and cake, available online.

8pm to 10.30pm Romance Reader Awards 2014 LIVE. Leighton Buzzard Theatre
Including presentation of the Reader Awards for best romantic books of the year. With special guests from The Leanne Hughes Theatre School. Tickets £15 include canape reception and are available from Theatre Box Office.

The full awards shortlist is:

Best Romantic Read (Sponsored by Headline Eternal)

Two Weddings and a Baby by Scarlett Bailey (Ebury)

The Memory Book by Rowan Coleman (Ebury)

The Cornish Stranger by Liz Fenwick (Orion)

After The Honeymoon by Janey Fraser (Arrow)

The Unpredictable Consequences of Love by Jill Mansell (Headline Review)

One Hundred Proposals by Holly Martin (Carina)

The Wedding Proposal by Sue Moorcroft (Choc Lit)

The Proposal by Tasmina Perry (Headline Review)

One Step Closer to You by Alice Peterson (Quercus)


Best Historical Read

The Downstairs Maid by Rosie Clarke (Ebury)

Monsoon Mists by Christina Courtenay (Choc Lit)

The Maid of Milan by Beverley Eikili (Choc Lit)

The Dress Thief by Natalie Meg Evans (Quercus)

Crosscurrents by Jane Jackson (Accent Press)

Home For Christmas by Lizzie Lane (Ebury)

A Rose in Flanders Fields by Terri Nixon (Carina)

Queen of Bedlam by Laura Purcell (Myrmidon)


Best Short Romance

Don’t Tell Penny by Anna Bell (Quercus)

Taming Her Italian Boss by Fiona Harper (Mills and Boon Cherish)

A Western Heart by Liz Harris (Choc Lit Lite)

Just You by Jane Lark (Harper Impulse)

The Right Side of Mr Wrong by Jane Linfoot (Harper Impulse)

Grand Designs by Linda Mitchelmore (Choc Lit Lite)

The Bookshop on the Corner by Rebecca Raisin (Carina)


Best E-Book

The Second Time I Saw You by Pippa Croft (Penguin)

The Wedding Cake Tree by Melanie Hudson (Choc Lit)

Summer at Castle Stone by Lynn-Marie Hulsmann (Harper Impulse)

Dear Lizzie by Annie Lyons (Carina)

The Guestbook by Holly Martin (Carina)

Room For Love by Sophie Pembroke (Carina)

The Oyster Catcher by Jo Thomas (Headline)

Doubting Abbey by Samantha Tonge (Carina)


Best Author Published

Mary Bennet by Kate Allan

Sweet Occasions by Linn B Halton

Drumbeats by Julia Ibbotson

Fairlights by Jan Jones

Christmas Yves by Nicola May

A Change of Heart by Adrienne Vaughan


New Talent Award Shortlist

An Infamous Seduction by Glenda Cooper

Country Strife by Debbie Fuller-White

Fancy Cakes and Skinny Lattes by Melanie Griffiths

For One Last Time by Louise Hall

The Gossamer Trail by Brenda Hawkey

Who Does He Think He Is? by Emily Kerr

Hats Off To Love by Susan Jones

Meeting Halfway by Mairibeth MacMillan

The Perfect Blend by Catherine Meadows

True Colours by Caroline Rayner

Maggie’s Child by Glynis Smy

Industry Awards Shortlists

The Festival of Romantic Fiction also recognises innovation from within the industry and presents an award to blogger of the year.

 Innovation in Romantic Fiction – Publisher

Accent Amour – new commercial imprint from independent publisher Accent Press investing in backlists as well as new authors

Carina UK – celebrating it’s first birthday in 2014, Carina digitally publishes over 75 authors from around the world and has been exceptionally successful in the ebook charts

Mills and Boon – launching a brand new reader-centred website including an interactive story world The Chatsfield that blends fiction and reality

Simon and Schuster – continuing development of their Books in the City website, a popular hub for readers to connect with authors

 Innovation in Romantic Fiction – Author

Jenny Barden – for championing the whole genre with innovation in events for the Historical Novels Society and Romantic Novelists Association

Rowan Coleman – after writing Dearest Rose, Rowan was inspired to raise money for women suffering from domestic abuse by writing Woman Walks into a Bar and donating the royalties to Refuge

Nadine Dorries – for shining light on the romantic saga by topping the bestseller charts with her debut novel The Four Streets

BelindaJones – for connecting with readers with an engaging theme across her website and social media including the Belinda Jones Travel Club on Facebook and website

Holly Martin – for her debut novel The Guestbook which uniquely tells the story through guest comments left in a leather-bound guestbook

Romance Blogger of the Year 




Giveaway winner! Quarter Past Two On A Wednesday Afternoon

8 Sep

Quarter Past Two on a Wednesday Afternoon

The winner is …


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

Book review: Roomies by Sara Zarr And Tara Altebrando

7 Sep

ROOMIESWhen Elizabeth receives her first-year roommate assignment at the beginning of summer, she shoots off an email to coordinate the basics: TV, microwave, mini-fridge. She can’t wait to escape her New Jersey beach town – and her mum – and start life afresh in California.

 That first note to Lauren in San Francisco comes as a surprise; she had requested a single. But if Lauren’s learned anything from being the oldest of six, it’s that you don’t always get what you want, especially when what you want is privacy.

 Soon the girls are emailing back and forth, sharing secrets even though they’ve never met. With family relationships and childhood friendships strained by change, it suddenly seems that the only people Elizabeth and Lauren can rely on are the complicated new boys in their lives … and each other.

Roomies is a brilliant book, perfectly capturing that awkward time before going off to university/college and when you’re waiting for a major life change. I think this novel will appeal to a lot of readers as it’s not just about meeting your room mate for the first time but about growing up, gaining independence and leaving home for the first time; topics we can all relate to at different stages.

The story is told over a single summer as Lauren and Elizabeth (known as EB) get their college room mate allocations and make first contact. I found it fascinating and brilliantly realistic how the two girls reacted to each other over email and what it said about their characters. Elizabeth is an only child and lives with her Mum in New Jersey. Lauren is the complete opposite in terms of family set up and lives in San Franciso with her large family and very lovely mum and dad.

As the girls clearly illustrate, there are pros and cons to both set ups and I thought their attempts not to judge each other were brilliant. Interestingly, we are also privy to their own thoughts in sections written in first person narrative so can clearly see what has been filtered! I enjoyed the way this gave a rounded perspective on the dramas of both their lives, really showing their hopes and fears about the future and starting college.

I thought both girls were great characters but found myself slightly more drawn to Lauren, perhaps because her family set up was more similar to my own? Lauren’s parents are brilliant characters and now top my list of fab fictional mums and dads. There was one scene between Lauren and her Dad that actually made me well up and I loved that they were so realistically written.

There’s plenty to hold readers’ attention in Roomies with sub plots about parents, work and boyfriends and some great twists that kept me engaged. The book has a great romance element as each girl meets someone she cares for at seemingly the wrong time. I could easily have carried on reading about Lauren and EB and would I’d love a follow up to see what happened next!

One for fans of Keris Stainton, Rainbow Rowell and Jennifer E Smith, Roomies is funny, insightful and heartwarming making a clear point that whether you are moving across the country or just down the road, single or coupled up, from a close family or not; change is stressful and its ok to panic a bit! A lovely coming of age novel and I look forward to reading more from these authors.


Roomies is out now in paperback and ebook formats.

I’d like to thank the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel via Bookbridgr.

Find out more about Sara Zarr and her writing at:

Find out more about Tara Altebrando and her novels at:




Giveaway winners! With A Friend Like You by Fanny Blake

7 Sep

friend like you large


The winners are …

Carly, Kim Feasey and Lauren Pike

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