Archive | May, 2016

Book review: Last Dance in Havanna by Rosanna Ley

29 May

havanaCuba, 1958. Elisa is only sixteen years old when she meets Duardo and she knows he’s the love of her life from the moment they first dance the rumba together in downtown Havana. But Duardo is a rebel, determined to fight in Castro’s army, and Elisa is forced to leave behind her homeland and rebuild her life in distant England. But how can she stop longing for the warmth of Havana, when the music of the rumba still calls to her?

England, 2012. Grace has a troubled relationship with her father, whom she blames for her beloved mother’s untimely death. And this year more than ever she could do with a shoulderto cry on – Grace’s career is in flux, she isn’t sure she wants the baby her husband is so desperate to have and, worst of all, she’s begun to develop feelings for their best friend Theo. Theo is a Cuban born magician but even he can’t make Grace’s problems disappear. Is the passion Grace feels for Theo enough to risk her family’s happiness?

Last Dance in Havana is Rosanna Ley’s fifth novel and is another captivating read. Rosanna always includes an exotic location in her novels and this book set in Cuba and Bristol is my favourite of Rosanna’s books to date. I loved the way Rosanna captured the sights and sounds of Cuba, particularly the food and dances and I really did fell like I was there with the characters as I read. I also enjoyed the Bristol setting and hadn’t realised the links between the two places. It was nice to read about a different English city outside of London.

The story has a number of threads that weave together to create a novel that I found hard to put down. From a beautiful described prologue that describes the passion of a Cuban dance in wonderful detail, the story moves back and forth between Cuba and England, past and present to construct a complex story of love, passion and heartache.

Beginning in Cuba in 1957 we meet Elisa who is only sixteen at the time. A passionate encounter with the fiery Duardo sets her on course to fall in love deeply. As the story jumps to Bristol in 2012 we find Elisa happily settled in England and immediately the questions begin to form. How did Elisa come to be so far from home? What happened to her and Duardo?

A further set of mysteries and questions develop when we meet Grace. Grace lives in Bristol and is good friends with Elisa. There relationship is a complex one as is Grace’s relationship with her father, against the background of her Mum’s untimely death. We immediately question what happened to Grace’s Mum and why is her relationship with her father so difficult.

The links between the characters are strong and I felt like the main characters in Bristol were a community. Elisa runs a Spanish group and Grace often attends. There’s a further link to Cuba with magician Theo who was born in the country. Theo is best friends with Grace and her husband Robbie and this adds a further dimension of complication to the plot as Grace and Theo’s bond strengthens against a backdrop of tension in Grace and Robbie’s relationship.

This novel explores themes of family, identity, love and ‘home’ beautifully and I was swept along by a plot that I couldn’t predict. I enjoyed Rosanna’s examination of the pressure Grace feels to start a family and of the notion of true and enduring love. Elisa and Duardo’s story made my heart ache and Grace’s storyline with her father was particularly poignant.

Last Dance in Havana is a great read for any time of the year but I’d particularly recommend it as a summer read to transport you to another time and place and keep you gripped with a strong plot and interesting and complex characters.


Last Dance in Havana is out now in paperback and ebook formats from Quercus.

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

Find out more about Rosanna Ley and her writing at:


Book review: Dear Fang, With Love by Rufi Thorpe

25 May

dear fangDear Fang, With Love tells the story of seventeen-year-old Vera – ravishing, troubled, wildly intelligent – who travels to Europe with her estranged father, hoping that an immersion in history might help them forget his past mistakes and her uncertain future.

Lucas and Katya were boarding school seniors when, blindingly in love, they decided to have a baby. Seventeen years later, after a decade of absence, Lucas is a weekend dad, newly involved in his daughter Vera’s life. But after Vera suffers a terrifying psychotic break at a high school party, Lucas takes her to Lithuania, his grandmother’s homeland, for the summer. Here, in the city of Vilnius, Lucas hopes to save Vera from the sorrow of her diagnosis. As he uncovers a secret about his grandmother, a Home Army rebel who escaped Stutthof, Vera searches for answers of her own. Why did Lucas abandon her as a baby? What really happened the night of her breakdown? And who can she trust with the truth? Skillfully weaving family mythology and Lithuanian history with a story of mental illness, inheritance, young love, and adventure, Rufi Thorpe has written a breathtakingly intelligent, emotionally enthralling book.

Dear Fang. With Love is a complex and beautifully written story of a young girl trying to make sense of the world around her whilst dealing with a myriad of issues that range from her own mental health, her difficult relationship with her Dad, her complex family history and whether or not her boyfriend is staying faithful to her whilst she is out of the country!

The letters that Vera writes to her boyfriend Fang while she is away from him give a startling insight into Vera’s thoughts and feelings and I couldn’t help but hope for a happy ending for her as I read. Vera comes across as incredibly intelligent but also very insecure and struggling to make sense of her upbringing, her parents’ relationship and her own health. Her thoughts and analysis made my head spin at times; Vera is one of the most complex characters that I’ve read in recent years and I won’t forget her easily.

This is a novel that isn’t afraid to look at hard hitting issues head on and covers mental health, rape and the holocaust in its pages but despite dark moments and topics that can’t help but bring up complex emotions, there are also lighter moments and I found Vera’s ability to tell it like it is both refreshing and funny at times.

Dear Fang, With Love is undoubtedly Vera’s story but it is also the story of her father Lucas and his were my favourite parts of the book. I enjoyed Lucas’s narrative and perspective and it was lovely to read from the point of view of a father for a change; particularly one who is trying so hard to do the best for his daughter. Lucas’s own family history is the reason he takes Lithuania for a holiday – he wants to discover the truth about his grandmother and I enjoyed how his family stories and history were woven into the plot.

Having studied history myself, the details of Lithuanian history captured my attention and  I enjoyed reading about a place that I knew little about. As Vera and her parents begin to face sometimes uncomfortable truths, I was completely drawn into their story. Dear Fang, With Love would make an excellent choice for book groups to read as there are so many strong themes to debate.


Dear Fang, With Love is released in trade paperback and ebook formats on 2nd June.

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

Find out more about Rufie Thorpe and her writing at:

Book review: Remember My Name by Abbey Clancy

24 May

REMEMBER MY NAMEFrom the moment Liverpool teenager Jess stars in the school musical, she knows that she’s GOT to be a star. Fast forward a few years and the closest the now 22 year old Jessica has got to stardom is as a children’s entertainer – which is where she meets Jack , uncle to the spoiled 5 year old birthday princess who spots Jessica’s talent and offers her a job with a record label. But that means that she’ll have to leave her family and her home and move to London – where she quickly finds that the streets aren’t quite paved with gold. And as she spends her days making tea for bitchy PR girls and her night in a mouldy studio flat, Jessica wonders if leaving Liverpool for London has been a terrible mistake.

Attending an industry party – unfortunately only to serve canapes – Jessica’s fortunes suddenly change when Vogue, the singer due to perform at the event drops out. Before she knows it, Jessica volunteers to stand in and takes centre stage. After a dazzling performance, she is surrounded by people wondering who this amazing new talent is. What’s more, her star turn has been captured by the press and she has become an overnight sensation.

Plunged into the crazy world of glitz and glamour, Jessica’s life is transformed but as her star rises, she loses touch with her roots. Jessica’s teenage dreams of stardom may have come true, but at what cost?

I had so much fun reading Abbey Clancy’s debut novel – it’s a must read for fans of shows like The X Factor and readers who love celebrity gossip! Remember My Name is a fun and funny modern fairy tale as leading lady Jess sees all her dreams come true when she’s plucked from obscurity by a handsome record producer and offered a job in London working for his record label.

Like a modern day Cinderella, Jess finds herself living in a horrible flat above a kebab shop and the lowest of the low in her new job and her character (and Liverpudlian spirit) is truly tested! This is a very well written and funny book that will draw you in. Abbey has made no secret of the fact that she had a ghost writer help her write the book and that ghost writer is non other than the lovely Debbie Johnson (up and coming author in her own name – do check out her books too!) I loved the way the story set the scene from the start with lots of detail of Jess’s life in Liverpool and her close knit family.

As Jess struggled to settle in London, I was holding my breath for her transformation moment and when it came it was one of my favourite parts of the book; dramatic, humorous and clever – I loved it! Abbey has created some wonderful characters in this story and I especially liked Jess’s fairy god-stylist Neale and boy next door, Daniel – both of whom have more than a few surprises up their sleeves as the story progresses.

As I’ve come to expect from publisher MIRA, Remember My Name also has an excellent romantic thread to the story but it was Jess’s friendship with fellow star, Vogue that was the icing on the cake for me and I thought her sub-story was excellent. Abbey has clearly used her insider knowledge of glamorous events to add little details to the story that make reading it feel like a peek behind the scenes into celebrity life.

Remember My Name is a great book to curl up and escape with and with plenty of glitz and glamour it would make an excellent holiday read this summer!


Remember My Name is out now in hardback and ebook formats.

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

Guest post: Best Friends Forever or Just for Now? By Alison Rattle

19 May

Today I’m delighted to welcome Alison Rattle to One More Page on the latest stop of her V for Violet blog tour. Alison grew up in Liverpool, and now lives in a medieval house in Somerset with her three children, her husband – a carpenter – an extremely naughty Jack Russell and a ghost cat.  She has worked as a fashion designer, a production controller, a painter and decorator, a barmaid, and now owns and runs a travelling vintage tea room. Alison has also published three previous YA books about young Victorian women with Hot Key Books – The Quietness, The Beloved and The Madness. Welcome Alison! 

Alison Rattle photoRemember your best friend from school? Did you promise each other to be friends for always? Is she still your best friend now? Or did you lose touch the minute you walked out of the school gates forever?

Female friendships can be among the most intense relationships of our lives, especially those formed during our school years. Friendships can be made accidentally when you are thrown together by circumstances. I remember Raj who I sat next to in biology classes. We had nothing in common outside of those classes, but for those few hours every week we were the best of mates. She was the clever, good girl of the class and I was the slightly naughty one. But our friendship developed to such a stage that I once persuaded her to let off a stink bomb in the classroom, as we knew for a fact that she would be the one student no teacher would suspect. The plan worked. But to this day I have no idea what Raj did with her life. I don’t even remember her surname. And she probably doesn’t remember the stink bomb.

And then there was Amanda. We moved up to big school at the same time and only lived around the corner from each other. We spent almost every night at each other’s houses and went through puberty together. We compared the sizes of our growing boobs, practised kissing our reflections in a mirror and raided our mum’s supplies of sanitary towels and tampons, fascinated by these objects of womanhood that we didn’t need yet. We started our periods at around the same time and I had never felt closer to anyone. But then Amanda moved schools, her parents choosing to send her to a private school in another town. I never saw her again.

Then along came Pamela. We had seen each other from a distance, across the playground. She was always hanging around with a group of cool girls. I wanted to be like them. I wanted to wear my tie in a tiny knot and roll my skirt up to above my knees. They all had boyfriends too. Older boys who would meet them after school on their motorbikes. They were popular and thrilling and I wanted to be part of their group. When we moved up a year I found myself sitting next to Pamela in our English class. We hit it off immediately. We spent lessons giggling and messing about and thinking of ways to wind up our teachers and skip school. Our cross country runs consisted of Pamela’s boyfriend meeting us around the corner in his car and driving us around the course. He would drop us off twenty minutes later and we would run back into school pretending to be out of breath and always scoring the best times. Outside of school, we rebelled in the only ways we could in our small town. We tried our first illicit drink of alcohol together, snuck into pubs, went to parties, shared clothes and lost our virginities in the same week. We shared all the terrible, dangerous, wonderful things about growing up.

At the heart of my latest book, V for Violet, there is an intense friendship between the main character Violet and her best friend Jackie. All the v for violetway through school they have done everything together. Violet has a photograph album of memories in her head with pictures of all the special times they have shared. From their very first day at school when Violet accidentally wets herself and Jackie gives her her own dry knickers, to the rainy day when they both carve their names under a park slide and promise to be friends forever, Violet experiences the same intense feelings that first love brings. She can’t imagine her life without Jackie. But then school ends and suddenly Jackie has a new life and new friends and Violet is tossed aside, her heart broken.

 I’m happy to say that Pamela never broke my heart. We still keep in touch after all these years and when we do manage to see each other (we live at opposite ends of the country) it’s like no time has passed. We don’t even notice each other’s wrinkles. But I know that’s a rare thing and that I’m very lucky to still have that connection to my youth. Most teenage friendships are, like first love, so intense and all-consuming that they burn themselves out.

Of course, I grew up in the time before Facebook and all those other social media sites, so when you lost touch with someone, you really lost touch. I wonder now if that all makes a difference? Because even if your friendships fade after leaving school you can still keep in touch to a degree by simply finding someone on Facebook. If only I could remember Raj’s surname. I would definitely look her up, if only to reassure myself that the stink bomb incident didn’t completely ruin her life!           

 V for Violet by Alison Rattle is out now in paperback and ebook formats published by Hot Key Books.

Follow Alison at or on Twitter:@alisonrattle


Giveaway winners: The Life of Elves by Muriel Barbery

16 May



The winners are …

Rachel M and Susan C

Congratulations! I have sent you a message. Thanks to everyone who entered.

Book review: Danger Sweetheart by Maryjanice Davidson

12 May

danger sweetheartThis city boy’s about to get a taste of country life . . .

Blake Tarbell has a town to save. Rich, carefree, and used to the Vegas party lifestyle, Blake is thrown for a curve when his former cocktail-waitress mother pleads he go back to her roots to save the town she grew up in. Blake’s used to using money to solve his problems, but when he arrives in Sweetheart, North Dakota, this city boy has to trade in his high-priced shoes for a pair of cowboy boots – and he’s about to get a little help from the loveliest lady in town . . .

Natalie Lane’s got no time for newbies. The prettiest gal to ever put on a pair of work gloves, there’s nothing she can’t do to keep a farm up and running. But when a handsome city-slicker rolls into town with nothing but bad farmer’s instincts and good intentions, Natalie’s heartstrings are pulled. She’s about to teach him a thing or two about how to survive in Sweetheart. And he’s about to teach her a thing or two about love.

Doesn’t the cover of this book just shout ‘summer’. This is a book that is really going to stand out on the shelves! Having had my eye caught by the cover I looked at the author and at first I couldn’t remember why her name was so familiar and then I realised that Maryjanice Davidson is the author of the fabulous and funny ‘Undead’ series – a paranormal/chicklit crossover series I discovered many years ago and absolutely loved – do check it out.

So, back to the book in question; there’s a fab author note at the front of the book from Maryjanice explaining why she’s written this story and how the idea came to her.  Danger, Sweetheart is a story based around romance tropes or stereotypes and pays homage to the genre whilst not being afraid to laugh at it too. I think it’s important to understand the trope theme to enjoy the book properly and Maryjanice has certainly had fun with the tropes in this book.

For me a big part of the enjoyment of reading this book was spotting the tropes and wondering which one will come next. There are twins who of course are opposites,  a rake actually called ‘Rake’, a city boy going to work on a farm (he has no idea!) and much, much more. This is a romance novel that isn’t afraid to laugh at itself or the genre it belong is and the story moves along at a great pace.

Starting with a prologue that sets the tone for the book with lots of quick, witty banter and ‘tell it like it is’ lines, the story swiftly moves to the present where we meet Blake Tarbell and his twin brother Rake. Blake and Rake are absolute opposites intellectually and their banter made me smile but deep down they can’t help love each other. Blake, being the more sensible of the two is the first son his mother calls on in a crisis. This crisis call leads him to Sweetheart, North Dakota. Sweetheart is a town on the out and Blake’s mum want’s him to try to save it but he can’t use his fortune and there lies the test!

Blake’s antics in Sweetheart kept me amused as I read; from falling out of his truck to going to extreme lengths to tame a horse, Maryjanice has much fun with Blake in this book. And then there’s the girl (of course there’s a gir!l). Natalie Lane is the leading lady of this story and I had fun reading as she ad Blake faced off. Maryjanice often includes a character’s inner dialogue alongside their outward one and these little asides made me smile.

Danger Sweetheart is a fun light-hearted summer romance and is the first in a new series.


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

Danger, Sweetheart is out now in paperback and ebook formats.

Find out more about Maryjanice and her writing at:


Book news: Milkshakes and Heartbreaks at the Starlight Diner by Helen Cox

12 May

I absolutely love the sound of this novel set in 1990’s New York. Isn’t the cover fab too?  It’s out on 4th July but you can pre-order the ebook of Milkshakes and Heartbreaks at the Starlight Diner for just 99p at the moment so get clicking! Helen has also released two short stories to introduce the book which are available free – head to Helen’s blog: to read them.



Next time you’re in New York, take a turn off Broadway onto East Houston Street.

There, you’ll see it: The Starlight Diner. A retro eatery curious enough to delight tourists and locals alike. Fifties tunes stream out of the jukebox long into the night, and it serves the tastiest milkshakes in the five boroughs.

Esther Knight waitresses at The Starlight Diner. She’s sharp, sarcastic, and she’s hiding something. Nobody at the diner knows why she left London for New York – or why she repeatedly resists the charms of their newest regular, actor Jack Faber.

Esther is desperate to start a new life in the land of the free, but despite the warm welcome from the close-knit diner crowd, something from her past is holding her back. Can she ever learn to love and live again?

You can follow Helen on Twitter @Helenography

You can also follow the Starlight Diner on Twitter @MilkshakesNYC

Guest post: My top 10 witches and vampires in literature by Marie Anne Cope

6 May

Today I’m delighted to welcome Marie Anne Cope to One More Page to share with us her favourite witches and vampires in literature. Marie lives in Wrexham and is also a yoga teacher. She will be appearing at Wrexham Carnival of Words tomorrow, 7th May. Bonds is Marie Anne Cope’s debut novel, the first of four novels centered around the powerful relationship between Becca Martin and Anthony Cardover. She has also written a short story collection, Tales from a Scarygirl. Welcome Marie Anne!

Marie Anne Cope AuthorWitches and vampires, the subject of my debut novel Bonds, are a constant source of fear, fascination and wonder.

They are elusive, endearing, engaging and enigmatic. But, at the same time, they are also dangerous, destructive, deadly and devious. They seduce you, they draw you in, they overpower you, they take over your mind, they take away your willpower, and you let them.

So, with this in mind, here are a few of my favourite witches and vampires in literature, starting with the spell-casters themselves.

Circe the Greek goddess of magic from the Odyssey by Homer

Some say Circe is the ultimate witch and certainly a sorceress to be reckoned with. She is self-sufficient, sexually alluring and expert in the areas of potions and herbs.

She also wields a wooden staff, which she famously uses to transform whomever she wishes into an animal, usually a pig. This emasculating tendency is rumoured to be payback for a broken heart.

The Weird Sisters from Macbeth by William Shakespeare

‘Double, double, toil and trouble; Fire burn and cauldron bubble’

The eerie repetition of this line, in the opening scene of the Scottish Play, sends a shiver down your spine and is, arguably, the first thing that pops into your head when you think about witches.

Fear them, because if they can convince battle-hardened and ambitious Macbeth to do what they want, think what they could do to you!

The Witches of Oz from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Frank L Baum

Although there are four witches in Baum’s classic story, it is Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, whom everyone remembers.

In contrast to her green skinned, broomstick riding silver screen persona, Baum’s Elphaba (pictured) has a single all-seeing eye, carries an umbrella and makes it her mission to avoid water.

Despite her weakness, she still manages to inspire fear and wreak havoc before her watery demise.

The White Witch, Jadis from The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis

With Jadis, C.S. Lewis takes witches back to their position of villainy.

With her disarming beauty, charm and sorcerous power, she epitomises the terrifying evil witch. Match this with her tendency to turn those who displease her to stone and Jadis stands out in the literary world of witches.

Beware – do not be fooled by a person’s beauty, as it may only be skin deep.

Hermione Grainger from the Harry Potter Series by J. K. Rowling

Last, but by no means least, we come to Hermione Granger, ‘the brightest witch of her time’. With Hermione, Rowling redeemed the witch and erased the negative historical implications and gender bias.

Nothing phases Hermione, except the possibility of getting expelled for breaking the rules. She is courageous, gifted, kind, witty and always prepared.

Now, it is the turn of the enigma that is the vampire.

Lord Ruthven from The Vampyre by John Polidori

The first and, arguably, most influential of modern vampires is Lord Ruthven, the archetype of the ruthless, charismatic and sophisticated vampire. Polidori is said to have based Ruthven on his pale, languid and over-sexed patient, Lord Byron.

Polidori’s creation remains timeless and has spawned countless more, all sired in Ruthven’s image, as is the vampire way.

Varney the Vampire by James Malcolm Rymer

Originally a penny dreadful, totalling over 1,000 pages, Varney the Vampire was the first vampire novel published in the UK.

It is based on the adventures of aristocrat, Sir Frederick Varney, a hapless vampire who is usually exposed as such before he has chance to make his kill.

The tales are cheap, lurid and melodramatic, but the Victorians loved them.

Carmilla by J. Sheridan Le Fanu

Carmilla is said to be the most interesting of all vampires, possessing the ability to shape shift and feed on her victims in her black cat persona.

Although known for the savageness of her attacks, her technique changes when she finds Laura, to one of seduction, as the first ever female vampire falls hopelessly in love.

Dracula by Bram Stoker

With Dracula, Stoker took a ruthless and bloodthirsty historic persona – Vlad the Impaler (pictured) – and incorporated him into a character and a novel whose themes of demonic possession combined, with undertones of sex, blood and death, struck a chord with the Victorians and defined the most influential vampire in popular fiction.

For me though, Dracula is, without compare, THE best love story ever written.

Lestat from The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice

Lestat is a complex character. Whilst endearing and charming, he is selfish and quickly bored. If you spark his interest, you will be spoiled. If you don’t…..

In Interview with a Vampire, he is shown in all his selfish and monstrous glory, yet in The Vampire Lestat, we see a fun loving, altruistic and, in the end, heroic side to him.

Lestat epitomises the alluring yet dangerous dual nature of the vampire.

Thank you Marie Anne – what a fab list!

bondsBonds is out now in paperback and ebook formats.

Half the village of Breccan lies dead – slaughtered. All that stands between Antony Cardover and his freedom is his wife, Isabella, or so he believes. In his wrath at his wife’s adultery, Antony trades his soul for the chance of vengeance. His price? An eternity as a monster – a man bearing a vampire curse. To stop him, the curse must be broken. To break the curse, Isabella and all her descendants must be destroyed. The catch? Only Antony can break the curse.

With Breccan in mourning and Antony on the rampage, only one person can help. Anna Martindale, a witch shunned by the villagers, entombs Antony within a stone sarcophagus, bound by spells and buried in hallowed ground for the rest of time. Breccan breathes again. Time heals. That was four hundred years ago. Seventeenth century spells, however, are no match for twenty first century living. As Ramply Homes moves in, the secret of St Martin’s churchyard prepares to move out.

As the church is desecrated, the spells that hold Antony break. Soon, Becca Martin, a descendant of Isabella, is plagued by dreams of a time and a man she cannot possibly have known. As her nightmares become real, Becca has no choice but to contact the one person who will be able to help; someone she has not spoken to in a decade – her mother. Here, Becca discovers the truth about her ancestry and is forced to face up to whom and what she is. Only a wooden box and her gift hold the key to her survival. Four hundred years ago Antony failed. He will not fail again.

Giveaway! Two copies of The Life of Elves by Muriel Barbery to be won!

3 May



I have a very exciting giveaway for you today! The kind publishers at Gallic books have given me two copies of Muriel Barbery’s new novel, The Life of Elves, (released today!) to be won by lucky readers.

This is such a beautiful book and a magical story. Full details of how to enter are at the end of this post.



The highly anticipated new novel from the acclaimed author of The Elegance of the Hedgehog.

The villagers had never seen anything like it: dense white curtains of snow that instantly transformed the landscape. Not in autumn, not here in Burgundy. And on the same night a baby was discovered, dark-eyed little Maria, who would transform all their lives.

Hundreds of miles away in the mountains of Abruzzo, another foundling, Clara, astonishes everyone with her extraordinary talent for piano-playing. But her gifts go far beyond simple musicianship. As a time of great danger looms, though the girls know nothing of each other, it is the bond that unites them and others like them, which will ultimately offer the only chance for good to prevail in the world.

To enter this giveaway just leave comment in the box below or re-Tweet one of my tweets with the link to this post and I’ll pick  two winners using after the closing date.

This giveaway is open to UK residents only and will close at midnight on Sunday 8th May

Good Luck!