Archive | July, 2016

Author interview: Beatriz Williams

28 Jul

Today I’m delighted to be heading back to Jazz Age New York with Beatriz Williams on the latest stop on her blog tour for her new novel, A Certain Age. A graduate of Stanford University with an MBA from Columbia, Beatriz spent several years in New York and London hiding her early attempts at fiction, first on company laptops as a corporate and communications strategy consultant, and then as an at-home producer of small persons. She now lives with her husband and four children near the Connecticut shore, where she divides her time between writing and laundry. Welcome Beatriz!

Beatriz Williams author photo_credit Marilyn Roos

Photo credit Marilyn Roos

The 1920s is one of my favourite periods of history and I love the glamour and glitz associated with this period in New York; what drew you to write about this particular time and place in A Certain Age?

I think I’ve always wanted to set a book in this era; my other novels have referenced the 1920s, but I wanted to find just the right idea to tell the story of this extraordinary decade. So much change was taking place—in art, in society, in science and technology, in transportation and media and relations between genders and races—and layered on top of all of that you have the rise of youth culture, which still dominates our lives today in so many ways. So it’s ripe as a setting, because narratives thrives on conflict, and when I thought about Richard Strauss’s opera Der Rosenkavalier, which features an aristocrat and her young lover, and the ingénue who steals his affections, I thought how well that story and those themes translate into the zeitgeist of the Jazz Age.

How did you go about your research for the book and did anything that you found surprise you?

I tend to focus on primary sources – books and materials that were written around the time in which I’m writing. So I read some Fitzgerald and Hemingway and others, and watched old movies and listened to old recordings, and I stumbled across this wonderful book called Only Yesterday, which is an account of the 1920s written in 1931. I thought it would be deadly boring and focused on all the usual historical facts in a dry, passive voice, but instead it was an incredibly engaging reflection on all the social changes taking place. The author spoke of how sex had taken over as a topic of conversation, and how women had entered the workforce with such determination that those who didn’t work found themselves having to defend that choice. So it really illuminated the vast social revolution that took place in the years after the First World War, which we tend to forget. The Sixties were only picking up where the Twenties left off!

If you could spend a day as one of your characters from A Certain Age who would you choose and what would you do?

Oh gosh! That’s a difficult question. My first instinct is to say Theresa Marshall, because she’s such a vibrant character, but she’s led such a terribly lonely, grief-stricken life and I don’t know whether I’d enjoy being in her skin. So I might choose Octavian instead and go flying over Manhattan in an airplane, or else visit Belmont Park and watch Man o’War race!

The book is set during the Jazz Age – which music or pieces would be on the soundtrack for A Certain Age?

Well, as I learned in my research, so many of the familiar jazz standards were actually composed after the years in which the book was set! But I did put together a playlist for my publisher, to which you can now listen on Spotify. Just click here.

Which classic novels or factual accounts would you recommend to readers interested in this period?

Definitely Only Yesterday by Frederick Lewis Allen for a factual account. Most people have read The Great Gatsby, but Fitzgerald’s This Side of Paradise also gives you a wonderful picture of young people in the years before and after the First World War. And there have been a number of nonfiction books written about the period recently, including Bill Bryson’s 1927 and David Pietrusza’s 1920.

What are the books that inspired your love of stories and reading?  A certain age final

When I was a child, I loved the Little House on the Prairie and Anne of Green Gables books, and I think the way girls took centre stage and did fearless, remarkable things has always informed my creation of strong female characters at the heart of my books. In terms of adult fiction, the list is long and runs from Trollope (whose creation of a fictional universe, populated by characters who appear in other books, inspired the way I built my own world) and Patrick O’Brian (who had an amazing ability to effortlessly immerse the reader in a historical setting) to Vera Brittain.

And finally … what can we expect next from Beatriz Williams

My next book, The Wicked City, comes out in January, and it’s about a straight-arrow Prohibition agent who recruits a flapper to help him break a New York City bootlegging ring with roots in Appalachia. And then I pick up the story of Virginia, Sophie’s sister in A Certain Age, who’s run down to Florida at the end of the book in order to find her missing husband. So I’ll be living and breathing the 1920s for a few more books to come!

Thank you Beatriz – I’m already looking forward to The Wicked City.

A Certain Age is out now in paperback, ebook and audio formats.

Giveaway winners: The Wildings by Nilanjana Roy

27 Jul

the wildings


The winners are …

Aditi and Graham Stevens

Congratulations! I have sent you a message. Thanks to everyone who entered – look out for more fab giveaways coming soon!

Book review: Dreamday Pattern Journals – Kyoto and Marrakesh by Laurence King Publishing

26 Jul

Something new on the blog today; my first notebooks/journals reviews! As many of my fellow bloggers will no doubt testify, a love of books and blogging often comes with a love of beautiful notebooks and stationery. I for one get very excited about diaries, journals, calenders and all sorts of pretty paper-based products that just make life althogether more lovely!

Dreamday pattern journals

I recently added colouring books to the list too and have discovered a new love for sitting down with my pencils and spending a blissful hour (if I’m really lucky) colouring and listening to an audiobook! It’s such a perfect escape and if you haven’t tried it you really should. And this is where my review for today comes in. The Dreamday Pattern Journals by Laurence King are gorgeous, top quality notebooks and colouring books in one perfectly pretty package. Both practical and indulgent, these journals are a grown up treat to be treasured and I love how they inspired my creativity.

6 pattern

Each notebook contains over 100 pages of uncoated ivory paper intertwined with intricately patterned colouring pages, each inspired by an iconic design location. Laurence King has released six journals in the series so far;  Mid-Century Modern – Scandinavian Design, Art Deco – Manhattan, Heraldic – Paris, Renaissance – Florence and two new journals released last week Marrakech – Moroccan Style and Kyoto – Japanese Style. I was lucky enough to recieve copies of Marrakech and Kyoto and have been happily colouring the beautiful patterns in both – you can see some of my efforts in the images on this post.


The Kyoto notebook has a lovely cherry-blossom pink cover and classic Japanese leaf-and-wave colouring designs. I love both journals but the Marrakesh-style is, I will admit, my favourite – the blues of the cover colours and mosaic pattern is so eye-catching and features all of my favourite colours. The geometrc patterns inside really appealed to me too. I recently completed a mindfulness course and it made me very conscious of the importance of taking time out to switch focus and appreciate the little things. Being creative and getting back to basics with paper and pencils is just one of the ways I’ve been switiching off and relaxing and I can’t recommend it highly enough for the way that it has helped me cope with some of life’s stresses!


The combiation of a place for thoughts and notes together with doodles and designs makes these journals a winner for me. I’ll definitely be buying more as gifts and will look forward to adding to my collection soon!


Kyoto and Marrakesh Dreamday Pattern Journals are out now from Laurence King publishing.

I’d like to thank the publisher for providing review copies of these journals.

Audio book news: Audible launches new sharing tool ‘Clips’

24 Jul

audibleI do love my audio books and now Audible has launched an exciting new service that lets listeners share their favourite audio quotes with others.

The digital feature in the Audible app, enables listeners to easily select, save and share bite sized audio snippets from their favourite passages with family and friends.

To celebrate the launch of this new social sharing tool, Audible have released audio clips of some of the most inspirational quotes from literature. The clips, narrated by some of the world’s best storytellers and most famous voices, were taken from its library of over 200,000 titles and Audible hopes to encourage listeners to share the passages they find most inspirational.

“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

Lewis Carroll, Alice Through The Looking Glass, narrated by Miriam Margolyes

“If you retain nothing else, always remember the most important rule of beauty,

which is: who cares?”

Tina Fey, Bossypants

Not all those who wander are lost”

J.R.R. Tolkein’s The Lord of the Rings, narrated by Robert Inglis.

Don Katz, founder and CEO of Audible said:

“Audible customers are book lovers whose print books are likely to be full of their own annotations and underlines. Listeners also love talking about books, authors, and narrators they are passionate about, and clips makes it easier for our customers to start meaningful conversations with their friends and family directly from their audiobook whenever inspiration strikes! We are also excited to launch this new, easy-to-use tool that authors and narrators can use to raise awareness of their audiobooks.”

Clips will allow audio to be shared across multiple destinations including Facebook, Twitter, SMS, e-mail, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp. It will be available in iOS, Windows, and Android in the UK.

I’ve already had a lot of fun with this and will leave you with a very well known clip from one of my favourite novels: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, narrated by Rosamund Pike

Giveaway winner! Who’s Afraid? Goody bag

23 Jul



The winner is …


Congratulations! I have sent you a message. Thanks to everyone who entered – look out for more fab giveaways coming soon!

Serial spotlight: Sunshine and Secrets: Willow Cottage Part One by Bella Osborne

17 Jul

It’s the final stop of the Willow Cottage blog tour today and I’m reviewing part one of the book which has just been released as part of my serial spotlight. Author Bella Osborne has been jotting down stories as far back as she can remember but decided that 2013 would be the year that she finished a full length novel. In 2016, her debut novel,  It Started At Sunset Cottage, was shortlisted for the Contemporary Romantic Novel of the Year and RNA Joan Hessayon New Writers Award. Bella’s stories are about friendship, love and coping with what life throws at you. She likes to find the humour in the darker moments of life and weaves these into her stories. For more about Bella, visit her website at or follow her on Twitter – @osborne_bella

willow cottageBeth is running away. With her young son Leo to protect, Willow Cottage is the lifeline she so desperately needs. Overlooking the village green in a beautiful Cotswolds idyll, Beth sees a safe place for little Leo.

When she finally uncovers the cottage from underneath the boughs of a weeping willow tree, Beth realises this is far more of a project than she bargained for and the locals are more than a little eccentric! A chance encounter with gruff Jack, who appears to be the only male in the village under thirty, leaves the two of them at odds but it’s not long before Beth realises that Jack has hidden talents that could help her repair more than just Willow Cottage.

Over the course of four seasons, Beth realises that broken hearts can be mended, and sometimes love can be right under your nose…

I’m a big fan of serialised novels and when I saw that Bella Osborne was adding her name to the fab list of authors that have written serials recently, I was very excited. If you’re a fan of Cathy Bramley, Cressida McLaughlin and Rachael Lucas then you should definitely give Willow Cottage a try.

The story focuses on Beth and her six year old son Leo. Beth is trying to escape and wins the bidding for the idyllic-sounding Willow Cottage in a Cotswolds village. As might be expected when bidding on a house that she hasn’t seen, the reality is very different to the dream country escape that Beth had imagined. Beth is very much the city girl as she arrives at the cottage and quite a demanding city girl at that! If I’m honest, I wasn’t too sure about the emphasis that her character puts on the wonders of her London life where everything is available but it did serve to make a strong contrast to village life!

Beth won me over with her relationship with little Leo and she clearly wants to make the best life for her son. I also liked the way that she got on and made the best of the situation – her stubbornness and determination to sound like she knows what she’s talking about lead to some very funny moments and part one of Willow Cottage strikes a good balance between humour and the more serious side of the story. There are lots of questions raised which definitely make me want to read the next part of this book.

There’s also an interesting second thread to the story featuring Beth’s best friend Carly and her relationship with her boyfriend. It was very refreshing to have a deaf character in a romantic lead role and I thought this aspect of the story was very well done – although I didn’t think Carly’s treatment of him was particularly nice! It will be interesting to see how that works out as the series progresses!

I’m much more hopeful for Beth’s relationships in the village as there are some fab characters with a lot more story to tell and I’m hoping for a little romance maybe with Jack!

A good start to a new ‘seasonal’ series and I’m already looking forward to the Christmassy episode which will be released in October!


Sunshine and Secrets: Willow Cottage Part One is out now in ebook formats.

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


Guest post: The appeal of seaside locations by Lisa Jewell

16 Jul

Today I’m delighted to welcome Lisa Jewell to One More Page to talk about the coastal setting for her new novel, I Found You and why seaside locations appeal so much. I’ve been a huge fan of Lisa’s books for many years so it’s a real treat to have her visiting the blog today.

Lisa had always planned to write her first book when she was fifty. In fact, she wrote it when she was twenty-seven and had just been made redundant from her job as a secretary. Inspired by Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity, a book about young people just like her who lived in London, she wrote the first three chapters of what was to become her first novel, Ralph’s Party. It went on to become the bestselling debut novel of 1998. Thirteen bestselling novels later, she lives in London with her husband and their two daughters. Lisa writes every day in a local cafe where she can drink coffee, people-watch, and, without access to the internet, actually get some work done. Welcome Lisa!

Lisa+Jewell (3)Considering I’m known primarily as a ‘London’ writer, I’ve used a fair few seaside settings. I chose Broadstairs in Kent as Bee Bearhorn’s secret hideout in One Hit Wonder without ever having visited the place. By the time I wrote the Truth About Melody Browne, two of my old London friends were living in Broadstairs and I was pretty familiar with the town so it seemed natural to choose it as the setting for Melody’s forgotten childhood. Ralph goes to visit Smith in LA in After the Party and again, I chose a seaside setting for those scenes. In Before I Met You, Betty moved to Arlette’s clifftop house on Guernsey, overlooking the English Channel, and Adrian’s first wife, Susie, from The Third Wife lives in a cottage in Hove. So clearly I have a penchant for writing about coastal locations, and when I started thinking about I Found You and realised that my main character is found sitting on a beach I did actually think to myself; really? Can I really write another seaside-set book?

And that was when I remembered a town I’d visited briefly on a coastal road trip many years ago; Robin Hood’s Bay in East Yorkshire, a higgledy-piggledy town of tiny ancient cottages, spilling down into the mouth of a sparkling bay. It occurred to me that I’d never set a book in the north of England and that really, it was about time! I couldn’t organise a research trip to Robin Hood’s Bay so I decided to create my own fictional bay. I christened it Riding House Bay and I could see it clearly in my mind’s eye.

Alice’s cottage came first. She’d moved north from Brixton six years earlier, escaping a toxic relationship. She arrived in a hurry and put her Riding House Baymoney down fast and I envisaged the cottage, small and impractical, ceilings too low, cramped rooms, but with this extraordinary view across the sea, the multi-coloured fairly lights slung across the promenade, the ornate Victorian streetlights outside. I had a very strong physical feeling writing about this location; I could smell the salt and the brine, feel my feet slipping against the slimy causeway, hear the pump organ music coming up the coast from the steam fair. As in my last novel, The Girls, where the communal garden was a central character in the story, so too was my little fictional seaside town. We see the town in two time frames; during the height of summer in the flashbacks and then during a cold and windy April in the present day. I loved writing about the contrasts between a small town like that when it is awake and when it is asleep.

I’m writing my fifteenth novel now. So far it is all set in London. But I’ve already managed to send two of my characters on a day trip to Deal in Kent, and now another pair of characters are set to move to rural Ireland. I feel pretty certain that when I start to write those scenes I might just find myself in another fictional seaside town. The lure of the ocean is just too strong, even for a city girl like me.

Thank you for a lovely post Lisa. I grew up not far from Robin Hood’s Bay and now live in London so really miss the seaside. I’m a big fan of visiting coastal locations in the books I read!

I Found You is out now in hardback, ebook and audio formats.

i found you‘How long have you been sitting out here?’

‘I got here yesterday.’

‘Where did you come from?’

‘I have no idea.’

East Yorkshire: Single mum Alice Lake finds a man on the beach outside her house. He has no name, no jacket, no idea what he is doing there. Against her better judgement she invites him in to her home.

Surrey: Twenty-one-year-old Lily Monrose has only been married for three weeks. When her new husband fails to come home from work one night she is left stranded in a new country where she knows no one. Then the police tell her that her husband never existed.

Giveaway! Two copies of The Wildings by Nilanjana Roy to be won!

14 Jul

The Wildings by Nilanjana Roy is out today and to celebrate, publisher Pushkin Press has given me two copies to giveaway to lucky readers!

Author Nilanjana Roy spent most of her adult life writing about humans before realizing that animals were much more fun. The Wildings, her first novel, won the Shakti Bhatt First Book Award and was Shortlisted for the Commonwealth First Book Award and the Tata Literature First Book Award. She lives in Delhi with two cats (one of which is called Mara) and her husband. The story of The Wildings will be continued in The Hundred Names of Darkness.

the wildings

A small band of cats lives in the labyrinthine alleys and ruins of the Nizamuddin quarter in Delhi. Unfettered and wild, the tribe fear no one, go where they will, and do as they please. Until, one day, a terrified orange-coloured kitten with monsoon green eyes and remarkable powers lands in their midst, setting off a series of extraordinary events that will change their world for ever.

Prowling, hunting and fighting amidst the crumbling ruins of one of Delhi’s oldest neighbourhoods, are the proud Wildings. These feral cats fear no one, go where they want and do as they please. Battle-scarred tomcats, fierce warrior queens, the Wildings have ruled over Nizamuddin for centuries.

Now there is a new addition to the clan – a pampered housecat with strange powers that could turn their world on its head. And something is stirring in the old Shuttered House – something dark and cruel and dangerous. As a terrifying new enemy emerges from the shadows, the Wildings will need all the allies they can get, as they fight for Nizamuddin, and their lives.

To enter this giveaway just leave comment in the box below or re-Tweet one of my tweets with the link to this post or like one of my posts about this giveaway on my Instagram page. I’ll pick three winners using after the closing date.

This giveaway is open to UK residents only and will close at midnight on Monday 18th July. Good Luck!

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

13 Jul

Join me today as I stop off at the Starlight Diner in New York as part of Helen Cox’s blog tour for her debut novel, Milkshakes and Heartbreaks at the Starlight Diner. Read on for my review and a little taste of the book!

milkshakes and heartbreaksEsther Knight is sharp, sarcastic – and hiding something. She waitresses at The Starlight Diner: a retroeatery where Fifties tunes stream out of the jukebox long into the night, and the tastiest milkshakes in New York are served.

Nobody at the diner knows why Esther left London for America – 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?

As soon as I saw the cover for this book, I knew I needed to read it. I love retro diners and New York so Helen Cox hit upon a pretty much irresistible combination for me! Helen and HarperCollins also put together a brilliant pre-launch campaign for this book with three free short stories, a spotify playlist that I’ve had on repeat and a whole host of extras over on Helen’s website:

The novel has many of the aspects that I’d expected when I chose it to read; there’s delicious sounding food, quirky regulars, wise New York waitresses, a fabulous 50s retro diner and even a retro hop! But the story also has a side that I didn’t expect and set against the brightness of the Starlight Diner, Esther’s history and the secret that she’s hiding are a stark and shocking contrast.

This is a novel of light and dark and I thought it had a brilliant and hopeful message for it’s readers. As Esther meets actor Jack, the possibility of romance and a new start really begin to open up for her but she has to come to terms with her past before she can move on. Secrets are a key theme of the book and Esther isn’t the only one with a past that they’d like to forget about. As the story developed I was reading as fast as I could to find out what had happened to Esther and Jack and how they would both move on.

The diner itself is a brilliant character in the book and I loved the cast of characters that Helen brought together there. My personal favourites were Mona and her husband Alan. Mona is a proper New York waitress as I imagine them to be; full of gossip, quick to laugh and even quicker to know what’s going on but full of wise advice too – in my head she looks like the waitress that advises Frenchy in the Grease movie! Alan, Mona’s husband is a New York cop with a heart of gold and I loved the scenes set at their apartment which has a wonderful sense of family.

Milkshakes and Heartbreaks at the Starlight Diner is just the first in a series of books based around the diner. Secrets and Fries at the Starlight Diner will be released in December and this book has an epilogue that leads into the next story and has me nicely intrigued!


Milkshakes and Heartbreaks at the Starlight Diner is out now in ebook formats.

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



Next time you’re in New York, take a turn off Broadway onto East Houston. Walk on past 2nd Avenue subway station. Past Russ & Daughters fish shop and Katz’s Delicatessen. Beyond these local landmarks of the East Village, just a skip from where East Houston meets Clinton Street, you’ll see it: The Starlight Diner. A fifties throwback joint serving burgers and breakfast foods long into the night.

There’s no missing the blare of its blue neon sign. Even from a block away, you can hear the songs of Buddy Holly, Eddie Cochran and, house favourites, Marvin and the Starlighters spewing out of the jukebox. Step closer, and you’ll note the modest claim inscribed just above its glass frontage: Best Diner In Town.

Press your hands against the window. Peer in at the long procession of red leather booths, at the aging signs, hanging all around, for vintage sodas, malts and ice-cream floats. There’s a refrigerator stacked with vanilla cheesecake and blueberry pie, and the waitresses wear candy pink uniforms with black kitten heels.

Bernie Castillo was just twenty-two when he opened The Starlight Diner. A business decision he made about a week after John Kennedy was shot. Like many others he knew, he wanted nothing more than to return to a time before anyone understood what it meant to see a president gunned down. To a time in which rock ’n’ roll reigned supreme and gas-guzzling Cadillacs clogged up the highways. A time when America ‘stood at the summit of the world’. So, the 1950s is still in full swing at The Starlight Diner, and they serve the tastiest milkshakes in the five boroughs.

If there’s one thing Bernie’s learned in his time managing a diner, it’s that you never can tell just who’s going to walk through the doorway. But no matter who they are, no matter where they come from – whether they’re a tourist with a tripod or a local who’s ordered the same breakfast there for twenty years – they’ve all got one thing in common.

All of them, every last one, has a story to tell.

Giveaway! Who’s Afraid? goody bag to be won!

12 Jul

Who's Afraid

I’m kicking off the Who’s Afraid? blog tour today! Earlier I shared my review (I love this book!) and now, thanks to the lovely Nazia at Piatkus, I have a brilliant giveaway for you – honestly, I wish I could win this!!


The prize is:

  • A Who’s Afraid tote bag with the cover of the book on it
  • A pair of skull earrings just like the ones worn by Tommi in the book
  • A signed copy of Who’s Afraid
  • #JoinThePack beer mats
  • Artwork images inspired by the book


To be in with a chance of winning this gorgeous bag of treats just leave comment in the box below or re-Tweet one of my tweets with the link to this post or like one of my posts about this giveaway on my Instagram page. I’ll pick a winner using after the closing date.

This giveaway is open to UK residents only and will close at midnight on Sunday 16th July.

Good Luck!