Tag Archives: Family

Book review: Secrets of A Happy Marriage by Cathy Kelly

12 Mar

secrets of a happyBess is hoping to show everyone just how happy her recent marriage is, but behind all the party-planning the cracks are beginning to show. Why is joining a family so difficult?

Jojo, Bess’s stepdaughter, has a point to make. Bess is not her mother, and she won’t replace the one she’s been missing every day for the last two years. And will she ever get the chance to become a mum herself?

Cousin Cari is a fierce career-woman who isn’t unnerved by anything – apart from facing the man who left her at the altar, and he’s on the guestlist. Her job has been a safe place to hide ever since – but is it time to let love into her life again?

Thanks to laughter, tears and one surprise appearance, the Brannigans might just discover the secrets of a happy marriage . . . But will they find out before it’s too late?

In Secrets of a Happy Marriage, Cathy Kelly has created the wonderfully complicated Brannigan clan and charts the ups and downs of their lives as they prepare for patriarch Edward Brannigan’s 70th Birthday. I loved the huge variety of characters and storylines in this book. It’s like a wonderful Irish soap opera with just about every family and relationship scenario covered from infertility to career issues, affairs, new love and difficult parents! 

As the title would hint, marriage is also a key focus, from a tricky second marriage to being jilted at the alter and how marriages cope when they are put under pressure. Each chapter of the book starts with a quote or a tip on the secrets of a happy marriage and there are many wise words both in the quotes and the book itself.

My overwhelming feeling whilst reading the book was what a wonderfully strong set of women Cathy has created in this story. I was immediately drawn into the story by Faenia, who opens the novel  with a prologue set in San Francisco. Faenia ended up being one of my favourite characters and I was intrigued from beginning to end by her story and I didn’t want to stop reading until I found out what had happened to her. She’s in her sixties and is a highly regarded stylist at a big department store and very glamorous but also very wise and I loved her attitude – I think I could have read a whole book just about Faenia and her life!

My other favourite character was Cari. Cari works for a publishing house and is a top editor with a high profile writer who is very unfairly taken away from her. How these women deal with life when it deals them a bad hand makes for great reading and I admired their strength. As an avid fan of all things bookish I loved the insights into the publishing world that I got from the parts that involved Cari. I especially liked the bit about how important bloggers are ;-)

As well as strong independent women there are some lovely men in the story too and my heart went out to Jo-Jo’s husband Hugh, Edward and Conal who have some difficult situations to deal with the women in their lives. This story shows well that none of us can do everything alone. With plenty of sharp wit and humour as well as an abundance of emotion and advice from Nora, the unofficial family therapist and wise woman this is a great book to curl up and get lost in this Spring.

4/5

Secrets of a Happy Marriage is out now in hardback, ebook and audio formats from Orion.

Find out more about Cathy and her writing at: http://www.cathykelly.com/

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

Book review: A Boy Made of Blocks by Keith Stuart

20 Jan

a boy made of blocksA father who rediscovers love

Alex loves his wife Jody, but has forgotten how to show it. He loves his son Sam, but doesn’t understand him. He needs a reason to grab his future with both hands.

A son who shows him how to live

Meet eight-year-old Sam: beautiful, surprising – and different. To him the world is a frightening mystery. But as his imagination comes to life, his family will be changed . . . for good.

A Boy Made of Blocks is Keith Stuart’s debut novel; a story inspired by Keith’s own experiences of having an autistic son. It’s a novel of love, frustration, heartbreak, humour  and hope charting dad Alex’s relationship with his wife Jody and eight year old son, Sam.

As a mum to 5 and 8 year old boys there was a lot that I could empathise with in the story; I love my sons to bits but there are days when everything seems like a struggle and I can’t do right for doing wrong! Stuart clearly shows how those days and incidents are many and constant with a child who is autistic. My heart went out to Jody as she explained the constant worry about a simple day at school. What surprised me about this book was how much I disliked Alex initially. I really felt annoyed by his lack of ability to cope with the situations he found himself in and for much of the first third of the story I wanted to give him a good talking to!

In contrast to my feelings for Alex, I loved Sam and thought he was beautifully, believably and sensitively written. When Sam discovers the game Minecraft it literally opens a new world to him and provides the mechanism for Alex to begin to understand his son and build a relationship with him. These parts of the book had me thoroughly captivated and I enjoyed reading as Sam’s world opened up.

In addition to the serious themes of this stoyr; relationship breakdown, the pressures of being a parent, dealing with grief, there’s a lot of humour in A Boy Made of Blocks; some of it dark but I did find it funny and I loved the description of Sam’s responses to the world around him as ‘not being given the rule-book’ which does make for some very blunt and honest statements from Sam that had me smiling. It’s safe to say I went through the whole spectrum of emotions as I read and I did cry at the end – the final chapters weren’t at all what I was expecting but were just perfect.

4/5

A Boy Made of Blocks is out now in paperback and ebook formats from Sphere.

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

 

Book review: Relativity by Antonia Hayes

16 Jan

relativityEthan is an exceptionally gifted young boy, obsessed with physics and astronomy.

His single mother Claire is fiercely protective of her brilliant, vulnerable son. But she can’t shield him forever from learning the truth about what happened to him when he was a baby; why Mark had to leave them all those years ago.

Now age twelve, Ethan is increasingly curious about his past, especially his father’s absence in his life. When he intercepts a letter to Claire from Mark, he opens a lifetime of feelings that, like gravity, will pull the three together again.

Relativity is a tender and triumphant story about unbreakable bonds, irreversible acts, and testing the limits of love and forgiveness.

I’ve been very lucky to start 2017 by reading a series of excellent new books and discovering some wonderful new authors. Antonia Hayes is an author who has jumped straight onto my ‘must read their books’ list; Relativity  is her debut and is a cleverly and beautifully written novel that tugged on my heart strings, made me hug my sons a little closer and left me feeling inspired and hopeful.

This is the story of twelve year old Ethan and his parents. Ethan is astonishingly bright for his age and loves physics and astronomy. Events when Ethan was just four months old have left him and his mum to pick up the pieces. Claire, Ethan’s mum has done all she can to protect him from the truth about what happened and the novel follows their story as events conspire to bring Ethan’s Dad Mark back into their lives at the same time as Ethan is becoming more curious about his Father and why he isn’t in their lives.

Hayes takes a shocking event and plays it forward to examine the impacts both physical and emotional on all parties over a decade later. I liked the fact that the book doesn’t focus too much on what actually happened to Ethan (the actual facts of which are hazy for the majority of the story) and focuses on the after effects. Each chapter of the story has a physics-based title and I loved how Antonia combined physics with the feelings and relationships of Claire, Ethan and Mark to make the scientific emotional and in many ways, magical.

Relativity gets to the heart of the mother-child bond perfectly – I had such empathy for Claire. But interestingly, I also felt sympathy for Mark as the book progressed and I liked that Antonia Hayes let me as a reader make judgements on both parents and their actions. This book raises interesting questions about family bonds, forgiveness and the nature of love and I liked that it made me consider that even situations that seem clear cut, often aren’t.

I’ll end my review with a mention for Ethan’s friend Alison who he meets while he’s in hospital – she was one of my favourite characters in the book and although her role is supporting, I loved the way she is written and how she gives Ethan perspective as well as assisting his grand schemes! I sped through Relativity – it has excellent pace and such an engaging story with characters that I could picture and believe in and I highly recommend adding Antonia Hayes to your reading list!

5/5

Relativity is out now in ebook format and is released in paperback on 19th January by Corsair.

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

Find out more about Antonia and her writing at: http://antoniahayes.com/

Guest post: National Adoption Awareness Month by Carmel Harrington

30 Nov

My lovely guest today on One More Page is bestselling author Carmel Harrington. Welcome Carmel!

November is known for many things, but one thing that is near and dear to many people’s hearts is the fact that November is Adoption Awareness Month. In her newest book Every Time a Bell Rings, Carmel Harrington explores many different types of love and hardship, and many of them involve the foster care system, which most of the main characters are a part of in one way or another. So as Adoption Awareness Month wraps up, let’s take a moment to hear from Carmel about what it meant to her to explore such a special kind of love and family.

Carmel HarringtonDear Readers,

I’ve always been interested in different family dynamics. I’ve learned that they come in different shapes and sizes, and isn’t that wonderful? Children may be biological or adopted or fostered. Some have a house full of siblings, others none. And more often than not now half siblings or step-siblings can be in the fray, as is the case in my own house.

I have a step-daughter whom I adore and love like my own, so I understand that you do not need to be a blood relative to love someone. I love exploring these different types of families in all my books and the subject of foster care is one of the central themes in Every Time a Bell Rings.

Belle Bailey is a foster child herself, taken from her mother for her own safety at four years old. Her life in foster care is quite chequered at first, as she struggles to find the right forever family. But when veteran foster caregiver Tess comes into her life, she finally begins to understand what it’s like to be loved and to love.

Belle meets Jim Looney whilst in Tess’s care. Unlike Belle, he is a temporary placement and eventually he returns to his mother. But during their time together in Tess’s, they form an unbreakable bond.

Belle goes on to become a foster parent herself, and that journey from child in care to caregiver herself was a joy to write. During my research, I had the pleasure of interviewing several foster children and caregivers. I learned that placing the right child with the right family can change lives. I also learned that these caregivers who take children into their homes and their hearts are walking angels. I am in awe of them and salute every single one.

Every Time a Bell Rings has many moments that are romantic, festive, magical, happy and heartwarming. But life can be dark and cruel at 27y4d4ntimes, and I had to explore these aspects in my story too. Writing the scenes that revolve around Belle as a young child with her mother, Dolores, were incredibly difficult. They have the power to still make me weep, as I ponder a world where children are mistreated.

But then I think of all the real life Tess, Belle and Jim’s of this world, the walking angels and I smile. Because I know that right now, there are selfless people who are changing the lives of children all over the world. Isn’t that pretty amazing?

Wishing every single one of you the most wonderful Christmas.

Carmel x

Every Time a Bell Rings is out now in paperback and ebook formats.

Find out more about Carmel and her writing at: http://carmelharrington.com/

Author Interview: Lucy Atkins

23 Jun

I’m delighted to welcome Lucy Atkins to One More Page today as part of the blog tour for her new novel, The Other Child. Lucy is an award-winning feature journalist and author, as well as a Sunday Times book critic. She has written for many newspapers, including the Guardian, The Times, The Sunday Times, and the Telegraph, as well as magazines such as Psychologies, Red, Woman and Home and Grazia. She lives in Oxford. Welcome Lucy!

Lucy Atkins, photographed by Charlie Hopkinson © 2013.Your new novel, The Other Child has just been released; please could you tell me a little about it and the inspiration behind it?

In 2010 my husband was offered a job in the States and so we relocated, with our three children, then aged 12,10 and 7, plus the family dog, to a rental house in a leafy Boston suburb. I hadn’t realised how hard it would be to settle everybody in, and we had this long, hot, slightly traumatic summer (boston summers are sweltering!). Then, when my children did start school, I found myself alone during the day in this silent street, friendless, and spookily isolated, with only the mailman and peoples’ gardeners for company. Things improved dramatically for us all, and in the end we loved it in Boston, but it’s those early feelings of spooky solitude that stuck with me.  And I knew I had to write a book set in that house, and that street.  Poor Tess has a much worse time than me, thank goodness.

Lead character Tess is a photographer; why did you choose to give her this particular profession?

I was really interested in the idea of how a photographer can see behind the mask people put on – and also how it is possible to be invisible, in a sense, behind a camera. I wanted Tess to have that access to Greg from the moment they met – to see something in his eyes that nobody else saw, and that he has masked so well. Tess is also a reserved, shy person, and it felt exactly right for her to be behind the camera, observing people, in a creative way.

 If you had to sum Tess up in five words what would they be?

Strong, protective, shy, loyal, independent.

Tess meets Greg and relocates to America; I noticed on your website that you have lived in both England and America; how did your own experiences come to bear when writing The Other Child?

I’ve spent three periods of my life living in The States (Philadelphia, Seattle, and Boston) and it’s those early ex-pat feelings of aloneness, homesickness, isolation that are really important to the feel of The Other Child. There is also a sense, when you move to a new place, of both enormous hope – this amazing new beginning – combined with moments of acute homesickness and longing. It’s an intense experience – especially when you have children, and are worried about their happiness. I also wanted Tess to be far, far away from the familiarity of home, and her best friend Nell. That makes everything feel so much more precarious and alarming.

The Other Child is your second psychological thriller; what drew you to this genre?

I honestly have no idea! It wasn’t a conscious decision at all. When I started writing The Missing One, I knew it was going to be about mother-daughter relationships, and I became obsessed by killer whales and the Pacific Northwest, but I don’t plan out a novel, and the terrifying events just sort of unfolded, mainly when I began to create the character of Susannah, the older woman. The Missing One did really well, and I realised that I actually love the tension, and having enormous and important things at stake, so it felt natural to stick to emotional suspense. I recently found a poem I’d written at school when I was 11, about being lost in a cave and hearing echoing footsteps. It’s totally psychological suspense, and seeing it made me realise this is probably just who I am (creatively at least: I lead a delightfully safe and dull life otherwise).

When you’re not writing, what types of books do you like to read?getimage

I read widely – partly because I’m a book critic, and I get paid to read things (!) and partly because I like to read  books that people I trust recommend. My idea of heaven is a beautifully written, thoughtful, fairly literary book with a good story, where the pages keep turning. Something like Life After Life by Kate Atkinson, or Sarah Water’s The Paying Guests.

And finally … what can we expect next from Lucy Atkins?

I am just at the very early stages of thinking about another book, and for some reason I seem to find myself getting interested in female scientists, ladybirds and dung beetles….who knows!?

Thanks Lucy.

The Other Child is out now in paperback and ebook formats from Quercus.

You can find out more about Lucy and her writing at: http://www.lucyatkins.com/

Please do check out the other stops on Lucy’s blog tour for more interviews, reviews and features on The Other Child.

Book review: The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes by Anna McPartlin

14 Jun

thelastdaysofrabbithayesannamcpartlinHere is a truth that can’t be escaped: for Mia ‘Rabbit’ Hayes, life is coming to an end . . .

Rabbit Hayes loves her life, ordinary as it is, and the extraordinary people in it.

She loves her spirited daughter, Juliet; her colourful, unruly family; the only man in her big heart, Johnny Faye.

But it turns out the world has other plans for Rabbit, and she’s OK with that. Because she has plans for the world too, and only a handful of days left to make them happen.

Here is a truth that won’t be forgotten: this is a story about laughing through life’s surprises and finding the joy in every moment.

I read this excellent book earlier in the year and have been very remiss by not reviewing it until now. Anna McPartlin’s story of Rabbit, her wonderful family, her loves and ultimately, her death is a beautifully written, poignant and yet darkly funny read that made me laugh and cry (sometimes at the same time!) It’s no surprise to me that it was chosen to be one of the Richard and Judy Book Club titles for Spring 2015 and I know this book has many fans.

The story focuses on Mia Hayes (known to all as ‘Rabbit’), her family and friends as she enters a hospice as the end of her battle with cancer draws near. Told over just nine days, the novel moves quickly between past and present to build up a picture of Rabbit’s life and history whilst charting the reactions and actions of her nearest and dearest as her life draws to a close. I loved Rabbit’s flash backs to her past and getting to know her as a young girl.

The episodes set in the past give a strong sense of time and place and also introduce a key storyline in the book which is the love story between Rabbit and Johnny. To say that The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes is an unconventional love story would be true but I found it to tell a beautiful romance with characters that jumped off the page and lingered with me long after I finished reading. Rabbit and Johnny’s story is marred by heartbreak and tragedy but is also a simple story of a girl falling for one of her brother’s mates.

Rabbit is quite the character as are many of her family members. My personal favourites in this book were Rabbit’s Mum Molly who is the personification of a no-nonsense, strong Irish Mammy and her brother Davey whose life has taken him in many directions but who finds a wonderful bond with Rabbit’s daughter Juliet. Between them Rabbit and Molly are responsible for a lot of the humour in the book, proving that even at the darkest times there can be laughter and making their relationship all the more poignant.

Anna McPartlin doesn’t shy away from the harsh realities of a life-ending illness as she explores the ways that families deal with loss and grief and although painful to read at times, the ways in which Rabbit’s family and friends face up to the impending loss of a loved one felt very believable and really did encompass the whole myriad of reactions and emotions.

The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes is a touching novel that reminded me to take pleasure in the small things and enjoy each day as it comes. This is the first of Anna’s books that I’ve read and I now look forward to catching up on her backlist whilst I wait for her next release later this year.

5/5

The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes is out now in paperback and ebook formats.

Find out more about Anna McPartlin at: http://annamcpartlin.com/

 

Book Review: That Part Was True by Deborah McKinlay

27 Jan

THAT PART WAS TRUE JACKET (1)When Eve Petworth writes to Jackson Cooper to praise a scene in one of his books, they discover a mutual love of cookery and food. As their letters criss-cross the ocean that lies between them, friendship and then romance blossoms despite Jackson’s colourful love life and Eve’s tense relationship with her soon-to-be-married daughter. Little by little, Eve and Jack begin to believe that they may have a chance to change their lives and possibly get a second chance at happiness. They just need to actually meet…

That Part Was True is a thoughtful and captivating story of friendship, family, love and loss. The story is set in the UK and US and I enjoyed reading about the very different lives of the lead characters, Eve and Jack. This is a novel that grew on me quickly as I read and although fairly slow paced, is an intriguing look at the lives of two people who make a connection through their love of food and cooking.

Narrated in the third person, this That Part Was True is really two separate stories linked by the letters and notes that the main characters send each other and I was carried along by the way that their relationship developed against the backdrop of all that was going on in their separate lives.

Author Jackson (Jack) Cooper  lives in The  Hamptons and is facing something of a mid-life crisis. His wife recently left him and he is questioning everything, including his career as a best-selling popular fiction author as a result. I loved the subtle glamour of Jack’s lifestyle and the contrast between his life and that of Eve Petworth, who is focussed on living a quiet life in the English countryside.

Eve writes to Jack to praise his latest novel and Jack responds. Little by little, their friendship develops through their correspondence. As this develops Deborah McKinlay begins to fill in the detail and history of their lives for the reader. From Eve’s domineering mother, her fraught relationship with her daughter and anxiety attacks to Jack’s attempts at romance and concerns over his career; what makes this book are the lead characters’ insecurities and the complexity of their emotions.

I’ll admit that I didn’t particularly warm to either as I started the book and actually disliked Jack in the beginning, but as their experiences come to the fore I began to see them as the fully rounded characters that they are and felt sympathy for Eve in particular and admired her bravery and determination to overcome her anxiety attacks.

The concept of romance developing through a series of letters is a lovely one and gives Eve and Jack’s relationship a timeless quality that marks this book as different. But That Part Was True is more than a love story; it’s also an inspiring novel about second chances, not just in love but in family relationships too as Eve helps her daughter plan her wedding and the pair try to negotiate their difficult relationship.

The ending to this book was a wonderful surprise and not what I’d expected but left me with a feeling of satisfaction; That Part Was True is a compelling read with honestly flawed characters who will find a place in your heart.

That Part Was True is out now in paperback and ebook formats.

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

Find out more about Deborah McKinlay and her writing at:http://www.deborahmckinlay.com/ 

Book review: The Flavours of Love by Dorothy Koomson

8 May

Today I’m welcoming my lovely Mum back to the blog with her review of Dorothy Koomson’s latest novel.  

It’s been 18 months since my husband was murdered and I’ve decided to finish writing The Flavours of Love, the cookbook he started before he died. Everyone thinks I am coping so well without him – they have no idea what I’ve been hiding or what I did back then to protect my family. But now that my 14-year-old daughter has confessed a devastating secret, and my husband’s killer, who was never caught, has started to write to me, I know it is only a matter of time before the truth about me and what I’ve done will be revealed.

My Name is Saffron Mackleroy and this is my story.

 This book was something new for me as I’ve been reading a lot of sagas and historical fiction and have never read a thriller but I’m pleased to say that I really enjoyed it.

Written in the first person, the reader is immediately drawn into the mind of Saffron Mackelroy as she awaits some shocking news. I thought this book was cleverly written;  Dorothy Koomson allows no time to ponder but had me alert and sitting on the edge of myseat as I met recently bereaved wife and mother Saffron and her two children – 14 year old daughter, Phoebe and 10 year old son, Zane.

I could instantly relate to the prose running through Saffron’s head – yes – why do people talk to you like you are a child and pretend they understand how you feel? When you know full well it is all a front and you just wish they would get to the point!

Based at the family home in Brighton the story revolves around neighbours, friends and colleagues and although there are flashbacks to events in the past, the main story covers just six weeks of actual events. This is a very different approach to a story than anything else I have read but I liked the format very much and although the flashbacks come in regular helpings, they are short and sweet and do not detract from the storyline which moves at a quick pace from start to finish. Because of this constant drip feed of events and information, feeling and emotions, tears and challenges, there is no good place to stop and put the book down – it is very addictive!

I found myself tensing with Saff as she struggles to cope with her own issues as well of those of her family. Issues that are not just emotional but very sensitive. The themes of this story are very real and Dorathy Koomson has cleverly woven into those topics very personal scenarios that often remain unspoken. 

Phoebe is a typical teenager – attached to her phone as though it were her lifeline. Saffron and Phoebe’s mother/daughter relationship holds all the ‘let her have her independence, but she is still a child!’  frustrations that many mums will be familiar with. Saffron’s protection of her daughter is paramount – she carries a very heavy burden because of this.

We meet characters like Fynn, Saff’s late husband’s best friend whom has been part of the family for as long as anyone can remember – he has patience and compassion but even his loyalty is stretched to the boundary when he feels his emotions are being played with. I liked Aunty Betty; an eccentric pensioner who does as she pleases but commands attention and gets it. She comes with lots of baggage but also a secret – one I didn’t guess!

Just when I thought I had worked out the plot, I was surprised again. The Flavours of Love has many clever twists within and thoroughly held my attention throughout. By the time I had finished the book I breathed a sigh of relief … but did wonder if it was actually over?!

4/5

The Flavours of Love is out now in paperback and ebook formats.

We’d like to thank Ed PR for sending us a review copy of this novel.

Find 0ut more about Dorothy Koomson and her writing at: http://www.dorothykoomson.co.uk/

Book review: The Lemon Grove by Helen Walsh

26 Feb

Each summer, Jenn and her husband Greg return to Deia, on Mallorca’s dramatic west coast. This year the arrival of Emma, Jenn’s stepdaughter, and her new boyfriend Nathan threatens to upset their equilibrium. Beautiful and reckless, Nathan stirs something unexpected in Jenn. As she is increasingly seduced by Nathan’s youth and the promise of passion, the line between desire and obsession begins to blur. What follows is a highly-charged liaison that puts lives and relationships in jeopardy. For Jenn, after this summer, nothing can ever be the same.

 From the opening pages this book transported me to a hot summer in Mallorca and was a welcome escape from a wet and dreary English winter. Beautifully described, The Lemon Grove had me longing for sunny days by a pool, quaint villages and Mediterranean food. Against this idyllic backdrop Helen Walsh sets a story of a family holiday, after which life will never be the same again.

The Lemon Grove is the story of Jenn and Greg who have been returning to a favourite villa in Deia for many years. This year they are opening the second half of their holiday to their daughter Emma and her boyfriend Nathan. As Jenn prepares for the arrival of an increasingly hostile teenage daughter and a boy that she hardly knows, she ponders how their presence will change the dynamic of the holiday. What Jenn can’t forsee is the dramatic impact that including Nathan will have on the whole family.

As Nathan and Emma arrive to join Jenn and Greg, the dynamic of the holiday changes immediately and I was fascinated by the impact younger couple had on the older pair. Jenn’s reaction to Nathan is surprising to her and it’s consequences certainly surprised me as a reader. I couldn’t put the book down as it became clear that the attraction wasn’t just one sided. Helen Walsh contrasts the beauty of the surroundings with no holds barred descriptions of the encounters between Jenn and Nathan and I’ll admit that Jenn’s actions shocked me!

The Lemon Grove is a story charged with lust and passion but also a gripping study of a modern family and their relationships. Jenn’s relationships with Greg and Emma intrigued me just as much as her encounter with Nathan. Nathan was actually the character I liked least in the book, but his interactions with the family really highlight their individual desires and insecurities and I thought the story was very well written.

Although set over a period of just a week, the history of the family and their holidays in Deia is woven into the story to build a picture of their lives and explain their complex relationships; particularly between Emma and Jenn. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and read it in just a couple of sittings. I loved the final twist at the end of the story and thought it fitted the book perfectly. There’s a huge buzz about The Lemon Grove at the moment and it’s definitely justified. THE book to be seen with poolside this summer!

4/5

The Lemon Grove is published in hardback and ebook formats on 27th February.

Find out more about Helen Walsh and her writing at: http://www.helen-walsh.co.uk/

I’d like to thank Georgina at Headline for sending me a review copy of this book.

Guest Post: The Men of my Dreams by Poppy Dolan

23 Oct

Today I’m delighted to welcome Poppy Dolan to One More Page on the latest stop of her ‘There’s More to Life Than Cupcakes’ blog tour. When she’s not glued to her laptop, Poppy loves cooking, reading and getting emotional over reality TV. She is in her early thirties and lives just outside London with her husband. She writes in a coffee shop nicknamed Terence and also – when it’s not too chilly – in the shed. Today Poppy is sharing her thoughts on one of my favourite topics … Leading men :-) Welcome Poppy!

Leading men. Possibly the funnest bit about writing a novel: you can design hunks that fit exactly your dream specifications. And then spend hours with them. Yum.

In my new book There’s More to Life Than Cupcakes, I’ve got two main male characters that needed to be swoony in different but equally hot ways. So I had a little rifle through my celebrity crush filing cabinet. First up: Pete, the husband of my heroine Ellie, an accountant with a sense of humour. He’s strong, reliable, with a sensitive core. When I wrote Pete I had in my mind a mix of two Henrys: Henry Cavill, from the latest Superman movies, and the character Henry from Ugly Betty. I was after a mix of manly strength with a cute nerdy vibe and the two Henrys combined were a good template to follow. I didn’t give Pete Henry Cavill’s crazy abs, though: no normal bloke is capable of pulling those off.

My other male character, Joe, is younger and cheekier than Pete, and he’s a complete flirt. He’s also dangerously HOT. So Joe is a mix of Idris Elba (not in scary Luther mode, though) and Will Smith (especially in his Fresh Prince days) – always something funny to say and with a flash of something quite naughty in his eyes. Ding dong.

It’s always helpful to have a mental picture of your leading men. It means they don’t suddenly change eye colour in the fifth chapter, plus thinking about them is a nice reward after you’ve been slaving over a hot laptop all day! I can never spend too much time thinking about Idris Elba…

Thanks Poppy – I can’t wait to meet Pete and Joe!

There’s More To Life Than Cupcakes is published by Novelicious Books and is out now in ebook formats.

Ellie Redford has a husband, a job and a home. According to the rest of the world, it’s baby o’clock already. Shame life doesn’t come with a recipe…

Ellie knows that starting a family with lovely husband Pete would be an amazing adventure. Pete would make a brilliant dad and she’d have an excuse to eat shed loads of Cherry Bakewell. But Ellie’s bestie would rather she was up at 3am with a bottle of Malibu, not formula. And with redundancies looming, Ellie’s boss isn’t exactly going to throw her a shower if she disappears for a year, with pay.

While Ellie juggles her feelings (and everyone else’s) as competently as a drunken clown, she finds herself signing up for a baking class, alongside the young, free and sizzling hot Joe. As they work buns and shape tarts, is there more to their friendship than a shared appreciation of Paul Hollywood? 

Ellie’s soufflés may be rising, but her personal life is one big soggy mess. If she doesn’t make a decision soon, she may just lose everything that matters to her. Maybe it’s time to take off the pinny and face up to the truth: there’s more to life than cupcakes…

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