Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Book Review: Summer In San Remo by Evonne Wareham

Rating:

Book Summary:

Cassie Travers is a strong, independent women who is determined to maintain control of everything in her life. However, life is never quite that straightforward. In order to get her out of one mess, Cassie ends up in another as she takes a job that causes her to be reliant on a man she vowed never to need again. To resolve her future, she must first resolve her past.

Review:

Summer in San Remo takes us on a captivating journey from the quaint streets of Bath to the stunning Riviera. The beautiful descriptions had me planning my next holiday destinations!

Cassie is a wonderful character; strong and capable, but hiding a vulnerable side that makes her doubt herself and always push herself harder to achieve success. Her curiosity is contagious and I found myself captivated by the mystery that she and her old flame Jake were on a quest to unravel.

I loved the fiery chemistry between Cassie and Jake. She might need his help, but that doesn’t mean she’s going to make things easy for him. Jake is the irresistible hero. He’s handsome, wealthy and seemingly eager to help Cassie, but can he be trusted?

Full of intrigue, secrets, lies and romance, I couldn’t put this book down.

Monday, 9 October 2017

A Book Launch & Obscure Loves

I'm so excited to tell you that Rhoda Baxter has a new book out today! I loved Girl on the Run and can't wait to read Rhoda's new novel; Girl in Trouble. 

Just to tempt you, here's the fabulous cover and book blurb:

Girl In Trouble blurb:
Grown up tomboy Olivia doesn't need a man to complete her. Judging by her absent father, men aren't that reliable anyway. She's got a successful career, good friends and can evict spiders from the bath herself, so she doesn't need to settle down, thanks.

Walter's ex is moving his daughter to America and Walter feels like he's losing his family. When his friend-with-benefits, Olivia, discovers she's pregnant by her douchebag ex, Walter sees the perfect chance to be part of a family with a woman he loves. But how can Walter persuade the most independent woman he's ever met to accept his help, let alone his heart?

Girl In Trouble is the third book in the award nominated Smart Girls series by Rhoda Baxter. If you like charming heroes, alpha heroines and sparkling dialogue, you'll love this series. Ideal for fans of Sarah Morgan, Lindsey Kelk or Meg Cabot's Boy books. Buy now and meet your new favourite heroine today.


Now for the challenge:

Walter thinks hydro-thermal vents are beautiful. Strangely no-one else shares his passion. Following on from this Rhoda asked what my obscure love is and why...

The answer is figure skating.


Now, I know on the surface it doesn't really seem all that obscure. After all, what little girl who'd read Noel Streatfeild's White Boots didn't grow up dreaming of learning to skate like Harriet? Or stare transfixed at the TV screen watching Torvill and Dean, and fall in love with the beauty, grace and fabulous costumes?

However, there are several factors that might not be be considered when you're sitting on a nice comfy sofa in the warm:



  1. Early mornings - Skating lessons tend to take place outside general public skating times. In my case this was 7am. On Saturday and Sunday!
  2. It's cold - I know that's an obvious one, but until you've spent two hours at a rink you don't appreciate just how cold it is.
  3. Falling over hurts - Think about it, you're landing on solid ice. It's hard. And despite how easy the professionals make it look, the reality is it took a lot of practice and falls to reach that standard.
  4. Toe picks - These are the spiky bits at the front of a figure skating blade. They're great for fancy footwork and helping you leap into the air for jumps. They're also great for tripping over (refer to 3 above).
  5. The chicken dance - You will undoubtedly see this move at your local rink. You must not laugh. Not until you've tried crossing your feet one behind the other and discovered that flapping your arms and bobbing your head, whilst utterly unhelpful, is apparently essential.
So, basically what I should have said at the start of this blog is: My obscure love is for giving up my weekend lie in to spend hours in the cold, with tiny bits of metal strapped to my feet, whilst attempting to defy logic by taking a literal leap of faith and jumping as high as I can on the assumption that this time I will land on the blade and not my head.

Hydro-thermal vents are suddenly looking far more appealing right now aren't they?

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Heading Back To Fuerteventura

I know I haven't been home from my holiday very long, but I enjoyed it so much I've just booked a return trip. It's not until Christmas, so it feels a long way off yet. Mind you given the amount of Christmas stock I see sneaking onto the supermarket shelves, perhaps it will be here quicker than I think.

I'd started working on a new novel when I was away. I know I really should be finishing the edits on my current works in progress first, but what can I say, I was inspired. The words kept springing into my head and obviously I just had to write them down. I'm hoping to feel equally inspired on my return trip so I can find the ending for the novel. So if you think about it, this means that my return trip to Fuerteventura isn't really a holiday at all. It's all research. Every part of it, including sitting on the beach, paddling in the sea, lounging by the pool, exploring the local market and meeting new people. It's absolutely all research for the novel. Honest.

Monday, 18 September 2017

My Favourite Writing Place

I’ve always loved the beach. There’s nothing like the feel of the sand between my toes and my hair blowing in the sea breeze. I have fond memories of my childhood summer holidays when we packed Dads tiny Peugeot 205 full of camping gear and headed to the seaside. The drive always seemed to take forever to get there and the tent felt too small with my whole family crammed in, but it was all worth it to spend long days building sandcastles and swimming in the sea.


My love of the beach hasn’t dismissed through the years, though my standard of accommodation has certainly changed. These days I prefer somewhere with indoor plumbing, a comfortable bed and a solid roof (instead of tents that leak or blow away in the middle of the night during a storm…)

Having just returned from the Barceló Fuerteventura Thalasso Spa Hotel I can safely say whilst I am never going back to camping again, I would love to return to the lovely Barceló. It was a truly wonderful holiday. The hotel was exceptionally clean, the poolside was lovely, spacious and with plenty of sun loungers for everyone.

I would like to say thank you to the wonderful, helpful, friendly staff who helped to make my holiday so enjoyable, particularly Binta, Carlos and Daniel. 

The Barceló was a perfect haven for me to edit my latest novel; a character led thriller. However, sitting on my sun lounger beside the pool basking in the sunshine, okay shade (I burn easily), seems a strange place to write something so dark. Then again, based on the looks I got as I sat scribbling in my notebook each day, I think the general consensus is it was a strange place to write anything at all. A few people asked if I was doing course work, but mostly they just stared. Who knew I was so interesting?

I guess whilst reading a novel by the pool is the norm, writing one isn’t. That said however, it might not be as unheard of as I first thought… Over the last couple of years I’ve met a lot of authors at conferences, events, and through social media, I had however never met one at a pool side before. It was lovely to meet K S Stanley and his wife, who ironically were sitting beside me. Author of The Holmbury County Seat War and The Siege of Morton's Cross, K S Stanley was also busy working on the edits for his latest novel.
Obviously there is something appealing about that particular corner of the pool area for writers. Or more specifically western writers with a keen interest for writing music and lyrics. It’s just goes to show the old adage about it being a small world is true. Or as K S Stanley put it; at all the pool sides in all the hotels in all the world…

Friday, 4 August 2017

Book Review: Everything But The Truth by Gillian McAllister

Everything But The Truth was recommended to me on the basis that Gillian McAllister writes gripping stories with strong emotional character threads running through them. I wasn’t disappointed. Gillian has created rich, layered characters, who I couldn’t wait to read more about as I delved further into their world.

It was fascinating to follow Rachel as one email in the middle of the night causes her to question everything she knows about the man she loves. And love him she does. Through Gillian’s elegant writing style, Rachel’s voice was clear and her emotions were cleverly portrayed throughout in her explicit yet simple descriptions of what she liked and loved, as though Rachel was confiding in the reader as a friend.

Everything But The Truth is an excellent example of how even the smallest of lies can spiral out of control. This novel made me realise that the desire to protect the image that someone else holds of us, can lead to deceit. But one little lie or one simple omission can quickly grow into something more. One lie is never enough, and more and more lies grow around it to protect the original secret, until one tiny question pulls at the threads of even the strongest of relationships, and it all unravels.

It was absorbing to watch Rachel and the lengths she was prepared to go to in order to uncover the truth as she uncovers more and more lies. Throughout the novel, hints about Rachel’s own past helps the reader to understand her motivations and yet at the same time question whether her reactions might also be slightly hypocritical. The mystery isn’t just about what secrets Jack is keeping, but also what Rachel is hiding as well.

Seeing Rachel battle with memories from her past, desperate to escape from the work she loved, and yet unable to find herself without it, gave me an eye opening window into the world of medicine, albeit safety shielded behind an thick layer of double glazing. I knew doctors had it tough, I was aware of the long hours and the tough decisions, of course I was. But until I read this I never really knew. Of course, reading a book is nothing like experiencing it as a reality every day, but it gave me a new appreciation for what they do. I know I couldn't do it, and I'm in awe of those who do.

Overall, this was an exceptional debut. A gripping page turner, full of suspense, intrigue and characters who compel you to want to know more about them.

Monday, 24 July 2017

The Diminishing Word Count

Inspired by last week’s RNA conference, I returned home eager to finish the draft of my novel ready for submission to the NWS for critiquing. One week later, I have a newly written synopsis, a clearer sense of my characters, a revised structure, oh yes, and a novel that’s about 30,000 words less than I started with.

The latter is not quite what I was intending to achieve.

However, all is not lost. The cut sections are now patiently residing in a new file marked ‘book 2’. There’s just one small snag… A book 2 requires a book 1 to precede it.


Just over one month to go till the NWS deadline and 30,000 words to write. I can totally do this, right?

Monday, 17 July 2017

Book Review: Girl in Red Velvet by Margaret James

Rating:

Book Summary:

Girl in Red Velvet is a novel about friendship and impossible choices. When Lily Denham met two boys on her first day at Oxford University, she never imagined that she would fall in love with both of them, or that one day she would have to choose between them.

Review:

Beautifully written, Girl in Red Velvet had me hooked from the start as I wondered who Lily would choose. Harry and Max are both intriguing, well rounded characters who are complete opposites, but equally appealing in their own individual ways. I found myself sharing Lily’s dilemma as I wondered who I would choose myself: safe and dependable Harry, or exciting and adventurous Max.

At the start of the novel, Lily is a strong willed, independent woman with her own distinctive style. She doesn’t care what other people think or whisper about her behind her back. How I would love to be that bold!

However, Lily discovers that as hard as making a decision can be, living with that choice can be even harder. Lily’s choice leads her to a life so different from the one she had imagined, and in the process her distinctiveness fades into conformity. To me, this novel was a reminder of how easy it is to let the choices we make cause us to loose ourselves, and how difficult but essential it is to find the courage to turn our lives around again.

A wonderful, inspirational novel that reminded me it’s never too late to follow your dreams.