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Monday, 30 September 2013

A Teenage Boy Came to My Fire One Day

Feedback, achievements and story telling have much in common as Tanya J Peterson, author of Leave of Absence, explains.

Human existence and advancement owe much to a few highly important achievements.  As we’ve mastered fire, taught ourselves how to make and use specialized tools, and invented efficient means of transportation, we’ve made astonishing progress as a species.  Perhaps I’m biased, but there is another significant human achievement that stands out among the intellectual triumphs of Homo Sapiens Sapiens:  the ability to communicate complex ideas.

Even way back in the Stone Age, when we sought shelter where we could, when our goal was merely to survive, we needed more.  We needed a way to learn from each other, we needed emotional connection with each other, and we needed entertainment, an escape from the harsh conditions that perpetually threatened our survival.  We started talking around the fireside, and storytelling became an integral part of humanity. 

The storytelling was far from random.  Even back in the day, as we hunted and gathered and sheltered in caves or other natural structures, stories weren’t always for entertaining general audiences.  Frequently, the stories were intentional and the storytellers had target audiences.  A leader reliving an intense hunt wouldn’t call the women and children to his side.  Those stories were not only entertaining and self-serving, they were educational.  They were told to the other hunters.  Healers had their own stories and audiences, and so on and so forth.  Intentional stories told to intentional audiences—this was natural even to our predecessors from the Stone Age. 
In our more modern era, writers typically seek to do the same.  For whom do we write?  The answer is not (or should not be) for ourselves.  Like the prehistoric men and women, we tell stories for a specific audience.  I wrote the novel Leave of Absence in order to help increase understanding of schizophrenia, PTSD, depression, and loss.  When people understand what these illnesses are really like and how they really impact people, my hope is that empathy and compassion for people experiencing these illnesses will increase as well.  So I wrote Leave of Absence for people who are curious about mental illness (maybe they read news reports equating mental illness to violence, or they saw a movie and wonder if schizophrenia is really like it was portrayed—it probably isn’t).  Leave of Absence is also designed to stimulate discussion among students in psychology or counseling classes.  Because 25% of the population experiences a mental illness at any point in their lifetime, there are a lot of people who experience mental illness themselves or who know someone struggling with mental illness.  Leave of Absence is for them, too, as it is for others who like character-driven stories with characters they can become attached to.
I most definitely had a target audience in mind when writing this novel.  Teenage boys were not among that intended audience, especially not teenage boys who are avid sci-fi and fantasy readers.  So when one such adolescent chose to read Leave of Absence, I was quite nervous.  This boy knows me, and he picked it up because it was “cool” that he knew the author.  I joked with him about target audiences and let him off the hook.  To my surprise, and anxiety, he still wanted to read it.  A few days after he began reading my novel, he approached me about it.  He was “really into it,” he said.  He stated that he’s fascinated by the portrayal of mental illness, particularly schizophrenia because he has heard of it but didn’t really know what it was.  He told me that he likes that Leave of Absence reaches beyond a textbook in that it shows (rather than tells) the facts and makes the people real.  Continuing the pattern of unexpected reactions, he’s astonishingly connected to the main female character even more so than the main male character. 
This, I think, serves as an important reminder.  We’ve come far as a species.  Yet we still have far to go:  much to learn, much to understand, much to accept.  It’s natural for us to be entertained and to learn through stories; after all, it’s what we’ve always done.  I actively invite my target audience to join me around my campfire.  I have a lot of space there, though, and when others want to hear my stories, they are welcome.  It leads to rich discussion and a deeper exchanges of ideas. 

I closely gauge how my target audience responds to my writing.  Their reviews, comments, and interactions are very important to me as I sally forth as a novelist.  Listening to feedback from someone outside of my audience is just as important.  The comment from the high school boy that I’m making something real to him is one of the highest complements this storyteller could ever receive. 

Find out more about Tanya by checking out our Author, Book, Trailer & Review Pages

Saturday, 28 September 2013

HUG A BOOK with D S Ingram

Hug A Book is sponsored by

It’s HUG A BOOK and this weekend it’s with D S Ingram (Debbie)


You could win a Kindle copy of
Angel Girls

Meet Debbie

Debbi Ingram. I am a mother of two boys, and a new grandmother to baby Amelia. I was born and raised in Islington London, but have lived in East London
for seventeen years. I am passionate about animals and dogs in particular. I have two dogs, a Labrador and a Parsons Jack Russell. I started writing seriously five years ago as I had to give up work after a stroke.
I had always loved writing, but had never had the time before to pursue it. I made a full recovery from the stroke and heart surgery and it changed my life for the better. I started taking my writing seriously. Poppy Days was published on Kindle in February 2012.

Details of Angel Girls

Carrie Miller and her daughter Sarah share a dark secret that no one must ever discover. A secret surrounding the demise of a brutal husband and father. Carrie and Sarah are determined that no one will ever uncover the truth. Not even Jonny Mason the handsome young man who adores Sarah and would do anything for her. Even Sarah's best friend, Suzy Pond does not know the terrible truth. Suzy is too busy coping with her wayward boyfriend, Billy. How will she cope when he steals from her and leaves her pregnant and alone? How will Jonny cope when his own beloved father has been brutally attacked and left for dead? As one young man's life spirals out of control, the women around him gather their strength.Some secrets are better left alone, some friendships are shattered forever, whilst others are strong enough to weather the most terrible of tragedies.

Available for Kindle & Paperback



Carrie Miller had been shocked the first time her Tommy had hit her.
 Not her darling Tommy! They had been together since their school days and had got married on her birthday, in June 1943. They had always had a volatile relationship, but in the beginning, it was Tommy’s fiery personality that Carrie had found exciting. Tommy had a short temper, but he had never been violent.  Well, not towards her, anyway. She had seen him have a few fights with other boys at school, and he often clashed with his brothers, but he was very protective towards her, and had always treated her well. She had felt safe with Tommy by her side. She thought he would always protect her. When they had argued, they had always made up over a kiss and a cuddle.
 Carrie Barlow, as she was then, had fallen for Tommy Miller the first time she had seen him. He had been the new boy in her class at school, a tall, dark haired lad with a cheeky grin, and a twinkle in his eye. They had both been twelve. All the other girls in the class had given Tommy the eye, but he had ignored all of them except Carrie. She had given him a shy smile, and he had grinned back at her. She had felt her heart give a little flutter. She never forgot that feeling, the first spark of love. He had asked to carry her books home and they had been inseparable after that. Carrie had felt very special. The handsomest boy in the whole school had singled her out! All the other girls were green with envy. Tommy had even had a playground scuffle with Gerald Dowelling, the tall blonde boy who kept smiling at Carrie across the classroom. Gerald had never looked her way after that, not after Tommy had blacked both his eyes. Tommy and Gerald had both been hauled into the headmasters study for that and had been given the cane for fighting, but Tommy had said it was worth it, Carrie belonged to him. Carrie had not thought of it as being possessive, at that tender age such a thought would never have entered her head. No, she had been flattered. It was not exactly a romance at that age either but they both knew, even then, that one day they would get married. Carrie knew she would never look at anyone else. She had told Tommy that, and meant it after he and Gerald had that fight. Now she had her Tommy she would never look at any one else. Poor little Carrie Barlow. Her fate had already been sealed.

Debbie’s Links

Twitter: @Dollshousedeb

Enter below to have a chance to win a Kindle copy of Angel Girls

Friday, 27 September 2013

Book Trailers from Madalyn Morgan & Elizabeth Ducie

Authors Madalyn Morgan and Elizabeth Ducie share their new book trailers.

Foxden Acres is about strength and love. Set in London and on the land in the Midlands, it is the first of four books about the lives of four very different sisters during the Second World War. The second book, Applause (WIP) is set in the theatre world of London's West End, during the Blitz. The third and fourth books, China Blue and The Bletchley Secret, have been plotted but not yet written. Family and war connect the books. However, each novel will stand alone, and can be read in any order. 

Foxden Acres 
by Madalyn Morgan

Available on Amazon: all e-Books, Kindle & Paperback ( and CreateSpace) Website:

Life is Not a Bed of Roses

By Elizabeth Ducie

Life is not a Trifling Affair
by Elizabeth Ducie

Find out more about Madalyn and Elizabeth by visiting our Author & Books Pages

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Reviewed: Fatal Error by Eileen Schuh

The BookFatal Error Book 2 of the BackTracker Series by Eileen Schuh

Reviewed byKaren Vryant Doering

In the first novel of the BackTracker series,  The Traz, we meet our protagonist Katrina as a 12 year old runaway. Grieving the death of her parents and unable to cope with her new guardians Katrina is on the streets and vulnerable.  While her high IQ makes her appear street wise and assured she is still a underage and undersized young girl lacking self-control and the mature compass needed to set clear definable boundaries.  Recruited into an outlaw motorcycle gang for both her skills on a computer and for one member of the gang's desire to somehow rescue her from a life on the streets.

In Fatal Error we meet Katrina as a 13 year old who has been rescued by the police from the gang and is now trying to save herself from the misguided being led by the uninformed. As Katrina sinks further into despair and mistrust, those who are supposed to be protecting her  fail miserably to both understand and nurture the young genius.  Motivated by the desire to justify their actions and protect themselves from responsibility they begin to see the child as the matrix of the  problem instead of recognizing their own complicity in all that has occurred.

As Katrina ages and begins to mature she must face all the horror that has befallen her, take responsibility for her own actions and begin the painful  journey to adulthood.  Trapped between her fear of gang retribution and police prosecution Katrina must be her own advocate. With slow and hesitant steps forward  Katrina tries to navigate a world that treats her as a responsible adult while she is still struggling to find her way through her adolescent years. 

Katrina is one of the most compelling and haunting characters I have had the pleasure to meet between the covers of a book. She is not easily forgotten and will be with me for some time to come. This is a novel  I am pleased to recommend to those who desire both a good story and characters who  come alive.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Great Reads For Everyone!

Meet the talented authors in Famous Five Plus on this amazing Showcase Trailer designed and produced by Avalon Graphics

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Why We Do The Things We Do…

Joanna Lambert on why we so the things we do!

The Famous Five Plus group are a fairly diverse lot.  We are all writers but our genre and styles are quite varied.  Some have one main character featuring in all their books while some write sagas or thrillers. Others may have a varied palate covering many aspects of contemporary novel writing and then there are those like me who have a common thread through all their work.

I guess I had always thought of myself as a saga writer; someone who enjoys having two main central characters but loves the broader aspect of a supporting cast who provide a weave of sub plots through the story.  However, looking slightly deeper into all of this I now find everything I have written so far has one common denominator: an evil woman.  Why this has evolved I have no idea.  Maybe there is some hidden Freudian thing going on inside my head.  I only know it works and that if I try to create the same features within a male character it does not appear to work as well.

In the Behind Blue Eyes trilogy the ‘love to hate’ woman was Melissa (Mel) Carpenter.  She was mother to central character Ella.  Beautiful, glamorous and totally selfish, she was overindulged by her doting husband (Ella’s stepfather Liam) and had an exceptionally vicious tongue. She breezed through all three books leaving a trail of havoc, mostly in her daughter’s life.  A social mountaineer, she had absolutely no qualms about the means in which achieved her goals in life.

In the sequel Between Today and Yesterday which took the same characters from the 1970s into the 1990s it was the turn of American singer Marcie Maguire.  In the trilogy Ella’s love Matt Benedict had fallen foul of Mel’s plotting.  He had abandoned Ella and gone to the States to work.  Marcie had been his protégé and had fallen under his spell. Although he had never shown any interest in her, she was determined when they returned to the UK for a tour that Matt and Ella would not be reunited.  She failed and returned to the US swearing one day she would get him back.   Between Today and Yesterday saw her return after sixteen years.  Now an international star, she was in Europe for an exclusive tour, a new venture into opera.  Unlike Mel where what you saw is what you got, Marcie was more far devious. A mistress of deception, she could project tears and child-like vulnerability in one breath and knife someone in the back in another.  She caused absolute chaos in Matt and Ella’s marriage and almost achieved her goal.  But not quite… 

You see that’s the thing about my evil ladies, I allow them so much rope and then I reel them in.  I’m a great believer in Karma both in real life and in my writing.  What you dish out eventually comes bouncing back at you and this is exactly what happens to both of these characters.  Because when all is said and done for me it’s all about that happy ending.  Good has to triumph over bad; I could not finish my stories any other way.

And my next offering? Well The Other Side of Morning has another awful woman who I can guarantee will cause hackles to rise and entertain in equal measures.  For me that evil presence is an essential stimulus in anything I write.  It drives the story and hopefully keeps the reader turning those pages.

Find out more about Joanne by visiting our Author, Books, Trailer and Review Pages

Monday, 23 September 2013

Researching a Novel

To quote Stephen King: Do the research but don’t overdo it for the reader. I can’t think of anything more awful than having to do research. But just because one is a contemporary fiction writer doesn’t endow one with the privilege of inventing everything. The story has to seem real to the reader.

Serena Fairfax shares some very interesting tips as she talks about her own experience on research for her novels.

I divide research into two types, general and specific, and both are required.  How much research you actually need to do is largely determined by you and what the story calls for.

General research or what I call big picture research is all about accumulating a wide knowledge of the subject matter of one’s book. In other words, identify what you know and what you don’t. Try and read a lot of books that’ll enable you to get a good feel and overview of the period about which you’re writing and the significant events and incidents of that time.  You should combine this by reading a few works by serious historians and other writers that impact on your area of research. The cunning in this is that these books will contain heaps of references to the sources that their authors  used.  You can use these references to short-circuit your own laborious attempts to seek sources.  Another useful tool is Wikipedia that will help you clarify event and details of a given period.

It goes without saying that as you research you should make notes of the salient points and add your questions.  The time-honoured ways of research include the local library, interviewing people who know about what you’re writing about, TV (old movies and documentaries are great), newspapers, archives, the internet, government websites, information pamphlets and the BBC. Remember to ensure that the source is reliable.

The authenticity of novels with an historical setting, crime and medical fiction depend a great deal on accurate and thorough research. Nothing is more chastening than a reader telling you you’ve got quite wrong the gestation period of the giant panda.

Another tip is be organised and to be discriminatory.  Any bits of research you don’t use keep in the freezer – you never know when you’ll need to defrost it. Drip-feed the research into your writing so as not to burden the reader with tedious detail that slows down the narrative.

Don’t be tempted to research before doing the creative part i.e. the writing. It’s much better to write your story and when you hit a piece that  cries out  for research – such as did convicts in Alcatraz keep parrot as pets-  just square bracket the key words.[Alcatraz, parrot]. Then when you feel like a writing pit stop  or have hit a creative bump in the road,  you can research the square brackets stuff.

Well, I digressed and I suspect that’s not uncommon  when one embarks on a research journey. So back on track,   I’ll  tell you about specific research or what I call key details research.  This assists in answering the questions you noted down. It helps to be precise with your search terms on google.  There are probably entire books that deal with your specific questions and such books can be found on Amazon simply by inputting a search term.

Last but not least, friends, professional contacts and acquaintances are invariably delighted to impart useful information and can provide valuable and interesting nuggets, often unavailable elsewhere, and share experiences about their jobs and way of life that can set the creative juices flowing.

Find out more about Serena by visiting our Author, Books & Review Pages  and checking out all her liniks


Saturday, 21 September 2013

HUG A BOOK with Madalyn Morgan

Hug A Book is sponsored by

It’s HUG A BOOK and this weekend it’s with Madalyn Morgan


You could win a Kindle copy of
Foxden Acres

Meet Madalyn

Madalyn Morgan I have been an actress for more than thirty years working in Repertory theatre, the West End, film and television.  I am also a radio presenter and journalist, writing articles for newspapers and magazines.

     I was brought up in a busy working class pub in the market town of Lutterworth in Leicestershire.  The pub was a great place for an aspiring actress and writer to live. There were so many wonderful characters to study and accents to learn.  My parents wanted me to get a ‘proper job,’ which I did.  I became a hairdresser, but at twenty-four I gave up my successful hairdressing salon and wig-hire business for a place at E15 Drama College, and a career as an actress.

    In 2000, with fewer parts available for older actresses, I taught myself to touch type, completed a two-year correspondence course with The Writer’s Bureau, and started writing.  I loved it.  So, after living in London for thirty-six years, I came back to Lutterworth, swapping window boxes and a mortgage for a garden and the freedom to write.

     I am currently writing my second novel, Applause, which is set in the theatre world of London’s West End during the Blitz, and is the second of four books about the lives of four very different sisters during The Second World War.  My first novel, Foxden Acres, is available on Amazon in paperback and e-book

Blurb for Foxden Acres

On the eve of 1939 twenty-year-old Bess Dudley, the daughter of a Foxden groom, bumps into James Foxden the heir to Foxden Estate.  Bess, a scholarship girl, lodges at Mrs McAllister’s boarding house in London while studying to be a teacher.
With offers of a teaching job in London and Foxden, Bess opts for Foxden, to be near James.  However, when she is told that James is betrothed to the socially acceptable Annabel Hadleigh, Bess accepts the teaching post in London.
When war breaks out, and London’s schoolchildren are evacuated, Bess returns to Foxden to organise a team of Land Girls, and turn the Foxden Estate into arable land.  James, having joined the RAF, is training to be a bomber pilot at nearby Bitteswell Aerodrome.
German bombs fall on London and Mrs McAllister’s house is blitzed to rubble.  South Leicestershire is scarred too, when an RAF plane carrying Polish airmen crash lands in a Foxden field.  And traditional social barriers come crashing down when Flying Officer James Foxden, falls in love with Bess.  But is it too late?
During the time Bess has been back at Foxden she has got to know Annabel Hadleigh.  She has grown to like and respect her.  How can Bess be with James knowing it would break her friend’s heart?  Besides, Bess has a shameful secret that she has vowed to keep from James at any cost.

Available for Kindle and in Paperback

Excerpt - Foxden Acres

In the worst case, Bess wouldn’t find the missing book and would have to take a later train.  In the best case, she’d find it and see James Foxden.  Then to hell with the train, she laughed.  As she neared the Hall, her heart began to beat faster.
      To her relief she found the book immediately.  It had slipped between the seat-cushion and the backrest of the window-seat on New Year’s Eve.  She had finished reading it and put it down to look out of the window, as she was doing now, and – her stomach turned a somersault – James was in the courtyard standing by his car. 
      She scrambled onto the seat and watched him walk from the car to the house.  Within seconds, he was back carrying an assortment of cases, which he strapped on the back of his car.  He returned to the house as a young maid came out carrying a tartan blanket.  The maid went to the passenger door of the car, opened it and, leaning in, wrapped the blanket around someone’s legs.  Bess leaned closer to the window.  It was James’ beautiful dance partner, from the New Year party.
      ‘Caught you,’ James said, looking over her shoulder to see what it was that had captured her attention so fully.   
      Bess shrieked. 
      ‘Sorry if I made you jump but I wanted to catch you before I left.  I’m driving Annabel home to Kent but I’ll be in London tomorrow and I was thinking that, since we're both down there, perhaps we could meet up…  I could telephone you and…?’
      Bess opened her mouth, but couldn’t speak.  There was no public telephone at her lodgings and Mrs McAllister, her landlady, didn’t allow her tenants to make or accept calls on her private telephone unless it was an emergency.  Nor did she approve of them having gentlemen friends. 
      ‘But if you would rather I didn’t call,’ James said.
      ‘No, it isn’t that-- It’s my landlady,’ she said feeling an utter innocent and a fool.
      ‘Then I’ll give you my card and if you have a free evening you can call me.  We could meet in town, see a show and have a bite of supper.  Go to a dance at the Lyceum or the Trocadero.’
      Bess accepted the small card.  ‘I’d like that.’
      ‘See you in London, then!’  Smiling, James offered Bess his hand.
      ‘Yes…  London,’ she said, taking his hand. 
      By the time she’d formulated the word ‘goodbye’, James had left.  She heard his car start up.  She ran to the window overlooking the drive as the small green sports car, enveloped in a cloud of exhaust smoke, disappeared down the drive.
      Bess stood in the empty library for some minutes.  Did James Foxden invite her, Bess Dudley, to supper in London?  Did he, or did she imagine that he held her hand for a little longer than was necessary when he said goodbye?  Well, maybe she did imagine that, but one thing she did not imagine was the small white business card with James’s name and telephone number, which she was holding in her hand.
      Before she burst with excitement, Bess put the card between the pages of her book and ran home.

Madalyn’s Links

To have a chance at winning a Kindle copy of Foxden Acres, please enter in the coupon below

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Thursday, 19 September 2013

Reviewed: Missing Believed Dead by Chris Longmuir

Kathryn Brown reviews, Missing Believed Dead. “… a twist that gives this book the unpredictability that I love to see in any novel.”

Having spent most of this year reading mainly light-hearted romance novels, I decided to change genre and go for a more tenacious book with twists, turns and many thought-provoking cliff hangers. Missing Believed Dead did not disappoint. In fact, I was so engrossed in this dramatic page turner of a book that I read it in three sittings, quite a record for me. Chris Longmuir had me gripped to the edge of my seat as I read and tried to understand the complicated lives of siblings Jade, Emma and Ryan, together with their mum, Diane. There are so many scenes in this book that I could easily picture on my television screen due to the impressive imagery throughout.

Fast-paced and devilishly entertaining, Missing Believed Dead is part of the Dundee Crime Series, of which Longmuir has penned two other books, one I am currently reading – Nightwatcher. The other book in the series, Dead Wood, is now sat on my to-be-read pile and I just know it’s going to be another brilliantly-written novel with scenes that even the least imaginative person will be able to visualise.

At the centre of the books is a character known as Bill Murphy, a detective sergeant whom one gets the impression is a little like the television character, Columbo. A great detective with a caring nature, and an obvious commitment to solve the case he is currently working on. Perhaps a little laid back in his appearance, but certainly someone you would want on your side.

Without giving the story away, Missing Believed Dead follows the desperate and determined life of Diane, mother to Jade, who went missing five years previously. When another young girl is reported missing events lead CID to reopen the case of missing Jade and the hunt once more ensues, with a twist that gives this book the unpredictability that I love to see in any novel. I am already enjoying Nightwatcher and am thrilled to have been introduced to the Dundee Crime Series.

Find out more about Chris Longmuir by visiting our Author, Books, Trailer & Review Pages

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Reviewed: Storm Clouds Gathering by Pauline Barclay

Tanya J Peterson reviews Storms Clouds Gathering. “When real storm clouds gather in our lives, we often feel it to the core.  There’s a physical reaction:  we feel cold, the hair rises on our arms, we shiver.  There’s an emotional reaction, too:  we worry.  What is going to happen?  What doom might befall us or our loved ones?  The reason we have such an intense reaction, of course, is because we care about our own safety and that of our loved ones.”

Pauline Barclay captures this emotional intensity well in her most recent novel, Storm Clouds Gathering.  The metaphor of an approaching storm is quite apt for this wonderful novel.  The storm clouds approach and hover over three families whose lives are intertwined in both direct and subtle ways.  Three different families struggle with three very different issues and hardships.  Three families face unique storms, and they each weather them differently. 
The beauty of Barclay’s novel of course involves the story itself.  The storms that gather over the characters absolutely hold readers’ interest.  The storms are real and they are intense and any given storm could definitely happen to anyone in the real world.  They all have, actually, in some way or another.  Despite the fact that I have not experienced a storm identical to one in Barclay’s novel, I could see myself in each of those characters, and I could directly relate to various elements of their storms. That I have not directly experienced the very realistic problems faced by the characters yet found myself understanding them and relating to them in a very real way is an indication of Pauline Barclay’s talent and beautiful writing. 

Yes, the story is deeply compelling.  It takes more than a compelling storyline, though, to make a great novel.  For me, the characters and the extent to which I connect with them are what really make or break a story.  In real life, we have an emotional reaction to gathering storm clouds because we care about the people affected by the brewing storm.  In Barclay’s Storm Clouds Gathering, I absolutely had emotional reactions because I cared deeply for the characters.  Barclay has created realistic, vulnerable characters, characters who, like real people, have strengths and weaknesses.  Her characters, each with a distinct personality, are human.  Barclay brings them to life in a very powerful way, and as I read I felt very connected to each of them in different ways. 

Find shelter, hunker down, and brace yourself for Storm Clouds Gathering.

Available in Kindle & Paperback from all Amazon Stores

You can find out more about Pauline by visiting our Author, Books, Trailer & Review Pages

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Reviewed: Tall Dark and Kilted by Lizzie Lamb

The BookTall Dark and Kilted by Lizzie Lamb

Reviewed by Nikki Bywater

With enough sparks to set off fireworks, this is a fabulous romance story from author Lizzie Lamb.”
When Fliss Bagshawe loses her job as an holistic therapist after attending a party in Notting Hill that gets out of control, she thinks that her chance of running her own therapy business are over, until she is given a once in a lifetime opportunity to run a therapy centre, five hundred miles away in Scotland. Happy to leave her life behind in Pimlico she heads for the Scottish Highlands.
However after a chance meeting with the handsome but brooding Laird of Kinloch Mara, Ruairi Urquhart, Fliss finds that her dreams and plans could be over. Ruairi takes his responsibilities as Laird very seriously and thanks to an earlier misunderstanding when they first met Ruairi thinks that Fliss is no more than a scheming opportunist out for all she can get.
Fliss must take on the Laird and his eccentric family to convince them that she is passionate and determined and committed to make the therapy centre a success, before Ruairi puts a stop to her dreams before she can turn them into reality and she finds herself unemployed and back in London; two people from completely different backgrounds. The Laird is set in his ways and stubborn. Will Fliss be able to convince him that she is not what he thinks she is?
With enough sparks to set off fireworks, this is a fabulous romance story from author Lizzie Lamb. A fun and entertaining read from page one, engaging the reader straight away into the story that is written with excellent wit and humour that will make you smile. A cast of lively and thoroughly good fun characters that are so likable that some could have their own spin off stories. I loved everything about this book from the beautiful colour purple of the cover and the catchy title, to the escapism of getting lost in this great book for a few hours.  I look forward to reading more books by Lizzie Lamb.

Monday, 16 September 2013

Reviewed: Torn by Gilli Allan

Nikki Bywater reviews Torn by Gilli Allan

Jessica Avery is a young woman in her early thirties with a three year old son Rory. After changing her life by ending a bad relationship all she wants is to be a good mum to Rory and to leave her past behind. So she moves from London to the quiet country for a fresh start and to leave her past behind. She is about to find out that life in the country can just be as hectic as living in London. Despite not looking for love she finds herself "Torn" between two very different kinds of men, the unsuitable Danny a young Shepherd and his boss the more suitable James, a widower with a young daughter.

She may escape her life but can she escape herself?

"Torn" is a well written romance novel with some racy sexy scenes. It has got a nice cast of likeable characters. A good storyline that keeps you interested. You really feel how Jessica wants to settle down and be a good responsible parent for Rory and that she just wants to fit in with people in her new life in the country. Danny and James are also great characters and we learn more about all their pasts as we read on.
Another really great read by Gilli Allan.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

HUG A BOOK with Chris Longmuir

Hug A Book is sponsored by

It’s HUG A BOOK and this weekend it’s with Chris Longmuir


You could win a Kindle copy of
A Salt Splashed Cradle

Meet Chris

Chris Longmuir - I won the Dundee International Book Prize in 2009 with my first crime novel. The prizewinning novel, Dead Wood, was published by Polygon and was so successful that the first print run sold out within four months.
Night Watcher is my second crime novel and is now published as a Kindle edition ebook. My third book in the series, Missing Believed Dead is now available.

 I have also published a historical saga, A Salt Splashed Cradle, set in a Scottish fishing community, and two books of short stories - Obsession & Other Stories, and Gost Train & Other Stories. I also write short stories and historical articles for magazines which are published in the UK
and the US. I am currently working on a further two crime novels. I am fascinated by electronic gadgets of all types and descriptions and am never happier than when experimenting with new hardware and software. I designed and put up my own website and build computers in my spare time. I describes herself as being a bit of a techno-geek.

Details of A Salt Splashed Cradle

This historical saga is set in a Scottish fishing village in the 1830’s and reflects the living conditions and the morals of the ordinary fisher folk of that time.
The novel follows the relationships of Belle, her husband, Jimmie, her daughter Sarah, her mother-in-law, Annie, and the rest of the Watt family.
James and Annie Watt are a typical fisher family, and Annie is horrified when Jimmie, her eldest son, brings Belle to the village as his new bride. She makes her displeasure obvious to Belle who struggles to find acceptance in the village. Belle is engaged in a losing battle however, because the villagers regard her as an incomer.
Jimmie, anxious to buy his own boat, leaves the fishing village to sail with a whaling ship. The story follows him to the Arctic
, and on a whale hunt, before he returns home again.
Meanwhile in his absence, Belle has fallen for the charms of Lachlan, the Laird’s son, and embarks on a tempestuous affair with him. When Jimmie returns she struggles with her feelings for him and for Lachlan.
By this time the women in the village are starting to regard Belle as a Jezebel who will tempt their men away. A mood of hysteria engulfs them and they turn against Belle, in an attempt to force her out of the village.
What will Belle do?
And will she survive?

Available for Kindle & paperback


A Salt Splashed Cradle

The walls of the house were closing in on her and the only sun Belle had experienced over the past six weeks had been that which sneaked in when the door opened. The boats had been to sea at least four times since Sarah’s birth and Belle had not been allowed to step outside the door of the cottage. Her nerves were now at screaming pitch, and she was convinced she’d been condemned to a life of green-tinged gloom.

‘You can’t go out until you’re ready to be kirked,’ Annie told her, ‘for it’s not a changeling you’ll be wanting.’
‘I don’t believe in your silly superstitions,’ Belle wanted to retort, but held her tongue. There were so many customs and beliefs held by the fisher folk that seemed strange to her, and she was finding it more difficult than ever to fit in.

‘You’ll wait to be kirked,’ Annie’s tone had been final.

Belle bit her lip but knew better than to argue with her mother-in-law. Anyway, how could she tell Annie why she did not want to be kirked, or why she did not want Sarah christened. She had too many bad memories of churches and ministers. Of the things her uncle had done to her, and the penances he had made her perform afterwards for making him succumb to the temptations of the flesh.
Eventually Belle’s longing for fresh air and sunshine became too much for her and she agreed to the kirking in order to get out of the house. Now, as she struggled to fasten her best dress, she pushed the thought of the christening to the back of her mind.

The heat of the sun struck Belle like a physical blow when she left the house. Narrowing her eyes against the impact she was not sure if she was crying for joy, or whether the glaring brightness was forcing the water from her eyes.

The villagers were already making their way to the church, up the path that led to the top of the cliff, and Belle could sense their curiosity. It shimmered in the air like the heat waves rising off the cliff, seen but unseen.

The shawl clad figures walked in little huddles that were in some strange way attached to each other, but separate from her. She was not one of them. Their eyes never seemed to meet hers, while at the same time they exuded a barely concealed air of contempt for her, bringing out all the feelings of worthlessness and vulnerability that she was trying so hard to suppress. It was just as well she’d put on her finest dress and daintiest slippers, because this was the only way she could show them she was better than they were in their dull, coarse skirts and blouses, and their heavy, ungainly shoes.

‘Belle,’ Annie’s voice sounded sharp, ‘the bairn will slip and fall out of that shawl before you’re halfway up the cliff path. Come back in and I’ll give you one of mine.’

‘Sarah’s fine, she’ll come to no harm.’ Belle forced the words out. She fingered the silk and wool shawl that she had wound round Sarah before strapping her to her breast and thought of the length of time it had taken to arrange the pattern and the fringes to their best effect. She did not want one of Annie’s shawls which were horrid homespun things. They were scratchy and uncomfortable and would hide what she was wearing. The clothes she was relying on to boost her confidence.

‘I’ll brook no argument. I’ll not have you kill the child, for that path’s steep and your shawl’s too silky to hold her. Take it off.’
‘Can I wear Belle’s shawl?’ Jeannie had followed her mother out of the door.
‘No you may not, and neither will Belle.’
Belle unwrapped Sarah and removed the silky shawl, reluctantly winding the one Annie handed her round her shoulders and round Sarah.

‘That’s better,’ Annie said, pinning it into place.

The shawl smelled of fish combined with soot from the fire, and the roughness of it scratched her neck. Belle felt like crying and her resentment of Annie increased. The baby did not seem to mind though, as she snuggled into her mother’s breast, alternatively sucking her lips and making little mewing noises.

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