Aimeebookcover

 

Published by Lake Union Publishing

Ebook & Paperback: 26 April 2016

 

 

Lucy Arigho’s first encounter with Greg Millar is far from promising, but she soon realises he possesses a charm that is impossible to resist. Just eight whirlwind weeks after their first meeting, level-headed career girl Lucy is seriously considering his pleas to marry him and asking herself if she could really be stepmother material.

But before Lucy can make a final decision about becoming part of Greg’s world, events plunge her right into it. On holiday in the South of France, things start to unravel. Her future stepchildren won’t accept her, the interfering nanny resents her, and they’re stuck in a heat wave that won’t let up. And then there’s Greg. His behaviour becomes increasingly bizarre and Lucy begins to wonder whether his larger-than-life personality hides something darker—and whether she knows him at all.

 

Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of hosting Aimee Alexander on the blog with a very interesting guest post, “Should readers contact authors?“,  and I now have a review of The Accidental Life of Greg Millar. 

 

Lucy Arigho’s first meeting with Greg Millar didn’t go that well however just a few weeks later she is considering his proposal and they appear to be madly in love. Little does she know just how much her life will change.

Set in Ireland and the South of France, and narrated in the present tense by Lucy, this is a multi faceted story of love, family, relationships, and much deeper complex issues. I don’t want to give away any spoilers but I really felt for Lucy when she was struggling to cope. Having been in a very similar situation to Lucy myself some years ago, so much of her experience was familiar ground and reading this story bought back some very unhappy memories.

Lucy wasn’t a character that I immediately engaged with, she seemed cold and distant, maybe not surprising as she’d had her own tragedy to deal with and had retreated from life and love when she met Greg Millar; a crime writer and widowed with two young children. Unlike Lucy who was a much more reserved character, Greg was full of life and had a reckless and impulsive nature. He very quickly managed to break down her self-protection barriers and even though there were times when I thought their relationship was too much, too fast, it was heart-warming to see her living a little.

Lucy’s integration into Greg’s life was not without its difficulties and she faced hostility from so many quarters that a lesser person would have been worn down and there were times when I thought that perhaps she should admit defeat and walk away. It’s Lucy’s strength of character that carries her through and there were certainly enough peaks and troughs of happiness and despair in this story for more than one lifetime.

The author writes the story very well and the characters are realistic and rounded; whether you love or hate them, they are unforgettable. There was an excellent sense of place, particularly with the part set in the South of France. This is much more than just a simple romance story. The drama and emotion continue to the very end to make this a very moving read and definitely one to be recommended.

 

My thanks to the author for the e-copy to review.

 

At the time of writing this post, The Accidental Life of Greg Millar is available to download from Amazon UK for just 99p

 

I should also mention that this book was previously published as Loves Comes Tumbling under the name of Denise Deegan. (When adding ‘Greg Millar’ to my Goodreads shelf, I realised that I already had the original book!)

 

About the author:

Aimeeauthorpic

Aimee Alexander is the pen name of bestselling Irish author Denise Deegan. She writes modern family sagas about ordinary people who become extraordinary in a crisis. Aimee lives with her family in Dublin, where she regularly dreams of sunshine, a life without cooking, and her novels being made into movies. She has a master’s degree in public relations and has been a college lecturer, nurse, china restorer, pharmaceutical sales rep, public relations executive and entrepreneur.

 

Author website | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon UK | Goodreads

 

 

It’s a pleasure to welcome to the blog author Jeremy Hinchliff. with a guest post.  Dead Olives was published by Watchword, a digital-first imprint of Impress Books on 31 July 2016 and is described as ‘an exotic, sun-drenched thriller set in Greece during the economic crisis’.

 

A trip to Ancient Messίni

 

Be warned if you are looking for the archaeological site of Ancient Messίni. You may be told it is near the village of Mavromáti. But there are two Mavromátis. One is close to modern Messίni the other to its ancient parent. This has fooled some map makers into moving the historic site 20 kilometres in the wrong direction. No problem if you have a car but if you bike it those extra kilometres can make a difference.

Fire damage close to the archaeological site

On the steep ascent (pushing my bike, I confess) one crest looked ominously black. There was a church on the top. The area around it looked burnt.

At the site I blundered in the rear entrance by mistake, coming first to the temple of Asklepios, the ancient god of medicine.  You get great views from there between the hills over the plain.

View from the temple of Asklepios

 

I wondered if the building actually included surgeries in ancient times, or pharmacies. Stoas, booths and cult rooms, it said on the sign. I would have been in the queue for sun cream and saddle sore ointment.

Ancient Messini does not have as many eye-catchers as the more famous sites; its importance is its size and longevity, inhabited continuously through classical Greek, Roman, Byzantine and Frankish times.  It is a great addition for the visitor to the Peloponnese.

jeremy_mosiac

Mosaic floor tiles

Archaeological work is still going on there so more will come to light for a long time to come.

Label on the treasury: “In which a general of the Achaian League, Philopoemen of Megalipolis was imprisoned in 103/2 B.C. and poisoned by the Messinian general Deinokrates…”

jeremy_restored-theatre

Restored theatre

Visually the most impressive thing is the ancient theatre. It was large by the standards of the day. Worth trying to catch one of the modern productions staged there to illuminate your tour.

 

For a video from a recent performance click here

 

 

 

 

Tips:

  • Possibly worth visiting the museum before you slog round the site in the blazing sun. It brings the remains to life. Featured here and here.  Otherwise it can seem like a lot of temple columns to go round with not much to illuminate them.
  • There are tavernas and cafes around the site.
    There is a toilet at the site and a tap; vital to fill water bottles.
    Not that many buses. Some guide books are out of date on this.
    Distances: about 25 km north west of Kalamata; 20 km north of modern Messίni. The site is close to Meligálas which is well signposted.

I am eternally grateful for the one or two church taps I passed going home. When I dripped off my bicycle into the taverna at the end of the day Yannis the head waiter told me the fire happened only the previous day. Hence the black mountain. Fortunately I spent that day cycling to the wrong Mavromáti.

 

dead-olives

 

With Greece caught in the jaws of economic crisis, the lives of its people are spiralling into disarray. Sunday and Samwells Ngone are migrants struggling to survive in a country rife with poverty and patrolled by right-wing militias. Filoxénia is trying to carve out an independent life for herself in the city, while her beautiful sister Anássa is keeping dangerous company. Their lives are brought together by events at the FlyKing Hotel. A theft. A shooting. And the flight of a group of migrants who all share one name. The intertwined lives of Greeks as disparate as policemen, academics and anarchists will be exposed. As economic and racial tensions flare, old friendships are tested and loyalties broken. Ripples from the FlyKing are felt throughout the already turbulent city of Athens and the small village of Páno Pétro.

 

About the author:

Jeremy Hinchliff worked as a librarian for twenty years before moving to Greece to write about the debt crisis. Dead Olives is his first novel. He studied Classics at Oxford and Information Management at Thames Valley University. He lives in Somerset and Messinίa.

You can follow Jeremy on Twitter – @HinchJeremy and Watchword E books here 

 

At the time of writing this post, Dead Olives is available to download from Amazon UK for 99p

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How to Find Love in a Bookshop – Veronica Henry

Published by Orion

Ebook and Hardback : 16 June 2016  | Paperback: 22 September 2016

 

 

how to find love in a bookshop

Everyone has a story . . . but will they get the happy ending they deserve?

Emilia has just returned to her idyllic Cotswold hometown to rescue the family business. Nightingale Books is a dream come true for book-lovers, but the best stories aren’t just within the pages of the books she sells – Emilia’s customers have their own tales to tell.

There’s the lady of the manor who is hiding a secret close to her heart; the single dad looking for books to share with his son but who isn’t quite what he seems; and the desperately shy chef trying to find the courage to talk to her crush . . .

And as for Emilia’s story, can she keep the promise she made to her father and save Nightingale Books?

 

 

 

I’ve been a fan of Veronica Henry’s books since her early Honeycote days and was delighted to be invited to take part in the blog tour for the paperback publication of How to Find Love in a Bookshop, available from tomorrow.  I could quite happily spend hours in a bookshop and the setting of this Cotswold bookshop – Nightingale Books, sounded so idyllic.

From the moment we are introduced to a young Julius Nightingale in the prologue I had the feeling that he was someone special.  In difficult circumstances and with his baby daughter in tow, he transformed a dilapidated damp-ridden space into a bookshop and made it his life.  When, over 30 years later, his daughter Emilia took over the bookshop baton, she had a struggle on her hands, both emotionally and financially.  With a developer desperate for the property and circling like a vulture, I was desperately hoping that Emilia would find a way to keep this lovely bookshop open for business.

Veronica Henry has perfectly captured the very best of community spirit in this novel and also I suspect, the day to day concerns and difficulties of any independent bookshop owner.  Julius was much loved in the village and it was wonderful to see how friends and neighbours rallied round to try and help. From the lady of the manor, Sarah Basildon, a woman keeping secrets of her own to her gardener Dillon keeping a concerned and watchful eye on the Basildon family, all the various personalities with their flaws and foibles are at the heart of the story.  This was a delightfully warmhearted and engaging read with drama, romance and of course BOOKS – and made even more enjoyable by the diverse characters contained within.   I was taken back to my childhood when Emilia handed Jackson a copy of Finn Family Moomintroll – one of my favourite childhood reads.

Another interesting touch was that some of the main characters had their own top 10 literary lists separating the chapters – Julius Nightingale – 10 Cult Classics; Sarah Basildon – Literary Country Houses together with book lists of music and food.

I loved spending time in Nightingale Books – I only wish I had a bookshop like this near me!

At the back of the book there is an Q&A with the author in which she mentions that although Nightingale Books is a combination of various bookshops that she has visited, one of the main influences was the window of Goldsboro Books in Cecil Court, London.   Along with many other book bloggers, I’ve been to Goldsboro many times and I can well understand why  – the shop frontage has that ‘olde worlde’ charm that just entices you through the door.

 

My thanks to Elaine Egan and the publisher for inviting me to take part in the tour and for providing a copy of the book for review.

 

About the author:

veronica-henry

Veronica Henry began her career as a secretary on ‘The Archers’ before turning her hand to scriptwriting. She has written for some of our best loved television dramas, including Heartbeat and Holby City. She writes escapist fiction with an edge – A Night on the Orient Express won Romantic Novel of the Year in 2014. She had also written a Quick Read, called A Sea Change, and edited a collection of short stories called The Anniversary. Her fourteenth novel is How to Find Love in a Book Shop.

 

Author website | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon UK | Goodreads

 

 

 

 

 

Jacques Blog Tour Banner

 

Published by Twenty 7

ebook : 15 December 2015 | paperback : 8th September 2016

 

 

Five Writing Commandments I Live By

Tanya Ravenswater

The challenge of choosing just five writing commandments to live by is a reflection of the writer’s task as a whole. So much is about making specific choices, about what to write and how exactly to write it; about everything from particular words and punctuation to judgements regarding structure, characterisation, pacing and so on. While being aware of the endless possibilities, the writer has to move on from the simply pondering stage and definitively commit words to paper, feeling in that moment it’s their best shot. While the final version of the novel or poem in print may be seen as an enduring legacy, the practice of writing teaches a lot about flux and the randomness of choices. While you have to settle on something, you know there’s always potential for other revisions. So much is really not set in stone, especially when it comes to personal writing commandments!

So saying, I’ve tried to outline five connected guiding ideas below that I’ve found helpful to remind myself of when writing.

Make writing a priority

This one probably sounds obvious, but even when you describe yourself as a writer, you can easily get side-tracked by yourself and others. There can be no end of essential, worthy jobs your procrastinating mood can persuade yourself are urgent – people and paperwork needing immediate attention, a home that deserves so much more love, an exercise deprived pet. And there are no end of writerly activities to get involved in – writers’ groups, readers’ groups, courses, workshops, social media. It can be very inspiring and supportive to exchange writing ideas and there’s no denying that when it comes to promoting your work you have to get out there, but the core of a writer’s life is thinking, drafting and redrafting. If finishing a novel or poetry collection is what you know will truly satisfy you, you owe yourself the achievement.

Discover the things that fascinate you, and enjoy writing about them

Find subject matter that motivates you to stay with it. Crafting a novel or a poem can be a very demanding project and however much you enjoy it, there’s a lot of sheer graft and stamina required. To sustain the will and energy to complete, it’s important that you’re gripped by a question, a theme, a character. If you’re half-hearted, it’ll show. To hook in a reader, you have to be hooked yourself by your writing focus. Go where the energy is.

Trust yourself, your writing voice

There’s always a tension in writing between expressing yourself in your own terms and awareness of a possible audience. Especially if you’re hoping to sell your work and you write within a specific genre, you may be even more conscious of the demands of a market and the kind of formulas that have achieved success. If you aspire to originality in what you read and write, you have to hold your own and believe that your unique take matters. As Barbara Kingsolver said: ‘Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It’s the one and only thing you have to offer.’

Discover a lifestyle that supports creativity

Being a writer is an ongoing job running parallel to all the other jobs in your life that depends on a sharp-subtle awareness and imaginative stores. Everything that happens, all that you feel and observe can be grist for the mill. While some people may consider what you do as the equivalent of a ‘wee’ leisurely hobby, actually you know how mentally and emotionally taxing full-on writing and editing can be. As far as possible, you have to attempt to look after mind and body, so you have the verve to draw on. Cultivate and value your inner life. Allow regular time to read quality work and write.

Be open to receiving feedback

There’s no doubt about it, having your creation criticised can feel demoralising and hurtful. You’ve invested so much of yourself, so any sweeping negative comments or trivial nit-picking can hit hard personally. At the same time, listening to an external view offered in the right spirit can really help you to improve. You always have to bear in mind that your content and style may not be to everyone’s taste, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t good. At the end of the day, you’re the author and can choose to accept what helps you and what doesn’t. And who, actually, you’d really be best to avoid!

 

Jacques

 

A story of loss, longing, falling in love and finding a place to call home. And, most importantly, the power of the relationships that help is along the way

This is the story of Jacques Lafitte, a young French boy who is orphaned and torn away from everything he knows. Forced to move to England to live with his guardian – the proud and distant Oliver Clark – Jacques find himself alone in a strange country, and a strange world.

As years go by, Jacques becomes part of the Clark family and learns to love life again.

But then his feelings for Rebecca – Oliver’s daughter – become stronger.

And this development has the power to bring them together or tear the whole family apart…

For fans of Boyhood, Jacques is a moving and unique coming-of-age story about one boy’s struggle to find his place in the world.

 

About the author:

Tanya Ravenswater

 

Tanya Ravenswater was born in County Down, Northern Ireland. She first graduated in modern languages from St Andrews University. She has worked as a nurse, in bereavement support and counselling education. With a love of words since childhood, inspired by Nature and fascinated by the diversity of inner worlds and relationships, Tanya writes fiction and poetry for adults and children. She has published a collection of short stories for women, and has also been short-listed and published in the Cheshire Prize anthologies. Her children’s poem, Badger, was the winner of the 2014-15 Cheshire Prize for Literature.

 

 

Twitter | Amazon UK | Goodreads

the fire child

 

Published by Harper Collins

E-book & Hardback : 16 June 2016 | Paperback 23 March 2017

 

The chilling new psychological thriller by S. K. Tremayne, author of the Sunday Times No. 1 bestseller, THE ICE TWINS.

When Rachel marries dark, handsome David, everything seems to fall into place. Swept from single life in London to the beautiful Carnhallow House in Cornwall, she gains wealth, love, and an affectionate stepson, Jamie. But then Jamie’s behaviour changes, and Rachel’s perfect life begins to unravel. He makes disturbing predictions, claiming to be haunted by the spectre of his late mother – David’s previous wife. Is this Jamie’s way of punishing Rachel, or is he far more traumatized than she thought? As Rachel starts digging into the past, she begins to grow suspicious of her husband. Why is he so reluctant to discuss Jamie’s outbursts? And what exactly happened to cause his ex-wife’s untimely death, less than two years ago? As summer slips away and December looms, Rachel begins to fear there might be truth in Jamie’s words: ‘You will be dead by Christmas.’

 

I reviewed S K Tremayne’s debut. ‘The Ice Twins‘ here on the blog in 2014 and although the book has received mixed reviews, I very much enjoyed it. With this second book, the author appears to be sticking with the same formula of a psychological thriller with a supernatural feel.

The first chapter begins 178 days before Christmas. It remains to be seen whether Rachel is indeed ‘dead by Christmas’!

From its position on the Cornish coast, Carnhallow House could itself be regarded as a main character. An old rambling house, with unused rooms (it had 78 bedrooms!) it had a creepy gothic atmospheric feel which is very unsettling.

Initially I felt some sympathy for Rachel Daly. She married lawyer David Kerthern after a whirlwind romance but didn’t realise all the implications. She knew that he was widowed with a young son but was unaware of the exact detail of his previous wife’s death or that she would be taking on his family’s legacy of Carnhallow too – one that David will go to any lengths to protect. David is away a lot for work and she is left in the huge old house with his troubled young son Jamie. David’s mother Juliet lives on the estate but her own health problems mean that she can be of little help to Rachel. The influence of Nina, David’s first wife seems to be everywhere – from the partially completed restoration of Carnhallow and her notebooks detailing her plans for the project and even her clothes hidden in basement rooms. It’s not surprising that faced with the sophistication and apparent perfection of her predecessor, Rachel feels increasingly inadequate and out of her depth. As the story progressed it became clear that both Rachel and David were hiding secrets from each other and I began to wonder just how reliable Rachel’s versions of events were. As for Jamie – is he really seeing ghosts or just tormenting Rachel.

Whilst I did enjoy The Fire Child and found it very readable I felt it lacked the impact of The Ice Twins and for me the suspense wasn’t sustained throughout. The story seemed to slow down and meander, especially in the middle, although it later picked up at a faster pace and became a much more exciting read. It was certainly an unnerving read, made even more so by the changing weather – from the all-encompassing fog and mist to snow storms increasing the sense of isolation.

As with The Ice Twins, there are small black and white photographs separating the chapters. It’s fair to say that the story reminded me very much of Daphne Du Maurier’s ‘Rebecca‘ and I wondered if that was the author’s intention. It was an atmospheric tale which at times goes into great detail of the many derelict mines surrounding the house but I just found that overall there was a little too much description and not enough story. To summarise my thoughts on this one – I liked it….quite a lot (but I didn’t love it as much as I expected to).

My thanks to Lovereading and the publisher for the hardback copy.