Monday 31 October 2016

Celebrations and Confetti - Rebecca Raisin **GUEST POST**

Today I have a sneak peek at Cedarwood Lodge....and am wishing so hard it wasn't a fictional place! I could do with a stay there right about now....

"Get ready for Christmas with the first part in a feel-good romance serial from best selling author, Rebecca Raisin!

Clio Winters is finally fulfilling her childhood dream of renovating the gorgeous old Cedarwood Lodge in Evergreen. Turning it into the perfect destination for big celebrations, weddings and parties has brought her back home, but Cedarwood Lodge is in need of a lot of tender loving care.
Perhaps all the work will be the perfect distraction from the real reason she had to leave her glamorous New York life behind.
Will coming home be the best decision of her life… or her biggest regret?
Cedarwood Lodge is a delectable romance told in three parts – following Clio Winters journey back to her hometown of Evergreen. This is Part One."

Welcome to the Cedarwood Lodge, situated in the town of Evergreen. All you have to do here is relax, and let Clio and her staff cater to your every whim!
Here are a list of our winter recreation activities that are available for our guests, just ring the bell and we’ll arrange it for you.
·      Hiking, choose a trail and let Georges pack you a gourmet picnic
·      Cooking classes: choose from sweet or savory, simple or gourmet, if you can dream of it, Georges can do it!
·      Dance lessons: salsa, tango, ballroom, Latin, our dance instructor is a phone call away
·      Art room: capture the view in water color, sketch, or oils, or if craft is your thing, head to the studio and check out the supplies
·      Games room: Billiards, board games, table tennis, to name but a few things we have on offer. You’ll find the games room opposite the ballroom
·      Ice skate on the lake, join in on snowman building competitions, snowball fights, or sledding.
·      Spa room: call ahead and Clio can arrange any number of beauty treatments from massage to facials, and mud wraps
·      Join us by the campfire to sing songs and toast marshmallows
·      Want to keep the kids busy? Sign them up to the end of season show, there’s a part for everyone!
·      For our bibliophiles, check out the library upstairs, peruse the huge display of books catering for every genre
·      Movie room: flick through our extensive movie library and pull up a beanbag and watch it on the big screen
·      Go for a run around the jogging track
·       Take a virtual yoga/Pilates class

We hope you enjoy your stay!

Celebrations and Confetti is out now and you can get it here:

Monday 17 October 2016

Dancers in the Wind - Anne Coates

Today I'm hosting a guest post from Anne Coates - author of Dancers in the Wind. She tells us all about her long road to publication. 

"SHE IS HUNTING FOR THE TRUTH, BUT WHO IS HUNTING HER? Freelance journalist and single mother Hannah Weybridge is commissioned by a national newspaper to write an investigative article on the notorious red light district in Kings Cross. There she meets prostitute Princess, and police inspector in the vice squad, Tom Jordan. When Princess later arrives on her doorstep beaten up so badly she is barely recognisable, Hannah has to make some tough decisions and is drawn ever deeper into the world of deceit and violence. Three sex workers are murdered, their deaths covered up in a media blackout, and Hannah herself is under threat. As she comes to realise that the taste for vice reaches into the higher echelons of the great and the good, Hannah realises she must do everything in her power to expose the truth .... and stay alive."

Dancers in the Wind – the long journey to publication

I began writing Dancers in the Wind over 20 years ago. When I thought I had completed it, I sent it to a few agents I’d had dealings with in my role as an editor. Each agent liked it to a certain extent and offered suggestions – which I took on board – but even after changes, no one wanted to take it on.

At the time, as well as my journalism and editing, I began writing non-fiction books and I was having my short stories accepted in women’s magazines. Dancers in the Wind went the way of another novel I’d written (encouraged by an agent) and found it’s way into the bottom drawer of my filing cabinet. Almost forgotten but not quite…

Fast-forward two decades and, having a clear out, I discovered the manuscript (two actually the other still awaits my attention!) and having a free afternoon, I read it. I’d forgotten much of the action and detail so I was almost approaching it as an editor, rather than the writer.

By the time I’d finished reading, I was convinced the story was worth telling – but it needed some work. As I had changed computers and software several times since writing the original, I had to retype the whole thing. Touch-typing is not a skill I possess so it was an arduous task. I bought some dictating software but I found that almost as frustrating. I have never managed to train my Dragon!

Having printed out the pages, I then began the long revision process, checking and editing the timeline, adding and subtracting scenes, reading out loud chapter after chapter. Proof reading. In my other life as a journalist and editor we always had three people proofing. I had no such luxury until a friend and fellow editor offered to step into the breech…

Eventually I thought I had a viable manuscript. Then as I was reading through one last time I realised the ending was a bit weak. Immediately a much more sinister scene presented itself and I was pleased with the result.

Not so, however, with the agents I approached. One didn’t reply at all although I had met him and discussed sending the novel to him. One sent a standard rejection with advice to read her book (I had) and about two liked the idea ­– but not quite enough. A publisher in the US offered to take me on but the email they sent was full of so many mistakes that it didn’t bode well for their publishing skills.

Then I saw a tweet by a publisher looking for reviewers for one of his titles. And within a short while I had a review copy and an offer to read my manuscript, after I’d sent in the idea on Urbane Publications website.

Matthew Smith was not only enthusiastic about Dancers, he also bought into the idea of a trilogy. To say I was ecstatic is an understatement. A contract with a new independent publisher offering a dynamic and innovative publishing concept of collaboration and care was a dream come true. 
So just before publication date for Dancers I submitted the manuscript for Death’s Silent Judgement to be published in May, with the third to be released in the autumn.

The journey to publication has been a marathon which finished in a sprint: from début crime novel to publishing three books – within twelve months or so (plus all those years of preparation). 

Dancers in the Wind is out now and you can get it here:

Tuesday 27 September 2016

The Kill Fee - Fiona Vetch Smith

"Poppy Denby, Arts and Entertainment Editor at The Daily Globe, covers an exhibition of Russian Art, hosted by White Russian refugees, including members of the surviving exiled Romanov Royal family. There is an armed robbery, a guard is shot, and the largest Faberge Egg in the collection is stolen. The egg itself is valuable, but more so are the secrets it contains within - secrets that could threaten major political powers. Suspects are aplenty, including the former keeper of the Faberge Egg, a Russian Princess called Selena Romanova Yusopova. The interim Bolshevik Russian ambassador, Vasili Safin inserts himself into the investigation, as he believes the egg - and the other treasures - should all be restored to the Russian people. Poppy, her editor Rollo, press photographer Daniel, and the other staff of the Globe are delighted to be once again in the middle of a sensational story. But, soon the investigation takes a dark turn when another body is found and an employee of the newspaper becomes a suspect...The race is on to find both the key and the egg - can they be found before the killer strikes again?"

This is the second offering from Fiona Vetch Smith in her Poppy Denby Investigates series, and I enjoyed this as much as the first. With a twisting plot line and some very unsavoury characters I was unsure who to trust as events unfolded. 

I love the setting for these novels - London in the 20s - and Fiona's style of writing makes it easy to imagine the way things were in those days. Poppy is a brilliant characters, completely ahead of her time and her outlook on life is very refreshing! I'm looking forward to hearing more from Poppy...this is series that could easily run and run! 

The Kill Fee is out now and you can get it here:

**My thanks to the publisher for my ARC**

Sunday 18 September 2016

The Girl from The Savoy - Hazel Gaynor **GUEST POST**

Today I'm hosting a guest post from the lovely Hazel Gaynor, author of The Girl from The Savoy. 

London Glamour
When I moved to London in the early ‘90s I was instantly charmed. There was something about the iconic buildings and the atmosphere that I just loved and felt very comfortable being around. I lived and worked in London for seven years, and was sad to leave when I moved to Ireland. Of course, when you live in a city you rarely do the ‘tourist’ things so it was only after I’d left, and returned for visits, that I did the Tower of London, St. Paul’s, the London Dungeons and so much more.
It was such a joy to write about London in THE GIRL FROM THE SAVOY. In many ways, the hotel and London itself became characters in the book. Writing about such a golden age as the 1920s made me very nostalgic for the more glamourous side of the city, so here is my perfect London day, inspired by my characters Dolly and Loretta, and by my experience of writing the book.
Where better to start the day than breakfast at The Wolseley, such a London institution that food critic A.A. Gill has written a book about it. (No prizes for guessing the title. Yep. Breakfast at the Wolseley). I would have to choose an omelette Arnold Bennett, created by chefs at the Savoy Grill especially for Mr. Bennett, a novelist, whose book Imperial Palace was written at The Savoy and formed part of my research.
After breakfast, a stroll through Green Park and Belgravia before visiting the V&A Museum. The permanent collections – fashion, ceramics, glass and many more – are always wonderful, as are the special exhibitions. The wedding dresses exhibition was amazing. At the moment, you can see Undressed: A Brief History of Underwear! The beautiful gardens at the back of the museum are also the perfect place to escape the bustle of London and relax over coffee. It was at the V&A Theatre Archives (housed separately in Blythe House near Olympia) that I did most of my research into the lives of actresses and theatrical producers of the 1920s.
On to Afternoon tea at Claridge’s which is where my characters, Loretta and Perry, meet every Wednesday. When I was writing the book I contacted the hotel to check what would have been on the menu in the 1920s. They explained that the selection would have been very similar to today – sandwiches, scones and cakes. Sandwich fillings would have been chicken and tarragon, roast beef, and egg mayonnaise. Today, afternoon tea is served today in The Foyer but up to 1926 this was known as The Winter Garden, which is what it is called in The Girl From The Savoy.
Of course no day out in London would be complete without taking in a West End show. The Gallery Girls of the 1920s - ordinary working girls who saved all their wages for theatre tickets - would queue for hours at the theatre doors and scream the house down from the cheap seats at the very top of the theatres. It was from up there that Dolly watches the spectacle on the stage and dreams of being there herself one day. The Novello Theatre was named after the composer Ivor Novello who lived in a flat there for many years. Novello inspired my character, Perry, who lives on the top floor of The Strand theatre (as it was known at the time).
After the show, it has to be dancing at The Savoy with a cocktail in the famous American Bar. The Savoy always had a resident band (the Savoy Orpheans in the 1920s, which has a small cameo in the book). Now the band is Alex Mendham and his Orchestra, who play authentic 1920s and 1930s jazz in the Savoy ballroom. I’d love to try a Corpse Reviver cocktail, invented to fight off the Spanish Flu epidemic that followed the end of WW1.
And to finish the day, a moonlit walk along The Embankment where Loretta looks for shooting stars and Dolly admires the work of the screevers – pavement artists. After all that, just time to curl up with a good book in one of the famous Savoir ‘Savoy’ beds, first made especially for The Savoy in 1905, and still made for them today.

The Girl From The Savoy is out now and you can get it here:

Saturday 3 September 2016

First Monday - September Edition!

First Monday is a BRILLIANT new evening for crime fiction lovers everywhere - and at £5 a ticket it's a snip. September's evening will include Sophie Hannah, Tim Weaver, Rod Reynolds - author of the incredible Texarkana noir The Dark Inside and Black Night Falling, and Jane Corry, interviewed by Jake Kerridge. I was lucky enough to receive copies of Sophie and Tim's books for review - and they are both CRACKING reads, which makes me even more devastated to miss this month's crime-filled evening.

"Hercule Poirot returns in another brilliant murder mystery that can only be solved by the eponymous Belgian detective and his ‘little grey cells’.
‘What I intend to say to you will come as a shock . . .’
Lady Athelinda Playford has planned a house party at her mansion in Clonakilty, County Cork, but it is no ordinary gathering. As guests arrive, Lady Playford summons her lawyer to make an urgent change to her will – one she intends to announce at dinner that night. She has decided to cut off her two children without a penny and leave her fortune to someone who has only weeks to live . . .
Among Lady Playford’s guests are two men she has never met – the famous Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot, and Inspector Edward Catchpool of Scotland Yard. Neither knows why he has been invited . . . until Poirot starts to wonder if Lady Playford expects a murderer to strike. But why does she seem so determined to provoke, in the presence of a possible killer?
When the crime is committed in spite of Poirot’s best efforts to stop it, and the victim is not who he expected it to be, will he be able to find the culprit and solve the mystery?"

I don't think I know of any crime fiction lover that doesn't love Agatha Christie - I am a HUGE fan and have to confess to feeling a little nervous at reading Sophie Hannah's recreation of Hercule Poirot. WHAT??! Why was I worried? She is an absolute MASTER - in this (the second Poirot book written by Sophie) she easily recreates the levels of suspense that Christie mastered so well. I loved the puzzling plot line and there were plenty of gasp-inducing moments as Poirot worked those little grey cells to give the reader a most satisfying conclusion.  
Closed Casket is out on 6th September and you can get it here:

My second read for First Monday was the utterly brilliant Broken Heart by Tim Weaver.
"Where did she go?
What did she know?
A woman drives to a secluded beauty spot on the Somerset coast.
CCTV watches her enter but doesn't see her leaving.
In fact, Lynda Korin is never seen again.
How can someone just disappear?
Her sister calls missing persons investigator David Raker.
For him, the mystery of where she went is only the start. The real question is why a woman with no reason to run would choose to leave her entire life behind?
Was it her decision? Or did someone make it for her?
Raker is an expert at following the echoes of decades-old lies. But only Lynda Korin knows the most shocking secret of all - and she's missing, presumed dead..."

Blimey. I knew the new Tim Weaver novel would be good, but this one was OFF THE SCALE good. As expected, a gripping plot line and some despicable villains make for a pacy, addictive read, and Weaver hides some brilliant subtle twists and turns. It'll be worth heading to First Monday just to quiz Tim on how he comes up with these cracking twists!

Broken Heart is out now and you can get it here:

First Monday crime tickets are available here: 

Don't miss it! 

Thursday 25 August 2016

Ash and Bones - Mike Thomas

"A cop killer on the loose in Cardiff - introducing a dark and gritty new voice in crime fiction, perfect for fans of Stuart MacBride and David Mark

At a squalid flat near the Cardiff docks, an early morning police raid goes catastrophically wrong when the police aren't the only unexpected guests. A plain clothes officer is shot dead at point blank range, the original suspect is left in a coma. The killer, identity unknown, slips away.

Young and inexperienced, Will MacReady starts his first day on the CID. With the city in shock and the entire force reeling, he is desperate to help ­- but unearths truths that lead the team down an increasingly dark path...'

FINALLY -  a police procedural that doesn't involve an old, jaded, got-his-demons detective on the cusp of retirement! I loved the fact that our main detective in this novel is "the new guy" - I loved his insecurity, his slightly rogue attitude to the way he does things, and the fact that he's yet to be swallowed up by the usual crap that sucks the life out of most detectives we meet in these kinds of books. 
The premise was a good one - one that had me hooked pretty much from the off - and at first I thought there was no way every thing was going to tie together, so I was pleased when the ending gave me answers to all the questions I had hovering in my head. 
This is a class example of how a police procedural should be written - fast paced and edgy, with believable characters and a plot that sucks you right in. I'll be waiting impatiently for the next in the series...

Ash and Bones is out on 25th August and you can get it here;

**My thanks to the publisher for my ARC**

Sunday 7 August 2016

Down on Daffodil Lane - Rebecca Pugh *RELEASE DAY BLITZ*

Our lovely Rebecca has been a bit poorly of late, so what better way to cheer her up than all her writer/blogger mates getting together to blitz her new book baby on release day? (Fabulous idea, Rebecca Minton!) Sooo.....Down on Daffodil Lane is out today! 

Release Day Blitz!

A charmed life…

Maria Charm’s world might have recently crumbled, but that doesn’t mean she’s going to let it get her down.
Sure, her ex-husband broke her heart and decimated her trust, and while it would be so tempting to spend forever in her dressing gown, a tub of ice-cream in one hand and a glass of Chardonnay in the other, Maria wants more from her new—single—life!
A make over of her lovely little cottage on Daffodil Lane and a new job at Harriet’s café are just the distractions Maria needs to carve a new life in the country. One distraction she doesn’t need is Mr Tall, Brooding and Handsome from down the lane! 'Maria may only be in town temporarily, but there's nothing temporary about the tingles she feels at gorgeous Brad's touch…
After everything she’s been through, can Maria ever trust a man again? Could risking her heart with Brad lead to a charmed life on Daffodil Lane?
Find out in Rebecca Pugh’s dazzling novel, Down on Daffodil Lane!


Publisher – Carina UK 
Publication Date – 8th of August 2016

Author Bio:

Rebecca Pugh grew up in the green county of Shropshire. Not an immediate reader, it took her a while to find her way towards the wonderful fictional words hidden between the pages of books. Ever since, she’s fallen under the spell of countless authors and the tales they've weaved. Her favourite authors include Jill Mansell, Cathy Bramley, Sarah Morgan and Holly Martin, to name but a few. She loves nothing more than tapping away at the keyboard, taking her characters from imagination to page and, when that isn’t the case, she adores curling up with a good book.

Rebecca is a fan of fairy tale romances that sweep you off your feet, dashing heroes and strong, lovable heroines. She can’t make up her mind whether she prefers a countryside escape, or a love story set in bustling New York. Either way, she’s more than happy to disappear into both.

When it comes to her own writing, Rebecca aims to whisk readers away to desirable locations, where they can meet characters who, she hopes, will begin to feel like friends. With a dash of romance here, and a shake-up of things there, she loves dreaming up stories and watching them come to life

You can get Becca's other books here: