Thursday, 10 August 2017

The Trouble With Words by Suzie Tullet





Annabel is desperate to have a baby – there’s just one problem. She’s single and after losing her husband in a hit and run accident, she’s just not ready for another relationship. 
Dan is on the hunt for the perfect woman but when his mother drops a bombshell, he starts to feel the pressure.
When Dan and Annabel’s worlds collide, both start to think that maybe they’ve found the solution to their problems. But things are about to get messy.
Can Dan and Annabel get what they want?
Both will soon find out that the trouble with words is finding the right thing to say.




Annabel wants a baby,which is what her and her husband planned to do before he died but now Annabel wants to find a donor and do it by herself. Like any non sensible person she grabs the first decent man she sees in the pub and asks him to oblige. Luckily it turns out that Dan is a decent man.

No one else thinks this is a good idea as Annabel is still in love with her husband but can Dan change that?
I enjoyed this story, it was very bittersweet. It was the story of a widow moving on from the death of her husband. Annabel still went to her husband's grave to tell him what was happening in her life, but it's lonely when you get no answer back.
I didn't think Annabel was doing the right thing in looking for a sperm donor as it meant she was giving up on finding love again. 

I think Dan was lonely too, he still lived with his mother never finding the right woman who lived up to her expectations. She was desperate to get him together with her old friend's daughter and no one else would do.
I didn't like Dan's mother at all through most of the story I thought she interfered with her son's love life too much and I couldn't understand why he didn't get his own place to live. I liked her more towards the end of the book when she seemed to soften.
There are many funny moments with Annabel and her sister and her friend and some parts are really sad when she speaks to her deceased husband.
The question seems to be,when can you move on? When can you start to want the things that make you happy? And can you do it without the person who you thought was the love of your life?
This book makes you ask all these questions and more.


https://www.amazon.co.uk/Trouble-Words-heart-warming-romantic-comedy-ebook/dp/B0747LRNFJ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1502378489&sr=8-1&keywords=The+trouble+with+words

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Our Summer Together by Fanny Blake






OUR SUMMER TOGETHER is an uplifting story about family, friendship and the happy surprise of finding love later in life.
Caro knows how to be a mother - advising her grown-up daughters on career and relationship worries. She knows how to be a grandmother - enjoying the hectic energy of her three-year-old grandson. She knows how to be a daughter - helping her aging mother retain her independence. 
She thought she knew everything about being a wife, but when her husband suddenly leaves her for another woman, everything is thrown in the air. So, when a chance meeting introduces her to Damir - younger, intriguing and attentive - she realises that opening up to a man so different from everyone else in her life, might also mean getting to know who she really is...




It makes a nice change to read a book about an older woman. Caro's husband left her two years ago when she was turning sixty. If there's anything that would make a woman feel her age it must be when her ex husband finds himself a younger  woman. Caro has accepted it,her two daughters have accepted it so life just has to go on. 
Her daughter's Lauren and Amy are involving Caro more in their lives to keep her occupied but she feels she's being taken advantage of slightly as she has plenty of things she wants to do for herself now. 
She doesn't want another man, she's tried but there's never been that special feeling until Damir walks into her life. Can she trust him? He's younger,what will her daughters say or even her mother?
I loved Caro and throughout the book I just wanted what was best for her. I laughed out loud at a proposition her daughter Lauren put to her but I'm not going to tell you about it, but if you're Caro's age you will laugh too.
Damir was lovely but a bit brooding for me although he has plenty of reasons to be like that I couldn't have put up with him but he made for a good character.
This was such an easy book to read and just a lovely story of a strong woman finding the courage to tell people what she really wanted.
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Our-Summer-Together-Fanny-Blake-ebook/dp/B01MA1OQMN/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1496420136&sr=8-1&keywords=Our+summer+together

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

An Almond for a Parrot by Wray Delaney





I would like to make myself the heroine of this story – an innocent victim led astray. But alas sir, I would be lying…’

London, 1756: In Newgate prison, Tully Truegood awaits trial. Her fate hanging in the balance, she tells her life-story. It’s a tale that takes her from skivvy in the back streets of London, to conjuror’s assistant, to celebrated courtesan at her stepmother’s Fairy House, the notorious house of ill-repute where decadent excess is a must…
Tully was once the talk of the town. Now, with the best seats at Newgate already sold in anticipation of her execution, her only chance of survival is to get her story to the one person who can help her avoid the gallows.
She is Tully Truegood.
Orphan, whore, magician’s apprentice. 
Murderer?




I'm delighted to be today's stop on the blog tour for this book. The author also writes children's books under the pen name of Sally Gardner.
As Tully awaits trial for murder she is writing the story of her life and how she ended up in prison. What a life she has had and she is still a young woman. Life in 18th Century London is very harsh for those born into poverty or born to ruthless fathers. Women like Tully, who is a courtesan are expendable to men who use and abuse them. Of course the women are looked down upon by other women while the men are celebrated.
 Marriages amongst the upper classes it seems are not made out of love but out of necessity for either money, property or position. Most of these men seem to marry women who will not facilitate them in the bedroom department so they pay for the services of a courtesan who dresses well, looks good and satisfies their needs.
Tully lives and works in the Fairy House, a brothel ran by the woman who was once her step mother.
He father married her off to an unknown man at the age of twelve and this marriage has came back to haunt her. Tully and Mr Crease who works at the house are special people, magical with a touch of the supernatural. 
There's such a lot going on in this book and although it's not my usual read I really did enjoy it. I must say its a bit of a bodice ripper with being set in a brothel but the language of the sex scenes are,I assume taken from 18th century speech and as such are almost poetic.
There were some horrible characters in this book,all men I might add and I wanted them to suffer for their actions. I did think the ending could have gone on for another few chapters to explain some more but I guess I am just being greedy. 
If you're bored with your usual reading genre then give An Almond For a Parrot a read, you won't be able to put it down.
The publisher has kindly sent me the first chapter for you to try. Happy reading!

Out for kindle and hardback. Paperback out on 27th July. 

An Almond for a Parrot.
Fleet Marriages
One of the most disgraceful customs observed in the Fleet Prison in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries was the performance of the marriage ceremony by disreputable and dissolute clergymen. These functionaries, mostly prisoners for debt, insulted the dignity of their holy profession by marrying in the precincts of the Fleet Prison at a minute’s notice, any persons who might present themselves for that purpose. No questions were asked, no stipulations made, except as to the amount of the fee for the service, or the quantity of liquor to be drunk on the occasion. It not unfrequently happened, indeed, that the clergyman, the clerk, the bridegroom and the bride were drunk at the very time the ceremony was performed.

Appendix VI, The Newgate Calendar

Chapter One

Newgate Prison, London
lie on this hard bed counting the bricks in the ceiling of this miserable cell. I have been sick every morning for a week and thought I might have jail fever. If it had killed me it would at
least have saved me the inconvenience of a trial and a public hanging. Already the best seats at Newgate Prison have been sold in anticipation of my being found guilty – and I have yet to be sent to trial. Murder, attempted murder – either way the great metropolis seems to know the verdict before the judge has placed the black square on his grey wig. This whore is gallows-bound. 
‘Is he dead?’ I asked. 
My jailer wouldn’t say.
 I pass my days remembering recipes and reciting them to the damp walls. They don’t remind me of food; they are bookmarks from this short life of mine. They remain tasteless. I prefer them that way. 
A doctor was called for. Who sent for or paid for him I don’t know, and uncharacteristically I do not care. He was very matter of fact and said the reason for my malady was simple: I was with child. I haven’t laughed for a long time but forgive me,
the thought struck me as ridiculous. In all that has happened I have never once found myself in this predicament. I can hardly believe it is true. The doctor looked relieved – he had at least found a reason for my life to be extended – pregnant women are not hanged. Even if I’m found guilty of murder, the gallows will wait until the child is born. What a comforting thought.
Hope came shortly afterwards. Dear Hope. She looked worried, thinner.
‘How is Mercy?’ I asked. 
She avoided answering me and busied herself about my cell. 
‘What does this mean?’ she asked, running her fingers over the words scratched on a small table, the only piece of furniture this stinking cell has to offer. I had spent some time etching them into its worm-eaten surface. An Almond for a Parrot.
‘It’s a title for a memoir, the unanswered love song of a soon to- be dead bird. Except I have no paper, no pen and without ink the thing won’t write at all.’
‘              Just as well, Tully.’
‘I want to tell the truth of my life.’
‘Better to leave it,’ she said.
‘It’s for Avery – not that he will ever read it.’ I felt myself on the brink of tears but I refused to give in to them. ‘I will write it for myself. Afterwards, it can be your bedtime entertainment, the novelty of my days in recipes and tittle-tattle.’
‘Oh, my sweet ninny-not. You must be brave, Tully. This is a dreadful place and…’
‘And it is not my first prison. My life has come full circle. You haven’t answered my question.’
‘Mercy is still very ill. Mofty is with her.’
‘Will she live?’
‘I don’t know.’
‘And is he alive?’
 ‘Tully, he is dead. You are to be tried for murder.’
‘My, oh my. At least my aim was true.’
I sank back on the bed, too tired to ask more. Even if Hope was in the mood for answering questions, I didn’t think I would want to know the answers.
‘You are a celebrity in London. Everyone wants to know what you do, what you wear. The papers are full of it.’
There seemed nothing to say to that. Hope sat quietly on the edge of the bed, holding my hand.
Finally, I found the courage to ask the question I’d wanted to ask since Hope arrived.
‘Is there any news of Avery?’
‘No, Tully, there’s not.’
I shook my head. Regret. I am full of it. A stone to worry one’s soul with.
‘You have done nothing wrong, Tully.’
‘Forgive me for laughing.’
‘You will have the very best solicitor.’
‘Who will pay for him?’
‘Queenie.’
‘No, no. I don’t want her to. I have some jewels…’
I felt sick.
‘Concentrate on staying well,’ said Hope.

If this life was a dress rehearsal, I would now have a chance to play my part again but with a more favourable outcome. Alas, we players are unaware that the curtain goes up the minute we take our first gulps of air; the screams of rage our only hopeless comments on being born onto such a barren stage. 
So here I am with ink, pen and a box of writing paper, courtesy of a well-wisher. Still I wait to know the date of my trial. What to do until then? Write, Tully, write.
With a hey ho the wind and the rain. And words are my only escape. For the rain it raineth every day.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

The Vanishing of Audrey Wilde by Eve Chase





From the present day . . . 
Applecote Manor captivates Jessie with it promise of hazy summers in the Cotswolds. She believes it's the perfect escape for her troubled family. But the house has an unsettling history, and strange rumours surround the estate.
to the fifties . . .
When teenage Margot and her three sisters arrive at Applecote during the heatwave of '59, they find their aunt and uncle still reeling from the disappearance of their daughter, Audrey, five years before. 
The sisters are drawn into the mystery of Audrey's vanishing - until the stifling summer takes a shocking, deadly turn. Will one unthinkable choice bind them together, or tear them apart?


Sybil has never recovered from her daughter Audrey's disappearance five years ago in 1954 when her sister's four daughters came to stay. They have not visited Applecote Manor for five years but since their wayward mother is leaving for Morocco the girls are staying with their aunt and Uncle once again.
This story is told from Margot's point of view as she was the cousin closest to Audrey. Sybil acts very strangely towards her as she sees the similarity between Margot and her missing daughter.

Fifty years later and Applecot Manor has lay empty for a while and fallen into disrepair. It is bought by Jessie and Will. Jessie is Will's second wife and mother to their toddler Romy. Will has a teenage daughter Bella who can't get on with her step mum or her new sister. Jessie picked a house in the country to give the girls a better upbringing and to get Bella away from the bad company she has fallen in with in London. Jessie has lots of worries, jealous of first wife Mandy, Bella not liking her and she just isn't sure Bella is kind to Romy and doesn't feel she can trust her.
I don't want to give too much of the story away but both timelines grabbed me and both are good.
Sometimes stories with two timelines make me feel a bit sad because while reading the present day part I know that the characters from the old timeline are no longer here but with this being fifty years apart there's a chance that some may still be alive.
A good family mystery.

The Vanishing of Audrey Wilde 

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

The Bed and Breakfast on the Beach by Kat French






Winnie, Stella and Frankie have been best friends forever.
When their lives unexpectedly unravel, they spontaneously decide to buy a gorgeous B&B on a remote Greek island. Drenched in hot sun, Villa Valentina is the perfect escape from reality. But when Winnie meets Jesse, their brooding neighbour, she finds that Greece is full of its own complications – not least how attractive he is.
Meanwhile, Frankie and Stella are discovering that Villa Valentina has its own secrets – starting with the large supply of gin in the cellar and the arrival of a famous rock band. A band with one very good-looking member who just might distract Frankie from thoughts of her husband…



I read this book about three friends having a few days break together on a Greek Island while I was lying on a sunbed at a pool in another Greek Island. So the scene was set for a good holiday read.
Never in their wildest dreams did Winne, Stella and Frankie guess that after their break they would be returning to the UK proud owners of the bed and breakfast villa they stayed at. All three are at various points in their lives where they wouldn't be leaving much behind and welcome a new start. Well that and copious amounts of gin made them buy it.
When they return to Skelidos and Villa Valentina to start their new life all is not as it seems and after finding out that a resident donkey comes with the villa there are also a few more surprises for them.
A gorgeous but angry, volatile Greek male neighbour, a rock band and gin figures prominently too.
This book is a great holiday read you can almost feel the heat from the sun and the sand in your shoes.
There's plenty happening in the story to hold your attention and keep you turning the pages.

Out now for paperback or 99p for kindle here



Tuesday, 18 July 2017

The Woman in the Wood by Lesley Pearse






Fifteen-year-old twins Maisy and Duncan Mitcham have always had each other. Until the fateful day in the wood . . . 
One night in 1960, the twins awake to find their father pulling their screaming mother from the house. She is to be committed to an asylum. It is, so their father insists, for her own good.
It's not long before they, too, are removed from their London home and sent to Nightingales - a large house deep in the New Forest countryside - to be watched over by their cold-hearted grandmother, Mrs Mitcham. Though they feel abandoned and unloved, at least here they have something they never had before - freedom. 
The twins are left to their own devices, to explore, find new friends and first romances. That is until the day that Duncan doesn't come back for dinner. Nor does he return the next day. Or the one after that.
When the bodies of other young boys are discovered in the surrounding area the police appear to give up hope of finding Duncan alive. With Mrs Mitcham showing little interest in her grandson's disappearance, it is up to Maisy to discover the truth. And she knows just where to start. The woman who lives alone in the wood about whom so many rumours abound. A woman named Grace Deville.




I always anticipate a good read when I pick up a book written by Lesley Pearse.
Twins, Maisy and Duncan are stunned when their mother is carted off to an asylum. Their gruff and seemingly uncaring father will not explain to them what is wrong with their mother, only that they will  live with their grandmother in her home in the New Forest.
They find their grandmother to be equally as uncaring and disconnected as their father but find love and contentment with the motherly housekeeper Janice who is delighted to meet them.
When Duncan goes missing and their grandmother doesn't seem concerned Maisy decides to take things into her own hands and find her brother. Why does she need the help of the woman in the woods, Grace Deville who everyone is scared of?
Another good story from Lesley Pearse. A father and grandmother who fail to show any kind of affection or concern. A woman who because of her lifestyle is shunned and accused by her neighbours and a brother and sister wanting to know they are loved by someone.
I felt this story had a message,a few in fact. Never judge people by appearances and because people who are close to you may be unable to outwardly show their love doesn't mean they don't feel it.
This was a page turner and turned into a horrifying story that I never expected. There were moments when I breathed a sigh of relief that all was well and unexpectedly the author pulled the rug from under me and I was off on a roller coaster ride again.


The Woman in the Woods by Lesley Pearse can be found here  
A bit pricey for kindle but it will be in paperback in all bookstores and supermarkets. 




















Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Island of Secrets by Patricia Wilson






The story started at dawn on the fourteenth of September, 1943 . . .'

All her life, London-born Angelika has been intrigued by her mother's secret past. Now planning her wedding, she feels she must visit the remote Crete village her mother grew up in.
Angie's estranged elderly grandmother, Maria, is dying. She welcomes Angie with open arms - it's time to unburden herself, and tell the story she'll otherwise take to her grave.
It's the story of the Nazi occupation of Crete during the Second World War, of horror, of courage and of the lengths to which a mother will go to protect her children. And it's the story of bitter secrets that broke a family apart, and of three enchanting women who come together to heal wounds that have damaged two generations.




This wasn't a book I was asked to review. I bought this and downloaded it to kindle because it was set in Crete and I was going there on holiday. I started it on the plane and finished it a day later.

In present day London Angie is preparing for her wedding to Nick. Angie's mum, Poppy left her home and family in Crete thirty years ago but Angie wants to re-connect with them and invite all her Cretan family to her wedding. Against her mother's wishes Angie travels to Almeria in Crete to find her grandparents.

The next part of the story takes place in Crete where Maria, Angie's grandmother tells her the story of her life and what happened in Almeria during the Second World War.

Oh my goodness, how do I describe this book? It broke my heart and I cried. I had no idea of what had taken place in Crete during the war,it was so cruel and needless and the story was not always an easy read.
Although this was the background of the story the author has cleverly weaved lots of sub plots through the book. I thought I had guessed one but I was completely wrong. There were many twists and turns, secrets and revelations.
All through the book I felt I was there with Maria. I felt her fear and her pain. The descriptions of the surrounding countryside were vivid and well written.

I think reading this in Crete although at the other end of the island from Almeria made the story even more poignant. Perhaps it wasn't the light holiday reading I should have choose but I understood better why the people are so proud of their island, they have fought hard for it. I looked differently at the places we visited and at the many old people I saw dressed in black clothes and I wondered.
cried happy tears at the ending and felt a sense of loss at not having the book to read anymore.

My favourite author is Victoria Hislop and now debut author Patricia Wilson is up there with her.
I want to tell you the whole story. I want to discuss with you what parts made me cry, I want to tell you what I thought was going to happen and didn't, but I also want you to read it the way I did and find out for yourself.

After finishing the book I felt compelled to Google the village in the story where it all happened and I was stunned to discover that all facts about the village during the war are true. The author Iives in Almeria in Crete and found an army rifle while digging in her garden. She spoke about it to the older women in the village and they told her their story. These brave women should all have been given medals for what they had to live through and the British Government should hang their heads in shame for turning a blind eye to what was happening. (Google it after reading and find out) 

I can't believe this book is only 98p for kindle, Patricia Wilson deserves so much more for this debut novel and I eagerly await her next book.


Island of Secrets... 98p for kindle and £2.99 for paperback.
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Island-Secrets-Escape-paradise-compelling-ebook/dp/B01LWUEQW9/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1499762373&sr=8-1&keywords=Island+of+secrets

Monday, 26 June 2017

Her Last Breath by Tracy Buchanan





Food writer Estelle Forster has the perfect life. And with her first book on the way, it’s about to get even better.
When Estelle hears about Poppy O’Farrell’s disappearance, she assumes the girl has simply run away. But Estelle’s world crumbles when she’s sent a photo of Poppy, along with a terrifying note: I’m watching you. I know everything about you.
Estelle has no idea who’s threatening her, or how she’s connected to the missing teen, but she thinks the answers lie in the coastal town she once called home, and the past she hoped was long behind her.
Estelle knows she must do everything to find Poppy. But how far will she go to hide the truth – that her
perfect life was the perfect lie?







Estelle seems to have it all, a successful husband,her own apartment and a cookery book just about to be launched. After surviving a horribly deprived childhood she has finally made good. She lives a "pure life" which is what her pure cookbook is all about but is she kidding herself or her public?

When a teenage girl,Poppy O'Farrell disappears and Estelle is sent a Polaroid photo of her along with threatening notes she has no idea what this has to do with her. To find out she will have to re visit her past,a past she thought she had left behind forever, she will have to go back to Lillysands.

This is a real who done it story. Who is sending threats to Estelle and why? Everyone I read about seemed guilty and I changed my mind many times throughout the story. There was a twist that I didn't see coming which added to the suspense. 
There are so many spoilers on Amazon that I urge you to just read the book without reading them.
Tracy Buchanan never fails to produce a good read and I eagerly await her next one.

Her Last Breath out for kindle and paperback.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Her-Last-Breath-Tracy-Buchanan-ebook/dp/B01N1OPZRW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1497888054&sr=8-1&keywords=Her+last+breath

Friday, 23 June 2017

The Law of Attraction by Roxie Cooper.




Amanda Bentley has always dreamed of being a barrister…
But as a platinum blonde bombshell from the wrong side of town, with a perfect tan and sleek high heels, she doesn’t exactly look the part – or fit in with the brash public school boys and cold posh girls of Newcastle Crown Court’s robing room. Amanda’s never been one to back down from a challenge, and so when she wins a prestigious pupillage following law school, she’s determined to make the most of her chance – and make all her dreams come true.
Only three things stand in her way: Sid Ryder – the sexy, irresistible barrister who she absolutely cannot, under any circumstances, sleep with. At all. Marty Gregg – her smarmy law school nemesis, who she's in direct competition with for the top job. And her big, dark secret that could jeopardise everything she's worked so hard for.
Who said that following the laws of attraction was going to be easy…





I'm so delighted to be reviewing this book which is published today on kindle. I have been following Roxie on Twitter (@toodletinkbaby) for a long time now. Whenever there was a courtroom scene in a soap or tv drama we could always ask Roxie if it was portrayed accurately or taken with a pinch of salt. Roxie is a barrister,yes really! So there is no one more qualified to write about a young girl's experiences during her last year before qualifying for the bar. 
Roxie did say she was writing a book but I had no idea what it was about I remember wondering how she managed to find the time to write a book with such a demanding job. 
When I heard she had not only finished her book but found a publisher I was so happy for her, so look out writers there's a new kid on the block and she's good.


At first glance  you would expect this book to be Chick Lit, and I suppose it is. It's an easy read mainly because you are eager to find out what happens. 

Amanda's childhood has not been one any one of us would wish to have. As a result of this she made a decision when she was fifteen years old. She was sure she had made the right one but other people had to suffer he consequences of this decision and that prayed on her mind even years later. 

Nine years on and Amanada has to obtain a pupilage at a law firm to complete her final year in order to become a barrister. She has entered a very competitive profession where it's every man and woman for themselves.
The characters in this book are very well drawn. Marty, who wants to be the one the law firm keeps on is a smarmy vile individual who you just want to see falling flat on his face throughout the book. 
Heidi, Amanda's best friend is supportive and is the one person she can trust with the secrets of her past. Sid is, well ...swoon...he's lovely! 

As we follow Amanda through her final year we learn that bullying happens everywhere and that if you can hold your head high and stand up to them it makes them weak. 
Amanda is overwhelmed at first by her fellow workers who have been brought up in a privileged background where money talks, where it matters how well known your family is and where you come from. She cannot compete with that but she has came through too much in her life to let those people stop her from reaching her goal.

I enjoyed this book so much. I don't want to go into too much of the story as I'm sure it would spoil your enjoyment. It's always good to find new authors and I hear that Roxie is writing her second novel right now. She has also written a post for you to read. 

If anyone reading this has ever thought they would love to write a book,Roxie gives us really good advice here, it's well worth reading.
Thank you for the post Roxie.

The Law of Attraction 
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Law-Attraction-Roxie-Cooper-ebook/dp/B06ZY1DF39/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8




Losing The B-Plot…

Back in 2009 when I first started writing my debut novel, The Law of Attraction, I had absolutely no idea how to write a book.  I had a great idea for one, involving a working-class blonde bombshell becoming a barrister, but no idea about story arcs, characterisation, sub-plots or any of that.  I wrote the first three chapters of this book and didn’t do anything else on it until 2014.

In that time, I researched how to write novels.  I made some absolutely amazing author friends on Twitter who gave me advice, guidance and lots of laughs (usually involving Grease 2 gifs, but we don’t need to go there).  If it wasn’t for them, this book wouldn’t be getting published, I can tell you that right now.  It took me years, and lots of brightly coloured, intricately planned diagrams of how my book would be plotted before I started writing it again.  

Amanda Bentley, the protagonist, goes on ‘a journey’ over the course of the novel, which spans 12 months.  She’s a different person at the end of the novel to who she was at the beginning. She goes from A to B.  Yep, got all that.  Brilliant.  That’s how all novels go, right?  Well, yes…but it was all justa bit, you know…2D.  

I’d already planted a bit of a foundation for a B-story, or sub-plot, in the first draft of the novel, but not fully committed to it.  “Oh, well that’s a bit interesting,” I thought.  “But it’s maybe a bit too dark to explore further and I’m too scared to develop it.”  Even when I finished the novel and submitted to agents, I felt confident about the book, but the sub-plot issue niggled at me.  It just wasn’t quite right.  When my dream agent, Sarah Manning, requested the full manuscript after a few hours of sending the first three chapters to her, I was beside myself with excitement – even more so when she read the entire thing after two days and said she wanted to speak to me on the phone.

She LOVED the book (LOTS of OMGs).  However, she said in order to represent me, I’d need to develop the sub-plot, confirming the gut feeling I’d felt all along.  She completely ‘got’ the novel and what needed to be done with it.  Over the next six weeks I shed the fears I had about the B-story and revised the entire thing.  Thankfully, Sarah loved it and said I’d “worked magic” on it.
I learned a valuable lesson.  It’s all well and good getting a character from A to B, but if you don’t have a vehicle to get them there, it’s all a bit pointless…and that vehicle is usually the B-story/sub-plot.  A relevant B-story connects the character to the action and provides a link to their journey.  It turns a story from 2D into 3D; from black and white into full-blown technicolor.  Whether it’s a love story, backstory, something which exposes or brings out the motivation or insecurity of the main character – it makes the story real.

In my case, the sub-plot fleshed out Amanda’s character and explained her motivations and why she was the way she was.  Without that, it was just a story about a girl becoming a barrister.  Fun, yes – but you root for her as a character much more when you understand what her background is.  My agent gave me the courage to develop my sub-plot, and I’m so glad she did.   The book is much better for it.  The foundations were there, screaming to jump out and be explored.  

When I started planning my second novel, the sub-plot was one of the first things I thought about.  When I read other novels, it’s one of the first things I look out for.  I immediately start thinking ‘what will the main character get from this?’, ‘what is relevant here?’ and ‘what does the author want us to see?’.  In a novel I read recently, I actually found the sub-plot more fascinating than the main plot.  The character’s background and motivations were so interesting, I found myself more interested in that than the action in the novel.

We all have stories behind us, making us the way we are.  Characters in novels are no exception.  They are complex, real, messy and flawed.  That’s what makes them fascinating and real.  I really enjoyed creating the character of Amanda Bentley; she made me laugh, cry and cringe, for all these reasons.  In Latin, ‘Amanda’ means ‘this girl must be loved’ and by the end of the book, I’d like to think that she is.


Wednesday, 21 June 2017

The Stars are Fire by Anita Shreve





Hot breath on Grace's face. Claire is screaming, and Grace is on her feet. As she lifts her daughter, a wall of fire fills the window. Perhaps a quarter of a mile back, if even that. Where's Gene? Didn't he come home?
1947. Fires are racing along the coast of Maine after a summer-long drought, ravaging thousands of acres, causing unprecedented confusion and fear. 
Five months pregnant, Grace Holland is left alone to protect her two toddlers when her difficult and unpredictable husband Gene joins the volunteers fighting to bring the fire under control. Along with her best friend, Rosie, and Rosie's two young children, the women watch in horror as their houses go up in flames, then walk into the ocean as a last resort. They spend the night frantically trying to save their children. When dawn comes, they have miraculously survived, but their lives are forever changed: homeless, penniless, and left to face an uncertain future.
As Grace awaits news of her husband's fate, she is thrust into a new world in which she must make a life on her own, beginning with absolutely nothing; she must find work, a home, a way to provide for her children. In the midst of devastating loss, Grace discovers glorious new freedoms - joys and triumphs she could never have expected her narrow life with Gene could contain - and her spirit soars. And then the unthinkable happens, and Grace's bravery is tested as never before.





The background to this story is true. There was a great fire in Maime in 1947, 1,100 homes were burned down.

This book held my attention the whole way through. Grace with two young children finds herself pregnant again just when her husband Gene is becoming harder to understand and live with. When the fires come  Grace Is left alone  with her children as Gene helps to fire fight. Rosie too is alone with her children and the two friends try to help each other.

This part of the story was so frightening reading about people fleeing their homes, unsure at times if it was best to stay and fight the fire or leave. My heart was in my mouth at what lengths Grace and Rosie have to go to to save themselves and their children.

Rosie's life has changed forever and just as she's picking up the threads she receives a shock which is set to change her life once more.

Oh my heart went out to Grace. I loved how she just got on with things and dealt with the hand she was given. The book had good ending but I thought that Gene's story was tied up too easily and perhaps a bit unbelievable considering what kind of man he was.


Out now for kindle and hardback and paperback. Although this is a good read and I really enjoyed it I think it's a bit pricey for kindle and paperback.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Stars-are-Fire-Anita-Shreve-ebook/dp/B01LX8O13O/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1497988595&sr=8-1&keywords=The+stars+are+fire