Frankie: The Woman Who Saved Millions from Thalidomide by James Essinger and Sandra Koutzenco

I am pleased to be part of a blog tour and share with you a book that is on my TBR list Frankie: The Woman Who Saved Millions from Thalidomide by James Essinger and Sandra Koutzenco. Thalidomide caused havoc to many lives and I always assumed it affected many countries so to read a blurb saying this wasn’t the case is fascinating.

Frankie: The Woman Who Saved Millions from Thalidomide by James Essinger and Sandra Koutzenco

Frankie Cover

Title: Frankie: The Woman Who Saved Millions from Thalidomide

Author: James Essinger and Sandra Koutzenco

Genre: History, Medicine, Non-fiction

Publisher: The History Press

Release Date: 28 Jun. 2019

Blurb

Thalidomide: patented in Germany as a non-toxic cure-all for sleeplessness and morning sickness. A wonder drug with no side-effects.

We know differently now.

Today, thalidomide is a byword for tragedy and drug reform – a sign of what happens when things aren’t done ‘the right way’. But when it was released in the 1950s, it was the best thing since penicillin – something that doctors were encouraged to prescribe to all of their patients. Nobody could anticipate what it actually did: induce sleeping, prevent morning sickness, and drastically harm unborn children.

But, whilst thalidomide rampaged and ravaged throughout most of the West, it never reached the United States. It landed on the desk of Dr Frances Kelsey, and there it stayed as she battled hierarchy, patriarchy, and the Establishment in an effort to prove that it was dangerous. Frankie is her story.

Purchase Links

https://www.thehistorypress.co.uk/publication/frankie/9780750991919/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Frankie-Woman-Saved-Millions-Thalidomide-ebook/dp/B07PQV547Y

https://www.amazon.com/Frankie-Woman-Saved-Millions-Thalidomide-ebook/dp/B07PQV547Y

Author Biography

JAMES ESSINGER is the author of non-fiction books that focus on STEM subjects and personalities, including Charles and Ada (The History Press) and Ada’s Algorithm (Gibson Square), the latter of which has been optioned for a film. He lives in Canterbury.

SANDRA KOUTZENKO is a bilingual writer whose work spans a variety of categories and topics, ranging from French poetry to English non-fiction, focusing on human nature and the conflict between its potential for greatness and its propensity for destruction.

Social Media Links

Twitter @TheHistoryPress

Instagram @TheHistoryPressUK

https://www.facebook.com/james.essinger

https://twitter.com/jamesessinger

Have you read this? Let me know your thoughts below. When I have caught up with my TBR pile I will share my review.

Happy reading!

Love

Book Review: The Craftsman by Sharon Bolton

Book Review: The Craftsman by Sharon Bolton

With Halloween and the spookiness of October just passed, and discovering the next book in the trilogy is out at the end of the next year, I decided to revisit The Craftsman by Sharon Bolton.

Book Review: The Craftsman by Sharon Bolton

The Craftsman

The Craftsman by Sharon Bolton

Title: The Craftsman

Author: Sharon Bolton

Publisher: Trapeze

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Release Date: 3rd May 2018

Blurb

He makes his living from death. But is he capable of murder? Florence Lovelady’s career was made when she convicted coffin-maker Larry Grassbrook of a series of child murders 30 years ago. Like something from our worst nightmares, the victims were buried, but while they were still alive. Larry confessed the crimes; it was an open and shut case. But now he’s dead, and events from the past start to repeat themselves. Did she get it wrong all those years ago? Or is there something much darker at play?

My Thoughts

Since I first read The Craftsman last year, I have visited Lancaster and seeing the  its stunning mountains and dramatic landscape of the Lancashire countryside in reality added to the creepy atmosphere of this novel. Set in the footholds of the hills of Pendle, famous for the Pendle witch trials, there is an air of menace throughout made worse by the horrific murders. Being buried alive is a fear I have after reading Peter James’ Twilight.* The death of  serial killer, The Craftsman, draws Detective Florence Lovelady back to Lancashire where she began her career and the discovery of an effigy makes her question whether he was really guilty or a victim of miscarriage of justice. With a blend of murder investigations and supernatural it drew me in and kept me turning the page even though this was a reread. I have discovered she is one crime writer you can read over and over because even if you know the truth, you always learn something new and the tension of the chase still remains. Watching the George Gently TV series helped me visualise Flossie and her working environment in the 1960’s where she faces not only the danger of a killer on the loose, but the patriarchy attitude and discrimination at that time. She is independent, brave and has self-belief I wish I had at her age.

Would I recommend?

Yes. Sharon Bolton has a talent for sending chills down your spine with her creepy psychological thrillers and this is no exception. It’s dark, disturbing and makes you leave the light on.  It is the beginning of a series, though there is a prequel short story on Kindle, Alive. It is perfect for the dark evenings and curling up in front of the fire when you want the thrill of being spooked and discovering who did it.  I can’t wait for the next book.

What are you reading this weekend?

Happy reading!

Love

*An excellent horror book which I may have to read again.

Meet the Author: Sharon Booth

Meet the Author: Sharon Booth

Halloween is days away and I have been catching up on spooky or witch related books. I am excited to introduce Sharon Booth, author of the wonderful Witches of Castle Clair series to my blog to talk about her books, writing and other things.

Meet the Witches of Castle Clair ...

Meet the Author: Sharon Booth

Sharon author pic for blog

Author Sharon Booth

  • You have written two books from the Witches of Castle Clair series, what gave you the inspiration for this trilogy?

Probably the town of Castle Clair itself – or Knaresborough as the rest of the world know it! In North Yorkshire, not far from Harrogate, it’s one of the prettiest places I’ve ever visited, but there’s also something really different and special about it. Maybe it’s the legend of prophetess, Old Mother Shipton; or the petrifying well that turns everyday objects to stone; or the ruins of the magnificent castle, complete with ravens; or the River Nidd; or the shrine set into the cliffside … or maybe it’s all these factors combined, along with the atmosphere in the town itself, the cobbled streets, the delightful charms of Ye Oldest Chemist Shoppe in England. Every time I visit Knaresborough my imagination goes into overdrive! Plus, I’m a huge fan of Bewitched so put those two things together and there you have it.

  • It follows three sisters who are also witches. Who is your favourite sister?

Oh no, what a cruel question! I absolutely love them all, and my favourite is probably the one I’m featuring at the time. They’re all very different, after all. Right now, I’m beginning to learn more about the middle sister, Celeste, as she’s the star of the third and final book which I’m currently plotting. Ask me again at the end of the series!

  • I have a bookcase full of books I will keep forever and regularly reread them. Do you reread books or do you only read them one?

I have so many books that were childhood favourites, particularly pony books and Enid Blyton books. I’ve been known to reread those many times. They’re like chicken soup when I’m feeling low or unwell. I’ve also reread the Adrian Mole books by Sue Townsend more times than I care to remember. I don’t reread many books these days, as I have so many new ones to get through, but I have plenty that I’ll never part with.

  • Do you have a favourite spooky book for Halloween?

Anything by Phil Rickman! I thought that Curfew was especially creepy, and I have a soft spot for The Chalice, which was the first Phil Rickman book I ever read. Unlike just about every Phil Rickman fan I know, it’s his standalone books that I love. I’ve only read one Merrily Watkins novel, although I own them all. When I have time, I will start making my way through the rest.

  • What are you currently reading?

I’ve just finished Christmas at Wynter House by Emily Harvale, which is a lovely, cosy Christmas romance. So, for a complete change of pace I’m going to read some Golden Age crime — maybe Whose Body? by Dorothy L Sayers, or Agatha Christie’s Hallowe’en Party.

  • If you could perform one spell, what would it be?

A Never-Get-Fat spell! Too shallow?

  • What is your favourite book?

Jane Eyre

  • Who is your favourite author?

Aarrgghh! I’ll say Enid Blyton because she was the one who gave me my love of reading and made me want to write stories of my own

  • Is your writing influenced by the books you have read?

Probably, in the sense of learning from other writers, seeing what works and what doesn’t, and why. It’s all a learning experience, isn’t it? I used to worry that I’d copy the voice or tone of an author whose book I was enjoying, but I never worry about that now, as I’ve realised I have my own voice and I can’t help but use it!

  • Where is your favourite place to read or write?

Writing, in my own little office. Reading, downstairs on a reclining armchair, with a cup of tea to hand.

  • When did you begin writing and how did being published come about?

I’ve written stories for as long as I can remember but took it up seriously in 2011. I suppose being published came about thanks to the Romantic Novelists’ Association and my Write Romantics’ friends, who took me seriously and made me think that, actually, maybe it would be okay if other people read my stories.

  • If you have a genre you write, how did you begin writing in this style?

It just came naturally. I always thought I’d write sagas or historical fiction, but somehow my stories were always contemporary with lots of humour. I’m quite happy with that. If I put a smile on someone’s face, I’ve done my job.

Links

Facebook: www.facebook.com/sharonbooth.writer

Twitter: www.twitter.com/Sharon_Booth1

Instagram: www.instagram.com/sharonboothwriter

Amazon page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sharon-Booth/e/B00PP5S1X8

Website: www.sharonboothwriter.com

Biography

Sharon Booth is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and writes uplifting women’s fiction — “love, laughter, and happy ever after”. Although a happy ending for her main characters is guaranteed, she makes them work for it!

Sharon grew up in the East Yorkshire town of Hessle, where her enduring love for all things Yorkshire was born. She now lives in Kingston-upon-Hull with her husband and their much-loved German Shepherd dog.

Since giving up her admin job at a medical practice, she spends a lot of time assuring her family of five children, assorted in-laws and hordes of grandchildren – not to mention a sceptical mother and a contrary hairdresser – that writing full-time IS a “proper” job and she HASN’T taken early retirement.

She has a love/hate relationship with chocolate, adores Doctor Who and Cary Grant movies, and admits to being shamefully prone to all-consuming crushes on fictional heroes.

You can sign up to Sharon’s newsletter at smarturl.it/sharonsnewsletter

Thank you, Sharon for visiting the blog. I now have even more books added on my TBR pile and I look forward to reading Celeste’s story in the future.

Happy Halloween and reading!

Love

 

 

Book Review: Hallowed Ground: They Mystery of the African Fairy Circles by Paul Twivy

Book Review: Hallowed Ground: The Mystery of the African Fairy Circles by Paul Twivy

There have been downpours of rain outside for days here in Yorkshire so I was more than pleased to be transported to the hot sun in Namibia in the YA novel Hallowed Ground: The Mystery of the African Fairy Circles by Paul Twivy

Hallowed Ground: The Mystery of the African Fairy Circles by Paul Twivy

 

Hallowed Ground Front Cover

Hallowed Ground: The Mystery of the African Fairy Circles by Paul Twivy

Title: Hallowed Ground: The Mystery of the African Fairy Circles

Author: Paul Twivy

Publisher: The Conrad Press

Genre: YA

Release Date: 1st October 2019

Blurb:

This magical story is inspired by the most haunting and least explored country in the world – Namibia – with its foggy Skeleton Coast, buried goldmines, shocking secrets and awe-inspiring sand dunes.

Spread across the face of its deserts are hundreds of miles of ‘fairy circles’ : vast enough to be seen from space.  They grow and die with the same lifespan as humans, yet no-one has been able to explain why or how they appear.

Then one day, three teenagers and their families arrive from different parts of the globe. Helped by bushmen, the buried possessions of a Victorian explorer, and a golden leopard, they solve the mystery of the African Circles. What will be discovered beneath the hallowed ground? And how will it change the future of the planet above it?

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hallowed-Ground-mystery-African-Circles-ebook/dp/B07YDY9LF2/

Com – https://www.amazon.com/Hallowed-Ground-mystery-African-Circles-ebook/dp/B07YDY9LF2/

My Thoughts

This is one of those books where the cover matches the story perfectly; it’s vibrant, atmospheric and the desert in Namibia arrives in your living room, bed or wherever you are when you begin to read. It captured my imagination with the visual descriptions and the mystery of the fairy circles.

The four teenagers are distinct from each other with different personalities, backgrounds, cultures and unique talents but their shared curiosity and determination make them work together to solve the puzzle of the circles. Unlike many YA books, the teenagers are not alone on their adventure but have help from their parents who were not just blurry characters on the edges of the story. Theyhad their own fully formed stories and roles to play. It is a format that worked well and made it more believable. Paul Twivy has blended history, folklore, legends and stunning settings to produce a beautiful and unique novel which does not shy away from the horrors of the genocide which affects the country or other sensitive topics. I learnt things I was unaware of reading this.

There are many climate change references and a few older teenagers and adults could view it as didactic but most will nod and agree with the underlying message of protecting and nurturing the environment and our planet now rather than later.

Would I recommend?

This is one of those books which make me happy to be a book blogger. If I hadn’t been invited on to this tour and shown the blurb, this novel would have gone under my radar and I am so glad it didn’t. It reminded me of the books that sat on my twelve year old’s forever shelf and it would have slotted in perfectly.

Author Biography

Paul Twivy

Paul Twivy

Paul Twivy studied English at Oxford University and became one of the most famous British admen. He has written comedy and drama for the stage and radio.  He edited the bestseller Change the World for a Fiver. He is married with five children. He was inspired to write Hallowed Ground by his first-hand experiences of the extraordinary landscapes and culture of Namibia.

Social Media

www.thefairycircles.com

https://hallowedground.co.uk

https://twitter.com/paultwivy

A big thank you to Rachel’s Random Resources and The Conrad Press for the chance to read this delightful book and give my honest, unbiased opinion.

Love

Katie signature pink

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Book Review: Notting Hill in the Snow by Jules Wake

More Christmas delights are ready to be shared with you today with my review for Notting Hill in the Snow by Jules Wake.

Book Review: Notting Hill in the Snow by Jules Wake

194589-FCT

Notting Hill in the Snow by Jules Wake

Title: Notting Hill in the Snow

Author: Jules Wake

Publisher: One More Chapter

Genre: Christmas Romance, Women’s fiction

Release Date: 11th October 2019

Blurb

It’s mayhem in Bethlehem…unless they can work together!

Viola Smith plays the viola in an orchestra (yes really!), but this year she’s been asked to stretch her musical talents to organising Notting Hill’s local nativity.
Nate Williams isn’t looking forward to Christmas but as his small daughter, Grace, has the starring role in the show, he’s forced to stop being a Grinch and volunteer with Viola.

With the sparks between them hotter than the chestnuts roasting in Portobello market, Nate and Viola can’t deny their feelings. And as the snow starts to fall over London, they find themselves trapped together in more ways than one…

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Notting-Hill-Snow-heartwarming-uplifting-ebook/dp/B07RNFF9Q1/

US – https://www.amazon.com/Notting-Hill-Snow-heartwarming-uplifting-ebook/dp/B07RNFF9Q1/

My Thoughts

I loved this novel. It is Christmas bound in words, pages and a cover. It drew me in from the beginning with the introduction of Viola on her way to the Opera House and my love for it was cemented with the arrival of an armadillo in the nativity play. The chemistry between Viola and Nate sizzles and the relationship between him and his daughter, Grace pulls at the heart strings. Some children seem to be placed in a book as an afterthought or a way of directing the plot, but she is a fully formed character who I fell in love with.

I loved Jules Wakes style and ability to bring the festive cheer of London into my own home. It is humorous, emotional and entertaining.

Would I recommend?

Yes! Yes! Yes! Grab your duvet and hot beverage and read it. It is a beautiful and entertaining novel which ticks all the boxes for a festive read and more. It will be on my forever shelf for rereads in the run up to Christmas.  I am thrilled to discover other books written by Jules Wake to enjoy including another Christmas one.

Author Biography

Jules Wake (2)

Jules Wake announced at the age of ten that she planned to be a writer. Along the way she was diverted by the glamorous world of PR and worked on many luxury brands and not so luxury brands. This proved fabulous training for writing novels as it provided her with the opportunity to hone her writing and creative skills penning copy on a vast range of subjects from pig farming and watches, sunglasses and skincare through to beer and stationery.

She writes best-selling warm-hearted contemporary fiction for One More Chapter as Jules Wake and under her pen name Julie Caplin, she writes the Romantic Escapes series.

Between them, the two Js have written twelve novels, Notting Hill in the Snow being the latest.

Social Media Links

Twitter: @Juleswake

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/juleswake.co.uk/

Instagram: juleswakeauthor

Thank you Rachel’s Random Resources and One More Chapter for an advanced copy to review. It has woken up my Christmas spirit and a new author to follow is on my list.

Love

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Book Review for Snowflakes at Mistletoe Cottage

Book Review: Snowflakes at Mistletoe Cottage by Katie Ginger

It is another festive book today. I am pleased to share you my review for Snowflakes at Mistletoe Cottage by Katie Ginger. This is a new author for me but I am looking forward to reading some other stories by her.

Book Review: Snowflakes at Mistletoe Cottage by Katie Ginger

Snowflakes at Mistletoe Cottage

Title: Snowflakes at Mistletoe Cottage

Author: Katie Ginger

Publisher: HQ Digital

Genre: Christmas Romance

Release Date: 11th October 2019

Blurb

On a grey, London day, Esme’s world crumbles around her when she loses her glitzy job on a top TV programme, her gorgeous, city-slicker boyfriend and her stunning apartment, all in one fell swoop just before Christmas.

Esme is forced suddenly to move back to her sleepy hometown of Sandchester, and despite the snow blanketing the roof and the fairy lights that twinkle in her rustic little cottage, everything is looking bleak. That is until she reconnects with an old crush and finds herself unexpectedly getting swept away.

But Joe, handsome and charming as he is, is not all he seems. Esme soon realises that he has a tragic past which he just might not be able to overcome…

Surrounded by her loving, if harebrained, family and with the support of her hilarious friends, Esme is determined to have a go at forging her own path, even if it all comes to nothing. But one question still lingers in her mind: will she find someone to kiss under the mistletoe this Christmas?

Purchase Links

Amazon UK ebook: https://amzn.to/2NL7fhq

Amazon UK paperbook: https://amzn.to/2Y51uPP

Kobo: https://bit.ly/2LP8Ujm

Amazon US ebook: https://amzn.to/2XHxFR1

My Thoughts

Oh my! This is the best Christmas book I have read this year (and I have read quite a few now). I began reading at bedtime and found myself staying awake until the last page. I could not put it down. It made me chuckle out loud waking my husband and sob too. It had everything a festive book needs – characters you love, scrumptious food to make you hungry, a magical setting, a plot you are immersed in and sprinkling of festive moments that make you wish you could experience them yourself.

I am a fan of the Great British Bake Off so I was drawn in by the first scenes where I was introduced to Esme on the set of a cooking programme. Food plays a large part of the story and Katie Ginger’s writing makes the food come alive on the page, I could see, smell and taste the flavours as Esme baked. I am going to have to search for some orange tea bread. It sounds divine. The promised aroma of the bakes conjured up the spirit of Christmas.

Esme is a wonderful character who I would love to meet in reality. She tackles problems head on, is natural and funny so complements Joe, an estate agent who is the reluctant love interest with a heart breaking past. Their relationship is an emotional roller coaster as obstacles are put in the way of love and fresh beginnings. Esme’s friends add an extra element to the novel as they are always there for each other and add humorous moments not that Esme needs help in that department.

Would I recommend?

This book will be on my forever shelf so I can read it again and again. It is a festive treat that makes you ready for Christmas and tantalises the taste buds. It is heart warming, funny and emotional making it perfect for fans of the Great British Bake off, Bridget Jones and Christmas.

Author Biography

Snowflakes - author pic

Katie Ginger

KATIE GINGER lives in the South East of England, by the sea, and apart from holidays to very hot places where you can sit by a pool and drink cocktails as big your head, she wouldn’t really want to be anywhere else. Snowflakes at Mistletoe Cottage is her third novel. She is also author of the Seafront series – The Little Theatre on the Seafront, shortlisted for the Katie Fforde Debut Novel of the Year award, and Summer Season on the Seafront.

When she’s not writing, Katie spends her time drinking gin, or with her husband, trying to keep alive her two children: Ellie, who believes everything in life should be performed like a musical number from a West End show; and Sam, who is basically a monkey with a boy’s face. And there’s also their adorable King Charles Spaniel, Wotsit (yes, he is named after the crisps!).

For more about Katie you can visit her website: www.keginger.com, find her on Facebook: www.facebook.com/KatieGAuthor, or follow her on Twitter: @KatieGAuthor.

Thank you Rachel Random Resources and HQ Digital for an advanced copy to review and allowing me to discover a new author to follow.

Happy reading!

Love

Book review: Wrapped up for Christmas by Katlyn Duncan

The festive reads continue with a new author for me, Katlyn Duncan.

Book Review: Wrapped Up for Christmas by Katlyn Duncan

Wrapped Up for Christmas_FINAL

Title: Wrapped Up for Christmas

Author: Katlyn Duncan

Publisher: HQ Digital

Genre: Festive, Romance

Release Date: 1st October 2019

Blurb

It’s the most wonderful time of the year… but not for Angie Martinelli…

Having lost her boyfriend, job, and apartment all in the space of a week, Angie has no choice but to leave California and return to her family in New England.

Determined not to let life weigh her down, Angie finds work at the local mall where she worked as a teenager. After an embarrassing run-in with a handsome stranger, Nick, she’s convinced her luck is about to change.

But Nick has secrets of his own… and as the first flakes of snow begin to fall, Angie can’t help but wonder if she’ll ever find love.

Purchase Links

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2NGuQyc
Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/2HBoxs2
B&N: http://bit.ly/32fCF1R
Google Play: http://bit.ly/2NGvUlG
iBooks: https://apple.co/2LmsotI
Kobo: http://bit.ly/32jrSUl
Books2read universal link: http://bit.ly/34deOBH

My Thoughts

I loved the overall Christmas feel of this novel with the decorations, trees and festive food leaping off the page but it was the shopping mall which resonated with me most. In my student days, my first job was working in a mall at Christmas and I loved it – the atmosphere, people watching and helping shoppers with their retail experience. Katlyn Duncan has captured the essence of that perfectly as Angie returns to the mall she once worked. She is a character I could relate too and Nick along with his dog, Charlie makes a good love interest. Their chemistry meant I was more than happy to have a duvet day to continue reading to discover how family feuds and trust issues played out.

It is heart-warming, reminded me of the important things about the festive season – love, charity and goodwill – and more importantly, gave me the tingle of anticipation that soon it will be time to decorate my own tree.

Would I recommend?

Oh yes. It is entertaining, heart-warming and pure escapism allowing you time away from soggy days and gear up for the Christmas period which is on its way.

Author Biography

Wrapped UP Author Photo

Author Katlyn Duncan

Coming from a small town in Western Massachusetts, Katlyn Duncan always had her head in the clouds. Working as a scientist for most of her adult life, she enjoyed breaking down the hows and whys of life. This translated into her love of stories and getting into the minds of her characters.

Currently, she’s a full-time author and freelance writer. When she’s not writing, she’s obsessing over many (many) television series’.

She currently resides in Southern New England with her family. Check out more about her writing and current TV addiction in her newsletter, and on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!

SCBWI & RWA Member.

Social Media Links –

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/authorkatlynduncan/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/duncankatlyn/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/katlyn_duncan

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/duncankatlyn/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7060690.Katlyn_Duncan

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/katlyn-duncan

Newsletter sign up: https://www.subscribepage.com/q6i5n1

 

Thank you Rachel Random Resources, and HQ Digital for an advanced copy so I could give my honest and unbiased opinion. It was a pleasure to read.

Happy reading!

Love

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Book Review: Writing Fiction by James Essinger

Book Review: Writing Fiction by James Essinger

Today I am reviewing something slightly different to the usual books found on this blog. When I am not reading, blogging or sleeping I write fiction. Like many readers, I dream of seeing my book in a book shop surrounded by authors I love so when I was offered a chance to review this book on writing fiction I knew I had to take it.  My writing journey can be found here.

Book Review: Writing Fiction A User-friendly Guide by James Essinger

Writing Fiction a user-friendly guide (1)

Writing Fiction a user-friendly guide

Title: Writing Fiction a user-friendly guide

Author: James Essinger

Genre: Non-fiction, Writing

Publisher: The Conrad Press

Release Date: 1st August 2019

Blurb

‘Writing Fiction is a little pot of gold… Screenplay by Syd Field for film, Writing Fiction by James Essinger for fiction. It’s that simple.’

William Osborne, novelist and screenwriter

Writing Fiction – a user-friendly guide is a must-read if you want to write stories to a professional standard.

It draws on the author’s more than thirty years of experience as a professional writer, and on the work and ideas of writers including:

  • Anthony Burgess
  • Joseph Conrad
  • George Eliot
  • Ken Follett
  • Frederick Forsyth
  • Dan Harmon
  • Ernest Hemingway
  • David Lodge
  • Norman Mailer
  • John Milton
  • Ben Parker
  • K. Rowling
  • William Shakespeare
  • Martin Cruz Smith
  • R.R. Tolkien

The twenty-four chapters cover every important matter you need to know about, including: devising a compelling story, creating and developing characters, plotting, ‘plants’, backstory, suspense, dialogue, ‘show’ and ‘tell’, and how to make your novel more real than reality.

Also featuring special guest advice from legendary screenwriter Bob Gale, who wrote the three immortal Back to the Future movies (1985, 1989 and 1990), and novelist and screenwriter William Osborne, whose many screen credits include the co-writing of the blockbuster  Twins (1988), this highly entertaining book gives you all the advice and practical guidance you need to make your dream of becoming a published fiction writer come true.

Purchase Links

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Writing-Fiction-user-friendly-James-Essinger-ebook/dp/B07VYY9XH9/

https://www.amazon.com/Writing-Fiction-user-friendly-James-Essinger-ebook/dp/B07VYY9XH9/

My Thoughts

James Essinger is a novelist, non-fiction writer and publisher so he has the experience to write a writing guide. This is a concise, useful and easy-to-read book for beginners and breaks down the important elements of fiction writing. Examples are given to illustrate the advice with links to Back to the Future, Titanic and The Day of the Jackal.

I enjoyed learning about how the oral tradition of telling stories around the campfire has evolved through time to Dickens, Conrad and more modern novelists like Ken Follett and the importance of picking a role model suitable for today’s readers. He gives a good overview of Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey which gives a story a solid structure. There are several tips that will help my writing but as a writer of women’s fiction and magical realism some suggestions were not applicable. If I had read this before learning the expectations of readers from those genres, I think I would have come away disheartened after trying to fit my manuscript to all the points given and failing. The bias to male authors made the book less relatable to what it could have been.

Would I recommend?

Writing Fiction a user-friendly guide is useful and the length makes it ideal to read  between writing your own chapters. It is worth reading for writers of crime and thrillers.


Author Biography

Writing Fiction a user-friendly guide (2)

James Essinger

James Essinger has been a professional writer since 1988. His non-fiction books include Jacquard’s Web (2004), Ada’s Algorithm (2013), which is to be filmed by Monumental Pictures, and Charles and Ada: the computer’s most passionate partnership (2019). His novels include The Mating Game (2016) and The Ada Lovelace Project (2019).

Social Media Links – https://www.facebook.com/james.essinger  

https://twitter.com/jamesessinger

 Thank you Rachel’s Random Resources and The Conrad Press for the copy of Writing Fiction a user-friendly guide to review and give my honest opinion.

Happy reading!

Love

 

 

Book Review: Four Christmases and a Secret by Zara Stoneley

It is officially Autumn which means it is time to prepare for dark evenings, warm duvets, hot chocolate and seasonal reads. This is my first Christmas book review of the year. There are so many festive books to tempt bookworms you have to start early to fit them all in. Last year I enjoyed No one cancels Christmas by Zara Stoneley  so I was excited when Rachel’s Random Resources  invited me to this blog tour for her new Christmas novel, Four Christmases and a Secret. 

Book Review: Four Christmas and a Secret

Four Christmases and a Secret Cover

Four Christmases and a Secret

Title: Four Christmases and a Secret

Author: Zara Stoneley

Publisher: Harper Impulse and Killer Reads

Genre: General Fiction, Romance

Release Date: 27th September 2019

Blurb

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…

Except for Daisy Christmas means another of Uncle T’s dreaded Christmas parties, complete with Christmas jumper and flashing antlers.  And Oliver Cartwright.  Gorgeous Oliver Cartwright. Who she hates.

Every year Daisy has to face insufferable Ollie and hear all about how BRILLIANT he is.  Whereas Daisy has no job, no man and no idea how to fix things.

This Christmas however Daisy is determined things will be different.  There will be no snogging Ollie under the mistletoe like when they were teenagers.  No, this year she’ll show Ollie that she’s a Responsible Adult too.
 
But as the champagne corks pop, and the tinsel sparkles, Uncle T has news of his own to share…and it could change Daisy’s life forever…

 Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B07QRTC5JC/

US – https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07QRTC5JC/

My Thoughts

I knew I was in for a treat when the early scenes of this novel, set in an atmospheric bookshop oozing with Christmas magic instantly drew me in. As a bibliophile I find it hard to resist novels where bookshops play a significant role and the addition of Christmas makes this book a winning combination.

Daisy was a likeable character treading water while everyone else is succeeding in their dreams especially her childhood best friend, Ollie.  I had sympathy for her as she is dragged into the competitive battle between her Mum and Ollie’s mother adding to her belief she is a failure. Adult Oliver is the hunk who leaps of the page making me swoon when he appears in the chapters. The chemistry between the two characters, other memorable characters like Uncle T and the antics of her smelly dog, Stanley made this an  enjoyable festive read about self discovery and learning to fly.

It made me chuckle, cry and made me get in to the Christmas mood. What more do you need in a festive rom-com?

Would I recommend?

This is an entertaining novel, ideal for lazy cold evenings or weekends. If you enjoy the  Bridget Jones’ festive scenes you’ll enjoy this.

Author Biography

ZaraStoneley authorpic

Zara Stoneley

Zara Stoneley is the USA Today bestselling author of ‘The Wedding Date’.

She lives in a Cheshire village with her family, a lively cockapoo called Harry, and a very bossy (and slightly evil) cat called Saffron.

Born in a small village in the UK, Zara wanted to be a female James Herriot, a spy, or an author when she grew up. After many (many) years, and many different jobs, her dream of writing a bestseller came true. She now writes about friendship, dreams, love, and happy ever afters, and hopes that her tales make you laugh a lot, cry a little, and occasionally say ‘ahhh’.

Zara’s bestselling novels include ‘Bridesmaids’, ‘No One Cancels Christmas’, ‘The Wedding Date’, ‘The Holiday Swap’, ‘Summer with the Country Village Vet’, ‘Blackberry Picking at Jasmine Cottage’ and the popular Tippermere series – ‘Stable Mates’, ‘Country Affairs’ and ‘Country Rivals’.

Social Media Links –

Website: http://www.zarastoneley.com
Twitter: @ZaraStoneley
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ZaraStoneley

Instagram: zarastoneley

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/zara-stoneley?follow=true

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B007WK307G

 

A big thank you to Rachel’s Random Resources and Zara Stoneley for the chance to read an advanced copy so I could give my honest and unbiased opinion.

What books have you got on your Christmas TBR pile?

Happy reading and weekend!

Love

Four Christmases and a Secret Full Tour Banner

Meet the Author: KT King

Autumn is here which is an ideal time to curl up under the duvet and read a good book.  My TBR pile is on the edge of falling over but one of the books I am eager to read is Little Eden.  I have the pleasure to introduce its author, KT King to my blog today to discuss this novel, her favourite reads and her experience of writing with ME/CFS.

Little Eden by KT King

9781916429604

Little Eden by KT King

Book Blurb

  1. Little Eden, London, England.

In the heart of the city lies the beautiful sanctuary of Little Eden. In the time of King Alfred, this sacred site was surrounded by stone walls and within their protection has grown a tranquil town of historic buildings, parks and gardens, and tree-lined streets.

But, Little Eden and the last 1,000 years of community, compassion and refuge are under threat. Human greed, selfishness and disregard are about to turn everything Little Eden stands for to dust.

Robert Bartlett-Hart must make a choice.

With the help of his friends – plus plenty of tea and cake – Robert learns that there is more at stake than just Little Eden. Something lies at the heart of the Abbey; something that stands between the future of mankind and Armageddon.

Robert sets out on a journey of self-discovery, through past lives, other dimensions, and even through Heaven itself, but where do his loyalties lie?

Will Little Eden survive to usher in a new age or will humanity perish with it?

https://linktr.ee/ktkingbooks

The paperback will be available shortly.

Welcome to From Under the Duvet, KT King. Please tell us a bit about yourself.

_MG_0566 - Copy

KT King

KT:  I love afternoon tea, investigating all things spiritual and work as a complimentary therapist (when my health allows). I try to help others as much as I can. Making a contribution to someone else’s happiness or healing is the only thing that keeps me going! I also love crafting, up-cycling and a bit of shabby chic! I sell some of my handmade jewellery in my Little Eden Etsy shop where all the gifts inspired by Little Eden. I meditate daily and I eat way too much chocolate! I can’t read a lot these days but I chill out by watching TV adaptations of cosy crime novels.

I hope to help raise awareness for ME/CFS through my writing. I have suffered with this little known but chronic illness for over 25 years. My heroine, Sophie Lawrence, represents all of us with this illness. I hope that she inspires others as well as helping raise awareness for the millions of us worldwide who are currently ignored by the medical profession and society. There are so many people now suffering with this debilitating illness that it has been suggested that it is becoming a humanitarian crisis. If you would like to learn more about ME/CFS just click here: https://www.meaction.net/

What is your favourite book?

KT:  This is always a hard question to answer as I think we all have a few books which we turn to over and over for comfort or enlightenment. One book I have read many times is Maurice by E.M Forster, I remember reading it aged seventeen in one sitting.

Who is your favourite author?

KT: Again, a tricky question to pin down to one author but I would have to say Jane Austen, as I always dip into her books when I am feeling down.

Is your writing influenced by the books you have read?

I studied English and French at University and am influenced by French authors such as Andre Gide but also by English Gothic writers such Edgar Allen Poe and Shirley Jackson. I like to mix up my genres so you’ll notice a splash of all sorts in my writing. I’m very influenced by TV and Film as well. I see my scenes in pictures before I write them down. I love the cinematography of Hitchcock, Baz Lurhmann and Tim Burton for example, and I weave music into my novels just as they do in the movies!

Where is your favourite place to write?

KT: I have a therapy room where my desk is actually my treatment couch, I love it in there as it’s so peaceful, tranquil and calming. Sometimes I write in our ‘fancy shed’ if the weather is warm. My dream place to write would be by a lake somewhere in Canada or Scandinavia.

When did you begin writing?

KT: I used to play at being Enid Blyton when I was six years old and invent stories for my friends to act out and I loved Anne of Green Gables and Little Women – wanting to be Anne or Jo. I wrote the sixth form play but then all my writing after that was essays, newsletters or course manuals. Due to the CFS I didn’t have the energy to do anything outside my part-time work as a healer/psychic.

When I had a massive relapse of the CFS aged forty, I was in bed for two years and began to write Little Eden in my head. It took me four years to type it up as I had long periods of not being able to function. But, I feel I’ve been writing in my head my whole life long!

Katie: Jo and Anne are tow of my childhood heroines and both encouraged me to dream about being an author.

How did you become published?

KT: I finally self-published in November 2018 taking a leap of faith that my writing was good enough to be out there in the ocean of books but also because I didn’t want the ‘what if’ following me around for the next forty years. Due to the CFS a publishing deal would not really work for me as I can’t meet deadlines and my writing days are short and erratic. Self-publishing offers the challenge of how to promote my books because I don’t have the energy or the time for major marketing. It is thanks to wonderful, generous bloggers like Katie that you are reading about me and Little Eden right now.

If you write a particular genre, how did you begin writing in this style?

KT: Little Eden can’t be pinned down to one genre because I’m too curious to stick to one style. I like to have fun and mix it up! I guess you could say Little Eden is part supernatural thriller, part cosy crime, part women’s fiction with some mind, body, spirit, someone once said it was like Jane Austen meets Gothic thriller and I like that because one of my favourite books is Northanger Abbey which is a satirical Gothic romance!

Social Media links for KT King:

Blog: http://bit.ly/KTKingBlog

Website: http://bit.ly/KTKingWebsite

Instagram:  http://bit.ly/KTKingInstagram

Facebook: http://bit.ly/KTKingFacebook

Twitter:  http://bit.ly/KTKingTwitter

Etsy: http://bit.ly/KTKingShop

Thanks KT King for joining us today. It is always nice to meet fellow duvet dwellers and discover new books too. Good luck with the novel and your future writing.

Happy reading.

Love