The Manor on the Moors by Liz Taylorson #BlogTour #GuestPost (@taylorson_liz) @BooksManatee @Tr4cyF3nt0n #compulsivereaders #TheManorOnTheMoors

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Alice has landed her dream job, searching the Misterley Manor archives for tales of the elusive Gilbert Fox-Travers – life should be perfect, if only she could untangle her complicated love life…

Caroline is desperately trying to keep Misterley from falling down around her ears, and it’s a tough enough job without throwing a stroppy teenager, a difficult ex-husband and a cantankerous father into the mix.

When disaster strikes, Caroline and her family must pull together to save her beloved family home…Can Alice uncover the mystery of Gilbert Fox-Travers in time to save the Manor?

Delighted to be taking my turn on the blog tour today for The Manor on the Moors by Liz Taylorson and  the author has dropped by to tell us a little about how she came to write this particular book. My thanks to Tracy Fenton of Compulsive Readers for inviting me on to the tour and to the author for talking to me today.

The road to “The Manor on the Moors”

“For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to be a writer. I still remember the excitement of being given a new notebook as a young girl because all those blank pages meant that I could start writing a new story. My writing was very heavily influenced by what I had been reading. I read Daphne Du Maurier and wrote historical stories or I read “The Lord of the Rings” and wrote fantasy – but always at the heart of these fictions was a love story, usually featuring a thinly disguised version of me!

In my twenties I tried more seriously to write novels but I had a problem with finishing them. I’ve got about three unfinished romantic novels somewhere in a shoebox – and one of them might get unearthed and rewritten one day – but then real life intervened and instead of writing myself as the heroine of a romantic novel I actually fell in love, got married and had children, and then had no time for anything else. It was only when the children got older and less dependent on me that I found I had the time (and the energy) to write again. 

And this time I knew this was it. If I wanted to achieve my life-long dream to “be a writer” I had to do it now and do it properly. So, I set about writing another novel and this time I made sure I finished it, which felt like a major achievement. I also joined the Romantic Novelists Association New Writers Scheme so that I could get some help with what to do next. I submitted my manuscript, so lovingly and carefully created, for appraisal, and that’s when I had one of the hardest tests of my writing life to date. Because it isn’t enough just to finish – there’s a lot more to it than that, as my manuscript appraisal revealed. You can’t just write what you want, if you want commercial publication – you have to write what other people want to read, and I hadn’t done that. I had a lot of work still to do.

This is where the hard work began. I did courses, I read books, I took advice, I learnt more about the craft of writing. And finally I wrote a novel that was good enough to be published – the lovely people at Manatee Books liked my slightly awkward heroine as much as I did, and there I was with my first novel in my hand. Now, that was great. But as soon as the first novel was finished, I had to come up with another idea to follow it, and, as any published writer will tell you, that second novel is HARD. 

You feel that you have to write something BETTER than the first novel – and yet you’ve spent years perfecting and polishing novel one. It has to be similar to novel one – now is not the time to switch genre – but not too similar to be repetitive. “The Manor on the Moors” went through, I think, five complete rewrites as I tried to get it perfect! But with a second novel, there is more help. There’s an editor, for a start, to help you develop and polish the story, and by now I had writing friends to turn to with dilemmas that needed advice.

I feel like I’ve travelled a long way from those early days scribbling stories in notebooks and dreaming of being a writer.  However one thing remains constant – I’m still writing love stories (though these days the heroine is only very occasionally based on me …), and in the case of “The Manor on the Moors” there are three love stories for the price of one!”

Thank you, Liz, for sharing your writing story with me today. It is so nice to see someone having success ahead on the same path I am currently treading with my writing!

If you would like to get your own copy of The Manor on the Moors, you can buy a copy here.

If you would like to read some reviews of the book and other great content, make sure you follow the blog tour below:

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About the Author

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Liz has always surrounded herself with books.

As a child, she was always to be found with her head in one and she still has a bookcase full of her childhood favourites to this day. (As a thirteen-year-old she read The Lord of the Rings twelve times in a row, cover to cover!) All this reading led, unsurprisingly, to a degree in English Literature, (and another book-case full of books) and then a job as a cataloguer of early printed books for a major university library. This meant spending hours sitting in a beautiful, ancient building looking at antique leather-bound tomes – although as so many of them turned out to be rather boring volumes of sermons she wasn’t tempted to read them! She went on to train others to catalogue books and her earliest attempts at writing anything as an adult consisted of instructions on how to work out the correct form of an author’s name to use in a library catalogue.

Children (and then cats and chickens) interrupted her bibliographic career, and having given up library work Liz found herself doing more reading, and increasingly she found herself enjoying novels by writers like Trisha Ashley, Katie Fforde, Milly Johnson and Lucy Diamond. Inspired by their example, she started writing fiction and hasn’t stopped since, joining the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s wonderful New Writers’ Scheme to try to learn how to write novels properly in 2015. She has also attempted writing some short stories, with one The Second Princess winning a competition in Writing Magazine which led her to think that maybe publication wasn’t a pipe dream after all.

Liz owes everything to her tolerant and long-suffering husband Ben and her tolerant and long-suffering children, but very little to the cats who are neither tolerant nor long-suffering and keep sitting on the computer keyboard and messing up her manuscript if she forgets to feed them on time.

When not reading or writing Liz is often to be found on stage (or behind it) with her local amateur dramatic society, drinking tea, or visiting one of the several North Yorkshire seaside villages which were the inspiration for the fictional Rawscar, the setting for her debut novel The Little Church by the Sea.

Connect with Liz:

Website: https://liztaylorson.wordpress.com

Twitter: @taylorson_liz

 

Chance Of A Lifetime by Kendra Smith #BlogTour #Extract (@KendraAuthor) @Aria_Fiction @HoZ_Books #NetGalley #ChanceOfALifetime

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A new life down under? It’s not as perfect as you’d think.

Katie and Tom’s marriage is in trouble. As is their bank account. So, when Tom tells Katie that they need to talk, she knows it must be about one of two things, and neither are good. But when he blind-sides her saying that his boss is sending him to Australia – permanently – Katie realises it might just be what they need to save their marriage.

Trouble is, she doesn’t like the heat, can’t swim and hates spiders. Not to mention the bouts of homesickness – and Tom’s endless business trips. Katie is finding the hope of saving their marriage slowly slipping through her fingers. But Katie is determined to take the bull by the horns – and her Speedos by the strap – and tackles her new life.

When all is said and done which side of the globe will she decide to call home?

I’m pleased to be taking part in the blog tour today for Chance of a Lifetime by Kendra Smith, a feelgood romance with an exotic setting. My thanks to Victoria Joss at Head of Zeus for inviting me to take part in the tour and providing me with an extract from the book to share with you today.

Extract

Katie’s eyes roamed round the pantry as her mind processed its own inventory. Rice? Yes. Adulterer? That’s a bit harsh, your honour. Filter coffee? Half a packet. Unfaithful? You could call it that. French stick? Might have that for supper. Marriage vows? Need to review. Feeling sick about what you did? Definitely. Great sexual thrill. You bet.

‘Sweetie?’ Katie jumped. Her husband Tom was standing by the pantry door, peering at her.

‘You’re home early!’

‘We need to talk.’ He stared right at her. Oh God, not a ‘need to talk’ moment. Did he suspect? She didn’t actually do very much… She forced a cheery smile. But it soon slipped right off her face.

‘What’s wrong, Tom?’

‘Been repositioned.’ He looked about five-years-old. He was adorable. ‘Like I said might happen.’

‘Repositioned?’ The voice didn’t sound like hers. ‘Where?’

‘Australia,’ he said, as if in a dream. ‘Sydney.’ She stared at him, felt shivery, then walked past him and went upstairs and threw up in their brand-new Villeroy & Boch toilet. She’d never liked heat or spiders.

‘Why Australia?’ she asked quietly, downstairs again, staring into his intense grey eyes. Sitting white-faced in their farmhouse kitchen, clutching her paper napkin and looking round at their beautifully painted duck-egg blue walls, the black and white photos, the blown glass ornaments on the shelf from Italy, shining with a multi-coloured halo from the spotlight below, noticing the dust, the mundane things while the rest of her head was in a spin.

Like when my father died, she thought, all I could do was keep loading the dishwasher and watch baked beans slide off the plates – as if I could keep the stabbing pain away by worrying about how to clean the filter.

Tom paced up and down the wooden floors, his suede brogues making loud clipping noises.

‘Do you mean the E word…’ Her world was crashing around her. ‘Emigrate…’ Katie whispered, slightly hysterical by then, the napkin pink paper shreds. ‘We’ve just had all this done…’ Her voice trailed off, her hand gesturing to the granite work surfaces, the wooden floor, the gleaming glass extension that had robbed the garden of at least six metres. But in fact who cared what they’d had done to the kitchen? She wasn’t really terrified about leaving granite work surfaces; what she was terrified about was leaving her house, her home, England, Britain

‘K-A-T-I-E.’ Tom said her name in a very slow, deliberate way. ‘Martin has just offered me a job as head of New Asian Markets for Trent Financial – he says it’s exactly up my street, says my CV is perfect. He told me, Katie, that at forty-seven, I don’t have many options.’ He closed his eyes, leant his head back, clutched the grey granite work surface. Suddenly, his eyes snapped open again. He stared at her. ‘It’s a great salary and they’ll pay all our moving costs. It’s not emigration, it’s…’ he hesitated ‘…for a few years, a contract. An opportunity, that’s what it is.’ He smiled shakily at her. He’s trying to be his usual self, his alpha male, mused Katie. An opportunity for him maybe, but it might as well have been a job offer to Pluto; she felt like she couldn’t breathe.

‘But shouldn’t we—’

‘What? Wait for me to get another job? The country’s in a total recession.’ He folded his arms. ‘Bankers are getting fired everywhere, Katie, don’t you see?’ He sighed. ‘We are mortgaged up to the neck – especially with the bloody extra borrowing on the extension—’ She scraped her chair back, guiltily, remembering the cost.

‘You wanted it as much as me. Wanted to show off to all your clients…’ she whispered.

‘Katie, sweetheart – I’ve had a hell of a day,’ he said sweeping his fringe from his forehead and looking across at her. The look said don’t challenge me; don’t knock me when I’ve been kicked in the balls today and have managed to come up for air already. It said don’t try me when we are up to our necks in debt and I feel like I’m drowning.

She supposed that was the beauty of working for such a massive financial player as Trent Financial, and that was the beauty of having an ego the size of Tom’s – you could get redeployed anywhere. She remembered when she’d first met him; he was the Financial Director of the publishing house she was working for and several years older than her. She’d noticed him straight away. Tom with his long lashes, with his sandy-blond hair and schoolboy fringe, his oddly dark eyebrows, freckled nose and square jaw. He was rather like an older Prince Harry.

She’d been working there for two years, slowly inching her way up from Sales Assistant, (‘Can you photocopy this whole book before lunch? There’s a love’), to Senior Staff Writer. It hadn’t been easy, but she’d loved the work and loved the industry. Born with printer ink running through her veins, she used to say.

Tom had tested her one day. ‘Katie?’

‘Yes?’

‘Get that proof from the colour printer, will you?’ She’d ventured into the room where the huge colour printers hummed away. Coming out of the machine before her proof (‘How to meet Justin Timberlake this weekend!’) had been a pink and flesh-coloured ensemble of places where the sun don’t shine in the female anatomy. Her face had taken on a similar hue of magenta.

‘All right?’ Tom had smiled, taking the proof from her hand and looking her straight in the eye. (This was his little test she later found out to see who’d sink, who’d swim in this particular publishing house that also churned out a number of distasteful top-shelf titles as well as her teen magazine.)

‘Fine. Want a cappuccino?’ she’d asked.

He’d given her a quick look and said with a faint smile, ‘Thanks. Latte. No froth.’ That was the first time she’d seen that look on his face, one that was a mixture of mirth and mischief.

She had learnt her trade there. An editor who would not give up until everything was perfect; a ‘small team’ (that’s three full-timers and three and a half days’ worth of Claire, the anorexic office assistant) so you were forced to learn each other’s roles. She’d learnt how to cheat so it didn’t show.

‘Katie?’ Tom was looking at her. He put his huge hand over hers. ‘Are you all right?’

God, where had all those days gone, she wondered and then shook herself, tried to smile at him and squeezed his fingers. They should eat. Yes, remember the beans. Eat in a crisis. She watched Tom pour himself his second single malt. She walked past him towards the fridge, then suddenly had to grip the side of the counter as hot blood flooded over her chest and rose, like crawling spiders legs up her neck and face: Australia?

If you enjoyed this short extract from Chance of a Lifetime, you can buy a copy here.

If you would like to read some reviews of the books and see other interesting content, make sure you visit the rest of the stops on the tour:

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About the Author

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Kendra Smith has been a journalist, wife, mother, aerobics teacher, qualified diver and very bad cake baker. She started her career in Sydney selling advertising space but quickly made the leap to editorial and went on to work on several women’s magazines in both Sydney and London. With dual Australian-British nationality, she currently lives in Surrey with her husband and three children.

Connect with Kendra:

Website: http://kendrasmith.co.uk

Facebook: Kendra Smith Author

Twitter: @KendraAuthor

Tempted by….Mrs Bloggs The Average Reader: Up by Ben Fogle and Marina Fogle @MrsBloggsReader @Benfogle @FogleMarina @4thEstateBooks @WmCollinsBooks #Up #bookbloggers #Everest #travel #adventure

My eyes lifted to the horizon and the unmistakable snowy outline of Everest.

Everest, the mountain of my childhood dreams. A mountain that has haunted me my whole life. A mountain I have seen hundreds of times in photographs and films but never in real life.

She looked angry.

In April 2018, seasoned adventurer Ben Fogle and Olympic cycling gold medallist Victoria Pendleton, along with mountaineer Kenton Cool, took on their most exhausting challenge yet – climbing Everest for the British Red Cross to highlight the environmental challenges mountains face. It would be harrowing and exhilarating in equal measure as they walked the fine line between life and death 8,000 metres above sea level.

For Ben, the seven-week expedition into the death zone was to become the adventure of a lifetime, as well as a humbling and enlightening journey. For his wife Marina, holding the family together at home, it was an agonising wait for news. Together, they dedicated the experience to their son, Willem Fogle, stillborn at eight months.

Cradling little Willem to say goodbye, Ben and Marina made a promise to live brightly. To embrace every day. To always smile. To be positive and to inspire. And from the depths of their grief and dedication, Ben’s Everest dream was born.

Up, from here the only way was Up.

Part memoir, part thrilling adventure, Ben and Marina’s account of his ascent to the roof of the world is told with their signature humour and warmth, as well as with profound compassion.

Today on the blog I have been Tempted by…  the book, Up by Ben and Marina Fogle, as recommended by Caryl in this review on her blog, Mrs Bloggs Average Reader.

I really love a good non-fiction travel memoir and I have read and enjoyed Ben Fogle’s writing before, most particularly his book, The Teatime Islands, which I have read several times. So I thought I would enjoy this book, and Caryl’s review just convinced me of it. Caryl is a fan of books about Everest and, having read several, recommended this as a noteworthy addition to the canon so it sounded like this was a worthwhile read. In addition, the inclusion of their experience of dealing with a personal tragedy that I have myself suffered, made the book sound like one I would find particularly relevant.

If you don’t follow Caryl’s blog already, why not? It is a pleasingly constructed and easy to navigate blog. She has a great mix of content, an eclectic range of books that she reviews and her critiques are always honest, well-considered and clearly expressed. She is one of my go-to bloggers for reliable reviews and I trust her opinion. We seem to often align on our feelings towards the books we have read and have similar tastes. I highly recommend taking a peek at Mrs Bloggs The Average Reader, if you haven’t already.

If you have been tempted by Caryl’s review of Up, you can buy a copy here.

Winner Announcement! My Big Blog Birthday Bonanza Bookish Giveaway @Jo_Furniss #Giveaway #BookBloggers #BookBlog #Birthday #Winner

So, it’s finally my birthday (Happy Birthday To Me!) and the winner of my birthday giveaway has been chosen by the discerning panel of my daughters. I am delighted to announce that the winner is (drum roll, please)…

CATHERINE SHIELDS!!!!!!

Congratulations, Catherine. I will be in touch to get the details of where to send your prize. Thank you to everyone who commented for your congratulations and kind wishes and comments on my blog, I’m feeling the love. Here is to another great two years.

Hard Setdown (Sam Cane Book 1) by T. Q. Chant #BookReview #BlogTour @LoveBooksGroup #TQChant #LoveBooksGroupTours

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Sam Cane – ex-con artist (sort of), ex-soldier (definitely), and woman on the run.

She’s looking to escape a life of petty crime on Earth that’s got her in too deep with the wrong people. Taking a job with one of the corporations contracted to open up and exploit new worlds in the growing Commonwealth, she’s assigned to a young colony right on the edge of human space. It looks like the perfect escape, until she arrives on IGC-187X and things start to go downhill. Fast.

Arriving at the colony site, she finds it mysteriously deserted, its communication systems sabotaged and her ride rapidly heading out of the system. Failing to repair the communications system in time, she realises she’s stuck on the apparently deserted planet unless she can get a deepspace message out. Exploring the colony site further, she realises two things – that something terrible has happened to the colonists, and that she’s not alone. She contacts survivors from the colony, who tell her they were forced to relocate due to raider activity, but their story doesn’t quite add up. Betrayed by them, she connects with the only sane person left – Adissa, the daughter of the colonial administrator, who has been living underground since her father had gone mad and led the colonists to a mysterious settlement elsewhere on the planet.

Suddenly, getting a message out has taken on a new urgency. Playing a deadly game of cat and mouth with the colonists, Sam and Adissa work together to try to get an old buried launch array on-line. The full horror of the situation starts to impact on Sam as she realises just how far the colonists have fallen and that something far worse is lurking hidden under the deserts of the arid world.

Out on the fringe, she’ll find out that what you’re running from isn’t always the thing that will kill you.

Today I am on the blog tour for Hard Setdown by T. Q. Chant, the first book in the Sam Cane series. My thanks to Kelly Lacey at Love Books Group Tours for the invitation to take part and to the author for my copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

Sci-Fi is not a genre that I read very often but I do enjoy it if it is well written and this most certainly is that. It is quite a short book that manages to pack a punch of action between its pages and left me definitely wanting to know what comes next.

We join the story as Sam Cane is waiting in a landing pod, about to be jettisoned in to space to join a remote space colony for a few years. She has a shady past and an uncertain future and has no idea what she is getting herself in to – a set up which leaves a lot of scope for a good story.

Because this book is short, the writer keeps character development to a minimum. Sam is the only one we really find out anything about, and even huge chunks of her past are only hinted at, leaving the readers with a lot of tantalising questions about what has gone before. This is is either a clever ploy to make you want to read the next instalment in the hope more details are revealed (which is how it worked on me) or frustratingly hole-y, depending on your perspective. This limited character development does mean that the reader has very little connection with the other characters in the book, which has the effect of lessening the impact of some of their fates and making others’ motivation somewhat of a mystery that is barely touched on.

The world building the author has done is more detailed, which makes me think this is where his true interest lies in the writing. The topography and workings of the planet are well established and there is a lot of information about the mechanics of how things work – tools, weapons, machinery, logistics. To anyone less interested in this aspect of things, parts of the book may drag a little, particularly in the beginning, as it gets very technical. Other people will revel in the fact this has all been carefully thought out. Depends what floats your particular boat.

The greatest strength of this book is the action and the author manages to shoehorn a lot in to a little space. There is plenty going on, and it definitely kept me on the edge of my seat, providing thrills, tension and proper shocks. I had to keep reading to find out what was going to happen, and cleverly/ annoyingly, the author leaves enough loose ends in the book to mean that I HAVE TO read the next instalment. Don’t start if you don’t want to be dragged into the trilogy!

My verdict? An interesting exercise in pushing my horizons that is in equal parts entertaining and frustrating but left me needing to read on.

Hard Setdown is out now and you can get a copy here.

To get some other opinions on the book, check out the rest of the bloggers on the tour:

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About the Author

Tim Chant grew up (mostly), went to school in East Anglia and university in Scotland. He took his History degree and did the only thing he could with it – joined the civil service. When not shackled to his desk he writes science fiction, alternative historical fiction, historical fiction and any other fiction that takes his fancy. When not doing that, he’s an inveterate roleplayer and wargamer (and getting back into historical fencing). He lives in Edinburgh with his partner and their two rabbits.

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Turtles All The Way Down by John Green #BookReview (@johngreen) @PenguinUKBooks @PenguinRHUK @penguinrandom @TheFictionCafe #FictionCafeBookClub #FictionCafeReadingChallenge2019

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‘It’s quite rare to find someone who sees the same world you see.’

Sixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred thousand dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis.

Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.

This is the first book I have chosen this year as part of the 2019 Reading Challenge for my online book club, The Fiction Cafe Book Club. (If you love books, you must check it out, it is the friendliest part of the internet for bibliophiles). The challenge is to read a new book every fortnight that fits the prescribed category for that two-week period.

The first category is ‘A book about mental health.‘ I have vowed to try and pick unread books from my TBR to fit the challenge categories, rather than buy new ones, which is where this comes in. It has been sat on my shelf since publication. Well, its time has finally come!

Is it safe to admit that I have never read a John Green book before? I know I’m probably the only person left on the planet who hasn’t read ‘The Fault In Our Stars,’ but I’ve avoided it as I thought it would really upset me. I decided it was about time I did read one, since he is one of the biggest selling authors on the planet, and I had this book waiting that seemed to fit the category. I bought it last year mainly because of the title, which piqued my curiosity and, I have to say, I was very happy when I got to the part when the title finally became clear!

So, what did I make of my first John Green novel? Well, the man can certainly write. His characters were fully developed and very intricate. I enjoyed his prose style and he obviously has a good grasp of how people, especially teenagers, tick. The book, whilst seeming to cover a very small life, explores in detail a terrifying and truly problematic mental health issue for the main character, Aza, and how this impacts every part of her life, severely, to the point that she can barely function in any ordinary way. The mystery part of the story is incidental and heavily side-lined, and the main focus is most definitely on the mental health topic and, in this, I think the blurb is a little misleading. Anyone buying this book looking mainly for a detective story is going to end up a little disappointed.

It’s quite clear that I am not the target audience for this book. It is definitely aimed at the YA market and, to be honest, those of a maturer persuasion looking back with years of like experience may find the adolescent navel-gazing a little self-indulgent. But this is how life is when you are a teenager. You do believe you are the centre of the world and your problems take on a magnified importance that can be over-whelming. Perspective comes with age and experience (hopefully, not always). Kids are monumentally self-absorbed and Green captures this very well and reflects it in his writing. And there is no doubt that any deviation in your personality from the norm at this age is terrifying. That’s not to say that mental health issues in adolescents should be trivialised or discounted. They are a real issue, and actually a lack of experience and perspective can magnify them and make them much harder to manage successfully. Aza’a issues are extreme and would be horrifying for anyone to deal with and, for me, the thoughts that she is experiencing are grotesque and would be impossible to live with, for child or adult. The author does an amazing job of displaying Aza’s thought spirals and the perpetual horror she is trapped in as she fights, and fails, to control them.

This book is an illuminating portrayal of the effects mental health issues can have on every part of a person’s life, and how surmounting these things can seem impossible. I think it will be more appealing to younger readers, just because of the focus on teenage lives, but the writing is without doubt compelling and it was a rewarding read. A little too harrowing emotionally to be classed as enjoyable, but definitely illuminating.

If you like the sound of the book, you can get a copy here.

About the Author

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John Green is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Looking For Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines, Paper Towns, The Fault in Our Stars, and Turtles All the Way Down. He is also the co-author, with David Levithan, of Will Grayson, Will Grayson. He was the 2006 recipient of the Michael L. Printz Award, a 2009 Edgar Award winner, and has twice been a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Green’s books have been published in more than 55 languages and over 24 million copies are in print. John is also an active Twitter user with more than 5.4 million followers.

Connect with John:

Website: http://www.johngreenbooks.com

Facebook: John Green

Twitter: @johngreen

Instagram: @johngreenwritesbooks

Friday Night Drinks with….Anne from Being Anne @Williams13Anne #FridayNightDrinks #GuestPost #BeingAnne #BookBlogger #BloggerLove

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Thrilled to have as my guest for Friday Night Drinks tonight one of my favourite, most admired and award-winning bloggers, and one of the few I have actually met IRL, the wonderful, Anne Williams from Being Anne.

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Welcome, Anne. Thank you for joining me for drinks this evening. First things first, what are you drinking?

Thanks for inviting me, Julie! I’d usually stick with a large glass of Sauvignon Blanc, but I’ve acquired quite a taste over Christmas for those flavoured gins – could I have a raspberry one please, with a dash of tonic?  

Oh, that sounds delicious! Roll on 1st February, I’m on the soft drinks again. If we weren’t here in my virtual bar tonight, but were meeting in real life, where would you be taking me for a night out?

I’m so boring these days – but, in my defence, I am getting on a bit now. Would you mind staying in instead? I’d be happy with a takeaway – curry or Chinese – and a couple of good rom coms…  

That is perfect for these cold, wintry nights, to be honest. It is forecast snow for these weekend. If you could invite two famous people, one male and one female, alive or dead, along on our night out, who would we be drinking with?

I’m a big Radio 2 fan, and I’m so upset that Simon Mayo is leaving – I think he’d be interesting for a night out, and we could find out how he really felt about sharing his drive-time show with Jo Whiley. And how about my favourite actress, Judi Dench? I think she’d be good fun… 

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I love Judi Dench, I’d quite like to be her when I grow up! So, now we’re settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. What have you got going on? How and why did you start it and where do you want it to go?

I’m doing what I’ve been doing for nearly six years now – reading in my every spare moment, sharing reviews (and sometimes interviews, features and guest posts) on my blog, Being Anne. It all started as a way of keeping my reviews in one place, and no-one was more amazed than I was when I found people liked reading it. I stepped things up a bit when I retired three years ago – moved everything from Blogger to WordPress, improved the way it looked, tried to post content at least every weekday. Life got a little more complicated when I became carer for my mum, and the frequency of posts has dropped rather recently – but I hope what I now manage to do is of the standard I’ve always strived to achieve. I so enjoy sharing my thoughts on books I’ve enjoyed – and if I don’t enjoy a book, you won’t find it on the blog.   

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Your blog is definitely very professional and one that every book lover should check out. What has been your proudest moment since you started blogging and what has been your biggest challenge?

I’ve been delighted to win the “Best Pal” award three years running at the Annual Bloggers’ Bash. But I think what gives me the most pleasure is when someone tells me they’ve bought a book on my recommendation – and if they then tell me they enjoyed it just as much as I did, that’s just wonderful. I also love it when authors interact – particularly to tell me how much they’ve enjoyed a review, or to tell me that I totally “got” their book. No particular challenges really, other than finding the time to read and review everything I really want to – although I am rather worried about the new WordPress editor, and will put off using it for as long as I possibly can.

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Huge congratulations on that success. What is the one big thing you’d like to achieve in your chosen arena? Be as ambitious as you like, its just us talking after all!

No, I’m really not ambitious – I got that out of my system in my working life, and I never intended that the blogging should be anything more than a pastime for my retirement. 

What are you currently working on that you are really excited about?

When I retired, I always planned to try my hand at writing. I’m not sure if I have a book in me, but I really would like to give it a try. Now life’s becoming a little easier again, I’ve signed up for an on-line writing course starting in February, and I’ll see how it goes. I’d like to attempt romance, maybe featuring some of those rather older characters I enjoy reading about…

You should join the RNA New Writers’ Scheme if you get into it! I love to travel, and I’m currently drawing up a bucket list of things I’d like to do in the future. Where is your favourite place that you’ve been and what do you have at the top of your bucket list?

I love to travel too, and in the last fifteen years or so – after I ditched the partner who only ever wanted to go to the Lake District – I’ve managed to get to a lot of the places that were on my own bucket list. I’ve been so very lucky. I started with the US, West coast and then the East, then followed through with China and Hong Kong. I’ve been to South Africa, ridden elephants in Northern Thailand, watched the sunrise over Angkor Wat in Cambodia, and totally adored my tour of Cuba. Peru – particularly Macchu Pichu – was so spectacular: and you really haven’t lived until you witness the sunset on Halong Bay in Vietnam. My last big holiday was watching the wildlife in Borneo, with a touch of real luxury in Singapore on the way home. I really don’t have a favourite, but the holiday I took for my 60th birthday was particularly special – starting in Peru, crossing the Andes, visiting Buenos Aires, the jet boat under the Iguazu Falls, the helicopter over Rio de Janeiro. There aren’t that many destinations left on my bucket list, but I would like to spend more time in the Far East – and I’ve yet to visit Australia and New Zealand. 

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Oh wow, you’ve been pretty much everywhere I want to go. Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know about you.

There’s very little people don’t know about me – I share a lot about my life on my blog (too much, maybe?!).

Never, it is lovely to learn about people who are so open and friendly as you come across. Books are my big passion and central to my blog and I’m always looking for recommendations. What one book would you give me and recommend as a ‘must-read’?

One book? Maybe… or then again… no, give me a moment. No, sorry, I just can’t do it! You’ll find my books of the year on my blog though, always posted just before Christmas…

So, we’ve been drinking all evening. What is your failsafe plan to avoid a hangover and your go-to cure if you do end up with one?

I’m afraid I’ve never perfected the art of avoiding one – other than not opening the second bottle of wine. And the cure – or at least, the compensation – has to be a good fry-up. 

After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?

Here I get boring again! If it’s ok with you, I’d rather curl up with my current book – which is always my favourite way to spend a weekend. Unless there’s a good book event going on – shall we take a look?

Anne, thank you so much for joining me on the blog this evening, it has been so much fun to talk to you and we will have that IRL lunch soon.

Anne and I have a lot in common, She lives in Yorkshire, as I do, in the beautiful market town of Wetherby. Having spent her working life as a civil servant, she’s now 62 and retired, and able to spend her time doing all the things she enjoys most. Her first passion has always been reading – and she enjoys spending much of her time doing just that, sharing her love of books on her blog Being Anne. She enjoys travelling to book related events – and is lucky to be invited to some of the best launches and parties. Her second passion is travel – usually long haul, and to places where other people might not have been. 

If you would like to find out more about Anne, catch up with her on social media:

Webssite: https://beinganne.com

Facebook: Being Anne 

Twitter: @Williams13Anne

Next week I am joined for Friday Night Drinks, by Wendy Clarke, founder of my favourite group on the internet, The Fiction Cafe Book Club. Make sure you join us then.