Friday Night Drinks with…. Lucy Keeling @Lucy_K_Author @ChocLituk @RNATweets #UKRomChat #FridayNightDrinks

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After a one week hiatus, I am back for Friday Night Drinks with debut author, member of Twitter’s #UKRomChat and RNA colleague……Lucy Keeling.

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Welcome to the blog, Lucy, it’s lovely to have you here. First things first, what are you drinking?

Ohh, thank you for inviting me, I’d love an Ameretto and Diet Coke please if you don’t mind? Or we could share a bottle of Prosecco if you prefer?

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A bottle of Prosecco between us it is, to start with anyway! 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?

We would probably start earlier and go into Manchester, that way we can be nicely tipsy/drunk/steaming and get the last train home. I like to drink in places that are relaxed and chilled. If I can be wearing my Converse then I am beyond happy. I don’t think I ever really left my student drinking days behind me, except maybe the drinking of Snakebite.

I’m the same in my DMs! 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?

David Bowie and Emma Thompson. No hesitation.  

Ooh, good call. 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?

Well I am looking forward to this Friday night off to be honest. Most of my evenings are spent editing or writing. I work part-time and have two small humans to try and raise, so the evenings are when the words come (hopefully). My rom com debut Make It Up To You was released in September. I’ve just sent off the second one in that series, and now I’m really excited to be working on Book Three, which is Mya’s story. 

What has been your proudest moment since you started writing and what has been your biggest challenge?

Well, I have been writing since I was little. In fact I wrote my first ever book when I was maybe 8? It was about Ice Monsters and my school friend did the illustrations. But I would say coming Runner-Up in Choc-Lit’s ‘Search for a Star’ Competition and finding out that I would be getting a three book deal is certainly a HUGE deal for me, and honestly I’m still in shock. I kept expecting them to turn around and say, “So sorry we meant a different Lucy!”

My biggest challenge, as with most of us I guess, is getting into a routine and finding the time to write, as well as all the other stuff that comes with it, but I think I’m getting there. I think. Some weeks are easier or perhaps more productive than others that’s for sure. 

I can totally relate to the challenges of juggling everything. 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!

Ohhh, ok well if we’re dreaming big, then obviously I would like to see my rom com series made into TV or a film. I think it would be ace to watch it play out on Netflix. 

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

So Book One was all about Sophie, a social media influencer, and Marcus a gardener. I know, I know, it doesn’t sound like a pairing that should work but it really does. Like, really does, wink wink. Judging from the reviews and the feedback for Make It Up To You, it seems as though readers are desperately trying to suss out what Mya (one of the characters) does for a living. So it’s incredibly exciting to be writing Book Three now which is all about her. Honestly, I love knowing something that everyone else doesn’t haha. 

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 am not as well travelled as I would like. What have you got on yours? I’d love some inspiration. I would say that I really loved visiting Washington DC. We have friends that live over there and getting to see all the sites with them was amazing. Right now, I would just love to go somewhere warm and peaceful where I can read as much as I want before swimming up to a bar and drinking and then repeat. I don’t think that’s too much to ask? Is it?

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Sounds perfect. I was in Washington DC in 2018, great place. Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know about you.

Oh erm… I actually don’t think I’m at all that interesting. I would say that I am terrible at small talk. It’s the small bit I struggle with and so I tend to just go straight into the over sharing detail that you absolutely wouldn’t have asked for, and certainly didn’t need to know.

I feel exactly the same, I think it’s a nervous tic shared by introverts. Next time we are at the same RNA event, we should meet up and overshare together! 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’?

I keep coming back to Sally Thorne’s The Hating Game. I just love it. Having said that I am also loving Tessa Dare’s series at the moment too. She is a genius at writing hilarious stories with amazing romance. I’m just about to start Clare Lydon’s ‘You’re My Kind’ and I can’t wait. I could go on and on.

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Nemesis (n.) 1) An opponent or rival whom a person cannot best or overcome. 2) A person’s undoing. 3) Joshua Templeman.

Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman sit across from each other every day . . . and they hate each other.

Not dislike. Not begrudgingly tolerate. HATE. Lucy can’t understand Joshua’s joyless, uptight approach to his job and refusal to smile. Joshua is clearly baffled by Lucy’s overly bright clothes, quirkiness, and desire to be liked.

Now they’re up for the same promotion and Lucy, usually a determined people-pleaser, has had enough: it’s time to take him down. But as the tension between Lucy and Joshua reaches its boiling point, it’s clear that the real battle has only just begun . . .

I haven’t read that one, it sounds good. I will add it to the list. 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?

So I am renowned for making a brew. I am an absolute fiend when it comes to the hot beverage, and so no matter how drunk I might be, how many tipples I’ve had, I will always,and without fail make a brew when I get in. If I’m feeling really risky I might even make some toast. I’m so bad-ass I know. But I swear it will lessen your pain the next day.

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A cup of tea cures all! After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?

Once I get in and it’s likely to be late because I get the feeling that you may be a bad influence ☺, I would like to recover the next day in bed, watching things on Netflix that I promised my friends I would watch and never got round to. But if we’re talking truly ideal then at some point I would need a big ol’ greasy breakfast and a cold can of full fat coke. Then I will be ready to face absolutely anything. Unless it’s Soft Play Hell in which case, no. Absolutely not. Do not ever go to Soft Play Hell with a hangover. 

Thankfully, my girls are past the Soft Play stage, so I won’t have to suffer that with or without a hangover! Lucy, thank you so much for joining me, it has been an absolute joy. Here is a gif, just for you!

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Lucy’s debut novel, Make It Up To You, is out now as an ebook and you can buy a copy here.

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What do mascara wands and gardening shears have in common?

Absolutely nothing! At least that’s what wannabe beauty influencer Sophie Timney thinks when her friend Polly suggests involving her brother Marcus in Sophie’s make-up tutorials. She needs more views, Marcus needs promotion for his gardening business – in Polly’s mind joining forces will help them both. Sophie isn’t so sure.

Because Marcus Bowman has a habit of getting under her skin in a way that no exfoliating face scrub ever could. But, as the views and comments on her videos begin creeping up, it becomes increasingly obvious that Sophie’s subscribers like Marcus, and what’s even worse is that Sophie might be starting to feel the same way …

Lucy Keeling is an author writing fun, sexy, stories with all of the happily ever afters. When she’s not typing at the kitchen table, she’s arranging and then re-arranging to see her friends for the occasional spot of day drinking. Lucy is currently writing the third book in a Contemporary Romance series, the first of which was Runner-Up in ChocLit’s ‘Search for a Star’ competition. This story has become her romantic comedy debut Make It Up To You.

To discover more about Lucy and her writing, you can find her on her website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Please join me next week when I will be joined for Friday Night Drinks by Sarah from Lost in the Land of Books blog.

 

 

You Are Mine by Miranda Rijks #BookReview #BlogTour (@MirandaRijks) @inkubatorbooks @damppebbles @DamppebblesBTs #YouAreMine #damppebblesblogtours

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Rupert has spent years searching for his perfect wife. Now he’s found her.  

Her name is Charlotte Aldridge and she’s wonderful. A talented artist, modest and beautiful, she’s everything he ever dreamed of. Her hair, her eyes, her mouth – every little detail is perfect.  

Rupert is confident that when they meet, she’ll fall in love with him just as he has with her. After all, he’s a wealthy British aristocrat. And he’s handsome – the relentless gym workouts and extensive plastic surgery have seen to that.  

But what if Charlotte can’t see that they fit perfectly, that they’re meant for each other? Well, Rupert can be very persuasive. His father taught him certain methods which are extremely effective. Methods that can turn the most determined, ‘I don’t’ into a meek and submissive, ‘I do’…. 

Today, it is my turn on the blog tour for You Are Mine by Miranda Rijks. My thanks to Emma Welton of Damp Pebbles Tours for my place on the tour and to the author for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

This is my first book by Miranda Rijks and I still haven’t decided whether I will be reading another or not yet because this one completely creeped me out and I’m still trying to wrap my head around the mind which managed to produce something so disturbing.

This book revolves around Rupert, a wealthy aristocrat who is on the look out for the perfect wife to complete his otherwise perfect life. He is convinced he has found her in the shape of artist, Charlotte, and he is sure she will fall in love with him if she just gets to know him properly. But is the real Rupert someone Charlotte could ever love? And is it really Charlotte he loves, or the memory of someone else….

This book has an interesting construction as it jumps between the present and the past, following Rupert’s story now as he pursues Charlotte, and events in his past that shaped his current behaviour. We also hear the story from several different perspectives, both in the past and in the present. However, despite the different time lines and the different voices, the story is very well laid out and easy to follow.

This book was extremely gripping and easy to read. I fairly flew through the pages as the pace of the book carries the reader along speedily. The tone is dark and troublesome, these are not easy topics to read about and the story line may prove triggering for some readers. The mood is dark and claustrophobic throughout, which is very fitting for the plot but makes for an oppressive reading experience. Not the book to pick if you are looking for something uplifting.

There are a few twists in the book, a couple of which I guessed and a couple I didn’t. Overall, a compelling read from a devious mind. One for fans of a psychological thriller with a bit of a different spin.

You Are Mine is out in paperback and ebook on 1st December and you can buy a copy here.

To find out more about the book and read some alternative reviews, please do check out the other fabulous blogs taking part in the tour:

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About the Author

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Miranda Rijks is a writer of psychological thrillers and suspense novels, and YOU ARE MINE will be her sixth novel published with Inkubator Books. She has an eclectic background ranging from law to running a garden centre. She’s been writing all of her life and has a Masters in writing. A couple of years ago she decided to ditch the business plans and press releases and now she’s living the dream, writing suspense novels full time. She lives in Sussex, England with her Dutch husband, musician daughter and black Labrador.

Connect with Miranda:

Website: https://mirandarijks.com

Facebook: Miranda Rijks Author

Twitter: @MirandaRijks

Instagram: @mirandarijksauthor

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Nothing Important Happened Today by Will Carver #BookReview #BlogTour (@will_carver) @OrendaBooks @annecater #RandomThingsTours #NothingImportantHappenedToday #9Suicides1CultNoLeader

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Nine people arrive one night on Chelsea Bridge. They’ve never met. But, at the same time, they leap to their deaths. Each of them received a letter in the post that morning, a pre-written suicide note, and a page containing only four words: Nothing important happened today.

That is how they knew they had been chosen to become a part of The People of Choice: a mysterious suicide cult whose members have no knowledge of one another.

Thirty-two people on a train witness the event. Two of them will be next. By the morning, People of Choice are appearing around the globe. It becomes a movement. A social-media page that has lain dormant for four years suddenly has thousands of followers.

The police are under pressure to find a link between the cult members, to locate a leader who does not seem to exist …

So excited to be on the blog tour for this hotly-anticipated book by Will Carver, Nothing Important Happened Today. My thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part and to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

I’ve dreaded writing this review today because, although I finished the book on Sunday, I still haven’t figured out how to review it or exactly what I want to say. I haven’t even really figured out what I think about the book yet. But, hey, the review is due today so I’ll give it my best stab, knowing full well that it isn’t going to come anywhere near doing this book justice.

I seem to be saying this quite a lot recently, but I’ve really not read anything like this before and, now I’ve read this book, I realise that every other time I’ve said this, the sentiment has been defunct. This book is so unique, so ‘out there,’ so unlike anything else you’ll pick up that you can’t quite get your head around it while you are reading, but it absolutely impossible to put down once you start. I know that it seems odd, given the subject matter, but it’s true. This isn’t an easy book to read, the issues covered are on the darkest side of dark and may be triggering for some, the construction is so unusual that it may well twist your noodle, but you will possibly never read anything that gives you so much reward for the effort.

Because of the writing. Oh, the writing is so sublime that when I think about it, it makes me want to weep for the dark, twisted genius mind that produced it and how my own, pathetic efforts at writing something meaningful are thrown into sharp, unflattering relief by its beauty. Seriously, I have no idea how the author managed to piece this book together and still make the writing flow so perfectly. I mean, this book is written in both the first AND the third person. The narrators are a diverse bunch of voices, most of which we don’t get to know intimately, but only through the detached, dismissive opinion of someone who has given them dehumanising labels rather than names. The ‘main character’ doesn’t appear until a third of the way in. This is a book that should not work. It breaks every rule that authors are given on writing. We are told that we have to connect the reader to the main character at the beginning, snare in their empathy, make them care. This book does the exact opposite, and yet. And yet, I was caught from the first page and held until the last. How did he do it, I’m still trying to work it out.

This book really does cover some bleak subjects. Mass suicide, cults, mental health issues, psychological manipulation, and the descriptions of the violent scenes are graphic. You can hear the necks snapping, the screams, the splats. This is deliberate and necessary for the book but will not be easy reading for a lot of people. But there is a point to all of it and this book has me contemplating the issues raised ever since. Even though I have moved on to another book. As I’m washing my hair, drinking my tea, cooking the dinner. I actually had to pick up something completely mindless and superficial as a follow up, because my brain is still processing what is going on in this novel and what to make of it.

This is a book about modern society. About our craving for acceptance through social media, and the superficiality of those connections and approval. How, in reality, despite being more connected across the globe than ever, we are all really alone, isolated and insecure. How open we all are to manipulation in our quest for approval and acceptance. How people are willing to jump on any bandwagon in the search to belong, for fame and infamy, in order to FEEL. How, the more we all need to feel of consequence in a world where fame rests on the shoulders of people who have achieved nothing of relevance, the more we are becoming disillusioned for no reason. Dissatisfied by lives that are perfectly adequate, seeing problems where none really exist. Trying to find meaning in the meaningless and missing the things that really matter. Selfish, self-obssessed but totally lacking in real self-awareness.

I am aware that this review doesn’t entirely make sense, but that is because I am still processing the book and trying to sort through the labyrinth of thoughts and feelings it has aroused in me. It has turned my brain and emotions into a tangled ball of wool that it will take me hours to unravel. I know that this is a book that I will return to again soon so I can go through it in more detail, after the shock of the first read has worn off, and pick out more of the nuances. And I know that, on a second reading, I will have a different reaction, find different things to extract, and different thoughts to ponder. The book is so complex, so packed with ideas and meaning, that it will continue to reward on repeated reads.

What I have said here feels inadequate to sum up my feelings about the book. I am grasping for words to sum up thoughts and emotions for which I have no adequate vocabulary, but it’s the best I can do. This book is radical, risky, raw and utter genius. It won’t be for everyone, and for me to say I loved it seems wrong, given the topic, but I am so glad I read it, and will come back to it again and again when I want to be challenged. One of my books of the year, without a doubt.

Nothing Important Happened Today is out now in all formats and you can get a copy here.

This is a book that is sure to stir fierce opinions in people, so make sure you check out some of my fellow bloggers’ reactions to the book by following the tour.

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About the Author

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Will Carver is the international bestselling author of the January David series. He spent his early years in Germany, but returned to the UK at age eleven, when his sporting career took off. He turned down a professional rugby contract to study theatre and television at King Alfred’s, Winchester, where he set up a successful theatre company. He currently runs his own fitness and nutrition company, and lives in Reading with his two children. Good Samaritans was book of the year in Guardian, Daily Telegraph and Sunday Express, and hit number one on the ebook charts.

Connect with Will:

Facebook: Will Carver Author

Twitter: @will_carver

Instagram: @will_carver

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Friday Night Drinks with… Emma Mitchell @emmamitchellfpr #bookbloggers #bookblogging #FridayNightDrinks #FictionCafeWriters #WhenStarsWillShine

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A very welcome guest for Friday Night Drinks tonight, it is blogger and editor….Emma Mitchell

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

Well, I’ve recently taken a liking to larger and lime, so I have a nice, cold pint of Carling and lime … I’ll be moving on to the vino shortly though.

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?

There’s a lovely pub near me called The Swing Gate. We’d probably have a game of pool before either the karaoke or live band started 😊 either that or we’d be snuggled on my sofa in our PJs as I don’t tend to go out often!

I’m terrible at pool and karaoke, so the latter might be the better option! 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?

From the literary world it would have to be Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl. Both their books played a massive part in my reading addiction as a child and I would love to get inside their heads and pick their brains about where they got their ideas from.

Great choices. 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?

Well, in my day job I’m a freelance fiction editor and I adore it. I’m working with some amazing authors at the moment and there are some wonderful books on their way. I’ve just finished working on the debut by follow book blogger (Chapter in My Life) Sharon Bairden, it’s a gritty psychological thriller and it blew my mind! Sharon has a real talent with words, and I cannot wait to see this on the shelves!

Away from my day job, I have coordinated twenty-three authors to write twenty-four short stories for a charity anthology. We have a mix of genres, but each story is Christmas themed and all the money raised will be donated to Help For Heroes. It’s called When Stars Will Shine and is available now for e-book pre-order and will be released on 9 December with the paperback.

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When Stars Will Shine is a collection of short stories from your favourite authors who have come together to deliver you a Christmas read with a twist.

With true war tales that will break your heart, gritty Christmas crimes that will shake you to your core, and heart-warming tales of love lost and found, this anthology has something for everyone. And, with every penny made being sent to support our troops, you can rest assured that you’re helping our heroes, one page at a time.

From authors such as Louise Jensen, Graham Smith, Malcolm Hollingdrake, Lucy Cameron, Val Portelli, and Alex Kane, you are in for one heck of a ride!

I have this on pr-order and am so excited to read it. I hope it does really well. What has been your proudest moment since you started writing/blogging and what has been your biggest challenge?

I have two moments, if that’s OK? Conrad Jones has been a favourite author of mine for years, then two years ago, I became his editor! That was the most surreal thing ever. And I still get a thrill when another of his books lands in my inbox for me to work my magic on. 

The second was when author Angela Marsons sent me a cheeky screenshot of her then work in progress … with me as a character! I burst into tears and my hubby thought someone had died. I won’t say what I did next as it’s rather embarrassing … but it involved tears and snot for at least an hour! I have adored every single book in her DI Kim Stone series, and Silent Scream, the first one, was the first book I ever reviewed. In fact, I’ll tell you a secret, whenever there’s a new one out, I buy new bedding, have a long soak in the bath, get wine and munch ready, get into bed, and don’t leave until I’ve finished the book (whenever possible!). I also channel my inner Kim Stone when I have to go in the cellar! So to be named in the book, well … my mind was blown!

What is the one big thing you’d like to achieve in your chosen arena? Be as ambitious as you like, it’s just us talking after all!

I would LOVE to start my own publishing house.

I’m dipping my toe in the waters with the anthology … with help from three amazing #Queens in the industry. Kate Noble, from Noble Owl Proofreading, Amanda Ni Odhrain from Let’s Get Booked, and Shel Baker from Shell’s Not So Secret Book Blog have all been behind me from day one with this and I adore them for it. 

The whole process, although stressful at times, has been so exhilarating, I’m loving every second, so it may be something I look to do in an official capacity in the future.

Wow, that’s a massive ambition, good luck with it. What are you currently working on that you are really excited about?

When Stars Will Shine! 

Also, Sally Rigby, one of my amazing clients, is about to release the fifth book in her Cavendish and Walker series and it is BRILLIANT! A twisty police procedural that really leaves you guessing. She’s a fantastic author so if you’ve yet to read her books, go and check them out!

Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know about you.

OK … here goes … I LOVE tomato soup, it’s the only soup I like, tomato sauce is the ONLY sauce I eat … but I HATE tomatoes! I cannot stand to eat actual tomatoes! 

Strangely, two of my sisters are the same! 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’?

Louise Jensen’s The Sister. I still have a book hangover from that one and am constantly asking Louise to revisit those characters.

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‘I did something terrible Grace. I hope you can forgive me . . .’

Grace hasn’t been the same since the death of her best friend Charlie. She is haunted by Charlie’s words the last time she saw her, and in a bid for answers, opens an old memory box of Charlie’s. It soon becomes clear that there was a lot she didn’t know about her best friend.

When Grace starts a campaign to find Charlie’s father, Anna, a girl claiming to be Charlie’s sister steps forward. For Grace, finding Anna is like finding a new family and soon Anna has made herself very comfortable in Grace and boyfriend Dan’s home.

But something isn’t right. Things disappear, Dan’s acting strangely and Grace is sure that someone is following her. Is it all in Grace’s mind? Or as she gets closer to discovering the truth about both Charlie and Anna, is Grace in terrible danger?

There was nothing she could have done to save Charlie . . . Or was there?

That is a great book. 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?

So, I’ve already got my hangover PJs ready for the morning … the absolute failsafe is hair of the dog, but I can never seem to bring myself to have a drink until a few hours later, even though I know I’ll feel better for it! Food wise, it has to be Frazzles … bags and bags and bags of Frazzles, then pizza. Ham and pineapple washed down with orange Tango.

I love Frazzles, never tried them as a hangover cure before. Ham and pineapple pizza may prove controversial! After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?

Snuggled up reading, or, if the hangover’s that bad I can’t read, I’ll watch some serial killer documentaries on the TV and not move all day!

Sounds marvellous, especially in this appalling weather. Emma, thank you so much for joining me, it’s been a joy and I wish you great luck with the anthology.

Emma is a freelance fiction editor and you can find her business website here, which is full of useful information for authors. Emma also blogs about books over at Emma The Little Bookworm, and you can catch up with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Next week on Friday Night Drinks, I will be joined by blogger Llainy Swanson so make sure you join us.

 

An Appeal on behalf of my local community @JimReRead #SouthYorkshireFloods #Doncaster #DoncasterFloods

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I have never done a post like this before on the blog, but I cannot have a platform and not use it to make an appeal on behalf of my fellow Doncastrians after the disaster that my home town has suffered this week.

Any of my readers who live in the UK cannot have failed to see the news about the devastating floods which have swept Doncaster over the last week. Local communities have been devastated, homes destroyed, lives blighted. Many people have lost everything. For some of them, this is the second time in the last twelve years that their homes have been destroyed by floods. Many no longer have insurance to cover their losses. 1,000 homes have been affected so far, and more rain is falling as we speak, so yet more may be hit.

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The main village affected is only 5 miles from my house, it is a terrible thing to see. Each of us must think, ‘there but for the grace of God go I.’

The only positive to come from this terrible situation is to see how the local communities in Doncaster are rallying round to help each other and now, I am reaching out to my wider community, to see if you can help the people who have been so badly affected by this terrible disaster.

If you are able to give a little, South Yorkshire’s Community Foundation have set up a disaster relief appeal to help the people affected. You can find the appeal’s JustGiving page here. Any tiny amount you can spare would be greatly appreciated and will go a long way to get people back on the road to recovery.

On a more personal note, I would like to reach out to the bookish community of which I am a member on behalf of a cause close to my heart. Re-Read is a social enterprise initiative in Doncaster which collects unwanted books and sells them to raise money in order to distribute new books to children, schools and other organisations around Doncaster to bring reading and books to people who might otherwise not have access to them. They also provide work placements for people who are long-term unemployed.This is the place to which I donate all my books when I have finished with and I think they are a magnificent cause.

Unfortunately, during Thursday night’s floods, Re-Read’s warehouse was flooded, their staff had to be rescued and they have lost their stock of 100,000 books. This is particularly devastating at this time of year when they are preparing for their Christmas children’s book giveaway. They have pretty much lost everything.

If there is anyone who is part of the bookish community who can help get this marvellous organisation get back on their feet, this would be greatly appreciated. They have set up a GoFundMe page to try and raise funds to replace some of their lost equipment and stock, which you can find here. The other way to help, is through donations of books, new or used, that they can sell to raise money to carry on their book giveaways for children this Christmas, or of new books that can themselves been given to the children. I will be taking four crates of books to drop off for them tomorrow, which represent all the stock I keep for replenishing my community free library, and am happy to coordinate collection and delivery of any other books that anyone may be able to send to help out.

If anyone can help with book donations, please feel free to email me at julie@alittlebookproblem.co.uk or via my contact page here, or via Twitter where I am @book_problem and we will organise how this can be achieved.

Thank you for any help you can give us …. from the people of Doncaster.

Keeper of Secrets by Lynda Stacey #BookReview #BlogTour (@LyndaStacey) @RubyFiction @RaRaResources #RachelsRandomResources #KeeperOfSecrets

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I’m thrilled to be taking part today in the blog tour for the new book by Lynda Stacey, Keeper of Secrets. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for my place on the tour and to the publisher for my digital copy of the book, which i have reviewed honestly and impartially.

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Should some secrets stay buried?

For as long as Cassie Hunt can remember her Aunt Aggie has spoken about the forgotten world that exists just below their feet, in the tunnels and catacombs of the Sand House. The story is what inspired Cassie to become an archaeologist. 

But Aggie has a secret that she’s buried as deep as the tunnels and when excavation work begins on the site, Cassie is the only one who can help her keep it. With the assistance of her old university friend, Noah Flanagan, she puts into action a plan to honour Aggie’s wishes. 

It seems the deeper Noah and Cassie dig, the more shocking the secrets uncovered – and danger is never far away, both above and below the ground …

I was really looking forward to reading this book from the moment the author first told me about it, because it is based around a bit of history of my home town that I had no idea about. Sometimes a book which I am so highly anticipating can fall a little flat in reality, but this one did not disappoint in the execution.

Th author has created a really compelling narrative here, which is all the more fascinating for being built around a piece of lost South Yorkshire history. Since Lynda first talked to me about it, I have done a lot more reading about the Victorian Sand House, and the author has done a marvellous job of building a compelling story around the uncovering of this lost marvel, so I am sure anyone picking up the book will be as fascinated by the whole idea as I was and will want to learn more about it afterwards.

The story itself is totally gripping. I was hooked from the beginning and raced through the novel in two days, desperate to find out what was going to happen. The atmosphere is dark, forbidding, claustrophobic, it reveals a side of my home town that is unfamiliar to me, which is always exciting, and I was riveted by trying to piece together my knowledge of Doncaster with the locations in the book, but I am sure anyone who isn’t familiar with the locale will be equally drawn in by the tension and darkness of the setting, although it may not do much for the appeal of Doncaster to tourists! (It’s a great place, do visit us, we aren’t all crazy!)

Lynda has created some very sympathetic characters to carry the story. I loved the relationship between Cassie, her sister and her Aunt Aggie, and you could not help but be moved by the plight of the girls, and their aunt and their sad, individual histories. The romance in the book was also beautifully unveiled, but it was really the relationship between the girls and their aunt, and what they were prepared to do for each other that made the book for me.

I loved the contrast between the light and openness and carefree descriptions of Cassie in Italy, and the dark, oppressive tension of her life back in Doncaster, and the way the plot of the book began and ended gave a wonderfully rounded narrative. This is my favourite book of Lynda’s yet, and as an author you can see she is getting stronger and stronger. Wonderfully accomplished, I highly recommend it.

Keeper of Secrets is out now and you can buy a copy here.

To read some alternative opinions on the book, make sure you follow the rest of the tour:

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About the Author

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Lynda is a wife, step-mother and grandmother who grew up in the mining village of Bentley, Doncaster, in South Yorkshire..

She is currently the Sales Director of a stationery, office supplies and office furniture company in Doncaster, where she has worked for the past 28 years. Prior to this she’d also been a nurse, a model, an emergency first response instructor and a PADI Scuba Diving Instructor … and yes, she was crazy enough to dive in the sea with sharks, without a cage. 

Following a car accident in 2008, Lynda was left with limited mobility in her right arm. Unable to dive or teach anymore, she turned to her love of writing, a hobby she’d followed avidly since being a teenager.

Her own life story, along with varied career choices, helps Lynda to create stories of romantic suspense, with challenging and unpredictable plots, along with (as in all romances) very happy endings.

She lives in a small rural hamlet near Doncaster, with her ‘hero at home husband’, Haydn, whom she’s been happily married to for over 20 years.

Lynda joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association in 2014 under the umbrella of the New Writers’ Scheme and in 2015 her debut novel House of Secrets won Choc Lit’s Search for a Star competition. Lynda writes for both Choc Lit and Ruby Fiction.

Connect with Lynda:

Website: http://www.lyndastacey.co.uk

Facebook: Lynda Stacey Author

Twitter: @LyndaStacey

Instagram: @lynda.stacey

Friday Night Drinks with…. Morton S Gray @MortonSGray @ChocLituk @RNATweets #FridayNightDrinks

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Delighted to be joined for Friday Night Drinks this evening by author and fellow RNA member….Morton S Gray.

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Morton, welcome to the blog and thank you so much for joining me for drinks this evening. First things first, what are you drinking?

I’m rather partial to a Strawberries and Cream Baileys. I like a glass of rose wine, but only usually drink this at home as it turns my face bright red seconds after I’ve had a sip!

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Oh, I haven’t tried that one, sounds delicious. 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 not really a drinker, so I’d take you to my favourite Indian restaurant, Vhujon in Bewdley, Worcestershire. Friendly service and a great menu, this place has never failed to deliver. I think you’d like it.

Indian is my favourite cuisine, so that sounds perfect. 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?

Patrick Dempsey of Gray’s Anatomy and Bridget Jones’s Baby – I’ll admit to a little crush on him! 

Then to mix things up a bit and make it an interesting evening, how about Jane Austen? I’d love to meet the person behind all of those witty lines and plots. Her work made me interested in writing novels in the first place when I was introduced to Pride and Prejudice at school.

You were very quick off the mark with Patrick Dempsey, lol! 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’ve had somewhat of a hiatus on the writing front whilst I dealt with some health problems (difficult to write with constant migraine), my mother’s health problems and my youngest’s GCSEs (he did very well by the way! Phew), but now I’m beginning to get these background things under control, I’m back working on two novels for my publisher Choc Lit, one is a summer book and the other a Christmas title for 2020, both are set in my fictional seaside town of Borteen like my other three stand-alone novels, The Girl on the Beach, The Truth Lies Buried and Christmas at Borteen Bay. The new books are in the romantic suspense genre, or as I prefer to say, “romance with a mystery to solve”.

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What has been your proudest moment since you started writing and what has been your biggest challenge?

My proudest moment had to be when I won Choc Lit Publishing’s Search for a Star competition with my debut novel The Girl on the Beach. After so many years of writing and trying to get published, this was a dream come true.

My biggest challenge is always the publisher’s editing process. I have this fear that I can’t cope with the changes they ask me to make to a manuscript, but I’ve managed it three times so far, so I guess I can. It will still be scary when the next lot of edits arrive though.

That is an interesting insight for an unpublished writer. What is the one big thing you’d like to achieve in your chosen arena? Be as ambitious as you like, it’s just us talking after all!

I’ve got a list of goals for my work, which I tick off when I achieve them. I’d love to get one of my books onto the Sunday Times Best Sellers List, into the Amazon Top 10 on Kindle and maybe even have an adaptation for screen done for one of my books. *Wistful sigh*.

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

As always, I have lots of ideas for stories. My biggest challenge is to focus on just one plot through to completion. I have a friend, Alison May, who, when I get that excited look about a new idea, says “step away from the shiny” to get me to focus back on my current project.

My novels so far have all been stand-alone stories set in the same fictional seaside town, but featuring some of the same characters. The book I’m working on at the moment is about Mandy, who runs the craft centre on the promenade above the beach in Borteen. She has been a side-kick to some of the other characters in previous books, but this time she is getting her own story and she has a few skeletons in her closet. The story begins when Nick, a youth whose art career Mandy has been encouraging, appears on her doorstep saying that his mother has left him home alone and isn’t coming back…

That sounds great! 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’d like to go back to Paradise Island in the Bahamas, and Sydney in Australia, but having said that I love the beaches in England and Wales, particularly my absolute favourite place – Bamburgh beach in Northumberland.

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On top of my bucket list at the moment is a visit to the Red Kite Feeding Station at Rhayader in Wales. The red kites are fed by a lake and there can be as many as 150 birds coming in to feed.

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Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know about you.

There is a fifteen-year gap between my two sons, meaning I’ve been doing the school run for a very long time!

My parents had the same thing, there is almost a 16-year gap between myself and my youngest sister! 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’?

So difficult to recommend just one! I have two books that I’ve read countless times, I think because the messages in them change depending on what is going on in my life at the time, so I’m going to be cheeky and list both.

Wintercombe by Pamela Belle – an historical novel set in the English Civil War.

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Tortured by a cold, Puritan father, Silence has learned to conceal her passionate nature inside a prison like shell of passivity. Her eventual marriage does not offer her the escape that she longs for and she craves some semblance of autonomy. It is only the sweep of history that finally offers Silence the freedom she so desires.

Civil war has raged and her sombre husband has been away for two years. Wintercombe, once a tranquil bastion of family virtue, is transformed into an unruly, drunken, and licentious garrison. From this turmoil a still more subtle threat dawns in the handsome shape of Captain Nick Hellier.

As the battle for England is matched by the struggle within her soul, it’s not long before Captain Hellier starts to slowly unlock the chains around Silence’s fragile, Puritan heart…

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert – an autobiographical account of a woman escaping her life and trying to find out who she really is. (There is a film of this book, but as is often the case, the book is much better).

I love Eat, Pray, Love, but not the other one, so I’ll add it to my TBR. 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?

Here I have a confession. I think I’ve only ever had one hangover way back at university and I hated the feeling so much, I have never drunk that much ever since. So, I guess my failsafe plan to avoid a hangover, is to choose a drink you really like and to savour it, rather than drinking loads.

That is eminently sensible advice. After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?

I love nothing better than walking on a beach and visiting stately homes and castles. Favourite beaches include Bamburgh in Northumberland, Woolacombe in North Devon and Abersoch in North Wales. Favourite stately homes and castles include Witley Court in Worcestershire and Powis Castle in Wales.

Morton, it has been a huge pleasure having you on the blog, thank you for giving me your time and company and hopefully we will meet up in person at an RNA event in the near future.

Morton lives with her husband, two sons and Lily, the tiny white dog, in Worcestershire, U.K. She has been reading and writing fiction for as long as she can remember, penning her first attempt at a novel aged fourteen. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and The Society of Authors.

Her debut novel The Girl on the Beach was published after she won the Choc Lit Publishing Search for a Star competition. This story follows a woman with a troubled past as she tries to unravel the mystery surrounding her son’s new headteacher, Harry Dixon. The book is available as a paperback and e-book.

Morton’s second book for Choc Lit The Truth Lies Buried is another romantic suspense novel, The book tells the story of Jenny Simpson and Carver Rodgers as they uncover secrets from their past. This book is available as an e-book, paperback and audiobook.

Christmas at Borteen Bay is Morton’s first Christmas novella. It is set in her fictional seaside town of Borteen and follows the story of Pippa Freeman, who runs the Rose Court Guesthouse with her mother, and local policeman Ethan Gibson, as they unravel a family secret as Christmas approaches.

Morton previously worked in the electricity industry in committee services, staff development and training. She has a Business Studies degree and is a fully qualified Clinical Hypnotherapist and Reiki Master. She also has diplomas in Tuina acupressure massage and energy field therapy. She enjoys crafts, history and loves tracing family trees. Having a hunger for learning new things is a bonus for the research behind her books.

You can catch up with Morton on her websiteTwitterFacebook and Instagram.

Please join me back here next week when I will be having Friday Night Drinks with editor and blogger, Emma Mitchell.