Book Review: The Viking Chief’s Marriage Alliance by Lucy Morris #BookReview

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A challenging wife

For a warrior Viking

When Thorstein Bergson rescues a beautiful woman from a storm-tossed long-ship he little expects to broker a powerful marriage alliance with her. This high-status ice queen is not the comfortable wife this warrior chief is seeking. But maybe the bitter-sweet pain in Gyda’s eyes hides another woman beneath? The one he tasted that first night when she’d kissed him with such pent-up longing…?

The Viking Chief’s Marriage Alliance is published today and is Lucy Morris’s debut novel for Harlequin Mills and Boon in their Historical line. Many thanks to Lucy for offering me a copy of the book for the purposes of review. I have reviewed it honestly and impartially as always.

I can’t recall ever reading a book featuring Vikings that wasn’t a children’s book or non-fiction. I have definitely never read a Viking romance before, but it is a genre I have been missing out on if Lucy’s debut is anything to go by.

Gyda is sailing to a new life in England, escaping a past that wasn’t happy for reasons that are gradually revealed through the book. her ship is wrecked off the coast near Viking chief Thorstein’s settlement, and he rescues her from the storm-tossed waters. Through a series of subsequent events, they end up being tied together in a marriage alliance, but can they forge a romance from marriage of mutual convenience?

This is the driving thrust of the novel but so much more is explored throughout the story. It’s about the powerlessness felt by women in these times, who were valued by men only for the status and alliances they could bring, and the children they could bear. About the way people make assumptions about people based on first impressions, and how they can remain fixed if we don’t take the time to dig below the surface and find out what makes people behave as they do. How misunderstandings so easily arise if people don’t talk. And what true love and passion look like.

Despite being set in a time that is so distant and alien, the author has created characters that are very relatable to the reader, and attractive to read about. Thorstein is a man who would make any woman’s knees weak, never mind Gyda, and Gyda seems like the perfect woman, beautiful and feisty. The chemistry coming off the page between them was palpable from the beginning, and I was sold on the relationship from chapter one.

Being from Yorkshire, and having visited the sites in York that celebrate its Viking history, I was also gripped by the way Lucy brought the world of Jorvik to life with all of the senses (especially the smells. Anyone who has visited the Jorvik Viking Centre will remember the smell!). There was so much to enjoy in this book, beyond the fiery romance, I absolutely loved it.

The Viking Chief’s Marriage Alliance is out now in paperback and ebook formats and you can buy a copy here.

About the Author

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Lucy Morris lives in Essex, UK, with her husband, two young children and two cats. She has a massively sweet tooth and loves gin, bubbly and Irn-Bru. She’s a member of the UK Romantic Novelists’ Association and is delighted to begin her publishing journey with Harlequin Historical in 2021 with her first release ‘The Viking Chief’s Marriage Alliance’.

She adores writing strong, passionate women and the brave, honourable men who fall in love with them. Weaving her fascination with the dark age of medieval Europe with her compulsion to give her characters a happily ever after. But only after they’ve had an adventure along the way.

Connect with Lucy:

Website: https://lucymorrisromance.com/

Facebook: Lucy Morris Author

Twitter: @LMorris_Author

Instagram: @lucymorris.author

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Friday Night Drinks with… James Morgan-Jones

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Last Friday of the month, and a bank holiday to boot. What more excuse could be needed for a celebration, and joining me for Friday Night Drinks tonight, I have author… James Morgan-Jones.

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Welcome to the blog, James, and thank you for joining me for drinks this evening. First things first, what are you drinking?

Red vino, definitely. It doesn’t have to be expensive; just something good quality.

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?

Well, I’m up for the theatre. I’m longing to go again. I’d fancy a good play, but as it’s your night out, if you fancied a musical, that would be fine. After the show, we could go for a guzzly slap-up – maybe the Ivy in Covent Garden.

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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?

As we’re having a theatrical night out, I’d choose the late lamented (and outrageous) grande dame of theatre, Coral Browne, along with Alan Bennett, whose play ‘An Englishman Abroad’ was based on her memoir. They’d be an inexhaustible fund of hilarious and very risqué theatrical anecdotes and I imagine the evening would be riotous. We’d have to be on our toes – they both had/have a rapier wit.

So, now we’re settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. How and why did you start it and where do you want it to go?

I’ve just put together a second volume of short stories and am currently finishing off a play. Then it’s back to my ‘big’ project – the Glasswater Quintet, a series of inter-connected novels. Four are already published, so the next – entitled The Ice Chandelier – will be the last. It all started when I was doing an MA in Creative Writing at Trinity St David’s university here in Wales. The first part of the first novel – On the Edge of Wild Water – comprised my dissertation for the course. It grew from there. The sequence takes an anti-clockwise trajectory, starting in the 2000s, then going back to the 1970s, then the beginning of WW2. The fourth novel comes forward again to the 1990s. The last will take the sequence full circle (and then some), set just a few years after the events depicted in the first novel. The books are connected by place and character and are maybe best described as psychological thrillers with a supernatural slant. They also have a strong historical dimension. And they’re emotional, atmospheric and dramatic.

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

The third novel of the Glasswater Quintet – The Stone Forest – has a long opening section set in a community on the Thames marshes in the 1930s. This community actually existed, but of course, does so no longer. I had only imagination to rely on, plus some photographs and a few recollections of an archivist who had lived there as a child. It was quite daunting, as it’s very important that it should be effective, and I had no idea if I could pull it off. I think now that I did succeed – as an imaginative recreation, on its own terms, it really does work and I’m proud of it.

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!

Truly? – I honestly think that if my work were both widely recognized and enjoyed for its quality, then I’d be happy. Of course, money and awards would be nice.

What do you have planned that you are really excited about?

The play I’m currently writing. I went to drama school in London and started off as an actor, so being able to add a play to my CV gives me great pleasure and a sense of achievement.

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 once had an Italian friend who lived in Milan and we travelled by train to Venice. It really is the most extraordinary place, and in those days, wasn’t horribly crowded. Now I believe it’s virtually impossible to move there, even in winter. It’s a pity. Venice is truly unique. I love Italy generally, actually. What I’d really love would be to undertake a ‘Grand Tour’ of the whole country, as the Victorians used to do. By train. The Italian trains are much better than ours.

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Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself.

I have a silicon disc under my right eye as a result of a car accident. How fascinating is that?

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’d steer you towards Beryl Bainbridge. She was a very quirky writer, and is one of my favourites. In her later career, she turned to fictional recreations of famous historical events and was immensely successful. She was shortlisted five times for the Booker prize and never won. She was actually referred to as ‘the Booker bridesmaid’. It’s rumoured that her failure to win sprang from the prejudice/bias of some members of the Booker juries. Beryl didn’t wear ‘the right tie’ – ie, she hadn’t come through any of the educational establishments or professions that the literary establishment considered requisite. She started off as an actress in repertory and never went to university. I think it rather pissed them off that she was able to do what she did without it. Shamefaced, they awarded her a posthumous prize, which was voted for by her fans among the reading public. They chose her great novel ‘Master Georgie’. But for my money, if you haven’t read it, I’d recommend Every Man for Himself. Much has been written/filmed/recorded/discussed about the sinking of the Titanic; but for me, nothing has brought me so close to the feel of that time, and to so authentic a sense of the great tragedy that was the Titanic’s maiden voyage. There’s a terrific apprehension of not only the ship, but of an entire era, sailing towards catastrophe. Like all Beryl’s books it’s quite short, but it’s a fantastic achievement.

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For the four fraught, mysterious days of her doomed maiden voyage in 1912, the Titanic sails towards New York, glittering with luxury, freighted with millionaires and hopefuls. In her labyrinthine passageways the last, secret hours of a small group of passengers are played out, their fate sealed in prose of startling, sublime beauty, as Beryl Bainbridge’s haunting masterpiece moves inexorably to its known and terrible end.

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?

Do you know – and I apologise in advance if this sounds sanctimonious – but I don’t really get hangovers. I’ve been ill once or twice quite soon after over-indulging in alcohol, but that’s invariably been because I haven’t eaten properly beforehand. Even then, though, I didn’t really have a hangover the following morning.

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

By the sea. As we’ve been in the West End, I suppose it would have to be somewhere accessible from London. Perhaps the Essex coast. I was born and brought up in Essex and I have a nostalgic fondness for those places. Maybe Walton-on-the-Naze. I set a short story there, loosely based on childhood experiences, in my volume The Wheel and Other Stories.

Thank you for joining me tonight, James, I have thoroughly enjoyed our chat.

James’s latest book is Eye of the Rushes, the fourth book in the Glasswater Quintet series, following On The Edge of Wild Water, The Glass Citadel and The Stone Forest. You can buy a copy here.

James Morgan-Jones was born and brought up on the Essex/London borders. His mother was Welsh and his father from the East End. He trained as a professional actor at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London and worked for several years in the theatre. After a serious accident he retrained as a feline behaviourist and now lives in West Wales. He began writing seriously after gaining an MA with Distinction from Trinity Saint David University in Carmarthen. He then embarked on The Glasswater Quintet, a series of supernatural/psychological novels, linked by character and place but set in different decades, from the 1940s onwards. The first book in the series, On the Edge of Wild Water, was published by Wordcatcher in the summer of 2017. This was followed by the second in the quintet, The Glass Citadel, later that year, as well as a short story collection, The Wheel and Other Stories. The third novel, The Stone Forest, was published in November 2018, followed by the fourth – Eye of the Rushes – in 2020. In the autumn of 2019 James’s first collection of poetry, Living Places, Passing Lives, was published by Wordcatcher. 

You can connect further with James via his website, Facebook and Twitter.

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The Fiction Cafe Book Club Reading Challenge 2021: The Nesting by C. J. Cooke #BookReview

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A house stands alone in the woods.

Deep in the forests of Norway, Lexi finds a fresh start with Tom and his two young daughters, working as their new nanny.

The darkness creeps closer.

But Lexi is telling lies, and she’s not the only one. This family has a history – and this place has a past. Something was destroyed to build this house, and in the dark, dark woods, a menacing presence lurks.

Lexi must protect the children in her care – but protect them from what?

Challenge number 9 was ‘Read a book that is on the TBR of a Fiction Cafe Member.’ As The Nesting by C. J. Cooke was on the TBR of Charlene Mattson, and also on my NetGalley shelf, it seemed like the obvious choice. Two birds, one stone and all that. I actually listened to the audiobook, narrated by Aysha Kala, which is a great option if you are considering it. The narration was excellent.

This book is a really interesting mix of gothic fairytale, environmental parable and exploration of depression. It is dreamy and ethereal and dark and scary, and surreal all at the same time. The threads are so tightly and cleverly woven together by the author that, even by the end, you won’t be quite sure what is real and what has been a dream.

The book is told through the voices of a number of people. Troubled Lexi, running from her demons and her problems, finds herself hiding out in Norway, pretending to be someone she isn’t in an effort to find a life better than the one she has been living. Tom, battling the forces of nature in a remote Norwegian forest to balance building his beloved wife’s dream holiday home with protecting this unspoilt wilderness. And Aurelia, feeling isolated in the aftermath of her second daughter’s birth and haunted by the ghosts of the Norwegian forest. Each of them experiences supernatural events in the dark, Norwegian forest and the remote fjord, but which are real, and which are products of troubled minds.

The dive into Norwegian folklore and stories was the part that most drew me to this book, because anything along those lines fascinates me. I loved the way that the author wove them in to the narrative of the novel, and used them to make commentary on the impact of human beings on the planet and its non-human inhabitants without being preachy. It was also a clever way to explore why we are drawn to stories of darkness to explain things that we are afraid to confront inside ourselves.

Aside from these themes, this is just a cracking good story that is a compelling read. What is actually happening out there in the Norwegian forest? What is Aurelia really experiencing, and what is just a result of the problems that can afflict women after child birth that can go unnoticed and unrecognised by those around her? Is Lexi’s past going to come back to haunt her? Is Tom everything he seems to be? I was eager every time to get back to listening to the book, and it made some mundane chores seem a lot less arduous, I was so engrossed.

The Nesting is a great book for anyone who loves the gothic and the mythic, but also for anyone interested in the human brain and the things it can do for us when we are thrown off balance. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and will definitely be recommending it to a few friends.

The Nesting is out now in all formats and you can buy it here.

About the Author

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C J Cooke (Carolyn Jess-Cooke) lives in Glasgow with her husband and four children. C J Cooke’s works have been published in 23 languages and have won many awards. She holds a PhD in Literature from the Queen’s University of Belfast and is currently Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Glasgow, where she researches creative writing interventions for mental health. Two of her books are currently optioned for film.

Connect with Carolyn:

Website: https://carolynjesscooke.com/

Facebook: C J Cooke Books

Twitter: @CJessCooke

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Book Review: The Castaways by Lucy Clarke #BookReview

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A SECRET BEACH.
A HOLIDAY OF A LIFETIME.
WISH YOU WERE HERE?

THINK AGAIN…

It should be like any other holiday.

Beautiful beaches.
Golden sunsets.
Nothing for miles.

You’ll never want to leave.
Until you can’t…

This is one of those books you want to pick up when you have a delicious stretch of uninterrupted reading time ahead and you want to really lose yourself in a book that is going to transport you to another time and place and keep you glued to the page. Don’t pick this book up if you only have little snippets of reading time because, believe me, once you get into this book, you won’t want to put it down.

The book is told from the alternating viewpoints of two sisters, Lori and Erin, and two timelines. Lori, in the then, and Erin, in the now. The main driver of the book is the mystery of what happened to the plane and the people who were on it, but it also explores family dynamics, survivor guilt and what priorities in life drive us to do the things we do. This elevates it beyond a simple thriller to a much more interesting and thought-provoking read.

The author’s imagining of how it would be to be involved in a terrifying accident that leaves you stranded in a remote place with people who are strangers, the descent into barbarism and self-interest, how suspicion and paranoia develop, and what the removal of the comforts and trappings of society reveals about our basest needs and desires, feels real and frightening. You will find yourself stranded on that isolated island with them, going through all the things they are feeling. It really is an immersive read in this respect and it felt like the author had taken herself to that place while she was writing, it came across as authentic (as far as someone who has never been marooned can judge anyway!)

On the other hand, being inside the mind of family, back home in safety and a ‘normal’ life is not much more comfortable. The grappling with not knowing what has happened to your loved one, feelings of guilt at not having been with them and constantly tortured by the last things you said to each other before they disappeared. How the lives of survivors can be destroyed as much as the missing, despite the fact that they seems to be carrying on as normal on the surface. It is a fascinating delve into how the ripples of disasters spread far beyond the people involved and echo down the years, especially where there are no answers as to what happened.

The way the author slowly reveals the details of what happened to both the reader and the family members left behind keeps the tension elevated and the reader eager to turn the pages. The book did not end at all how I expected, and I was fully satisfied with how the book panned out by the time I closed the back cover on the story. I feel like the author has crafted a very taut, well-plotted, fully imagined thriller with characters that remain true to themselves to the end. An extremely rewarding read.

The Castaways is out now in hardback, ebook and audiobook formats and will be published in paperback on 8 July. You can buy a copy here.

About the Author

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Lucy Clarke is the bestselling author of six psychological thrillers – THE SEA SISTERS, A SINGLE BREATH, THE BLUE/NO ESCAPE, LAST SEEN, YOU LET ME IN and THE CASTAWAYS. Her debut novel was a Richard and Judy Book Club pick, and her books have been sold in over 20 territories.

Lucy is a passionate traveller and fresh air enthusiast. She’s married to a professional windsurfer and, together with their two young children, they spend their winters travelling and their summers at home on the south coast of England. Lucy writes from a beach hut.

Connect with Lucy:

Website: http://www.lucy-clarke.com/

Facebook: Lucy Clarke Author

Twitter: @lucyclarkebooks

Instagram: @lucyclarke_author

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The Fiction Cafe Book Club Reading Challenge 2021: The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett #BookReview

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The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Ten years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters’ story lines intersect?

Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, from the Deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Brit Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passing. Looking well beyond issues of race, The Vanishing Half considers the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person’s decisions, desires, and expectations, and explores some of the multiple reasons and realms in which people sometimes feel pulled to live as something other than their origins.

I am so behind with the reading and reviews for this challenge but I am determined to catch up! So today I am reviewing the book I chose for the eighth category in the challenge, ‘Read a book by a BAME author’ and the book I have chosen is one of the top books from 2020, The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett.

(For those with very eagle eyes, I have missed out category seven, I know. I had to stop reading the book I chose for that category part way through because of the demands of blog tour books and haven’t had chance to go back to it yet. It’s coming soon, I promise!)

This book is an eye-opening exploration of what it meant to grow up in the segregated south of the US in the 1950s and the practice of ‘passing,’ where light-skinned people of colour would pass themselves off as white to avoid the stigma and hardship inflicted on their community. The lengths that people would go to, the sacrifices they were prepared to make, and the consequences of these decisions that echo down the generations are all addressed in this novel with tenderness, understanding and compassion in a book that is beautiful and illuminating but deeply melancholy to read.

Desiree and Stella Vignes are identical twins growing up in the small Southern town of Mallard, where being a light-skinned person of colour is revered and those with darker-skin are shunned. Both sisters leave the town for New Orleans, but then their paths diverge. Desiree later returns to Mallard with her daughter, who has very dark skin, whilst Stella lives as a white woman, having to hide her real self from everyone around her, including her own daughter. However, order is disrupted and secrets come to light when the cousins unexpectedly meet.

This book examines in detail the idea of transformation. Aside from Stella, there are other characters in the book who start off as one thing and, through determination and force of will, morph and mould themselves into something different, all for different reasons. The author looks at how these metamorphoses are viewed by the people around them, and how being true to yourself, your identity, ambitions and desires, can alienate you from the people you love. Are these sacrifices worth it? Which course has made the person happiest in the end? What does it mean to really be true to oneself? How does it feel to hate the body you were born in? To be persecuted for merely being who you are?

The author’s writing is absolutely stunning, and I thought she explored every facet of the story and the themes with real care and deep thought, which provoked the same reaction in me, as the reader. The book is s slow, gentle but demanding read, not one which is full of action and startling event. It is entirely character-focused, which I loved but I know does not appeal to everyone. The themes addressed are complex, sometime controversial and make for an uneasy emotional reaction. It was a book that left me examining my thoughts and feelings on the issues for a long while afterwards, and I know it is a book that will linger in the back of my mind for a long while, and one I will probably return to soon. I listened to it as an audiobook – the narrator did a great job – and I fully intend to return to it again in physical format to see if there is more I can get from it.

I understand fully why this book has been the hit it has and why it was shortlisted for the Women’s Prize For Fiction. A memorable and accomplished novel that really rewards and provoked the reader.

The Vanishing Half is out now in all formats and you can find your copy here or at all good book shops.

About the Author

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Born and raised in Southern California, Brit Bennett graduated from Stanford University and later earned her MFA in fiction at the University of Michigan. Her debut novel The Mothers was a New York Times bestseller, and her second novel The Vanishing Half was an instant #1 New York Times bestseller. She is a National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 honoree and in 2021, she was chosen as one of Time’s Next 100 Influential People. Her essays have been featured in The New Yorker, the New York Times Magazine, The Paris Review, and Jezebel.

Connect with Brit:

Website: https://britbennett.com/

Facebook: Brit Bennett Writes

Twitter: @britrbennett

Instagram: @britrbennett

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Extract: Everyday Magic by Charlie Laidlaw #Extract

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Carole Gunn leads an unfulfilled life and knows it.  She’s married to someone who may, or may not, be in New York on business and, to make things worse, the family’s deaf cat has been run over by an electric car.

But something has been changing in Carole’s mind.  She’s decided to revisit places that hold special significance for her.  She wants to better understand herself, and whether the person she is now is simply an older version of the person she once was.

Instead, she’s taken on an unlikely journey to confront her past, present and future.

Today is publication day for Everyday Magic, the fifth book by author Charlie Laidlaw and, to celebrate publication, I am delighted to be able to share an extract from Chapter One with you to whet your appetite.

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When Carole was little, she found a magic clearing in the woods near her home.She had been exploring, surrounded by oak, birch, and hazel trees, picking her way carefully between bramble and nettle.There was birdsong, squirrels darting across branches, and patterns of sunlight on the woodland floor.She had been looking for bilberries, and her hands were full of the small black fruit.She stopped to sit on an outcrop of rock by a wide stream that, in winter, could quickly become a torrent of brown water.In summer, it was comforting; in winter, treacherous.She ate her bilberries, the stream cascading over a small waterfall; the sound of water in her ears.It was summer and the stream bubbled crystal clear.The woodland rose in folds from the stream, and she climbed steadily upwards.Here, the trees crammed in on her; it was darker.When she looked up, she could only see sunlight trapped on leaves far above.It was a part of the old woodland that she’d never been to before, but she pushed on; she had a feeling that she was on an adventure and might suddenly come across a gingerbread house or wizard’s cottage.

At the top of the hill she found herself in a small clearing.It was only a few yards across, framed with oak trees, and perfectly round.Sunlight from directly above made the clearing warm, and she stood at its centre, wondering if she was the first person to have ever discovered it.Each of the oak trees around the clearing seemed precisely set, each one a perfect distance from the next, and she walked around them, touching each one, wondering if someone had planted the oak trees, or if the clearing really was a magic place.She still believed in magic.Then she stood again at its centre, wondering at its symmetry and why a long-dead sorcerer might have planted the oak trees.Then, realising that the sorcerer might not be dead and that she had walked uninvited into his private domain, she hurried away, not sure whether to be frightened or excited.But it was a place she often went back to that summer, and on following summers, sometimes alone and sometimes with her little brother.They would sit in the centre of the woodland circle, eating bilberries, hoping to meet the sorcerer who had built the clearing.She wasn’t frightened of him anymore; the clearing was too peaceful to have been made by a bad wizard.It was their secret place, but mainly Carole’s, because she had found it.It was a comforting place: it was somewhere she would go if she was sad or angry about something, because the woodland circle and its shifting half-shadows offered calm and new perspectives.She could almost hear the trees speak to her, the wind in their branches making the leaves whisper, but so softly that she couldn’t understand.She would listen, eyes closed, the leaves rustling, but she never understood what they were saying.The circle of trees stood solid and immovable, dark and stoic, old and wise, each one the colour of stone.

If you found this short extract enticing and you would like to get your hands on a copy of the book, you can buy it direct from Ringwood Publishing’s website here.

About the Author

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Author Charlie Laidlaw lives in East Lothian, one of the main settings for Everyday Magic. He has four other published novels: Being Alert!, The Space Between Time, The Things We Learn When We’re Dead and Love Potions and Other Calamities. Previously a journalist and defence intelligence analyst, Charlie now teaches Creative Writing in addition to his writing career.

Connect with Charlie:

Website: https://www.charlielaidlawauthor.com/

Facebook: Charlie Laidlaw

Twitter: @claidlawauthor

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Romancing The Romance Authors with… Elisabeth Hobbes

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Today I am delighted to welcome author, Elisabeth Hobbes, to the blog to discuss how and why she writes about romance.

Tell me a bit about the type of books you write and where you are in your publishing journey.

I write historical romance with a touch of intrigue and quite gritty, especially in my Medievals.  My characters tend to be ordinary people rather than nobility.

I’ve published ten Historical Romances with Mills & Boon covering the Medieval to Victorian periods, and a Second World War Romantic Historical with One More Chapter.  I have further books coming out with them both publishers this year.  I’m really enjoying the opportunity to explore the relationship between supporting characters as well as the romantic couple. My current WIP is set in Occupied Paris and focuses as much on the relationship between the two female main characters as it does with their respective love interests.

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Why romance?

Because any other genre, whether Historical, Mystery or Fantasy is enriched by a strengthening relationship between characters and a HEA. In fact some of my favourite authors mix romance in with their stories but would never be described as such. It’s pure escapism (I’ve never understood why that gets used as a pejorative) and I love the emotional attachment to characters you get as a reader. 

What inspires your stories? 

It’s never the same thing twice. A picture or an object can spark inspiration.  Sometimes it’s a place. Uncovering the Merchant’s Secret was inspired by one of my trips to Brittany and reading about the shipwrecks off the coast. It seemed such a wonderful setting.  I inadvertently wrote a trilogy involving one family after readers wanted to know what happened to the villain in The Blacksmith’s Wife after he walked out of that story. He became the hero of Redeeming the Rogue Knight. My Victorian marriage of convenience story The Silk Merchant’s Convenient Wife grew out of a workshopping session at the RNA conference where we were given a scenario to work with.

The inspiration for my recent release The Secret Agent came from watching Cabaret and imagining what it would be like to be part of the glamorous but seedy world of the clubs. My heroine Sylvie was inspired by some of the real life heroines who worked for the Special Operations Executive during the Second World War, living undercover in occupied Europe and risking their lives daily to help free Europe.

Who are your favourite romance authors, past and/or present?

I have to say Jane Austen or course.  I can read Persuasion over and over without getting bored. As I’ve said, I love stories where there are other elements besides Romance. Two of my favourite couples across any genre are Sam Vimes and Lady Sybli from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series and M. Didius Falco and Helena Justina from Lindsay Davis’ Roman detective series.

I’m very lucky to have some close friends who write romance (and who I have met through the RNA) so I’m not going to choose a favourite. We all hang out on Facebook in the Unlaced Historical Romance Group so come say hello there.

If you had to pick one romance novel for me to read, which one would you recommend?

Of mine I’d say The Secret Agent I miss travelling and it is set in Nantes which is one of my favourite cities which I think everyone should visit.

As I’ve said above though, I adore Persuasion and I think everyone should read that. I love a second chance story.

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What does persuasion mean – a firm belief, or the action of persuading someone to think something else? Anne Elliot is one of Austen’s quietest heroines, but also one of the strongest and the most open to change. She lives at the time of the Napoleonic wars, a time of accident, adventure, the making of new fortunes and alliances.

A woman of no importance, she manoeuvres in her restricted circumstances as her long-time love Captain Wentworth did in the wars. Even though she is nearly thirty, well past the sell-by bloom of youth, Austen makes her win out for herself and for others like herself, in a regenerated society.

Persuasion is my favourite Austen novel, even picking it apart for my English Lit A level didn’t manage to kill my love for it! Which romantic hero or heroine would you choose to spend your perfect romantic weekend with? Where would you go and what would you do?

I’ve just taken up paddleboarding so I’d like Captain Frederick Wentworth to get my sea legs sorted out on a weekend in Brittany. Once we’d spent an hour or so drying off on the beach we would drive in an open top classic of some sort to Concarneau which is a beautiful medieval walled town on the coast. We’d get Vietnamese caramel pork and kouign amann syrup cakes from the weekly market and sit on the battlements looking at the sea with a couple of mojitos. Can you tell I’m missing France at all!

What is your favourite thing about being a member of the RNA? What do you think you have gained from membership?

The sense of community is something else. I’ve met so many wonderful people who are incredibly generous with their time and expertise. I’ve made some great friends (who I would probably drag for coffee if we lived closer).

In terms of my career, I was able to take advantage of a 1-1 at the conference a couple of years ago and was picked up by Charlotte from One More Chapter. I sent her my opening chapters and proposal for the piece I won the Elizabeth Goudge trophy for and she offered me a two-book contract.  That book will be coming out later this year or early 2022.

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What one piece of advice or tip would you give to new writers starting out in the romance genre?

Read as many other authors as you can. One of the best books on writing romance I have come across is Romancing the Beat by Gwen Hayes.

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What makes a romance novel a romance? How do you write a kissing book?

Writing a well-structured romance isn’t the same as writing any other genre—something the popular novel and screenwriting guides don’t address. The romance arc is made up of its own story beats, and the external plot and theme need to be braided to the romance arc—not the other way around.

Told in conversational (and often irreverent) prose, Romancing the Beat can be read like you are sitting down to coffee with romance editor and author Gwen Hayes while she explains story structure. The way she does with her clients. Some of whom are regular inhabitants of the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists.

Romancing the Beat is a recipe, not a rigid system. The beats don’t care if you plot or outline before you write, or if you pants your way through the drafts and do a “beat check” when you’re revising. Pantsers and plotters are both welcome. So sit down, grab a cuppa, and let’s talk about kissing books.

I know you said one but I have to say, join the RNA and attend a conference if you get the opportunity. Being surrounded by like-minded people who understand what it is like to spend hours trying to find the perfect word while the washing piles up is a great feeling.

Tell us about your most recent novel.

The Secret Agent is set in Occupied Nantes and tells the story of Sylvie, a half French, half English woman who left France aged 14 after the death of her cabaret dancer mother.  She is recruited by SOE to work as a dancer in a nightclub while working undercover as a courier liaising with the French Resistance. She catches the eye of Dieter, a young German civil servant who she is instructed to cultivate in order to discover information.  In turn Sylvie is attracted to the club’s enigmatic pianist, Felix.  It’s partly a coming-of-age story as Sylvie has never fitted in to life in England with her straight-laced father and stepmother.  As Sylvie becomes involved in the life of the club she discovers the side of herself she had suppressed as well as a ‘found family’ that her relationship with Dieter puts into jeopardy. You can buy it in all formats here.

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Dropping silently behind enemy lines, Sylvia Crichton, codename Monique, is determined to fight for the country of her birth and save it from its Nazi stranglehold.

As one of the dancers at the nightclub Mirabelle, Sylvie’s mission is to entertain the club’s German clientele and learn their secrets. In a world of deception and lies, she can trust no one. Not even Mirabelle’s enigmatic piano player Felix… a part of the resistance or a collaborator?

But despite her SOE training, nothing can prepare Sylvie for the horrors she is about to face – or the pain of losing those she grows closer to undercover…

About the Author

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Elisabeth’s writing career began when she entered Harlequin’s So You Think You Can Write contest in 2013.  She finished in third place and was offered a two-book contract and consequently had to admit this was why the house was such a tip.  Since then she has published historical romances with Harlequin Mills & Boon covering the Medieval period to Victorian England and a Second World War romantic historical with One More Chapter.

Elisabeth teaches Reception four days a week but she’d rather be writing full time because unlike four-year-olds, her characters generally do what she tells them.  When she isn’t writing, she spends most of her spare time reading and is a pro at cooking one-handed while holding a book.  She loves historical fiction, mysteries, thrillers and romance, and has a fondness for dark haired, bearded heroes.

Elisabeth enjoys skiing, singing, and exploring tourist attractions with her family.  Her children are resigned to spending their weekends visiting the past while she leans too far over battlements to get photos.  She loves hot and sour soup and ginger mojitos – but not at the same time.

She lives in Cheshire because the car broke down there in 1999 and she never left.

Connect with Elisabeth:

Website: https://elisabethhobbes.co.uk/

Facebook: ElisabethHobbes

Twitter: @ElisabethHobbes

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Friday Night Drinks with… Vicky Adin

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I thought it was supposed to be the beginning of summer, what has happened to the weather? We have had monsoon-like conditions here this week. At least we are allowed to meet people indoors for socialising again now, I had a lovely birthday lunch with three friends on Wednesday and now, I am delighted to be able to share Friday Night Drinks with author… Vicky Adin.

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Vicky, a huge welcome to the blog and thank you for joining me for drinks this evening. First things first, what are you drinking?

I’ll start the evening by offering to share a bottle of one of our famous New Zealand sauvignon blanc vintages with you, but I love rich, red wine the most. There’s nothing quite like an Australian cabernet sauvignon or a shiraz for its smooth taste and flavour.

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That’s the motto to live by! 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?

To the bustling Auckland waterfront, to a great Italian restaurant, where we can people watch, soak up the atmosphere and see the super yachts, the lights and find some great music.

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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?

Sean Connery, because he has the sexiest voice ever, and Maggie Smith who has the wickedest sense of humour and the ability to say a lot more than mere words with a simple look.

Perfect company. So, now we’re settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. How and why did you start it and where do you want it to go?

I’m in marketing mode after the launch of my latest book, Portrait of a Man, which is as multi-layered as the portraits at the heart of the story. I was thrilled when one reviewer described it as ‘a refreshingly different family saga…[with] intricately woven stories to tease apart’.

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The story starts life with Matteo in Dunedin between 1863 and 1892, before moving to a small town in the South Island during the First World War years, where Luciano hides from his past. The third part is set in present-day Auckland amid a pandemic, and ties all the threads and characters together. It’s my favourite so far, and I hope it becomes the reader’s favourite too.

With every book, and I’ve released seven now, I spend an enormous amount of time researching, reading archived newspapers online and digging into family stories, uncovering fascinating insights that inspire me to start the next book. But it doesn’t stop there, the research continues throughout the writing process.

Recently, I have begun writing a novel set between the two world wars in rural New Zealand. It’s another character driven story of family life, full of drama and despair, of tenderness and suffering, filled with compassion and hope; always hope, set amid a rapidly changing world.

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

The launch of my first book, The Disenchanted Soldier, and holding the book in my hand in front of an eager audience was my proudest moment. I had spent so many years researching and writing the factionalised, dual-timeline biography of my husband’s great-grandfather that to see it come to fruition was an amazing feeling.

From then on, I was hooked on writing. Now, most of my next proudest moments come when readers write some of the loveliest words about how they enjoyed my stories. I love my readers, but I also have a great sense of achievement with each of my books. I think we should feel proud of all our stories. We are giving away part of us when we release a new one into the world.

My biggest challenge, along with many indie authors, is reaching more readers who will enjoy the stories I write, and, most importantly, tell others. 

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!

To see historical fiction become the No 1 most popular genre throughout the world, feature in all the bookstores, and become the blockbusters of tomorrow. After all, we wouldn’t be here today without our ancestors. What they achieved gave us the foundation to achieve more in our time. Who they were, are who we are today, with add-ons. Their genes are part of us and to pay due respect to history is to pay respect to future generations.

That’s a great ambition, and very different to the answers I usually get to this question. What are have planned that you are really excited about?

On 9th May we celebrated our 50+1 Golden Wedding Anniversary. Last year, celebrations were non-existent, consisting of a few drinks and a home cooked dinner for our immediate family bubbles. This year, we are able to expand the number of people we can share our memories with.

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?

My husband and I love to travel too. We’ve been spoilt, and have completed two world cruises, as well as spending weeks and months visiting many countries by bus, train, and camper van. If I never leave New Zealand again, I will be happy… but if I get the chance to visit Italy again one day, I would be in 7th heaven. I love the scenery, the wine and the food. The one trip still on my bucket list that we haven’t done (yet), is a canal cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest and beyond to the Black Sea.

Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself.

I was born in Wales and came to New Zealand as a 12-year-old. I can still say the name of the railway station in North Wales in Welsh.

And I hold a Master of Arts 1st class Honours in Adult Education and English.

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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’?

Only one? There are so many good stories, where would I start?

The first one that comes to mind is All the Light we Cannot See by Anthony Doerr… amazing story, and I’m sure most people will have already read it… so, since I try to mostly read indie authors and New Zealand stories, my New Zealand story of choice is The Denniston Rose (2003) by Jenny Pattrick.

The story is set in 1880 in a bleak coal-mining community on a high plateau on the West Coast of the South Island. Rose – a child of 5 – is the indomitable character having to fend for herself in the isolated and harsh landscape. The character development is wonderful. 

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The bleak coal-mining settlement of Denniston, isolated high on a plateau above New Zealand’s West Coast, is a place that makes or breaks those who live there. At the time of this novel – the1880s – the only way to reach the makeshift collection of huts, tents and saloons is to climb aboard an empty coal-wagon to be hauled 2000 feet up the terrifyingly steep Incline – the cable-haulage system that brings the coal down to the railway line. All sorts arrive here to work the mines and bring down the coal: ex-goldminers down on their luck; others running from the law or from a woman or worse. They work alongside recruited English miners, solid and skilled, who scorn these disorganised misfits and want them off the Hill.

Into this chaotic community come five-year-old Rose and her mother, riding up the Incline, at night, during a storm. No one knows what has driven them there, but most agree the mother must be desperate to choose Denniston; worse, to choose that drunkard, Jimmy Cork, as bedfellow. The mother has her reasons and her plans, which she tells no one. The indomitable Rose is left to fend for herself, struggling to secure a place in this tough and often aggressive community. The Denniston Rose is about isolation and survival. It is the story of a spirited child, who, in appalling conditions, remains a survivor.

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?

Drink lots of water between each alcoholic drink, and sleep in. Then have coffee and toast in bed and get up when you feel like it. (I am one lucky woman, my OH of over 50 years understands my needs even when I haven’t been drinking). 

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

Sitting in the sunshine on our front deck and chatting while looking over the estuary river, coffee, a long lunch, reading, siesta, going for a walk, and then cooking a fabulous Italian dinner, and wine; don’t forget the wine. Nothing beats good company, good food and good wine.

Sounds like bliss! New Zealand is high on my bucket list of places I long to visit. Thank you for joining me on the blog this evening, Vicky, I have really enjoyed myself.

Vicky’s latest book is Portrait of a Man, a historical fiction novel set against the ravages of war. You can buy a copy here.

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Matteo Borgoni is a desperate man. He must succeed if he is to free his beloved wife, held captive by her father in Melbourne. His picture framing skills establish him with the artists of Dunedin in 1863, but he has many doubts, and many more obstacles to overcome.

Fifty years on, Luciano, a rakish Italian portrait artist on the run from his past, turns up at the Invercargill branch of Borgoni Picture Framers seeking refuge. As the ravages of World War One escalate, fear is constant, but compassion brings unexpected consequences. A terrifying pandemic is the last thing they need.

Over a century later, a man recognises a portrait in an Auckland gallery, and demands it back. Amid another global pandemic, a marriage on the brink of failure, and a life and death struggle, the portrait exposes generations of family secrets and deceptions with life-changing results.

Award winning historical fiction author, Vicky Adin is a genealogist in love with history and words.

After decades of research Vicky has combined her skills to write poignant novels that weave family and history together in a way that makes the past come alive.

Fascinated by the 19th Century women who undertook hazardous journeys to find a better life, Vicky draws her characters from real life stories – characters such as Brigid The Girl from County Clare and Gwenna The Welsh Confectioner, or Megan who discovers much about herself when she traces her family tree in The Cornish Knot.

Her 2019 release, The Costumier’s Gift, is the dual-timeline sequel to the family sagas of Brigid The Girl from County Clare and Gwenna The Welsh Confectioner. In 2020, Vicky released Portrait of a Man, the soul-searching and heart-warming conclusion to The Cornish Knot.

Her books have attracted IndieBRAG awards, Chill with a Book Readers’ Award, and the Books Go Social Gold Standard.

Vicky Adin holds a MA(Hons) in English and Education. When not writing you will find her reading – she is an avid reader of historical novels, family sagas and contemporary women’s stories; travelling – especially caravanning, and cruising with her husband and biggest fan; and spending time with her family.

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You can discover more about Vicky and her writing on her website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

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Book Review: Lost Children by Willa Bergman #BookReview

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A celebrated painting, the Portrait of the Lost Child, has been missing for over a decade. Eloise Witcham is commissioned to find it, but if she does she will have to confront a past she thought long behind her and face up to the dark fears that still haunt her dreams.

A stylish, intelligent, contemporary thriller set in the secretive world of high end art.

I am delighted to be sharing my review today of Lost Children, the debut novel by Willa Bergman. My thanks to the author for providing me with a digital copy of the book for the purposes of review. I have reviewed the book honestly and impartially.

When the author approached me about reviewing this book I agreed because I was intrigued by the premise of a thriller set in the world of art theft. It is not something I have come across before and I thought it would make an interesting basis for a story. I wasn’t wrong on this point, it was a really cleverly plotted story featuring the race to determine the whereabouts of a missing painting that jumps from the UK to New York and then back to France, but the reasons for each individual’s desire to track down the painting are clouded in mystery and not as straight forward as they first seem.

The main character is Eloise, a member of the private sales team at an auction house who is asked to track down the painting which was stolen fifteen years before. She finds herself promoted within the auction house and will a certain amount of autonomy which is useful for the hunt, as there are certain things about her past she is keen to keep quiet. However, it brings her into direct conflict with a rival art investigator who is determined to get to the painting before her. It is quite hard to talk any further about the plot without revealing spoilers but, suffice it to say, the book is full of action, intrigue and international travel and the plot moves along at a cracking pace, keeping the reader engaged throughout.

I have to say that the book requires some suspension of disbelief to enjoy. I’m not 100% convinced that Eloise would be able to do all she does without her employers raising a few eyebrows, and the ending gets very exciting. Still, no one reads these type of thrillers for absolute authenticity and it is a cracking good story. I really enjoyed the dip into a different world, high end art crime, and a female protagonist who doesn’t need a man to help her solve the problems.

Highly entertaining.

Lost Children is out now as an ebook and paperback, and is available to read for free to Kindle Unlimited subscribers. You can get your copy here.

About the Author

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Willa Bergman lives in London with her husband and two children. Lost Children is her first novel.

You can connect with Willa via Goodreads.

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Desert Island Books with… Chantelle Atkins

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There may not be many places in the world that you can currently travel from the UK but, luckily for me, this does not prevent me from virtually stranding another guest on a remote island with only five books and one luxury item standing between them and certain madness. This week my victim guest is… Chantelle Atkins.

Book One – The Catcher In The Rye by J. D. Salinger

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The hero-narrator of The Catcher in the Rye is an ancient child of sixteen, a native New Yorker named Holden Caulfield. Through circumstances that tend to preclude adult, secondhand description, he leaves his prep school in Pennsylvania and goes underground in New York City for three days.

The boy himself is at once too simple and too complex for us to make any final comment about him or his story. Perhaps the safest thing we can say about Holden is that he was born in the world not just strongly attracted to beauty but, almost, hopelessly impaled on it.

There are many voices in this novel: children’s voices, adult voices, underground voices-but Holden’s voice is the most eloquent of all. Transcending his own vernacular, yet remaining marvellously faithful to it, he issues a perfectly articulated cry of mixed pain and pleasure. However, like most lovers and clowns and poets of the higher orders, he keeps most of the pain to, and for, himself. The pleasure he gives away, or sets aside, with all his heart. It is there for the reader who can handle it to keep.

This is probably my favourite book. I borrowed it from my sister when I was 15 and devoured it in one sitting. I felt like Holden Caulfield was speaking directly to me. I fell in love with his character and felt like he would be the one fictional character I would love to be friends with. I’ve read it multiple times since, at different stages of my life and I get something new from it every time. On a desert island it would be like a comfort blanket to me.

Book Two – Ham On Rye by Charles Bukowski

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Charles Bukowski is one of the greatest authors of the twentieth-century. The autobiographical Ham on Rye is widely considered his finest novel. A classic of American literature, it offers powerful insight into his youth through the prism of his alter-ego Henry Chinaski, who grew up to be the legendary Hank Chinaski of Post Office and Factotum.

Charles Bukowski is one of my favourite authors and I absolutely adore everything he wrote, including his poems. I have lines from some tattooed on my arms so I can always see those words when I need them. This was the first book of his I read after I chose it by chance in a bookshop. I admire his writing and whenever I read anything of his, I find myself nodding and smiling and agreeing with him on everything. He makes me want to be a better writer and he was the one author that gave me the courage to try writing poetry. I would read this book again and again and not get bored of it.

Book Three – On The Road by Jack Kerouac

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Sal Paradise (Sam Riley), a young innocent, joins his hero Dean Moriarty (Garrett Hedlund), a traveller and mystic, the living epitome of Beat, on a breathless, exuberant ride back and forth across the United States. Their hedonistic search for release or fulfilment through drink, sex, drugs and jazz becomes an exploration of personal freedom, a test of the limits of the American dream. A brilliant blend of fiction and autobiography, Jack Kerouac’s exhilarating novel swings to the rhythms of 1950s underground America, racing towards the sunset with unforgettable exuberance, poignancy and autobiographical passion. One of the most influential and important novels of the 20th century, On the Road is the book that launched the Beat Generation and remains the bible of that literary movement.

Kerouac’s prose is just so beautiful, I have to re-read lines again and again, fully appreciating them before I can move on. He had a unique way with words. His narrative and descriptions are breathtaking but he was also such an observer or people. I read this when I was 19 and it inspired me and my writing. It made me want to go on road trips and travel and only associate with the mad ones! A great read, it would keep me occupied.

Book Four – Watership Down by Richard Adams 

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Fiver, a young rabbit, is very worried. He senses something terrible is about to happen to the warren. His brother Hazel knows that his sixth sense is never wrong. So, there is nothing else for it. They must leave immediately.

And so begins a long and perilous journey of a small band of rabbits in search of a safe home. Fiver’s vision finally leads them to Watership Down, but here they face their most difficult challenge of all…

This would be like another comfort blanket. I read it aged 10 and it was the one book that made me want to write stories too. It inspired a series of little stories about animals as I tried to emulate his style. I’ve read it again recently and got even more from it as an adult. It’s a long book about an epic journey and it would definitely help fill the time to read this again.

Book Five – It by Stephen King

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27 years later, the Losers Club have grown up and moved away, until a devastating phone call brings them back…

Derry, Maine was just an ordinary town: familiar, well-ordered for the most part, a good place to live.

It was a group of children who saw- and felt- what made Derry so horribly different. In the storm drains, in the sewers, IT lurked, taking on the shape of every nightmare, each one’s deepest dread. Sometimes IT appeared as an evil clown named Pennywise and sometimes IT reached up, seizing, tearing, killing . . .

Time passed and the children grew up, moved away and forgot. THEN they are called back, once more to confront IT as IT stirs and coils in the sullen depths of their memories, emerging again to make their past nightmares a terrible present reality…

It’s a huge book so it would fill some of the time if I was stuck on a desert island. I read it aged 13 and Stephen King promptly became my favourite author. I started writing darker, scarier stuff after I discovered his books. It is my favourite King novel because as well as being a terrifying horror novel, it’s also a beautiful tale of childhood and friendship and what’s it like to be an outsider. It would fill many hours and I would happily read it again and again.

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It would have to be notepads and pens.

About the Author

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Chantelle Atkins was born and raised in Dorset, England and still resides there now with her husband, four children and multiple pets. She is addicted to reading, writing and music and writes for both the young adult and adult genres. Her fiction is described as gritty, edgy and compelling. Her debut Young Adult novel The Mess Of Me deals with eating disorders, self-harm, fractured families and first love. Her second novel, The Boy With The Thorn In His Side follows the musical journey of a young boy attempting to escape his brutal home life and has now been developed into a 5 book series. She is also the author of This Is Nowhere and award-winning dystopian, The Tree Of Rebels, plus a collection of short stories related to her novels called Bird People and Other Stories. The award-winning Elliot Pie’s Guide To Human Nature was released through Pict Publishing in October 2018. YA novel A Song For Bill Robinson was released in December 2019 and is the first in a trilogy, followed by Emily’s Baby and The Search For Summer in 2021. Chantelle has had multiple articles about writing published by Author’s Publish magazine and runs her own Community Interest Company – Chasing Driftwood Writing Group.

Chantelle’s new book The Search For Summer came out on 30th April 2021. It’s the final book in a YA trilogy based around an unsolved murder, a neighbourhood feud and a teenage singer with a drinking problem! The other two books are A Song For Bill Robinson and Emily’s Baby. You can buy a copy of the book here.

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When Bill’s desire for the truth pushed Charlie into an impossible decision, he lashed out in horrifying fashion, stealing baby Gabriel and leaving Bill for dead.

Panic-stricken Charlie is now on the run with his three-day-old son. His hiding place reveals a mystery that will drive him further across the country. Summer was involved with the set-up that pushed Charlie over the edge and she was there when he stole the baby…but where is she now?

As his band The Rebel Anthem attract a manager and a possible record deal, Bill has a lot on his mind. He cannot accept that Summer would run away and fears his own behaviour may have played a part in her disappearance.In this dramatic climax to the YA trilogy, previous actions and decisions have consequences for all, while Bill and his friends must find Summer and baby Gabriel and finally bring a killer to justice.

Connect with Chantelle:

Website: https://chantelleatkins.com/

Facebook: Chantelle Atkins

Twitter: @Chanatkins

Instagram: @chantelleatkinswriter

Pinterest: Chantelle Atkins

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