Friday Night Drinks with….Jane Lacey-Crane @JaneLaceyCrane @AriaFiction @HoZ_Books @RNAtweets #FridayNightDrinks

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Delighted to be joined tonight for Friday Night Drinks by my fellow RNA member and someone I have been lucky enough to meet IRL (She’s lovely!), author Jane Lacey-Crane.

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Hi Jane, thank you for joining me for drinks this evening. First things first, what are you drinking?

Thanks for the invite – I don’t get out much these days! Mine’s a large gin and tonic, then I’ll probably move on to a nice glass (or two!) of Prosecco.

Perfect! 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?

Probably to the cinema – I love going to the movies – and then out for late night doughnut! There’s a drive thru Krispy Kreme not far from where I live, with a drive thru Starbucks next door. Perfect!

Great evening. If you could invite two famous people, one male and one female, alive or dead, along on our night out, who would we be drinking with?

I would love to go out for the evening with Stephen Fry – I think the man is a gentleman and a genius. I’ve met him before – when I was working for Waterstones in Central London – and he was such an entertaining man. And so genuine. As for our female companion – I think I’d have to invite Victoria Wood. She was such a brilliant writer and performer, and she wrote some of the best female characters on TV. A legend – and gone far too soon. 

Victoria Wood would also be my choice for this question. So, now we’re settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. What have you got going on? How and why did you start it and where do you want it to go?

I’m currently working on my third book for Aria Fiction; it’s a contemporary romance that takes me right back to my roots in East London, just like my first book Secrets and Tea at Rosie Lee’s did. It’s an area that’s very close to my heart and I love writing about the location and the people. I get to draw on my memories of growing up in East London, surrounded by family that made their livings working in the markets of East London. 

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

My proudest moment was probably getting my first contract with Aria. I submitted through their website submissions portal and was blown away when my editor got in touch and told me that she wanted to offer me a three-book contract! After years of waiting, and almost giving up a few times, to hear that news was mind-blowing. 

My biggest challenge came straight after – writing the second book! It was torturous – I lost all confidence in my abilities and was convinced that I obviously only had one book in me, and I’d got nothing else worthwhile to say! Thankfully, my editor was very supportive and encouraging and talked me down off the ledge!   

So interesting and encouraging to read about your writing journey. 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!

I think I want what most writers want – I want to carry on writing, and I want as many people as possible to read my writing! But since you asked – I’d also like my books to sell millions of copies and be turned into Netflix movies. I’d love to write a screenplay. Oh, and I want to be asked to star in one of the films as well. And win an Oscar for my performance or my screenplay. Either would be fine – I’m not fussy. It’s always been my secret ambition to be an actor too. You did say I could be as ambitious as I liked, didn’t you?   

Aim high! What are you currently working on that you are really excited about?

The book I’m currently working on is keeping me very busy and I’m excited about where that’s going to take me. I have a rough idea of plot, but these things have a habit of changing – depending on where the characters want to take me. I’m also working on a website, which is exciting but daunting since I’m not very technical, so I have only the vaguest idea of what I’m doing! I’m hoping to be able to start a blog on the site so I can bore people with more of my inane witterings on a range of subjects and I’m also going to be putting some of my short stories on there for people to enjoy.  

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 favorite place in the world has to be New York – I love it there so much. That’s the reason I chose to set a large part of my second book there. I’ve been there twice and I’m going again in a few months to visit my sister, who currently lives there. I’d love to travel all over the US in a camper van if I could. Maybe one day – when the kids are grown. 

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It is also my plan to do a huge USA road trip when my kids have left home! Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know about you.

One thing that people might not know about me is that I once dressed up as a six-foot bunny rabbit in a leopard print bikini and tried to crash Prince Charles’ birthday party at Clarence House. Make of that what you will! 

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Okaaay. Lol. 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’?

Oh blimey, that’s tough one. I read a lot – obviously! – and my tastes are very varied. I would say, if you’ve never read any of Nora Roberts standalone romantic suspense novels then you’re missing out on a masterclass. The Search is one of my favorites. Also, there’s a book called Folly by Laurie R.King which is a really gripping read. It’s about a woman who takes herself off to an island to build a folly, all by herself, but there’s a sinister presence watching her every move. I read that book years and years ago but it’s stayed with me. 

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WHAT HAPPENS IF YOUR WORST FEARS AREN’T ALL IN YOUR MIND?

Rae Newborn is a woman on the edge: on the edge of sanity, on the edge of tragedy, and now on the edge of the world. She has moved to an island at the far reaches of the continent to restore the house of an equally haunted figure, her mysterious great-uncle; but as her life begins to rebuild itself along with the house, his story starts to wrap around hers. Powerful forces are stirring, but Rae cannot see where her reality leaves off and his fate begins.

Fifty-two years old, Rae must battle the feelings that have long tormented her–panic, melancholy, and a skin-crawling sense of watchers behind the trees. Before she came here, she believed that most of the things she feared existed only in her mind. And who can say, as disturbing incidents multiply, if any of the watchers on Folly Island might be real? Is Rae paranoid, as her family and the police believe, or is the threat real? Is the island alive with promise–or with dangers?

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?

A pint of water and 3 Ibuprofen as soon as I get home and then two cans of Coke Zero in the morning. Usually sorts me right out. When you have kids, you can’t afford to have a hangover!

Ain’t that the truth! After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?

Drinking tea in bed, watching Cary Grant movies, and eating masses of toast and chocolate digestives. 

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Jane, thank you for joining me this evening, it has been wonderful and I hope to catch up with you at an RNA event soon.

Jane’s second book, The City of Second Chances is out now and you can get a copy here. If you would like to read my review of the book, you can find it here.

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Has she already met The One? What if Mr Right had come along at the wrong time…?

Evie Grant is forty-five years old, a widow, and single mum of two children about to leave the nest. Suddenly alone in the family home, Evie realizes she hates her job, hardly goes out and hasn’t had a date since who knows when…

So it feels like fate when the opportunity arises for a girls trip to New York City. Staying with her sister on the Upper East Side, Evie is enchanted by a snow-covered city consumed by preparing for Christmas.

Bobble hat firmly on, Evie is walking through the city one day when she bumps into Daniel Roberts, Hollywood heartthrob and one-time boyfriend of hers.

It’s now or never for Evie – but she open her heart to the possibility of a new beginnings and true happiness once again…?

Born in London, Jane’s writing career began in cable TV, writing true crime documentaries. More recently, Jane has contributed to an anthology of short stories and written two weekly crime serials. When she’s not writing, Jane loves to read good books, binge watch TV boxsets and drink tea. And wine. 

If you would like to learn more about Jane and her writing, you can find her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Next week I am having Friday Night Drinks with author and sports journalist, Jamie Paradise, so come back then.

New Starts and Cherry Tarts at the Cosy Kettle by Liz Eeles #BookReview #BlogTour (@lizeelesauthor) @bookouture #NewStartsAndCherryTartsAtTheCosyKettle #NetGalley

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After yet another failed romance, twenty-six-year-old Callie Fulbright is giving up on love. She’s determined to throw all her efforts into her very own, brand-new café: The Cosy Kettle. Serving hot tea, cherry tarts and a welcoming smile to the friendly locals proves to be the perfect distraction, and Callie feels a flush of pride at the fledgling business she’s built.

But her new-found confidence is soon put to the test when her gorgeous ex reappears in the quaint little village. She’ll never forget the heartache Noah caused her years ago, but when they bump into each other on the cobbled streets of Honeyford she can’t help but feel a flutter in her chest…

As Callie and Noah share laughter and memories, she starts to wonder if this could be her second chance at happiness. But when Callie discovers that someone is mysteriously trying to ruin the café’s reputation… she has an awful suspicion that Noah knows who’s involved.

Was she wrong to ever trust him again? And can she find out who’s behind the lies and rumours, before it’s too late for the Cosy Kettle?

Delighted to be taking part today in the blog tour for New Starts and Cherry Tarts at the Cosy Kettle by Liz Eeles. My thanks to Noelle Holten at Bookouture for my place on the tour and my copy of the book via NetGalley, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

Another day, another light, heart-warming read and another big thumbs up from me. I think I am just in the mood for lighter fare at the moment to offset the awful weather and heavy doom and gloom of current events and this book is absolutely perfect for that. The ideal book to hunker down at home and indulge in some perfect escapism.

I actually think the blurb of this book misses out one vital factor that would tempt readers in, this book features a cafe IN A BOOK SHOP! Why would you not highlight this marvellous piece of information? I love cafes, I love books … I love cafes in bookshops the most! This has all the perfect ingredients for an enticing read. It is also set in the gorgeous Cotswolds, which the author does a fabulous job of describing and making you want to up sticks and move to Gloucestershire immediately.

There is nothing startling about the plot, but it is undoubtedly charming and what really bring at to life and makes it stand out are the characters. I loved absolutely all of them. The main protagonist, Callie, is attractive (in a personality sense) and easy to side with and her story will resonate with most readers on some level, as it involves family drama and unluckiness in love. But it is Gramp who was my favourite character in the book, he is full of personality and sass and I just loved him, he made me laugh and tear up at the same time. Marvellous stuff. The love interest is suitable interesting and attractive, there is a not-too-villainous villain awaiting either his comeuppance or redemption and a cast of other interesting townsfolk to round out the story. Everything to like in a book.

This story is undemanding but entirely pleasing, it made me laugh and shed a little tear at parts. It whiled away some extremely happy hours, held my interest and left me with the warm and fuzzies at the end. The author’s writing flows well and draws you through the story and I very much enjoyed her voice. There is a hint in the end that there is more to come from Honeyford and the Cosy Kettle and I, for one, am delighted to hear it. Can’t wait for a return visit.

New Starts and Cherry Tarts at the Cosy Kettle is out now and you can buy a copy here.

Please do follow the rest of the tour and here what my marvellous fellow bloggers have to say about the book:

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About the Author

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Liz began her writing career as a journalist and press officer before deciding that she’d rather have the freedom of making things up as a novelist.

Being short-listed in the Corvus ‘Love at First Write’ competition and the Novelicious search for a new women’s fiction star gave Liz the push she needed to keep putting pen to paper …. and ‘Annie’s Holiday by the Sea’ (her first published novel) is the result.

Liz lives on the South Coast with her family and, when she’s not writing, likes to spend time walking by the sea, and trying to meditate. Her ambition is to be serene one day …. she’s still got a long way to go.

Connect with Liz:

Website: http://lizeeles.com

Facebook: Liz Eeles Author

Twitter: @lizeelesauthor

Instagram: lizeelesauthor

One Summer’s Night by Kiley Dunbar #BookReview #BlogTour (@KileyDunbar) @HeraBooks @Tr4cyF3nt0n @NetGalley #OneSummersNight #CompulsiveReaders #NetGalley

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The path of true love never did run smooth…did it?

Kelsey Anderson is stuck in a rut so big, she’ll need a 4-wheel drive to get out. She’s just been made redundant from her dead-end job, and boyfriend Fran is so busy climbing up the career ladder that he’s forgotten how to have fun. She needs to change her life – and fast.

Stumbling across an advert for tour guides in Stratford-Upon-Avon seems like the perfect way to bring the sunshine back. In an impulsive move, she moves from her small Scottish village to Shakespeare’s birthplace, armed only with a suitcase and her battered copy of Shakespeare’s Sonnets.

Kelsey quickly falls in love with the place, her job as a tourist guide allowing her to explore every inch of the picture-perfect town, from cosy cafes to the picturesque banks of the river.

But it’s not just the town that captures her heart, as she finds herself torn between the actors Will and Jonathan who both vie for her affections.

But will beautiful Peony, the lead actress at the Oklahoma theatre company where Jonathan is playing Oberon in A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream, play a role in keeping Kelsey and Jonathan apart?

Or will flirtatious, charming Will, the fellow tour guide who has set his sights on Kelsey, keep the star-crossed lovers from finding their happy ending?

I’m so excited today to be taking part in the blog tour for One Summer’s Night by Kiley Dunbar. My thanks to Tracy Fenton of Compulsive Readers for inviting me on to the tour and to Hera Books for my copy of the book via Netgalley, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

I’m just going to say right off the bat that I just adored this book. It was a breath of fresh air that I needed after a heavy weekend of thrillers, emotional reads and a lot of intense working on my own book. This novel gave me some mental respite, at the same time filling me with warmth and joy, not a bad effort for one little book.

The storyline of this book was immensely appealing – Shakespeare-loving girl stuck in a rut takes a gamble on her dream job and escapes to Stratford-upon-Avon for the summer to act as a tour guide in the birthplace of her hero. Kelsey is a really wonderful character that it was very easy to warm to right from the start of the book. She has a kind heart and great relationships with her family and friends, but has had some heartache in her life and has been quite sheltered. She is having some issues in her love life, which partly drive her decision and leave the story wide open to the possibility of a new love.

Once she gets to Stratford, I have to say that Kiley managed to capture the sense of the place perfectly and make it leap off the page. It helps that I have been there many times myself, I suppose, and love it almost as much as Kelsey does, but it really did come alive for me through the pages of the book and I could feel Kelsey’s affection for the place oozing out from the pages. It also exuded the heat and scents of the summer throughout and warmed my cockles through some fairly stormy weather here in Yorkshire over the past few days. This book is just what the doctor ordered for miserable, blustery weather.

If you love Shakespeare, this book will be right up your street, as the beautiful words of the Bard are lauded throughout and the book is littered with quotes. We are able to indulge our passion for him alongside Kelsey as she explores Stratford in the summer and meets all kinds of different characters along the way, via her job and the theatre. Parts of the book are very funny but it also has a lovely emotional appeal, perfectly balanced to provide maximum enjoyment. Kiley’s writing is approachable but also poetic and very easy to read. Hugely enjoyable.

This is a perfect book to chase away the winter blues and make you dream of love in the summertime. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

One Summer’s Night is out now and you can buy a copy here.

To read some other reviews of the book, make sure you follow the rest of the tour:

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About the Author

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I’ve spent the last decade teaching English Literature at a University in the North of England. This involved researching and writing for academic publications (stuff that only a handful of fusty boffins will ever read). I’ve finally turned my hand to writing the romantic fiction I’ve always dreamed of and I hope my readers enjoy my sweet and feisty characters and dreamy locations.

The heroine of my first novel One Summer’s Night works as a tour guide in the beautiful theatre town of Stratford-upon-Avon. I too spent a working summer in Stratford where I found my very own leading man. We got engaged four days after we met. This tells you that I’m A) not exactly risk averse and B) a true romantic.

Twenty years on we live in Cheshire with our kids and Bedlington Terrier.

I’m a proud Romantic Novelists Association Member and in 2019 I’ll graduate from the New Writers Scheme which really helped me shape my debut novel.

Connect with Kiley:

Facebook: Kiley Dunbar Author

Twitter: @KileyDunbar

 

 

The Rain Watcher by Tatiana de Rosnay #BookReview #BlogTour (@tatianaderosnay) @WorldEdBooks #TheRainWatcher

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It is raining non-stop over Paris.

The Malegarde family – split between France, London, and the US – is reunited for the first time in years. When Paul, a famous yet withdrawn arborist, suffers a stroke in the middle of his 70th birthday celebrations, his son Linden is stuck in a city that is undergoing a stunning natural disaster.

As the Seine bursts its banks and floods the streets, the family will have to fight to keep their unity as hidden fears and secrets also begin to rise.

In this profound and intense novel of love and redemption, De Rosnay demonstrates her wealth of skills both as an incredible storyteller and also as a connoisseur of the human soul.

I’m thrilled to be taking part today in the blog tour for The Rain Watcher by Tatiana de Rosnay. My thanks to Julia Forster for inviting me to take part in the tour and to the publisher for my copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

I warn you now that I am going to wax lyrical about this book because this has been a very special read for me, although I realise this book is not going to be to everyone’s tastes, as it is a book about human relationships first and foremost, told tenderly and luxuriously, so for those that like a fast-paced book, it is not going to be your cup of tea. However, if you are looking for something different that will reward you endlessly with wave after wave of emotion, look no further.

The book follows the Malegarde family as they reunite in Paris after a four-year separation to celebrate the seventieth birthday of the patriarch, Paul. With him are his wife, Lauren and his daughter, Tilia and son, Linden. Although on the surface, the family appear close and cordial, over the course of the book the disconnect between them all becomes obvious and the secrets they are all keeping from one another are slowly revealed.

This is a book about communication, and how a lack of it, a lack of honesty between us and those we love, prevents us from having the true depth of understanding and connection that will bring us closer and enriches our lives. How our fears of judgment and rejection by our family prevent us from revealing parts of ourselves which, whilst forming a fundamental part of who we are, we fear may be something that courts their disfavour or disappointment. but to avoid that risk, not only do we lose the potential for closeness and understanding that can enrich our lives, but we possible do them a disservice and deny ourselves years of joy and support we could otherwise have had. And no one is perfect.

The characters in this book are drawn beautifully, with real love and truth and I raced through it, despite the slow pace of the actual plot, because I wanted desperately to find out all I could about them and how their stories were going to end. I feared the foreshadowing I saw of potentially sad events to come, so gripped was I by the dramas of this family, and was moved beyond words by how the story unfolded. I read this book over the course of one day, unable to put it down, which goes to prove you don’t need explosions and car chases and duplicity and twists to make a compelling novel, just beautiful and truthful writing done exceptionally well.

The story is set against the back drop of catastrophic flooding in Paris, and the descriptions of the devastation and hardship were compelling and eye-opening, and an interesting story in their own right. The parallels the author was trying to draw between this and the upheaval going on in the Malegarde family were rather lost on me and didn’t really add to the story, but did not take from it either, so I would not highlight this as a negative in the book. This is obviously a love letter and a lament for a city that the author loves, and I think this came through in the writing.

This is a beautiful, moving, poetic and lyrical story of one family and its struggle for closeness and authenticity. I absolutely loved it, it will haunt me for a while now I know and I will pick it up again. I cannot recommend it highly enough. A true gem.

The Rain Watcher is out now and you can buy a copy here.

To get some alternative viewpoints of the book, please do read the reviews by the other wonderful bloggers on the tour, as detailed on the poster below:

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About the Author

Tatiana de Rosnay credit Charlotte Jolly de Rosnay

Tatiana de Rosnay, of English, French, and Russian descent, was born in 1961, in Neuilly-sur-Seine, and raised in Boston and Paris. After studying literature in England at the University of East Anglia, Tatiana worked in Paris as a reporter for Vanity FairPsychologies Magazine, and ELLE. She has published twelve novels in French and three in English including New York Times bestseller Sarah’s Key, which sold over eleven million copies worldwide, and was made into a film starring Kristin Scott Thomas in 2010. Her books have been published in 42 countries and in 2011 she was listed by Le Figaro as the fifth most-read French author worldwide.
Connect with Tatiana:
Instagram: @tatianaderosnay
Pinterest: tatianaderosnay

Killing State by Judith O’Reilly #BookReview #BlogTour (@judithoreilly) @HoZ_Books @LoveBooksGroup #LoveBooksGroupTours #KillingState

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I am really excited to be on the blog tour today for Killing State, the new thriller by Judith O’Reilly. I have been a huge fan of Judith’s non-fiction writing, so I was eager to see what she would produce when she turned to fiction. It was not what I expected, I can tell you! My thanks to Kelly Lacey at Love Books Group Tours for inviting me to take part and to Head of Zeus for my copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

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WHAT IF THE PERSON YOU’RE ORDERED TO KILL IS THE WOMAN YOU WANT TO PROTECT?

Michael North, assassin and spy-for-hire, is very good at killing bad guys. But what happens when his shadowy bosses at the dark heart of the post-Brexit British government, order him to kill an innocent woman and North can’t bring himself to do it?

The woman is a rising political star, Honor Jones, MP.  She has started asking dangerous questions about the powerful men running her country. The trouble is, Honour doesn’t know when to stop. And, now that he’s met her, neither does North…

Well, this book has it all going on! Right from the opening pages, the action never lets up for a second and we find ourselves in a labyrinth of cross and double-cross, people switching sides in the blink of an eye, assassinations, explosions, fights, intrigue, paranoia, shadowy organisations and political machinations (do those of you who grew up with Blackadder always want to finish that phrase with ‘of the evil Pitt. Lord Baldrick’ or is that just me? Blackadder the Third, Episode 1: Dish and Dishonesty, in case you were wondering.)

The main character here is ex-soldier, Michael North, a man damaged both physically (a bullet lodged in his brain) and mentally who is now working as an assassin for a shadowy political organisation that has him getting rid (in the most permanent sense of the word) of people they believe threaten the security of the country and he does this without question until he is instructed to kill MP Honor Jones. Something about her makes him question his mission, and then everything changes for him and he begins to wonder if he might be on the wrong side after all.

The action then takes off at a cracking pace and doesn’t let up until the shocking climax which will take your breath away so you had better buckle in as you are in for a bumpy, wild ride through the book. The book involves a feisty teenage cyber-genius, thugs on both sides, prisoners of war, blackmail, storms at sea and a million other excitements. It reminded me of every Mission Impossible, Tom Clancy and Jason Bourne thriller I have seen all mashed together in an explosion of events. At times it was quite hard to keep up with what is going on because everything is happening so quickly and the action bounces around between characters and settings, so you need to pay attention. It is also a big book and requires and investment of time and attention but, if you are fans of action and poetical thrillers by the likes of James Patterson and Lee Child, you will enjoy this novel.

Michael North is a grizzled, damaged but sympathetic action hero in the best traditions of the genre and there are enough surprises and take-your-breath-away moments to hold the tension. A rip-roaring read. A sequel is already planned for release later in the year so, if you enjoy this, there is more to come. Watch this space.

Killing State is out now in hardback and ebook formats and will be available in paperback on 11 July. You can buy a copy here.

To follow the rest of the tour, check out the details on the poster below:

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About the Author

Judith

Judith O’Reilly is the author of Wife in the North, a top-three Sunday Times bestseller and BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week. Judith is a former political producer with BBC 2’s Newsnight and ITN’s Channel 4 News, and, when she isn’t writing novels, she writes for The Sunday Times.  Judith lives in Durham.

Connect with Judith:

Website: http://www.judithoreilly.com/p/home-page.html

Facebook: Judith O’Reilly

Twitter: @judithoreilly

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Friday Night Drinks with….Zoe from Zooloo’s Book Diary @zooloo2008 @JonathanJanz @JuliaIbbotson #FridayNightDrinks #GuestPost #ZooloosBookDiary #BookBlogger #BloggerLove

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Thrilled to be welcome to Friday Night Drinks this evening one of my favourite people in the book blogging world, and someone who gets even more excited by books than I do (if that’s possible) …. Zoe from the wonderful Zooloo’s Book Diary blog.

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Zoe, welcome to my blog and thank you for joining me for Friday Night Drinks this evening. I can see you are all dressed up and ready to party, so let’s get the night underway! What are you drinking?

Ooh, well normally I would be enjoying a nice cold beer, mainly Budweiser. Otherwise, if we fancied some cocktails, then I have recently discovered a love for Pornstar Martinis. Eek!

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I love a Pornstar Martini, so I will join you if you don’t mind. 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 if I was still living at home, we would probably be going for a nice curry in a restaurant called Shapla, it is my favuorite curry house in Watford, yum! Man, now I want a curry!!

A woman after my own heart. 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?

Well, everyone who knows me, knows I absolutely love Arnold Schwarzenegger, I am fascinated with his muscles, story! I love to know all about filming Terminator and his films, and I could just listen to him talk all day.  Shallow I know.

Female, well there are quite a few female actresses I adore, so probably someone like Nicole Kidman or Sandra Bullock. 

I have a bit of a girl crush on Sandra Bullock, so let’s definitely bring her with us! 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?

So, at the moment, it’s all quite quiet on my front. I am just trying to juggle working full time, looking after my spitfire of a 5-year-old lady, and reading all while the boy is away with the army! I love to sit back and watch a film whilst doing my sewing when relaxing (this is an old picture of what I am currently doing). Once my reading has calmed down, I have been “badgered” by two bloggers to get a book written, catching up with my pen pal, who in turn I am doing some beta reading for. So its just a bit hectic!!

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We obviously have similar hobbies, as I do tapestry to relax, and I’m trying to write a book. I would love to hear more about that! What has been your proudest moment since you started blogging and what has been your biggest challenge?

I have had a few proud moments, one of was being shortlisted for Best Newcomer in the bloggers awards last year, I did not win, but the fact I was shortlisted was huge! Plus being able to call a couple of authors, friends which is amazing, just having a reaction on Twitter or Facebook has been epic, I mean someone wants to talk to little ole me!

Biggest challenge has been not saying no! Having a panic with reading and then trying to make sure my reviews make some sense! The best compliments I have received on reviews are ones where I have just brain dumped with out any structure!!!

I know that feeling well, lol! 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!

Erm…..I don’t know! I don’t know what I could achieve! Lol 

I think you could achieve anything you set your mind to! What are you currently working on that you are really excited about?

I have been doing some buddy reading recently, it started out just two of us and now we have 10 in our Goodreads group, which is opened to anyone. We call ourselves NetGalley Anonymous as we all have way too many to clear from our shelves. I love the fact they don’t mind me constantly brain dumping on them as I read!! lol

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?

On my bucket list is to visit Vegas, but so I can see Tom Jones in residency as every time I have seen him in concert he has never failed to deliver! I also want to visit Texas. And the last one is Greece, to Athens. I am obsessed with Greek Mythology so I would love to do a trip through the sites. 

Places I have visited, well Disneyland for obvious reasons! But I have done a lot of skiing in Europe, there is nothing more peaceful that sitting up the top of a mountain in the silence taking the sights in! 

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I’m off to Vegas next month for The Irishman’s fiftieth birthday trip so watch out on the blog for some reports on that! Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know about you.

Well I am not that interesting lol, Zooloo is my nickname, hence the blog name. I also have the nickname Pocket Rocket from my old Netball team as for only being 5ft, I was often found all over the court making a nuisance of myself.

We shorties rule the world! 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’?

Well depends which genre we are going to go for! But one series I have devoured recently, and I am cheating because it is three books, but it is The Drumbeats Trilogy by Julia Ibbotson – these were breathtaking stories. In my favourite genre, horror, then The Siren and the Specter by Jonathan Janz, just don’t read in the dark – you have been warned lol 

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When David Caine, a celebrated skeptic of the supernatural, is invited by an old friend to spend a month in “the most haunted house in Virginia,” he believes the case will be like any other. But the Alexander House is different.  
Built by a 1700s land baron to contain the madness and depravity of his eldest son, the house is plagued by shadows of the past and the lingering taint of bloodshed. David is haunted, as well. For twenty-two years ago, he turned away the woman he loved, and she took her life in sorrow. 
And David suspects she’s followed him to the Alexander House.

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

I have not found yet, any suggestions? Someone suggested rehydration sachets so I have one of them before I go to bed and when I wake up and then a curry!!

Curry for breakfast? Not tried that one yet! After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?

Well after all our fun that we have had! I would probably chill out on the sofa with a good film and a cuppa! 

Zoe, thank you so much for joining me, it has been just as much fun as I knew it would be. One of these days we will catch up IRL on the book blogging circuit.

Make sure you check out Zoe’s lovely blog, Zooloo’s Book Diary, which is just as fun, bubbly and upbeat as she is here. You can also find her on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram.

Next week I will be joined by author and fellow RNA member, Jane Lacey-Crane so come back then and join us.

She’s Mine by Claire Lewis #BlogTour #Extract (@CSLewisWrites) @Aria_Fiction @HoZ_Books #NetGalley #ShesMine

She's Mine

She was never mine to lose…

When Scarlett falls asleep on a Caribbean beach she awakes to her worst nightmare – Katie is gone. With all fingers pointed to her Scarlett must risk everything to clear her name.

As Scarlett begins to unravel the complicated past of Katie’s mother she begins to think there’s more to Katie’s disappearance than meets the eye. But who would want to steal a child? And how did no-one see anything on the small island?

I’m very happy to be kicking off the blog tour today for She’s Mine by Claire Lewis. My thanks to Victoria Joss at Head of Zeus/Aria for my copy of the book and for allowing me to share the below extract from the book with you.

Extract

That’s the truth, but not the whole truth. What I don’t reveal to her is an incident that took place in Christina’s bedroom the week before we flew out to the British Leeward Isles. I don’t disclose it because the incident doesn’t put me in a good light either! On Tuesdays, Katie does a full day at kindergarten so I have a little time to myself. I’ve got into the habit of using Christina’s en-suite, luxurious, walk-in power shower and expensive beauty products following the weekly hot yoga class that I go to after dropping off Katie. So last Tuesday, I had just finished my shower and wrapped myself in Christina’s bathrobe when I heard her bedroom door opening and then the sound of her antique roll top desk being unlocked.

I thought she must have come back early from work for some reason. There was nothing else for it but to come clean (literally!) and apologise for taking the liberty of using her bathroom without asking first. So I took off her bathrobe, draped a towel around me and opened the door. But it wasn’t Christina. It was Damien with his back to me, checking the contents of the desk. Caught in the act. Hearing the catch he started and turned in alarm. He reddened but quickly composed himself and went on the offensive. 

‘What a vision of beauty!’ he sneered as I stood there, my wet hair dripping onto the carpet. ‘I didn’t realise you and Christina were so intimate.’

‘And I didn’t realise you made a habit of going through her private papers!’ I snapped back. I know very well that the desk, an old family heirloom shipped over from the UK, is a strictly no-go area that she keeps locked at all times. He just laughed and then cool as a cucumber, he slipped some documents into a green cardboard file under his arm, locked the desk, pocketed the key and marched out of the room.

‘Just mind your own business and keep out of our affairs. Or you’ll be going the same way as the previous nanny,’ was his parting shot.

I understood this was no idle threat. Christina’s so possessive and distrustful that I knew if she got wind of this brush with Damien, she would imagine the worst and I’d be out of a job. So I said nothing to Christina in New York and I say nothing to the police officer now as she converses with me in the hotel bedroom.

I decide to keep my suspicions about Damien to myself – for now.

*

For something that was supposed to have been a ‘friendly chat’ the questioning is intense. After asking about my relations with Christina and Damien she embarks on a list of questions clearly aimed at working out a timeline for my movements this afternoon. What time did I arrive at the beach with Katie? Did I speak to anyone? Did anyone approach me or Katie? Did I notice anyone watching her? What time did I fall asleep? What time did I wake up? When did I become aware Katie was missing? What did I do next? Did I see anyone on the beach when I was looking for her? How long did I spend searching the beach before raising the alarm? What time did I tell Christina her little girl was missing? 

My head is pounding and I feel like a criminal by the time the family liaison officer finally puts her notepad away.

‘These questions are nothing to worry about,’ she assures me. ‘We just need to establish the timeline for the disappearance of the little girl.’ She ends the conversation by encouraging me to contact her ‘any time, any place’ if I need support or if I ‘remember’ anything else that may be relevant to the investigation. I half expect her to clap me in handcuffs and announce that she’s putting me under arrest, when at last she says that I’m at liberty to go.

*

In a waking nightmare, we struggle on through the grief-stricken hours of the day making calls, badgering the search team for any new scrap of information and giving interviews to reporters in the belief that getting Katie’s story out there might somehow help in her rescue.

The worst moment comes just after midnight when the operation is called to a halt. I collapse onto a chair in a quivering heap. All the strength has gone from my legs. Christina appears distraught, begging members of the police and emergency services to go on searching. 

‘There’s nothing more we can do tonight. We’ll resume at dawn. You should get some sleep,’ says the commander sternly. Holding our despair at bay and unable to contemplate the thought of sleep, we pace the beaches and the rocky headland for the next two hours, tripping over stones in the darkness, our steps lit only by the moon and stars in the cloudless black sky and the light from our mobile phones. 

I am lightheaded with exhaustion by the time I accompany Christina to her room in the early hours of the morning. We sit out on the balcony mesmerised by the sound of waves rolling on to sand. We are too tired to speak. I make tea and give her three sleeping tablets from a packet I find in her wash bag. Once the tablets take effect, I steer her to bed, her expression vacant and confused, as she lets me pull the covers over her. It’s not until I shut Christina’s door and go down the corridor to the room I’m sharing with Katie that it strikes me again. Where the fuck is Damien? I haven’t seen him all day, not since he handed me the cocktail at the pool. 

When I open the door, there is Katie’s blue bunny, propped up on her newly-made bed. The tears stream down my face. The bedtime story I was reading to her last night is still open at the page we got to when her eyes finally closed. It’s a beautifully illustrated copy of Peter Pan that Christina discovered in a quaint little bookshop called the Book Cellar, one of her favourite haunts for second-hand books. I glance down at the page. ‘The Mermaids’ Lagoon’ – Katie’s favourite chapter. She loves the colour illustrations of the mermaids diving in the waves. The doors to the balcony are open. I shiver in the sea breeze and step out through billowing curtains. 

I stand there for a few moments still clutching Katie’s bucket. 

Lost. Drowned.

If this extract has whetted your appetite to read the book, which I am sure it has, She’s Mine is out today and you can buy a copy here.

To follow the rest of the tour for alternative reviews and exciting articles, check out the poster below:

Blog Tour poster

About the Author

Claire S. Lewis

Claire Simone Lewis studied philosophy, French literature and international relations at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge before starting her career in aviation law with a City law firm and later as an in-house lawyer at Virgin Atlantic Airways.  More recently, she turned to writing psychological suspense, taking courses at the Faber Academy. She’s Mine is her first novel. Born in Paris, she’s bilingual and lives in Surrey with her family.

Connect with Claire:

Facebook: CS Lewis Writes

Twitter: @CSLewisWrites