Friday Night Drinks with…. Rosemary Smith @Endeavour_Media @RNATweets #FridayNightDrinks

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Tonight, I am delighted to welcome to the blog for Friday Night Drinks, author …..Rosemary Smith.

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

Hi Julie, thanks for inviting me. I would like a peach schnapps & lemonade please, no ice. Thank you.

My pleasure. 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?

If I return the compliment, and I hope I can, I would like to take you to our cosy little pub in the village where we live, The Walter Raleigh. The pub is named after Sir Walter Raleigh, who was born in our village. Very quaint and full of atmosphere, the pub boasts a cosy little bar, and a small restaurant area where delicious meals & sweets are served. I have no doubt you would enjoy a relaxing evening here with me Julie!

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Look idyllic. 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 also like to invite author Emily Bronte, and poet laureate John Betjeman to join us for a drink. Emily, because I love her writings, and truly believe that since visiting her home at Haworth, she has been my guide with my own writing. I love Victorian times, and set my novellas in that period of time. And Emily lived in those times, and understood love and all its frailties. I feel we would both enjoy her company.
Like John Betjeman, I love Churches, and in 1966 I was lucky enough to hold a conversation with him at Alturnun Church in Cornwall, on a grey November day. I also love poetry, and so did Emily, and feel they would be worthy, interesting people for us to chat too.

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?

Apart from writing, I have for 17 years been searching for my husband Mike’s sister. The family were all split up in 1950 when their Mother died. Mike was adopted, and found out about his sib!ings when he applied to the Courts for his adoption papers. We found his brothers, but his sister Mary has eluded us thus far. I search on a daily basis along with others, and my hope is, that one day soon we will find her.

Wow, that’s an amazing story, I hope it has a happy ending eventually. What has been your proudest moment since you started writing and what has been your biggest challenge?

My proudest moment since I started writing, was when my first novella The Amethyst Brooch was published. Sadly my dear Dad who always believed in me, died a few days before the story’s release date. But it was my proudest moment.

My biggest challenge has been trying to get back to writing since my dear eldest daughter, Paula, passed away after a battle with jaw cancer. I am at last back to writing, and at last I have the inspiration, but it has been a challenge!

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!

The one big thing I would like to achieve, is to see my seven Victorian Romantic Suspense novellas put into two-hourly dramas on television!! A wild thing to hope for, but many of my readers have said how much they would like to see my stories acted out on television! There are big houses on Cornish cliffs, beautiful dresses, weddings, secrets & mystery. I can but dream!!

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Having dreams is very important! What are you currently working on that you are really excited about?

At the moment I am working on, hopefully, my eighth novella! For the first time I had a story rejected, and will submit it elsewhere, but in the meantime have started a new story! Set in Scotland, about a young woman who wakes up in a castle, and has no idea who she is. I have titled the story The Key of Love, and while that could possibly change, I am very excited about this project. This time I have stuck to my usual format of love, mystery & romance, which has always worked for me! A key does hold the answer to the mystery, hence the title. I am enjoying writing this novella, and do feel very hopeful for it!

I love to travel, and I’m currently drawing up a bucket list of things I’d like to do in the future. Where is your favourite place that you’ve been and what do you have at the top of your bucket list?

The favourite place I have visited, has to be the Isles of Scilly. I adore the peace and tranquility of each island I have visited, it reminds me of how life was in the 1950s. The only traffic is on the Island of St Mary’s, and that is very sparse. It is without doubt a writer’s paradise, and I love it there.

Top of my bucket list to visit, is the artist Monet’s home Giverney outside of Paris. Monet is my favourite artist, and I would dearly love to see where he lived & worked. Everything crossed that I visit there one day.

The Scilly Isles are high on my bucket list. Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know about you.

One surprising fact about myself! I never mention it much to anyone, but in the very early 1960s when living in Bristol, I did photographic modelling, for travel brochures and advertising. The beautiful photos I had, were sadly stolen, by someone who broke into my bedsit while I was afraid home in Devon for Christmas! I can never replace them, which is very sad!

That sounds like a fascinating career. 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’?

There are so many wonderful books which I have read, which I could recommend to you! But the one which springs to mind, is, The Lost Castle by Kristy Cambron. This book totally captivated me with its 3 timelines. It is one of those books which I couldn’t wait to get back too. Beautifully written, it really drew me in, and I was very sad when it finished! I would recommend it to anyone who wishes to escape into another world & another time.

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Broken-down walls and crumbling stones seemed to possess a secret language all their own.

What stories would they tell, if she finally listened?

Ellie Carver arrives at her grandmother’s bedside expecting to find her silently slipping away. Instead, the beloved woman begins speaking. Of a secret past and castle ruins forgotten by time. Of a hidden chapel that served as a rendezvous for the French Resistance in World War II. Of lost love and deep regret . . .

Each piece that unlocks the story seems to unlock part of Ellie too—where she came from and who she is becoming. But her grandmother is quickly disappearing into the shadows of Alzheimer’s and Ellie must act fast if she wants to uncover the truth of her family’s history. Drawn by the mystery surrounding The Sleeping Beauty—a castle so named for Charles Perrault’s beloved fairy tale—Ellie embarks on a journey to France’s Loire Valley in hopes that she can unearth its secrets before time silences them forever.

Bridging the past to the present in three time periods—the French Revolution, World War II, and present day—The Lost Castle is a story of loves won and lost, of battles waged in the hearts of men, and of an enchanted castle that stood witness to it all, inspiring a legacy of faith through the generations.

That sounds great, I will add it to the TBR. So, we’ve been drinking all evening. What is your failsafe plan to avoid a hangover and your go-to cure if you do end up with one?

My failsafe plan to avoid a hangover, is to not drink too much! But if I end up with one, my cure is a good breakfast, and to drink plenty of water!

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

After our wonderful night out, my ideal way to spend a weekend is to watch beautiful movies, eat chocolate & drink lemonade!

Thank you Julie for a wonderful evening.

It has been my pleasure, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me and I wish you great success with all your projects.

Rosemary Smith is the Devon-based author of seven Victorian suspense novels, Where Love Takes You,  The Lady and the LakeDarkwoodA Stranger’s KissA Strange AffairGypsy Heart and Matters of the Heart. They are available as ebooks via Amazon by following the preceding links or borrowed from your local library.

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Find out more about Rosemary by visiting her Facebook author page.

Next week I will be joined on the blog by my friend and fellow blogger, Yvonne Bastian of Me and My Books so don’t miss that.

The Cornish Cream Tea Bus by Cressida McLaughlin #BookReview (@CressMcLaughlin) @HarperFiction @fictionpubteam #TheCornishCreamTeaBus

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Baking fanatic, Charlie Quilter, is surprised when her late uncle bequeaths his vintage bus to her in his will. Keen to give the bus a new lease of life, Charlie thinks it will be the perfect mobile café for afternoon tea, and when her friend, Juliette, suggests Charlie comes to stay with her in the picturesque Cornish village of Porthgolow, she’s thrilled at the chance of a new start.

Charlie and her cute dog, Marmite, make new friends wherever their bus stops – except for the sexy but reclusive owner of the posh spa up on the hill, Daniel Harper, who isn’t very pleased that her bus is parked outside his lovely hotel.
Has Charlie’s Cornish dream developed a soggy bottom? Or can she convince Daniel that her bus could be the start of something wonderful for the little village – and for them?

I can never wait to get my hands on a new Cressida McLaughlin book. Over the short time she has been writing, she has quickly become one of my favourite authors when I am looking for a sweet, feel good romance with a dash of humour and some really relatable characters and her books are ones I always dive straight in to as soon as they arrive. The Cornish Cream Tea Bus, her fifth full-length novel, has not let me down, in fact I think it might be her best book yet.

The books follows the adventures of Charlie, left an old bus by her beloved Uncle Hal, and she feels like she needs to make the most of it to honour his memory. Charlie is at a crossroads, having just been through a nasty break-up, as well as her bereavement, and she seizes on this as an opportunity to shake her life up. A summer spent in the Cornish village where her best friend lives, deciding what to do with the old bus, seems just what she needs.

Of course, the path of life… and love… never did run smooth and Charlie has to face practical obstacles, difficult villagers, natural disasters, and  an unwelcome love triangle as she navigates her way to a new life, all against the picture-perfect backdrop of a quaint, but a bit tired, Cornish village. So far, maybe not so unusual, so what makes this book stand out from similar books in the genre?

There is a very simple answer to this question, it is the warmth and skill in Cressida’s writing. She is someone who has a very recognisable voice and style, I would recognise one of her books if it were sent to me under a plain cover, and I absolutely love it. Her lovely personality and upbeat attitude shines through in the writing and oozes into her characters, so you can’t help but warm to them and want them to get their happy ever after. Her heroines are always approachable but feisty and go-getting, not damsel in distress types waiting to be rescued, and this is something I can totally get behind in a romantic heroine.

Of course, characters are no fun if they are perfect, so it is reassuring to see that some flaws are included, in Charlie’s case, jumping to conclusions based on flimsy evidence and acting on impulse are the main things that cause her issues. Part of the joy of the story is watching the characters recognise their weaknesses and trying to overcome them, even if sometimes they are a slow study. The book also has a host of interesting supporting characters to shore up the main story arc, including the obligatory adorable pet with personality. All the ingredients for a cracking escapist novel are here.

This book took me on a trip to a fabulous, escapist location, introduced me to some characters that quickly became friends, and led me on a journey through a light-hearted romance that gave me all the feels and left me feeling warmed and satisfied by the end. It is the ideal read for this transitional season, as summer slowly eases into the chill of autumn and, if you have never picked up a book by Cress before, do yourself a favour and get this as soon as you can. I promise you will quickly become a big fan.

The Cornish Cream Tea Bus is out now and you can buy a copy here.

About the Author

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Cressy was born in South East London surrounded by books and with a cat named after Lawrence of Arabia. She studied English at the University of East Anglia and now lives in Norwich with her husband David.

Cressy’s favourite things – other than writing – include terrifying ghost stories, lava lamps and romantic heroes, though not necessarily at the same time. (Though perhaps a good starting point for a story . . ?)

When she isn’t writing, Cressy spends her spare time reading, returning to London or exploring the beautiful and romantic Norfolk coastline.

Connect with Cressida:

Website: https://cressidamclaughlin.com

Facebook: Cressida McLaughlin

Twitter: @CressMcLaughlin

Instagram: @cressmclaughlin

 

 

Friday Night Drinks with…. Rachel Brimble @RachelBrimble @Aria_Fiction @RNATweets #FridayNightDrinks #Penningtons

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Tonight I am happy to welcome to Friday Night Drinks on the blog, author and fellow RNA member… Rachel Brimble.

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

A lovely chilled glass of Sauvignon Blanc – I adore white wine (probably too much!) and Sauvignon is my favourite.

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?

Whenever people come to visit me, I love taking them to Lacock – it’s a small village where parts of the Harry Potter films, Pride & Prejudice and Poldark were filmed. It wouldn’t be a rock and roll kind of night, but you’d be fed good, old-fashioned pub food, plenty of wine and some lovely sightseeing walks.

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Looks gorgeous! It sounds like my perfect kind of evening, I am not very rock and roll these days. 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?

Oprah Winfrey and Cillian Murphy – Oprah so I could gather some wisdom, Cillian so I could just stare at him…

Good choices! Roll on, Peaky Blinders Series 6. 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 am currently working on revisions for my next book – Christmas At Pennington’s will be released in the Autumn and I can’t wait! And once those are done, I’ll start on the first draft of Pennington’s Book 4, which I intend part of the story to take place on the Titanic – I am so excited as I’ve wanted to write a Titanic book for YEARS!!

That sounds really exciting, what a fascinating time you will have doing the research. What has been your proudest moment since you started writing and what has been your biggest challenge?

My proudest moment was probably when I signed my first book deal with Harlequin – I had been told they were an almost impossible publisher to break into, but I managed it and went on to write a further seven books for them (The Templeton Cove Stories).

My biggest challenge has always been (and still is!) stretching an initial idea to 90,000 + words!

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’d love to have a bestseller and earn enough money that my husband, who has supported me for years, to be able to give up his day job and spend all day with his music. Oh, and I think we should be able to spend our time cruising around the world while I write – bliss!

Good ambitions to have, you need to talk to Jean Fullerton about achieving the last part! What are you currently working on that you are really excited about?

See question 4!

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?

The best place I have been to so far is probably Maderia, which was beautiful and Verona which I absolutely loved. I love to travel, too and there are so many places I’d love to visit – I suppose my top two destinations are Nora Roberts’ hotel in Maryland and the Maldives.

That’s fascinating, I never knew that Nora Roberts owned a hotel. One for the bucket list. Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know about you.

I was rescued by helicopter from a hotel roof during the 2010 French floods – my family and I were stranded during a flash flood while on holiday. It was the most terrifying 18 hours of my life. Twenty-five people from our resort died that day…

How terrifying, glad you made it out safely.  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’?

For contemporary, anything by Nora Roberts. For historical, anything by Philippa Gregory.

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?

Food! I am terrible for enjoying my wine more than my food but if I eat as well as drink, I usually avoid the dreaded hangover. If that fails, a bacon sandwich and plenty of orange juice in the morning!

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

Sitting in my sunny back garden with either a book or my knitting – I LOVE knitting and find it’s the best route to my relaxation. 

Rachel, it has been really lovely chatting to you this evening, thank you for taking the time to join me and I wish you great success with the next books in the Pennington’s series.

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The first two books in the Pennington’s series by Rachel Brimble, The Mistress of Pennington’s and A Rebel at Pennington’s are out now and can be purchased by following the preceding links. Book 3, Christmas at Pennington’s, will be out this autumn.

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One woman’s journey to find herself and help secure the vote. Perfect for the fans of the TV series Mr Selfridge and The Paradise.

1911 Bath. Banished from her ancestral home, passionate suffrage campaigner, Esther Stanbury works as a window dresser in Pennington’s Department Store. She has hopes and dreams for women’s progression and will do anything to help secure the vote. 
Owner of the prestigious Phoenix Hotel, Lawrence Culford has what most would view as a successful life. But Lawrence is harbouring shame, resentment and an anger that threatens his future happiness.

When Esther and Lawrence meet their mutual understanding of life’s challenges unites them and they are drawn to the possibility of a life of love that neither thought existed. 
With the Coronation of King-Emperor George V looming, the atmosphere in Bath is building to fever pitch, as is the suffragists’ determination to secure the vote.

Will Esther’s rebellious nature lead her to ruin or can they overcome their pasts and look to build a future together?

Rachel lives with her husband and their two daughters in a small town near Bath in the UK. Since 2007, she has had several novels published by small US presses, eight books published by Harlequin Superromance (Templeton Cove Stories) and four Victorian romances with eKensington/Lyrical.

In January 2018, she signed a four-book deal with Aria Fiction for a new Edwardian series set in Bath’s finest department store. The first book, The Mistress of Pennington’s released July 2018 with book two coming February 2019.

Rachel is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and Romance Writers of America and has thousands of social media followers from all over the world. 

You can find out more about Rachel and her books on her website, and via Facebook and Twitter.

Next week I will be having Friday Night Drinks with author, Rosemary Smith, so please do join us.

Countdown by Matt Phillips #BookReview (@MRPhill25) @ADRBooks @DownAndOutBooks #crimefiction #noir #california

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Welcome to California. Weed is legal. Grow it. Sell it. Smoke it. Eat it. But the money you make off it—there’s the rub. Bank it, and the Feds will ask questions. Keep it around, and you’ll get robbed. LaDon and Jessie—two hustlers who make selling primo weed a regular gig—hire a private security detail to move and hold their money. Ex-soldiers Glanson and Echo target the cash—they start a ripoff business.

It’s the wild, wild west. Except this time, everybody’s high.

With their guns and guts, Glanson and Echo don’t expect much trouble from a mean son-of-a-gun like LaDon Charles. But that’s exactly what they get. In this industry, no matter how much money there is for the taking—and no matter who gets it—there’s always somebody counting backwards…to zero.

Today I am delighted to be reviewing Countdown by Matt Phillips. My thanks to Henry Roi, the author and the publisher, All Due Respect, for my e-copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

This is my first book by Matt Phillips, although I do have a copy of Know Me From Smoke sat on my TBR which I was given as a birthday present, mainly because I love the cover!

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Now that I have read Countdown, I will be moving this up the pile, because I really enjoyed the story and the style of writing, despite the fact that it is very different from my ‘go to’ comfort books. Although I seem to be reading more and more outside my comfort zone these days, due to the opportunities book blogging has afforded me, so maybe I no longer have a comfort zone.

What I really mean is that this is not a book I would normally pluck off a shelf in a shop when I am browsing, which is a mindset I need to get out of because some of the most profound reading experiences I have had over the past couple of years have been via books that I would not have chosen for myself but that I have been offered via blogging. For me, one of the greatest joys of reading is living vicarious experiences and lives that I will never have myself outside the covers of a book, and this book is a perfect example. The story follows the trials and tribulations of running a not-quite-legal marijuana business in California, where trade in the drug has been legalised, but the banking of the money made from the trade has not.

You know from the off that the characters in this book are not people that are naturally going to be people you can sympathise with, or particularly relate to, when you are a middle-aged mother living in rural England who has always been fairly puritanical when it comes to drug use. The fact that I actually did find some of the characters, especially LaDon, sympathetic and a person you would like to succeed, even if their goals are fairly nefarious, was testament to the skill in the writing in this novel. Either that, or the fact that I started grading on a curve with the other, very repellent, characters! Either way, I became invested in the adventures of the main protagonists in this book in a way that I did not expect, given the subject matter and, in spite of the fact that I have never met a Californian drug dealer and these characters were like no one I have ever known IRL, I still felt the characters were believable, with clear and authentic drives and desires and character traits.

The story takes part over a short period of time, and in a tight location, which gave the story a very fast and natural pace which kept it bowling along and carried me with it. It felt like a fairly quick read because of this and there were no lulls or doldrums to interrupt the flow of the book. I felt like the author had done an amazing job of cutting all the flab from the book and leaving only a lean, efficient reading experience which I thoroughly enjoyed being carried along by. I just sat back and let the writing sweep me through with little effort on my part, but obviously a good deal by the author.

The setting of the book is what really set it apart from other things I have read in the genre. The gritty, mean streets of southern California are the net that holds this story together and were convincingly and brightly portrayed in the book. The author does not shy from writing about the unpleasant underside that exists in the city, rather he revels in it, describing it truthfully, but almost lovingly, so that the reader is fully immersed in its sights, sounds, scents and its constant tensions and dangers. For the author, it feels like these traits, which are things that would deter many of us from visiting such places, are what actually draw him and his characters to them, because they are alive and honest in their darkness. I certainly felt this myself during the reading, even if I would only dare revel in them from the safety of my sofa in rural Yorkshire. As I said, one of the many joys of reading.

This book was a very different read for me, but what that certainly catered to a lot of the things are look for in a satisfying book and I would highly recommend it to anyone who is not offended by violence, sex, strong language, graphic scenes or drugs. So Mary Whitehouse types probably should not pick it up, I’m sure anyone else will enjoy it.

Countdown is out now and you can buy a copy here.

About the Author

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Matt Phillips was born in Palm Springs, California and raised in the Coachella Valley and nearby Mojave High Desert. He lives in San Diego. He has worked as a busboy, pool attendant, waiter, bartender, halfway-decent restaurant manager, film festival administrator, newspaper reporter, and editor.

His books include Countdown, Know Me from Smoke, The Bad Kind of Lucky, Accidental Outlaws, Three Kinds of Fool, Redbone, and Bad Luck City. Short fiction has appeared in Mystery Tribune, Yellow Mama, Shotgun Honey, Flash Fiction Offensive, Tough Crime, Near to the Knuckle, Powder Burn Flash, Pulp Metal Magazine, Manslaughter Review, and Fried Chicken and Coffee.

Matt earned an MFA in creative writing from the University of Texas at El Paso.

Connect with Matt:

Website: https://www.mattphillipswriter.com

Facebook: Matt Phillips

Twitter: @MRPhill25

An Elegant Solution by Anne Atkins #BookReview #BlogTour (@anne_atkins) @malcolmdown @LoveBooksGroup #AnElegantSolution #LoveBooksTours

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When someone mentions the City of Cambridge you probably think of an iconic building, its four corners stretching out of the once medieval mud and into the arms of everlasting heaven, its white limestone yearning into eternity… and without even knowing exactly what ephemeral joys or permanent wonders the vision brings to mind, it s a safe bet that the one thought which doesn t occur to you is that the Chapel might not be there by Christmas.

Theo (Theophilus Ambrose Fitzwilliam Wedderburn to his friends) is a Junior Research Fellow in Number Theory. Prompted by a supervisee to demonstrate how to trace the provenance of bitcoins, Theo happens across a shocking revelation, with embarrassing ramifications for the whole University. Meanwhile he is being stalked unseen by someone from his childhood. To his annoyance, Theo falls for a cheap con… and discovers a horror set not only to rock the very seat of power itself but to change the face of Cambridge and its beautifully iconic image for ever.

I am thrilled to be one of the blogs opening up the tour for An Elegant Solution by Anne Atkins today. Huge thanks to the author and publisher for my copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially, and to Kelly Lacey of Love Books Group for my place on the tour.

This is one of those very rare and delightful books that come out of nowhere and take you by surprise by being something totally different to what you expected and affecting you in ways you never saw coming. I’ll be honest, the reason I signed up for this blog tour was purely because I have an odd obsession with books set in and around universities, which was sparked in my youth by reading Dorothy L. Sayer’s Gaudy Nightstill one of my favourite book of all time. I had no real idea what to expect from the story,  and what actually appeared between the covers of this book was a beautiful revelation.

This wasn’t immediately apparent when I started the book. In fact, I started it twice because the opening chapter did not grip me the first time around. However, on my second attempt I read a little further and I had never been so glad that I persisted with a book because, once I got into it, I was gripped, charmed and profoundly moved by the characters, the story, the setting and the underlying themes of this book in a way that I never saw coming and that has stayed with me long after I closed the back cover. I have actually never read anything quite like it in the way it blends the plot, which could be something out of a flashy thriller, with a deeply poetic and affecting characterisation of living with autism and a developing relationship, none of which ends how you expect. I can’t repeat enough just how much this book surprised and delighted me, possibly more than anything else I have read this year.

If, like me, you are drawn to pick up this book because of the setting of Cambridge University, you will not be disappointed. The author does a wonderful job of immersing the reader in the feel and life of the city and the hallowed halls of the University. It gives the academic voyeur a tantalising peek into the world of this esteemed institution and its esoteric rituals, a world that most of us will never experience outside the pages of a novel. She makes the city and the university central to the book, so that the delicious descriptions of that world and environs are not awkwardly and unnecessarily tagged on to the plot, dragging it down, but are essential to its workings. It is very cleverly and seamlessly done and allowed me to revel in the setting without being pulled from the story.

I did worry to begin with that the plot itself was not only a little outlandish, but that it was also going to be too complicated for me to follow, as someone who knows very little about cryptocurrency and cares even less. I was very wrong on this front. The author does a great job of making sure that there is not too much technical information in the book and, what is there, is just enough and clearly explained to enable the bitcoin dunce to follow what is going on and understand how it propels the story. The book is very unusual in the way that the thriller aspect of the book felt more like the sub-plot, there to showcase the characters and the personal issues that beset them, rather than the main point of the book. A thriller for people who want a bit more food for the brain. Weirdly, despite the grand finale, it also didn’t feel like an OTT, bang bang thriller, with things whamming at you constantly. As I said earlier, I have never read anything quite like it, which is no mean feat given the volume of books and the wide genres I read in.

All of that being said, the characters are what drive this book and what made me fall irrevocably in love with it. The two main players, Theo and Charlotte, were fully rounded people that I immediately fell for and I was rooting for from the beginning. The exploration of Charlotte’s complex family dynamic and Theo’s autism were done so lovingly and sympathetically that they may me feel deeply involved in their development and I felt genuine joy and pain for both of them as their stories unravelled. The characterisation is done with great understanding, and gave a very different view of autism to me than I have read before. It is obviously an issue very personal and important to the author, and this came across in the pages. At the end of the book, I was yearning for a particular outcome and, whilst it did not end as expected, it left me feeling happy and hopeful … and making up my own ideas for what happens to the characters after the narration ends. The fact I cared enough to spend a deal of time thinking about this is testament to how much the story touched me.

It is not often these days that a book comes out of nowhere and really surprises me and touches my soul. This is one of those books. I cannot tell you how much I loved it, I hope it reached the wide audience it deserves.

An Elegant Solution is out now in ebook and physical formats and you can get a copy here.

To get some alternative reviews of the book from my marvellous blogger colleagues, please visit the blogs listed below:

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About the Author

Anne Atkins

Anne Atkins is a well-known English broadcaster and journalist, and regular contributor to BBC Radio 4’s Thought for the Day. She took an involuntary, and long, break from writing fiction when her son was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, their daughter repeatedly hospitalized with a severe illness, and finally the family was made homeless.. Thankfully those dark days are now behind her and she and her husband Shaun along with some of her children now live happily in Bedford, England.

Connect with Anne:

Website: http://anneatkins.co.uk

Twitter: @anne_atkins

Love Books Group Tours (1)

Friday Night Drinks with…. Cressida McLaughlin @CressMcLaughlin @HarperFiction @KarenSwan1 #FridayNightDrinks #TheCornishCreamTeaBus

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I have been looking forward to this evening for ages because tonight I am having Friday Night Drinks with one of my absolute favourite authors and all-round lovely virtual friend, Cressida McLaughlin. It’s a special evening too, as the full version of Cressy’s latest book, The Cornish Cream Tea Bus was published only yesterday.

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Welcome to the blog at last, Cressy! I am so excited to finally have you on. First things first, one are you drinking to celebrate the launch of your new book?

A glass of prosecco or, as it’s a special occasion, champagne. Pink, preferably. Pink champagne seems like a cliché, but it is my all-time favourite drink. 

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Pink champagne it is then. If we weren’t here in my virtual bar tonight, but were meeting in real life, where would you be taking me for a night out?

I live in Norwich, which is a great city for versatile nightlife, with lots of cozy pubs and smart bars to choose from. I’d take you to St Benedict’s Street, for cocktails at The Ten Bells, wine and live music at Platform 12 or, if you want a quieter atmosphere, The Bicycle Shop. If the weather’s nice, we might walk along the river and sit in the garden of The Rushcutters, watching the boats and swans go past.  

That sounds great. My only visit to Norwich was when I went to look at the University in 1989! I didn’t end up there, but the city seemed nice. 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 invite Karen Swan and Henry Cavill. Karen Swan is a goddess of fiction, I am in awe of every book she produces, and I would love to hear about her life in the fashion industry and where she gets her story ideas. Henry Cavill is my favourite actor and, in my opinion, perfect romantic hero material. But he also comes across as smart and funny, and I’m sure would be good fun on a night out. 

Oooh, good choices! I adore Karen’s books, I would love to spend an evening chatting with her, I’m going to tag her, in the vain hope she might agree to a night out! So, now we’re settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. What have you got going on? How and why did you start it and where do you want it to go?

I’ve just finished my final changes to The Cornish Cream Tea Bus, which came out in four e-serial parts in June and July, and then as a paperback yesterday. I really enjoyed writing it; it wasn’t as straightforward as some of my previous books, but I feel stronger and more resilient as a writer for having had to work so hard on it, and I think the book is a lot better as a result. I want it to be successful, for readers who already enjoy my books to love it, and for it to find new readers, too. It’s a summery, uplifting story in a beautiful setting, and I hope people will see it as a real holiday indulgence; a romantic, escapist read they can sink their teeth into. 

Your books are always the perfect holiday read, I am such a huge fan and have been since the first one. What has been your proudest moment since you started writing and what has been your biggest challenge?

Holding your book for the first time is always such a proud moment, and never gets any less special or – in some ways – unbelievable.  Holding my first paperback, A Christmas Tail, having a launch at my local Waterstones and watching the copies disappear from the table is something I will remember forever.  The biggest challenge is also the biggest thrill. Putting your work out there  – something that you’ve been working so hard on for months, that you really care about, and feel protective towards, and putting it in the hands of readers.  There’s always the fear that it’s actually awful, and of course there are the bad reviews. You start to grow a thicker skin, realise that not everyone is going to like it, but there’s still a hold-your-breath moment before each new book comes out. 

I love that picture of you signing your book. You just look so happy, exactly as it should be, it makes me smile.

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!

Can I have two? They’re both pretty typical writer goals, I think. I would love to be a Sunday Times bestseller, and I would love one of my books to be adapted into a film or TV series, preferably with Henry Cavill in a starring role. ☺ 

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

I’ve just started thinking about my next book.  It is in very early, fledgling stages at the moment, so I can’t really say any more, but I am very excited about my initial idea, the potential it has to be a romantic, engaging and, hopefully, compelling story. 

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, David, and I went to the Amalfi coast a couple of years ago, and I’m not sure anything will ever beat it.  Everything about that week was beautiful, luxurious and special. We did lots of walking around the town, sat in the square with cold beers and people-watched, lounged by the hotel pool with the cliffs above us and the sea below.  We got a speedboat out to Capri – the boat was all white leather and wood like something out of a James Bond film – sat on these seats on the bow and got a wonderful view of the Amalfi coast, of Naples and Vesuvius.  It was a magical week, and I’d love to go back there.  At the top of my bucket list is seeing the Northern Lights.  Even pictures of them make me gasp, and I would love to see them in real life.  I can’t think of anything more impressive or awe-inspiring. 

Seeing the Northern Lights seems to be the most popular pick amongst my guests! Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know about you.

When I was 13 or 14 I was in the English National Opera’s youth group. We performed youth operas (I played a glass in an opera about crockery!) and we also got involved in various projects in the London Coliseum.  I remember once, before and during the interval of performances of Hansel and Gretel, going round to the bar areas, telling the audience members how they could spot a witch and handing out packets of supposedly ‘safe’ sweets. 

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’?

If I had to narrow it down to one recommendation I think it would be The Greek Escape by Karen Swan.  It came out last summer and it is one of the best, most breathless and brilliant books I’ve read.  It has a twisting, compelling plot, great characters, beautiful locations, heartbreak, loss and a beautiful romance at its heart.  I love all Karen’s books but felt like this one was a step up – it was just MORE everything, and I fell in love with it. 

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Before every new beginning, there must be an ending . . .

Running from heartbreak, Chloe Marston leaves her old life in London for a fresh start in New York. Working at a luxury concierge company, she makes other people’s lives run perfectly, even if her own has ground to a halt. But a terrible accident forces her to step into a new role, up close and personal with the company’s most esteemed and powerful clients. Charismatic Joe Lincoln is one of them and his every wish is her command, so when he asks her to find him a secluded holiday home in the Greek Islands, she sets about sourcing the perfect retreat.

But when Tom, her ex, unexpectedly shows up in Manhattan and the stability of her new life is thrown off-balance again, she jumps at the chance to help Joe inspect the holiday house; escaping to Greece will give her the time and space to decide where her future truly lies. Tom is the man she has loved for so long but he has hurt her before – can she give him another chance? And as she draws closer to Joe, does she even want to? As magnetic as he is mysterious, there’s an undeniable chemistry between them that she can’t resist.

But whatever her heart is telling her, she’s in over her head – another client’s wife has mysteriously disappeared and serious allegations about Joe threaten more than just her happiness. Who can she trust? And will Chloe uncover the truth in time?

I loved that book too. 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?

Ugh.  I wish I had the perfect hangover cure.  If I’ve had a lot of alcohol, I always try and drink at least a pint of water before bed. Then, in the morning, a nice big breakfast – eggs, tomatoes, mushrooms, possibly hash browns – usually helps.  Once, when we’d been out drinking in London, we got bean wraps from the M&S food shop at the station.  It had been a fun night, but we’d had too much whisky, and I was prepared to feel awful the next day.  But I didn’t – and it wasn’t even that I was still drunk and started to flag later – I just felt fine from the moment I got up.  So perhaps a three-bean tortilla wrap is the answer?  I haven’t tested the experiment a second time, but maybe I should. 

That’s a new one, I will give it a try. After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?

In the garden if it’s nice, or going to one of the beaches not too far from us – Norfolk has loads to choose from.  Lots of reading, cooking some delicious weekend food, and watching a couple of films in the evenings.  Generally being lazy and indulgent is my idea of a perfect weekend! 

Cressy, thank you so much for joining me this evening, it has been the most marvellous fun and I wish you great success with the new book. If it is half as good as your previous ones, I know I will love it. Let’s hope we get to meet IRL soon, maybe with Karen Swan, what a night that would be.

Cressida’s latest book, The Cornish Cream Tea Bus, is out now and you can buy it in ebook and paperback format here.

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Baking fanatic, Charlie Quilter, is surprised when her late uncle bequeaths his vintage bus to her in his will. Keen to give the bus a new lease of life, Charlie thinks it will be the perfect mobile café for afternoon tea, and when her friend, Juliette, suggests Charlie comes to stay with her in the picturesque Cornish village of Porthgolow, she’s thrilled at the chance of a new start.
Charlie and her cute dog, Marmite, make new friends wherever their bus stops – except for the sexy but reclusive owner of the posh spa up on the hill, Daniel Harper, who isn’t very pleased that her bus is parked outside his lovely hotel.
Has Charlie’s Cornish dream developed a soggy bottom? Or can she convince Daniel that her bus could be the start of something wonderful for the little village – and for them?

Cressy was born in South East London surrounded by books and with a cat named after Lawrence of Arabia. She studied English at the University of East Anglia and now lives in Norwich with her husband David.

Cressy’s favourite things – other than writing – include terrifying ghost stories, lava lamps and romantic heroes, though not necessarily at the same time. (Though perhaps a good starting point for a story . . ?)

When she isn’t writing, Cressy spends her spare time reading, returning to London or exploring the beautiful and romantic Norfolk coastline.

You can find out more about Cressy and her books on her website, Facebook, Twitter and  Instagram.

You can also read my reviews of Cressida’s last two books, The House of Birds and Butterflies and The Once in a Blue Moon Guesthouse, on the blog to whet your appetite for her writing.

Next week I will be having drinks with author, Rachel Brimble, so please do join us.

The 365-Day Writer’s Block Workbook by Morgen Bailey #BookReview #BlogTour (@morgenwriteruk) @BOTBSPublicity #amwriting #writingtips #creativewriting #creativewritingtips #writingadvice

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Over a thousand sentence starts, three per day, with writing tips at the end of each week to motivate and inspire, providing kick-starts to avoid the dreaded ‘writer’s block’. Useful for any writer at any level, whether they have 10 minutes or 10 hours, to start a new project. Also an ideal tool for writing groups.

With a combination of six first-person, six second-person, six third-person and three non-specific point of view starts per week, there are plenty to choose from. Beginning at ‘Day 1’ this book has been designed to be started at any time of the year, and regardless of whether the sentences are used in order or not. With a choice of three per day a writer can select one, two or all and see where it leads them.

Today is my turn on the blog tour for this non-fiction title, designed for writers of all levels, The 365-Day Writer’s Block Workbook by Morgen Bailey. My thanks to the author for my copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially, and to Sarah Hardy at Books On The Bright Side Publicity and Promo for inviting me on to the tour.

As a striving-but-as-yet-unpublished writer, I was very keen to take part in the blog tour for this useful little book. I have done various writing exercises and prompts before, and have found they often produce some fascinating pieces of work that can be expanded or incorporated into bigger projects, so I was eager to see if the prompts in this book would spark similarly useful creativity in the word-weary writer’s mind.

The book is small but perfectly formed, with three writing prompts per day for a whole year, in a mixture of tenses. Each week of prompts is then rounded off with a writing tip, which cover a multitude of authorly concerns. The format works well for ease of reference, but you wouldn’t necessarily have to stick rigidly to the recommended regime (I was listening to your tips on alliteration, Morgen, but not the one about adverbs – oops.), but could easily choose a day at random, whenever you feel the need of a spur, and work like that. I obviously have not spent a year working through this book on a daily basis in order to write this review, but did try a random mix of the prompts and read all of the weekly tips, and it did produce some fascinating ideas.

With regard to the prompts, I liked the fact that we were given one for each tense per day. I have to say, I am a cautious (possibly lazy) writer, who prefers the comfort of third person past tense, so using the prompts that pushed me out of this comfort zone was a very useful and surprising exercise, and the results may make me a little braver and more experimental in the future. I also adopted the approach of rejecting the very first idea that popped into my head after reading the prompt, on the basis that this was probably too obvious if it came so easily and I wanted to make my writing more surprising, and this worked really well. Some of the prompts resulted in some possibly bizarre ideas, but that is the fun part of writing. I am sure I am not the only aspiring author whose brain produces odd ideas from time to time!

The writing tips were probably my favourite part of the book. Some of them were ones that were not news to me, but some really made me think, and a lot of them will provide a very useful checklist in the process of editing my current WIP, so much so that I am going to summarise them in an editing reference document. For a small volume, this definitely packs a big punch.

This is a great little workbook for any writer who sometimes needs a little push to get the pen to the page, or for anyone who wants an odd thought or sentence from a third party that might spark that new creative connection in their brain that leads to a great piece of writing. A useful tool to have in your writer’s toolbox.

The 365-Day Writer’s Block Workbook is out now and you can get a copy here.

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

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About the Author

2 Morgen July 2017

Based in Northamptonshire, England, ‘Morgen with an e’ is the author of numerous short story collections, a chick-lit novel (with crime and mystery novels in the works), a series of writer’s block workbooks, articles, and she dabbles with poetry.

As well as being a freelance editor (who offers a free 1,000-word sample), she is a creative writing tutor for Northamptonshire County Council’s Adult Learning (10-week evening and one-day Saturday classes). Morgen is also speaker of anything writing-related, panel moderator, and event tutor, and will be running a two-hour editing course at the 2017 Crime & Publishment weekend, alongside Lin Anderson and Martina Cole!

Morgen is also a writing-related blogger who ‘spotlights’ authors, agents, editors, illustrators and publishers. Other content includes guest posts, flash fiction, poetry, and reviews (crime / chick lit novels, short stories and writing guides).

A charity shop volunteer (dealing with donated books) and regular cinema visitor, she walks her dog while reading (often teaching-related), writing, editing or listening to writing-related podcasts, she reads (though not as often as she’d like and mostly for review on her blog), and in between she writes.

Connect with Morgen:

Website: https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com

Facebook: Morgen Bailey Author

Twitter: @morgenwriteruk

Instagram: @morgenwriteruk