Friday Night Drinks with…. Berni Maycock @BRMaycock @BAParisAuthor @KatCroft #bookbloggers #bookblogging #amreading #FridayNightDrinks

cocktail-2098458_1920

Tonight I am so happy to welcome to the blog, fellow blogger and author….Berni Maycock.

Brmaycock

Berni, it is an absolute delight to have you on the blog for Friday Night Drinks tonight. First things first, what are you drinking? 

Funnily enough I was going to say I’m drinking tea. Everyone around me will be shocked because I was always wondering what the big deal was about tea, and in Ireland it’s practically a crime not to be a tea drinker, but I’ve recently become a fan! Since we’re out though … I’d say a Smirnoff Ice or a Prosecco, teamed with a toasted ham and cheese sambo and a packet of crisps (I have four kids so I take proper advantage when I get out!!!)

Prosecco with a cheese & ham toastie! Not a combo I’ve tried before but I’m game. Are you a Tayto or a King girl? 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? 

Do you know something I think I’d be taking you to a cosy pub for  some nice pub grub, and given the weather, it’d have to be somewhere with a fire and possibly a good cover band playing too!

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’ve always wanted to meet Simon Cowell to talk music with him and see what his music spectrum is and to ask him honestly what his favourite version of Halleluliah is (apparently he owns the rights to them all), so then I think I’d have to have Louis Walsh too, because that’d be a good chat! Oooh, ooh, ooh, also Paul McCartney to ask him face to face about the rumours re: him being the real Paul McCartney (I think it’d be kind of cool if these were true!) and Agnetha from Abba to just have a chat on her decisions with the band. (I am totally aware I sound like a nutcase saying this!!) 

I’m fairly sure that’s more than two, but I’ll let you off because it looks like a good party! 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 I’m a blogger and a writer, and at the moment blogging wise I’m trying to cut down my Netgalley (an online sweet shop of books for bloggers and reviewers!) list, so basically I have  list of just over thirty books to ingest, all books I chose and can’t wait to read, but I haven’t had the chance to get to them and it’s something I said I’d do for 2020.

Writing wise I’m writing the second in the Abbeyglen series, which came to me when I read about a lottery winner helping people around her. It’s warm chick lit and the second book involves the arrival of a blast from the past to shake things up. I’m loving it as I get to write an epically sarcastic dark character! 

I have to say, I have the same goal re: NetGalley this year but my unread number makes you look like an amateur, I’m afraid! What has been your proudest moment since you started writing/blogging and what has been your biggest challenge? 

My proudest moment was getting word back from bloggers and authors that didn’t involve diplomatic skirting around reviews. It is insane to think that people would enjoy my 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! 

Do you know something I’d love that when people talk about warm, funny reads they’d look to me in the way people think Sophie Kinsella or Marian Keyes! I’d also love to be on Netgalley because I love hanging out there so much!

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

I’ve the second book of two series going at the same time and I’ve laughed out loud writing both, and am excited about both which is always good!

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

I’ve four kids so the dream was always to get them to Eurodisney, which we did last year. I’d love us all to see Sydney together, I went there after college and adored it!

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

I tell everyone about how I’ve done a paraglide and climbed the Sydney Harbour bridge so an everday one that nobody knows is … you know when you read a chick lit character and they giggle or speak to themselves or dance around the place, and you don’t believe they’re real? I do that!! 

Books are my big passion and central to my blog and I’m always looking for recommendations. What one book would you give me and recommend as a ‘must-read’? 

I just closed my eyes and thought of a book in the same way people stick a pin in a map. From the last few years (ie since blogging) I’d say B A Paris’s The Breakdown or Kathryn Croft’s The Girl With No Past. I’m sorry I said two, but they’re always the first books to come out of my mouth, I think they really got me going on thrillers!

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?

It used to be horrendous stuff, crisp sandwiches and coke the morning after, or a massive fry-up or McDonalds, but honestly I think if you ignore your gut feeling and go instead for fruit and water, you’ll be in a better state quicker!!

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

Either a loungy day in or a madly active and hectic (but always fun and lovely!) day at the park followed by a movie in, maybe something like Cheaper By The Dozen or Pitch Perfect. If I’m lucky that’ll inspire me back to hit the keyboard with some new comedy later that night! 

Berni, it has been a joy to spend the evening with you, thank you so much for joining me, and best of luck with the new books.

Berni Maycock is the author of It Started With A Snub, Snowday and her latest, Pushing Her Luckwhich is out now and can be found here.

51MLL7Sl8RL

Holly Caulfield has won the Irish National Lottery and sets in motion a plan to save the village of Abbeyglen. But who would have thought that giving money away could be so difficult?

With a resident’s association that’s clamouring for more and more money, an old lady who’s decided that a dream cruise is in her grasp and a couple who may not want that dream wedding after all, Holly’s finding it hard to keep it together!

With a new love interest and an ex-husband hot on her heels, it’s up to Holly to figure out what can truly make her happy.

When B R Maycock (Berni to all you lovely people!) isn’t dreaming up vibrant leads for romantic comedies, she’s ingesting books for her blog, in particular chick lit (her first love!) books, romantic comedies and thrillers. She can also be found playing footie or watching Marvel, DC or Star Wars movies and cartoons in Co. Westmeath, Ireland with her brilliantly out there husband, Keith, and their four epic little men. 

She has one goal and that’s simply to make readers smile and/ or laugh (a splutter rates highest;)). 

Make sure you check out Berni’s wonderful blog at https://brmaycock.wordpress.com and find out more about her and her writing by following her on Facebook and Twitter.

Next week, please join me again for Friday Night Drinks with author, Nell Dixon.

 

Oranges and Lemons by Paula F. Andrews #GuestPost (@PaulaAAuthor) @matadorbooks #OrangesAndLemons

9781838592066_cov

Gregarious teenager, Jessifer Jordan, has always been loyal and open, and her love of acting has made her an expert in pretence. So, when six-year old Victorian ghost, Adeline, appears in her life and Jess’s best friend won’t believe her, deceit becomes Jess’s natural ally. Previously fun-loving and sociable, she becomes serious and isolated in her quest to discover what Adeline really wants. Always curious, she finds herself whisked back in time to 1863 and into the clutches of a volatile doctor with an obsession for morphine.

As she journeys back and forth into the past, she realises that Adeline reminds her of her dead sister and her submerged grief resurfaces. Will her great aunt Ruby’s counsel help her? Can she outwit the deranged medic? And whose is that smoky cat which keeps turning up out of the blue?

I am delighted to be featuring Oranges and Lemons by Paula F. Andrews on the blog today with a fabulous guest post from the author. My thanks to Sophie Morgan at Troubador for inviting me to do the feature.

Author interview with Paula F. Andrews

What is your book about?

Oranges and Lemons is a light ghost story, set in York, and involving time-slip episodes between the modern day and 1863. The main character is a fourteen-year-old contemporary teenage girl called Jessifer. She answers the call of a six-year-old ghost called Adeline. Her quest leads to conflict with her best friends and wonderful, beloved Aunt Ruby but underlines her deep empathy, love and loyalty. 

When did you know you wanted to write a book, and why this one? What was your inspiration?

I had an idea for a children’s picture book about ten years ago which led me to begin a course in writing for children. I then created a teenage girl character and felt I could write a story that would bring her together with a little ghostly character from local legend. I’d been interested in the little ghost since my teenage years and felt her fun, vibrant personality would be perfect for a book for young teenagers. The picture book is still at the idea stage!

How did you research the story? What was the most fascinating thing you learned?

I spent a long time looking into the development of morphine analgesia and the development of the hypodermic syringe. I did most of my research online but I also spent time in the Library and Archives in York, examining texts about the city, its streets and buildings, disease and medical care in the 1860s. I discovered that The Water Babies by Charles Kingsley was published in the year my story is set and also that the American Civil War was happening at the same time as the little ghost’s father was doing his own research into using the hypodermic syringe.

How long do you write each day?

I try to spend part of each day writing, whether it’s a blog, letters, social media posts, novel, short story or poetry writing. Now that my book has been published and I am working on the marketing and sales side of things as well, I’ve set aside three days for mainly writing and editing with the remainder of the working week allocated to  planning and doing events, signings and launches. Inevitably, I spend part of my weekend doing admin and also some writing.

Where do you like to write?

Until recently, I wrote in my lounge, which meant tidying all my papers, storyboards, etc, away, at the end of the day. So, now, I have converted our spare room into a writing-cum-guest-cum-sitting room where I can have all my things spread out! (Until someone comes to stay!)

I also love to write in cafes! And people watch at the same time!

What was the most valuable piece of advice you’ve had about being a writer that you’d like to share with others?

To write every day, even if it’s only a short letter or a social media post. Using the ‘writing muscles’ is important for maintaining skill but to achieve real growth, daily writing is vital.

What was the hardest part of writing this book? What was the best? 

The hardest: agonising over cutting out characters and chunks I really liked.

The best: seeing each of my unique characters take shape and giving them different voices.

What has been your favourite part of the publishing process?

Getting the final cover design!

Do you have plans for another book?

I have a completed fantasy novel for middle grade readers which requires editing. I also have ideas about another story involving some of the characters from Oranges and Lemons but with a different setting. And I have begun planning a second novel for middle grade readers.

Paula, thank you for answering my questions, it has been fascinating to hear about your writing process.

Oranges and Lemons is out now and you can get a copy here.

About the Author

Paula Andrews Headshot

Paula F. Andrews has been a nurse, midwife and craftsperson. She grew up in North Yorkshire and now lives in Glasgow with her husband and grown-up children. Writing seriously since 2012, she has won numerous prizes including Strathkelvin Writers’ Group overall prize for 2019 and the Scottish Association of Writers prize for YA fiction in 2017. She has also been published in Aquila and Scottish Memories magazine.
Connect with Paula:

Website: http://paulaandrews.co.uk

Twitter: @PaulaAAuthor

Facebook: Paula Andrews

Instagram: @paulaandrewsauthor

Friday Night Drinks with…. Giulia Skye @GiuliaSkye @RNATweets #FridayNightDrinks #WhenAdamMetEvie

cocktail-2098458_1920

I have been looking forward to this evening for weeks because tonight I am welcoming to the blog for Friday Night Drinks my fellow RNA NWS member, very good IRL friend and soon to be debut author (which I am SO excited about)…..Giulia Skye.

Giulia Skye - Profile Photo

Giulia, it is so lovely to have you here! Thank you for joining me for drinks this evening. I hope you are feeling better after our aborted lunch date back in November. First things first, what are you drinking?

Thanks for inviting me!  I’m drinking a crisp Pinot Grigio mixed with sparkling water and ice, and it’s so cold condensation is forming on the glass. (Although in reality, it’s more likely to be a cup of tea once the kids are in bed).

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

To a restaurant serving a variety of lush dishes from around the world. I love food and I love travelling, so it would be a “tour the world in one evening” restaurant, giving us a taste of different specialties.

Sounds fabulous, we should do that one night! 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?

Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert, the stars of one of my favourite films, It Happened One Night (Capra, 1934). This film was the initial inspiration for my first book, When Adam Met Evie. I’m a sucker for a road trip romance. I’d love to cut through the myths and get to know what these two great stars of classic cinema were like in real life. Having spent the past two decades working in the TV industry, I’ve worked with celebrities – some match their on screen persona and some don’t, but at the end of the day, they’re just people earning a living. I wonder if the same was true about these two legends? And was Claudette Colbert’s skin always sheer perfection?

It Happened One Night cover

 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 frantically gearing up for the release of When Adam Met Evie, and also frantically trying to finish the first draft of my second novel, The Summer of Sebastian, which I’ve scheduled to release in August/September 2020. I decided to become an indie author after realising that producing a book wasn’t that much different to producing a TV show. Although the amounts of money involve differ greatly! I gave the traditional publishing route a try, and was even lucky enough to get an agent but it didn’t work out, the reason being that I wanted to retain all the control. Since then, I’ve become very passionate about self-publishing. I love it and it’s been very rewarding already even though I’m only just starting out on the “selling books” bit. I have plans to write more and more books which I’m very excited about. I wish I could write them all in a day because I can’t wait for them to be out in the world.

I am so excited to finally read When Adam Met Evie! What has been your proudest moment since you started writing and what has been your biggest challenge?

The moment I finished the first “proper” draft of When Adam Met Evie!! For days, I wandered around the house muttering to myself, “I’ve finished. I’ve finished.” There were so many, many times when I truly believed I would never ever finish writing a book and so THAT moment will always be my proudest. I succeeded in achieving a huge personal goal. Everything else that has come from that moment since has been a bonus.

And my biggest challenge? Deciding to become an Indie Author. It’s funny to think now that it was such a big challenge because I feel so at home with it now but back then, I didn’t think “someone like me” could do it. What a load of old bobbins to think that way! That said, I’m constantly encountering big challenges. Self-publishing is full of them. So much so that I don’t consider them challenges at all – they’re just a way of life!! 

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!

Like most (if not all) writers, I’d love to appear on a best seller list. But honestly, I’m not after world domination with my novels. At the heart of my writing motivation is to give people pleasure when they read my stories, just like I’ve had great pleasure in reading my favourite books. I’d love a stranger to come up to me and say, “I stayed up all night reading your book”! How amazing would that be? 

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

My next book is called The Summer of Sebastian but unlike my first book, which is mainly set in the Australian tropics, this book is set in Somerset and Bristol, a city very close to my heart as I had the best time working there in my twenties. I’m excited about it as it’s been an idea I’ve been tinkering with for so many years and it’s great to see if finally taking shape. I love travelling to exotic places but I also absolutely love the English countryside. It’s stunning on a perfect summer’s day and I’m really excited about writing it into this novel. I hope I can do it justice and bring my love of it alive on the page as I did with Australia in my first book.

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

I love travelling too! My husband and I (before the children came!) took a year off work to backpack across a few countries. I have a lot of favourite places! But the one that is part of my very fibre is the little village in the mountains just outside of Rome, where my father is from. We spent so much time here as children but I rarely get to go there these days. The views are stunning and I often crave to go back there and hear the tall pine trees sway in the wind. As for a bucket list, I don’t actually have one but if I did, at the top would be to have a spotlessly clean house – like, showroom standard – and to keep it that way for more than a few hours. 

IMG_3135

I love Italy, that looks gorgeous. Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know about you.

This virtual wine’s gone to my head so I’ll spill the beans on a secret. I am in love with… waterproof over-trousers!! They are the best thing EVER. I keep chickens and have an allotment so I spend a lot of time getting very mucky and these totally unattractive garments have changed my life.

Unknown-2

Okay, I think you win the award for ‘weirdest secret fact’ we’ve had on this feature so far! Books are my big passion and central to my blog and I’m always looking for recommendations. What one book would you give me and recommend as a ‘must-read’?

Only one? Okay, I’m going with Rachel Gibson’s I’m in No Mood for Love. I’m not a fan of the title but I love the story. It’s so simple and exactly the character driven romance I love. I read it about 10 years ago and I still have the hots for the hero, Sebastian Vaughan.

415oEWOWEVL

What is Clare Wingate doing? One minute she’s suffering in the bridesmaid dress from hell, and the next…she’s waking up beside Sebastian Vaughan, her girlhood crush turned sexy, globe-hopping journalist. Somewhere between the toast and the toss of the bouquet she’d got herself into a whole lot of trouble. But then how else are you supposed to deal with finding your fiancé in a compromising position with the washing machine repair man?

Right now Clare’s in no mood for love – not even for lust – and wants to forget about Sebastian ASAP. But he isn’t in the mood to go away, and his kiss is impossible to forget…

Not an author I have come across before, I will have to check it out. 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?

The only cure for a hangover is sensible drinking the night before!! Sorry, it’s a really annoying thing to say but it’s the only thing that works for me, although I’d never say it in front of a hungover person. That will guarantee getting a shoe thrown at my head! 

Very wise, no one likes to hear an ‘I told you so!’ After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?

At the allotment (wearing my over-trousers), tending to my plants, then picking the veg and cooking them up for dinner. Then a family bike ride along the river near our house. We’re very lucky to live on the edge of town along a gorgeous stretch of the river which leads out into the countryside. 

That sounds very idyllic and ‘Good Life’ (showing my age now!) I shall forever think of you as Felicity Kendal.

Unknown-3

Giulia, as always it has been a huge joy to spend time with you, so thank you so much for joining me this evening. I am so looking forward to reading your book and I wish you huge luck with it.

Giulia’s debut novel, When Adam Met Evie, will be published as an ebook on 7 February 2020 and you can get your copy here. I will be reviewing Giulia’s book on its publication day, so check back on the blog on 7 February to see what I thought of it.

91G6kXxjqpL.SR160,240_BG243,243,243

When former Olympic Swimmer, Michael Adams—now reluctantly Canada’s hottest reality TV star— insults his fake showbiz wife on social media, he escapes the ensuing scandal and jumps on the first flight to Australia. Desperate to experience ordinary life again—if only for a few weeks—he becomes “Adam”, just another tourist traveling through the Outback. But with a reward out for his safe return and his fame’s nasty habit of catching up with him when he least expects, he needs a disguise… and he’s just found it.

Sweet and scruffy British backpacker, Evie Blake, is taking a year out of her busy London life. Tired of lies and liars, she’s looking for adventure to heal her broken heart. So when the hot Canadian she meets at the campground offers to be her travel partner through Western Australia’s wild Kimberley region, she grabs the chance, unaware he’s got the world out looking for him.

He’s just a down-on-his-luck traveler, right?

Italian-born Giulia Skye spent her childhood watching classic Hollywood films and thinking up her own romantic stories. After two decades working in TV production, she knew turning those stories into novels would be much more enjoyable – and far cheaper – than turning them into films. She still keeps her hand in TV production but is at her happiest being a stay-at-home mum, spending time with her family, growing her own vegetables, and conjuring up sizzling stories about sexy heroes meeting feisty heroines who aren’t always as they at first appear. When Adam Met Evie is her first novel, Book 1 of her “Take a Holiday” series.

You can find out more about Giulia and her writing on her website, and by following her on Twitter.

Next week, I hope you will come back and join me when I will be having Friday Night Drinks with book blogger and author, Bernadette Maycock.

Friday Night Drinks with…. S. M. Stevens @SMStevens17 #FridayNightDrinks #HAHG

cocktail-2098458_1920

Delighted to welcome to the blog tonight for Friday Night Drinks author….S. M. Stevens.

SMStevens

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

A vodka gimlet with fresh lime juice. Thanks for the invite. I look forward to a scintillating night of libation and conversation. 

vodka gimlet

Oh, high expectations, let’s hope it doesn’t disappoint! If we weren’t here in my virtual bar tonight, but were meeting in real life, where would you be taking me for a night out?

I’m not choosy about my drinking establishments, but a pub or wine bar where we could actually hear each other talk would be nice. It’s hard to get to know each other over throbbing bass beats and thunderous conversations!

I agree, I think maybe that’s an age thing! 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?

Reese Witherspoon, because I really want her Hello Sunshine! Book Club to choose my novel. And Keith Richards because, well – just because.

That would be a party, I think. I absolutely love Reese Witherspoon. 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 in the throes of promoting my first traditionally published novel, Horseshoes and Hand Grenades. It’s the story of two women struggling with past and present demons, meaning childhood incest for Shelby, and workplace sexual harassment for Astrid. 

The book was prompted by the #MeToo movement. I was fascinated and appalled by the parallels between workplace sexual harassment and childhood incest, specifically how society asks many of the same questions of both types of victim. Horseshoes and Hand Grenades is my way of answering those questions.

There are a handful of workplace harassment-themed novels available today (with many more to come, I’m sure!), but I believe mine is the first in which the heroines are in their 20’s. This to me is the logical age for such a story, because that’s when most women embark on their careers and first learn about corporate hierarchies and power plays. 

Despite the heavy themes, it’s also a fun, uplifting coming-of-age story, or so my reviewers tell me.  

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

Proudest moment: Having an early reviewer of my Horseshoes and Hand Grenades manuscript tell me it prompted her to reveal to her husband her own sexual harassment experience. I hope the novel starts many such conversations.

Biggest challenge: Getting publishers to take note of a story that is not “extreme”. They seem to think that’s all that will sell – extreme poverty, extreme alcoholism, extreme abuse… But in fact, there are so many more readers out there who identify with less extreme life situations. That’s who I wrote this book for. (Almost counts in more than horseshoes and hand grenades.) And thankfully, TouchPoint Press saw the value in this, too.

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

I guess that would have to be landing a major interview or endorsement of Horseshoes and Hand Grenades. Not because I want to be in the limelight — I’ve been a PR person all my career so I can put other people out front. But I really want the book to reach as many victims of sexual abuse as possible – regardless of the “severity” of that abuse — so they can validate their experiences and start to heal. A major interview or endorsement would be a marvellous way to make that happen.

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

It’s still just an idea stewing in my brain, but I would love to write a story with a transgender or gender-fluid hero.

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?

Favourite place: Any tropical beach.

Unknown-5

Bucket list: My dream holiday would be somewhere in African to see gorillas in the wild. (Shameless plug: If you love travel, you should check out my daughter’s budget travel blog.)

Unknown-2

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

I was the goalkeeper for my high school field hockey team. I loved sports but was hopefully uncoordinated and slow. I hated running laps to get in shape. But I found my niche in the comfort of the goal where I managed to not embarrass myself and even contribute to the team’s success! 

My youngest daughter currently plays in goal in field hockey! 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, here’s something different for you. I’m currently reading The Animal Dialogues: Uncommon Encounters in the Wild by Craig Childs. His descriptions of animals and nature are completely unexpected but perfectly put together.

51tGhew4wsL._SY346_

Whether recalling the experience of being chased through the Grand Canyon by a bighorn sheep, swimming with sharks off the coast of British Columbia, watching a peregrine falcon perform acrobatic stunts at 200 miles per hour, or engaging in a tense face-off with a mountain lion near a desert waterhole, Craig Childs captures the moment so vividly that he puts the reader in his boots.

Each of the 40 brief, compelling narratives in THE ANIMAL DIALOGUES focuses on the author’s own encounter with a particular species and is replete with astonishing facts about the species’ behavior, habitat, breeding, and lifespan. But the glory of each essay lies in Childs’s ability to portray the sometimes brutal beauty of the wilderness, to capture the individual essence of wild creatures, to transport the reader beyond the human realm and deep inside the animal kingdom.

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?

Ha, I do have a secret weapon for that! I discovered years ago that my migraine pills also cure, and prevent, hangovers! Now if only the health insurance company wasn’t so stingy with them. ☺

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

Assuming I’m a bit drained after our late night, I would take my shepherd/collie mix Korra for a bracing walk in the crisp autumn air, and she would not harass any other dogs for once! Then, having been productive for an hour, I’d give myself permission to veg on the couch with my boyfriend watching a movie, preferably with rain drizzling down outside the window.

korra in berlin

What a gorgeous dog! Susan, thank you so much for coming on the blog, it has been a joy and I am really looking forward to taking part in the blog tour for Horseshoes and Hand Grenades soon.

S. M. Stevens’ latest book, Horseshoes and Hand Grenades is out now and you can buy a copy here. I will be reviewing the book as part of the author’s blog tour on 31 January, so do check back then to see what I thought.

Horseshoes and Hand Grenades_Cover_Outline

Shelby Stewart is damn sure “mild” childhood sexual abuse by her stepfather—a respected teacher and revered coach—didn’t change her. She succeeds at her new PR job in 1980s Boston but sucks at romance, sabotaging relationships with men her friends insist are not good enough for her.

Shelby’s co-worker, Astrid Ericcson, says she wrote the book on How to Get Ahead by Flirting. But when her boss’s innuendoes escalate to not-so-subtle touching and under-the-table footsie, she finds both her career and her safety at risk.

Together, the women try to build their careers, friendships and romances while facing their respective demons. Will they succeed? Or will they spiral out of control?

S.M. Stevens began writing fiction during back-to-back health crises: a shattered pelvis (from a horseback riding fall) and ovarian cancer. Her other books are Middle-Grade novel Shannon’s Odyssey and the Bit Players Young Adult series. She has lived in the U.S., U.K. (twice) and Italy, and currently resides in the New England region of the U.S. When not writing, she markets solar energy.

You can find out more about Susan and her work on her website,  Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Please join me back here, same time next week, when I will be having Friday Night Drinks with my friend and debut author…Giulia Skye.

Friday Night Drinks with…. Els from B for Bookreview Blog @BookreviewB #bookbloggers #bookblogging #amreading #FridayNightDrinks

cocktail-2098458_1920

I’m kicking off a brand new year of Friday Night Drinks with fellow book blogger…. Els Ebraert from the wonderful B for Bookreview blog.

image

Els, welcome to the blog and thank you for joining me for drinks this evening and starting a new year on the blog. First things first, what are you drinking?

Well, normally I do not drink very often, but because this is a special time of the year you will find me with a glass of Kir Royal.

Unknown

Oh, lovely. I am afraid I am doing Dry January, so it’s Diet Coke for me but I hope you enjoy it. 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?

First we would go to the airport, hop on a plane to a tropical destination. On arrival we would grab a bite to eat. Nothing fancy but tasty. Afterwards to a bar and of course we would go dancing the night away.

Fabulous, I wish I were somewhere warm right now! 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 am a big fan of Cristiano Ronaldo and Madonna. Those two would be my guests as well.

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?

Nothing new at the moment to be honest. Still trying to make my blog as attractive as possible and enjoy as many books as possible. 

I am also managing a book group on Facebook together with a very good friend. It’s in Dutch because I am from Belgium and our members (over 14.500) are also or Belgian or Dutch. The group exists 7 years already and it’s still going strong. We don’t sell but we promote have competitions and people share reviews or what they are reading, … It’s fun.

Maybe the new year will bring a new challenge, but nothing on the horizon yet.

Sounds busy! What has been your proudest moment since you started blogging and what has been your biggest challenge?

My proudest moment. Hmm. I think I would say being asked by authors/publishers to review their books. My biggest challenge is to make it work and to try and fit in as many posts as humanly possible. 

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!

It’s maybe not very ambitious but I think it would be great. I see a lot of things going on book-related in the UK. In Belgium it’s a lot less. I would like to visit some events and meet authors I have enjoyed reading. 

Let’s hope you can get over here soon then. What are you currently working on that you are really excited about?

At the moment it’s something not really book related, but my dog died in the beginning of August and I bought a new puppy. He is already 6 months old now but it’s still a lot of work but so much fun as well. 

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 favourite place is Tenerife. I had a wonderful time there a few years ago with people we met over there and we stayed in touch for a long time afterwards. Unfortunatley a tragic accident made the group fall apart, but I still smile when I think back.
On the top of my bucket list is visiting Australia. One small problem, I don’t really like flying. LOL

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

Whether it’s interesting or not, I leave it up to you, but I have lived in Tenerife for about a year and I have worked in a transport company as a dispatcher. It was lovely to ‘boss’ all those men around. LOL. No, that’s a joke. I had the most wonderful relationships (this sounds strange lol) with the drivers and the people in the warehouse. I hear from some of them regulary.

I’m always envious of people who have spent time living overseas, it’s something I’ve never had the opportunity to do but I would love to. 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’?

The Forever Gift by Brooke Harris (now available under the title My Daughter’s Choice.)

51q6SnXo1AL

I remember you learning the alphabet, the first time you rode a bike… and the first time I realised something was wrong. I look at you, my daughter, my beautiful sparky daughter. I would do anything to keep you safe.

Heather’s beloved daughter, Kayla, is her world. She’s fifteen, smart, energetic and a fierce friend. They’ve always had a special relationship. For so many years it has been just the two of them, watching Friends, baking cupcakes and laughing together.

But now Kayla is sick. Heather knows she can’t fall apart – she must stay strong and do everything she can to make sure Kayla gets well again. What she doesn’t know is that Kayla wants to give something back to her mother. A gift that could change Heather’s life. Just in case.

But as mother and daughter fight for each other, a devastating turn of events leaves Kayla with a terrible choice. Nothing will ever be the same again, but can Kayla’s gift save them?

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?

Grab a snack and a soft drink in between the Kir and I don’t have a go-to cure. I feel to sick when I have a hangover that I try to avoid it at all costs.

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

Because I would have taken you to a sunny place, we would go for breakfast on a terrace and enjoy a whole day at the pool or the beach enjoying the time off.

That sounds like just what I need after the Christmas madness. Els, thank you so much for joining me on the blog today and I look forward to enjoying another year of celebrating books on your blog.

Make sure you check out Els’ wonderful blog over at B for Bookrview and you can also catch up with her on Twitter.

Next week I am having Friday Night Drinks with author, S. M. Stevens, so please come back then.

 

Friday Night Drinks with…. Julie Ryan @julieryan18 @RNATweets #FridayNightDrinks #GreekIslandsMysteries #FindingRose

cocktail-2098458_1920

For my final Friday Night Drinks of 2019, I am joined by author and fellow RNA member….Julie Ryan.

Julie Ryan Author pic 2

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

Champagne if we’re celebrating, lime and soda if I’m driving.

Champagne all the way then, it’s nearly a new decade. 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?

A lovely little Indian restaurant I know where the staff are friendly, the food is good and you can almost always get a table.

Wonderful, I love Indian food. 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?

Stephen Fry as I think he is a wonderful raconteur so he would keep us amused and Joanne Harris, who just happens to be one of my favourite authors.

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 started an MA in Creative Writing so everything else has been put on hold for the moment. When I manage to organize my time I have two books on the go, both set in Greece. I’m hoping to finish the first one at least before I finish the MA.!

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

I think seeing my first book in print and that moment when you hold it and realize everything in it came from your imagination. A wonderful feeling. The biggest challenge for most indies is to sell copies. I’ve built up a following but after the initial rush, sales invariably dwindle.

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 would love a three book deal with a reputable publisher, representation by an agent and then a film deal. Sorry, I’m greedy – that’s more than one big thing. Seriously, if any of those were to happen I’d be absolutely thrilled.

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

A new series which features a wedding in Greece, a boutique hotel and an unlikely romance.

I love books set in foreign climes! 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?

Greece is my spiritual home and I try to visit as often as I can. There’s so much to see and somehow it always draws me back. On my bucket list is Delphi, closely followed by Meteora. Hopefully, I’ll get to tick one of those off next year.

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

When not reading, blogging or writing, I belong to an amateur dramatic group. Each year we perform a  pantomime, which I love. Next Spring though, I get to direct a farce that I’ve written – my directorial debut.

49097684_272950746713029_6939190476155125760_n

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’?

John Fowles The Magus.  I always find something new in it each time I read it and I owe my love of Greece, at least in part, to this book.

41D27UFMk3L._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_

On a remote Greek Island, Nicholas Urfe finds himself embroiled in the deceptions of a master trickster. As reality and illusion intertwine, Urfe is caught up in the darkest of psychological games. John Fowles expertly unfolds a tale that is lush with over-powering imagery in a spellbinding exploration of human complexities. By turns disturbing, thrilling and seductive, The Magus is a feast for the mind and the senses.

I have not read this one, I will add it to the list. So, we’ve been drinking all evening. What is your failsafe plan to avoid a hangover and your go-to cure if you do end up with one?

I rarely drink too much these days. I learned my lesson at my wedding when I had a hangover for two days!

Oh no! After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?

Reading with a cup of coffee and a bar of chocolate by my side – my cat curled up at my feet and the house to myself. Bliss.

DSCF0728

Julie, thank you so much for joining me and sharing a chat. It has been a great way to round off 2019.

Julie’s latest book, Finding Roseis out now on Kindle and in paperback, and you can buy a copy here.

51Qqzn5q7vL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

When three sisters, Ginny, Sally and Molly are brought together at their father’s hospital bed, they are forced to confront not only the prospect of a future without him but also the secrets of the past that have kept them apart.

Their father, Eddie Matthews, drugged up on morphine, seems to be rambling but could he in fact be reliving previous lives as a Tudor monk and as a soldier on the Front in WW1? Struggling to speak he reveals that he has a secret and urges his daughters to ‘Find Rose’. Can the sisters put aside their differences to fulfil his last wish?

Julie Ryan’s roots are in a small mining village in South Yorkshire, England. After a degree in French Language and Literature, wanderlust kicked in and she lived and worked in France, Poland, Thailand and Greece. Her spirit enriched, her imagination fired, Julie started a series of mystery romances; thrillers set in the Greek Isles. In a new departure her latest novel, Finding Rose, has two historical timelines, the Tudor Court and the First World War.

A prolific and well-known book review blogger, Julie does her writing and reviewing from rural Gloucestershire, where she lives with her husband, son and rescue cat. She manages to write a book a year although without their help, she would probably write more quickly. She is a book addict and will soon need either a bigger house for her collection or a new husband!

You can find out more about Julie and her writing on her websiteFacebook and Twitter.

Next week, I will be kicking off a new blogging year by having Friday Night Drinks with book blogger Els Ebraert from B for Book Review, so please do join us. In the meantime, I would like to say how much I have enjoyed and valued your support over the past twelve months and wish all my readers and followers a very

Unknown-4

 

Friday Night Drinks with…. Kiley Dunbar @KileyDunbar @HeraBooks @RNATweets #FridayNightDrinks #ChristmasAtFrozenFalls

cocktail-2098458_1920

It’s the A Little Book Problem Christmas Friday Night Drinks party tonight. I’m in a festive mood so, who better to be joining me for a knees up on the blog tonight than author of my current Christmas read, author and fellow RNA member…..Kiley Dunbar!

lapland Kiley Dunbar

Kiley. welcome and thank you for joining me for Christmas drinks this evening. First things first, what are you drinking?

Hi Julie! Thanks for having me! Nice place you’ve got here! Since it’s Christmas I’ve gone for some bubbly, by which I mean ALDI prosecco (my usual Friday night drink, to be honest.) I might go mad and add some cranberry juice to it. Cheers!

Unknown

Slainte! I think I’ll have a mulled wine, it’s a bit nippy tonight. 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 think a nice bit of carolling round town with a few cups of mulled wine might be nice. Do you fancy that? I’ve always wanted to go carolling; never tried it.

Unknown-1

Nice idea although, I must warn you, I have the world’s worst singing voice! 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?

My idol Phoebe-Waller Bridge would be amazing on a night out. She’s so funny, she’s gorgeous and super smart and I bet she’d be good at belting out the loud bits in O, Come all ye Faithful (we’re still going carolling, remember?) And for festive eye candy purposes can we invite my latest celebrity crush, the gorgeous Hyun Bin? If you haven’t seen him in Memories of the Alhambra you are missing a treat! 

Phoebe Waller-Bridge is totally my girl crush, so I would love to spend an evening with her. 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?

At the moment I’m celebrating my festive novel doing well this season. It’s called Christmas at Frozen Falls and is set in gorgeous, snowy Lapland over Christmas week. It’s a One That Got Away reunion story and is super romantic, properly funny, and the most festive thing you could ever hope to read! I wrote it because I can’t get enough Christmas romance novels. I read them all year round and I just had to try one myself! I hope to write many, many more love stories set at this time of year. 

Christmas at Frozen Falls and Finnish decorations

I’m also putting the finishing touches to my next novel for Hera Books, which is coming out in the spring. You can expect a gorgeous cover reveal soon. This one is set in the western highlands of Scotland and is achingly romantic and also a bit of a weepy, but there’s joy and real humour too. Ooh, I can’t wait to share the details with you all in the new year.

All sounds exciting, can’t wait for more details! What has been your proudest moment since you started writing and what has been your biggest challenge?

I was so proud when my debut, One Summer’s Night, launched in March 2019. I remember it going live at midnight and seeing my ebook and audiobook appear on my Kindle. It was overwhelming. I’d just turned forty and had been facing redundancy in my uni job (I lecture in English) and things had been tough for a long time, and then suddenly I’m a published author! It felt like a dream come true. Still does!

One Summer's Night Cover

The biggest challenge has been balancing writing, teaching, and looking after my kids all at once. Sometimes it’s exhausting and earlier this year I got pneumonia. I think I was just generally run down. It stopped me writing for a whole month and I learned a hard lesson about how important it is to look after myself when I’m pushing myself to work hard. So 2020 is going to be all about eating well, getting enough sleep, taking time off, drinking enough water; the basic stuff we all sacrifice when we’re busy, and we really, really shouldn’t.

What an exciting year. I absolutely loved your debut, and I’m starting the Christmas book today, which I’m really looking forward to. 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!

Since it’s just us, and we’re aiming high, I want what all romance authors want: a movie adaptation! Imagine Christmas at Frozen Falls as a Hallmark or Lifetime movie! That would be a dream come true. But mostly, I want to have a long career writing books that make people happy. 

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

I’ve just begun work on the early draft of the sequel to my debut novel, One Summer’s Night. It’s so comforting going back to see how Kelsey Anderson is doing now she’s opening her own photography studio, and it’s wonderful being back in Stratford-upon-Avon with her, my happy place. The sequel is set over the autumn and winter after her big summer far from home finding herself (and finding love). It won’t be published for a good few months yet, but it’s on its way!

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

I’ve been lucky enough to travel a lot when I was younger. When I first met my husband we visited India, Morocco, Egypt, and travelled all over Europe too. By far my most favourite place on the planet is Finnish Lapland. 

Unknown-4

In December 2018 we took the Dunbar babies for the holiday of a lifetime to Saariselkä to meet Santa and his elves. It was magical from the second we touched down in the arctic twilight. I poured all of the magic and romance of that holiday into Christmas at Frozen Falls which is set in a fictional resort somewhere near Saariselkä. 

I love your bucket list idea! What would be on mine? I’d love to travel more in northern Europe and see an aurora sky over the fjords. Everything about Scandinavia is just so utterly appealing. And I’d really like to see more of the Scottish highlands and islands. I’m from near Edinburgh originally but don’t get back to Scotland nearly enough. Oh, and I’d love to visit Granada in Spain. That’s quite a long list, isn’t it?

Almost as long as mine! Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know about you.

I’m a huge BTS fan. Like HUGE. I love them!

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’?

You must read Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca if you haven’t already! It is perfect. A masterpiece. Oh, and try her Frenchman’s Creek as well if you like hot, seventeenth-century, French pirates. And who doesn’t?

91cs6kfeZLL._AC_UY218_ML3_

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again . . .


Working as a lady’s companion, the orphaned heroine of Rebecca learns her place. Life begins to look very bleak until, on a trip to the South of France, she meets Maxim de Winter, a handsome widower whose sudden proposal of marriage takes her by surprise. Whisked from glamorous Monte Carlo to his brooding estate, Manderley, on the Cornish Coast, the new Mrs de Winter finds Max a changed man. And the memory of his dead wife Rebecca is forever kept alive by the forbidding Mrs Danvers . . .

Not since Jane Eyre has a heroine faced such difficulty with the Other Woman. An international bestseller that has never gone out of print, Rebecca is the haunting story of a young girl consumed by love and the struggle to find her identity.

I LOVE du Maurier! Rebecca is fantastic, and I have a huge fondness for Jamaica Inn 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?

I know I should drink lots of water, take my make-up off properly, and have some Coke going nicely flat in the fridge overnight to help me recover tomorrow (only flat Coke will do when it comes to hangover cures), but I know I won’t remember to do any of that. Most likely I’ll wake up feeling rough with smudged panda eyes.

That’s how you know you’ve had a great night! After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?

Wake up late (some chance with two kids under seven!), something nice for breakfast like square sausage on a roll with brown sauce (OMG!), a cosy start by the (electric) fire watching the Christmas tree lights twinkling while the kids play, then a stroll into town with Amos our Bedlington Terrier, a cuppa and cake in a nice café, a potter round the books shops, then home for a lazy afternoon with Cbeebies for the kids and a Christmassy romance novel for me. Perfect!

That sounds amazing! (Glad you went for the brown sauce and not the ketchup!) Kiley, this has been the most fantastic evening, thank you so much for coming out with me tonight. I’m off to curl up with your book now with a G&T in front of the fire.

Merry Christmas!

Christmas at Frozen Falls by Kiley Dunbar is out now and you can buy a copy here.

HI RES Christmas at Frozen Falls FRONT

Christmas can thaw even the coldest of hearts…

Sylvie Magnusson is going to be lonely this Christmas. Instead of jetting off for her honeymoon, she’s freezing at home in Cheshire. Guess that’s what happens when your fiancé dumps you a week before your wedding…

Sylvie’s best friend, Nari, plans a trip to see the Northern Lights and get Sylvie’s mojo back. But as their Lapland getaway approaches, Sylvie realises that Frozen Falls is the hometown of Stellan Virtanen, her dreamy Finnish ex-boyfriend, the one that got away.

When they meet, Stellan may be a bit grumpy but he’s still gorgeous – and her heart is warmed when he shows her the romantic delights of Lapland (as well as some adorable husky puppies).

But when she returns to England, can she really leave Stellan behind? Or will she find that her heart belongs in the frozen North?

Kiley Dunbar is the author of heart-warming, escapist, romantic fiction set in beautiful places. Shortlisted for the Joan Hessayon Award for Debut Romantic Novelists 2019 for One Summer’s Night.

Kiley is Scottish and lives in England with her husband, two kids and Amos the Bedlington Terrier. She writes around her work at a University in the North of England where she lectures in English Literature and creative writing. She is proud to be a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and a graduate of their New Writers’ Scheme.

You can read my review of Kiley’s debut novel One Summer’s Night here.

You can find out more about Kiley and her writing on Facebook and Twitter.

Next week I will be enjoying my last Friday Night Drinks of 2019 and seeing in a new blogging year with author, Julie Ryan. Until then, may I take this opportunity to wish all my readers a

Unknown-5