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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Should some secrets stay buried?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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About the Author

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

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

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

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

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

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

Connect with Lynda:

Website: http://www.lyndastacey.co.uk

Facebook: Lynda Stacey Author

Twitter: @LyndaStacey

Instagram: @lynda.stacey

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

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

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

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

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Oh, I haven’t tried that one, sounds delicious. If we weren’t here in my virtual bar tonight, but were meeting in real life, where would you be taking me for a night out?

I’m not really a drinker, so I’d take you to my favourite Indian restaurant, Vhujon in Bewdley, Worcestershire. Friendly service and a great menu, this place has never failed to deliver. I think you’d like it.

Indian is my favourite cuisine, so that sounds perfect. If you could invite two famous people, one male and one female, alive or dead, along on our night out, who would we be drinking with?

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

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

You were very quick off the mark with Patrick Dempsey, lol! So, now we’re settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. What have you got going on? How and why did you start it and where do you want it to go?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My parents had the same thing, there is almost a 16-year gap between myself and my youngest sister! Books are my big passion and central to my blog and I’m always looking for recommendations. What one book would you give me and recommend as a ‘must-read’?

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

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

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

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

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

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

I love Eat, Pray, Love, but not the other one, so I’ll add it to my TBR. So, we’ve been drinking all evening. What is your failsafe plan to avoid a hangover and your go-to cure if you do end up with one?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Violet by S J I Holliday #BookReview #BlogTour (@SJIHolliday) @OrendaBooks @annecater #RandomThingsTours #TrainNoir #Violet

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Carrie’s best friend has an accident and can no longer make the round-the-world trip they’d planned together, so Carrie decides to go it alone.

Violet is also travelling alone, after splitting up with her boyfriend in Thailand. She is desperate for a ticket on the Trans-Siberian Express, but there is nothing available.

When the two women meet in a Beijing Hotel, Carrie makes the impulsive decision to invite Violet to take her best friend’s place.

Thrown together in a strange country, and the cramped cabin of the train, the women soon form a bond. But as the journey continues, through Mongolia and into Russia, things start to unravel – because one of these women is not who she claims to be…

It’s always a thrill to be on a tour for a new Orenda title, so I’m delighted to be taking part in this one today for Violet by SJI Holliday. Huge thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part and to the publisher for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

This is my first book by Susi Holliday, although I have had The Lingeringer, lingering on my TBR since last year. After reading this book, I will definitely be bumping that one to the top of the pile. This book grabbed me by the throat, gave me a good shake and refused to put me down until I reached the very last page, and I was practically holding my breath throughout the whole experience. This is one of those books that results in book lovers being accused of being anti-social by non-readers, because it is almost impossible to pull your eyes, or your thoughts, away from the plot.

It has every element that you would want to see in a superior psychological thriller. Unreliable characters driving the plot so you don’t know who is telling the truth, who is lying or what you can believe? Check. Excrustiating tension between the main characters that almost makes you want to scream in agony? Check. Dark and twisty plot that you can’t possibly work out until the very last chapter, and even then takes you somewhere you weren’t anticipating? Check. Riveting and original premise unlike anything you’ve seen before that takes you to new and exciting places? Double check.

Every element is present and correct, but the author has taken them and shaken them up, then put them back together in a book that is unlike anything you will have read before and is really fresh and exciting for us prolific readers who may have become over-familiar and a little jaded with the genre. This is one of the best examples I have read this year of a psychological thriller, and I absolutely loved it.

The stand out joy of this book for me was the setting, a journey on the Trans-Siberian Express. Any regular readers of the blog will know that I am a travel junkie, and this journey is one of those bucket list trips that we dream of taking but probably never will. Well, this author did, and she has shared the experience vividly with the readers through the pages of this novel so you almost feel like you are having the experience alongside her (although I hope Susi’s trip took less of a noir turn than that of her characters!). I love to read literature focused around travel, and it was a particular delight to read on that takes a detour from the familiar, picture-perfect, sunny locations to a place altogether more remote, more alien and, hence, more threatening which provided the perfect backdrop for the story.

The characters in the book also fit the non-standard pattern. We have a couple of young backpackers on the seemingly typical ‘gap year’ adventure. But these are not the shiny, happy, glowing teens we are often presented with, but the much more realistic selfish, grubby, hedonistic and often unpleasant world wanderers, and their adventures are equally torrid to behold. This is much more ‘The Beach’ than ‘Love Island,’ and all the more interesting and authentic to read about because of it.

Reading this book was a bit like riding one of those really terrifying theme park rides that you make yourself go on, even though you aren’t quite sure you want to. You buckle in, still having second thoughts, but it’s too late and you are off. Your heart is in your mouth from the beginning, you aren’t quite sure what is coming or when, you can’t catch your breath, and each spin and drop is equal parts excruciating and exhilarating. It is only when you get to the end that you whoop with joy at how much you enjoyed it, and you can’t wait for another ride, even while your pulse is still racing and you are trying to come back down to earth. Everything you could wish for. But yourself a ticket, you’ll have the ride of your life.

Violet is out now in ebook format and will be released in paperback on 14 November, and you can get your copy here.

Please make sure you do check out some of the reviews from the other fabulous bloggers taking part in the tour, as detailed on the poster below:

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About the Author

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S.J.I. (Susi) Holliday is a scientist, writing coach and the bestselling author of five crime novels, including the Banktoun Trilogy (Black Wood, Willow Walk and The Damselfly), the festive chiller The Deaths of December and her creepy Gothic psychological thriller The Lingering. Her short story ‘Home From Home’ was published in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and shortlisted for the CWA Margery Allingham Prize.

Encapsulating her love of travel and claustrophobic settings, her latest novel, Violet, explores toxic friendships and the perils of talking to strangers, as well as drawing on her own journey on the Trans-Siberian Express over 10 years ago. All of her novels have been UK ebook number-one bestsellers.

Susi was born and raised in Scotland and now divides her time between Edinburgh, London and as many other exciting places that she can fit in.

Connect with Susi:

Website: http://sjiholliday.com

Facebook: SJI Holliday

Twitter: @SJIHolliday

Instagram: @susijholliday

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Friday Night Drinks with…. Sarah from Sarah’s Vignettes @Sarah_Swan2 @JulietWest14 @DEWhiteAuthor @maverickbooks #bookbloggers #bookblogging #amreading #FridayNightDrinks

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Last week we had a bit of a technical hiccup, so I apologise for the lack of drinks last week. Sandra, from BookLoverWorm will be appearing on a future date. This week, normal service has been resumed and I am delighted to welcome another blogger, the fabulous……Sarah Swan from Sarah’s Vignettes.

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Sarah, it is a joy to have you on the blog, thank you for joining me for drinks this evening. First things first, what are you drinking?

Thanks for inviting me, Julie. I’ll have an Aperol Spritz, please. I’m trying to carry on that summer holiday feeling for as long as possible!

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Looks delicious, I’ll have one too. 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?

Definitely, a country pub with a log fire. Good food and chatting about books over a bottle or two!

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Oh, you’d love my local, only tottering distance away if we over-indulge! 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?

Only two?! This is a tough choice. Winston Churchill would be one. I’ve always been fascinated with him. Have you visited Chartwell, his home in Kent? It’s a wonderful place with a happy atmosphere. I’ve recently visited Bletchley Park so I would love to invite along one of the WRNs who worked there. I have so many questions!!

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 started Sarah’s Vignettes back in April 2017 to share my love of books. I work full-time and have a commute, so running the blog alongside that can get a bit busy, but I love it! My blog has grown quite a lot already in those in two years. I’d just like to see where it goes. 

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

It’s more a series of moments for me. I’m really proud that the blog is still going strong after two years. Through blogging, I get to shout about great books, I have met several of my favourite authors, made some good friends and been to fab events. 

I was also asked to talk about book blogging at my local college. It was a publishing event for the adult education creative writing class. I was with authors Juliet West and Daisy White and publisher Kim Nye from Maverick Books. It was an honour to be asked. 

The biggest challenge is not having enough time to read all the books I’d love to read! You have to be realistic about how much you can take on. 

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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 like to write a bit more and maybe write a book one day. I’d like to think that being an insightful reader would stand me in good stead if I do decide to take the plunge. 

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

I’m not really working on anything at the moment, except trying to reduce my TBR (to-be-read) pile of books! I’ve cut down on the amount of blog tours I am committing to, mainly because of time. I love taking part in them but reading to deadline can get a bit crazy sometimes. I have some beautiful books waiting patiently on my book shelfs to be read and discovered. 

I completely understand, I am exactly the same! 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 to visit was La Reunion/Reunion. It’s a little island in the Indian Ocean, situated between Mauritius and Madagascar. It is an overseas department of France and it is paradise. 

There are so many places I want to visit. Depending on the day, the top of my list might change but I would love to visit Iceland. I changed planes in Rejkavik when I went to Canada and the landscape was fascinating as we landed. A friend has recently been on holiday there and loved it. 

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Iceland is on my bucket list too. Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know about you.

I am fluent in French, having lived and studied in Paris for 3 years. It was a wonderful experience. Give me a novel set in France any day!

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

Oh, this is painful! One book is hard as I recommend favourite books for different reasons. The one that springs to mind right now is The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. Have you read it? If you haven’t, it is written in the form of letters between an author, her publisher (we all need a Sidney in our lives!) and members of the Society. It is a heartwarming and delightful book. 

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To give them hope she must tell their story

It’s 1946. The war is over, and Juliet Ashton has writer’s block. But when she receives a letter from Dawsey Adams of Guernsey – a total stranger living halfway across the Channel, who has come across her name written in a second hand book – she enters into a correspondence with him, and in time with all the members of the extraordinary Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

Through their letters, the society tell Juliet about life on the island, their love of books – and the long shadow cast by their time living under German occupation. Drawn into their irresistible world, Juliet sets sail for the island, changing her life forever.

I haven’t read it yet, it is on my endless 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?

I’m not a big drinker, so I rarely have a hangover but drinking lots of water is key to avoid a hangover! On the occasions I do have a hangover, I always have a hankering for carbs and the fattiest food you can find. A good cooked breakfast and large pot of tea usually fixes it. 

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

Reading books and drinking tea! Whether that’s curled up at home or sitting outside – at the park, by the sea, in the garden. 

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Gorgeous photo, looks like the perfect reading spot for this time of year! Sarah, thank you so much for coming on the blog, it has been an absolute pleasure.

Sarah Swan has been reading books from a very early age and before she could read, she was always flicking through picture books. She’s sure she was born with a book in her hand! Books are a big part of her life and she started her blog, Sarah’s Vignettes in 2017, to share her love for them. By day, she can be found working in marketing and engagement and by night, she can be found shouting out about books on her blog and social media.

Find out more about Sarah via her blogFacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Please join me next week when I will be having Friday Night Drinks with author Morton S. Gray.

It’s Time! NaNoWriMo 2019 @NaNoWriMo #NaNoWriMo #nano2019 #amwriting #amwritingromance #FictionCafeWriters

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It’s that time of year again. That month where a cadre of crazy writers make an attempt at a heroic feat. The author’s equivalent of an endurance race, writer versus keyboard.

It’s time for NaNoWriMo.

For anyone not in the know, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. Every November, writers taking part commit to trying to write 50,000 words of a new novel in just 30 days. Thats the equivalent of 1,667 words per day. Every day.

During this time, writers come together in the NaNoWriMo community to support each other, cheer each other on, hold each other accountable, celebrate and commiserate as appropriate. They do this in the virtual world via the NaNoWriMo website or in person via local write-ins. It’s like having the world’s biggest writing group on your side. People are talking about it on Twitter, on Facebook, on Instagram. In forums and WhatsApp groups and in person. You can feel the collective energy spurring you on.

Some people plot and prep their novels meticulously in advance and start with a whole, shiny plan on November 1. Some start with a blank page and a vague idea. Others, like me, fall somewhere in-between. Some aim to get their next novel kickstarted in their usual way, some are revising old manuscripts, some use the time to try something a little bit different, experiment, have some fun. Plotter, pantser, plantser, old-school wrimo or writing rebel – everyone is welcome.

This is my third year taking part. The first year I did just over 32,000 words of my first full novel. Last year was a dismal failure. This year I am trying something new and I am determined to finish. I’ve got a bit of a plot, a lot of support and fire in my belly. I’ve got all my tools. I’m ready to go.

It’s going to be intense, so I’m coming off social media and abandoning the blog for the month to focus on the challenge. Apologies in advance for my absence. Blog commitments such as tours and Friday Night Drinks will be honoured, but other than that I’m going dark. I hope you will indulge me and not abandon me entirely. I will be back early December, older, tireder, but with lots of new reviews and, hopefully, the makings of a novel. Come back and I’ll tell you how it all went.

Or better still, why not join me? If you’ve ever wanted to write that book, now is the time.   If I may steal a few words from my favourite work by the inimitable Dr Seuss:

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)

KID, YOU’LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!

So…
be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea,
You’re off the Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!

Hop on the NaNo website, sign up now, it’s not too late. And if you are looking for a writing buddy, I’d be happy to have you on board. I’m JoolsM, pop me a request and we can cheer each other on to the finish line. I’ll see you there on 30 November.

Notting Hill in the Snow by Jules Wake #BookReview #BlogTour (@Juleswake) @0neMoreChapter_ @RaRaResources @NetGalley #RachelsRandomResources #NetGalley #NottingHillInTheSnow

Notting Hill In The Snow

Delighted to be one of the blogs opening up this tour for the new book by one of my favourite authors today, Notting Hill in the Snow by Jules Wake. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting to me on to the tour and to the publisher for my copy of the book, received via NetGalley, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

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It’s mayhem in Bethlehem…unless they can work together!

Viola Smith plays the viola in an orchestra (yes really!), but this year she’s been asked to stretch her musical talents to organising Notting Hill’s local nativity.

Nate Williams isn’t looking forward to Christmas but as his small daughter, Grace, has the starring role in the show, he’s forced to stop being a Grinch and volunteer with Viola.

With the sparks between them hotter than the chestnuts roasting in Portobello market, Nate and Viola can’t deny their feelings. And as the snow starts to fall over London, they find themselves trapped together in more ways than one…

Apologies for posting this a little late in the day but a combination of an Irish road trip, a flat iPad battery and unreliable hotel Wi-fi have led to this situation and I hope it is a case of better late than never.

This book is a follow up to Covent Garden in the Snow insofar as it has some of the same characters, but it is a whole new story with the focus on a new set of main characters and is easily read as a standalone book. However, you should definitely use this new book to catch up on the previous one which is a great book and one of my favourite Christmas reads of the past few years.

Did this sequel live up to the previous book? Did it ever, and then some. This is an absolutely perfect Christmas story with a cast of warm and wonderful characters, a gorgeous wintry setting and an enticing story line to hold it all together.

Oddly, following on from yesterday’s review, this book also centres around the staging of a school nativity play. This time we are following the story of Viola, a musician at the London Metropolitan Opera Company who is tasked with helping out a a school as a favour to a patron. Viola could do without the added stress at a busy time of year when she has work and the demands of her own, rather inconsiderate family, to deal with. However, working alongside handsome and charming lawyer Nate takes some of the sting out of it and when you throw in some cute kiddies, Viola finds herself losing her heart in more ways than one.

Jules Wake’s writing is as approachable and engrossing as ever in this book and the story really held my attention all the way through. Jules has created a character in Viola who immediately steals the heart of the reader and draws us to her side and into her story from the first page. The situation she finds herself in with Nate and Grace really moved me, and was such a relevant and contemporary scenario, totally relatable to so many people, I was captivated from start to finish.

This is a rewarding and charming festive story that repaid the time that I invested in reading it. It left me feeling moved and warmed and satisfied. Fans of this author will not be disappointed and anyone new to her books will have the delightful prospect of catching up on her back catalogue. Lucky things.

Notting Hill in the Snow is out as an ebook now and in paperback on 12 December and you can buy a copy here.

Make sure you follow the rest of the tour as detailed below:

Notting Hill in the Snow Full Tour Banner

About the Author

Jules Wake (2)

Jules Wake announced at the age of ten that she planned to be a writer. Along the way she was diverted by the glamorous world of PR and worked on many luxury brands and not so luxury brands. This proved fabulous training for writing novels as it provided her with the opportunity to hone her writing and creative skills penning copy on a vast range of subjects from pig farming and watches, sunglasses and skincare through to beer and stationery.  

She writes best-selling warm-hearted contemporary fiction for One More Chapter as Jules Wake and under her pen name Julie Caplin, she writes the Romantic Escapes series.  

Between them, the two Js have written twelve novels, Notting Hill in the Snow being the latest. 

Connect with Jules:

Website: http://www.juleswake.co.uk

Facebook: Jules Wake

Twitter: @Juleswake

Instagram: @juleswakeauthor