FREE BOOK SUNDAY!

Today the sun is shining, people are enjoying the sunshine, and the books are flowing! This is the first in my new segment, free book Sunday!

No author likes to give work away for free, but it is the ideal way to find new readers. I hope you take a chance on this one, and go on to buy more from this author too. Don’t be shy to tell a friend or two either!

If you would like to feature on this blog segment, please get in touch!

You can buy from Amazon UK and US here.

EVA POHLER

Dive into a world in which the ancient gods of Greek mythology are real.

Part paranormal romance, part epic urban fantasy, the first in this bestselling young adult series is the teen novel mythology lovers have been searching for:

Fifteen-year-old Therese watches her parents die. While in a coma, she meets the twin sons of Hades—Hypnos (the god of sleep) and Thanatos (the god of death). She thinks she’s manipulating a dream, not kissing the god of death and totally rocking his world.

Than makes a deal with Hades and goes as a mortal to the Upperworld to try and win Therese’s heart, but not all the gods are happy. Some give her gifts. Others try to kill her.

The deal requires Therese to avenge the death of her parents. With the help of Than’s fierce and exotic sisters, the Furies, she finds herself in an arena face to face with the murderer, and only one will survive.

Happy reading everyone!

Author Interview – Michelle Betham

Michelle Betham Author Pic

Today on the blog I have the pleasure of speaking to Michelle Betham, who is a hybrid indie/traditionally published author that I have been reading for some years now. Thanks for coming Michelle!

Michelle Betham is an ex-media technician turned author of sexy, edgy, and sometimes quite dark romance, usually involving rock stars, movie stars, hot businessmen and bikers. But not usually all in the same book. Yet. She is both self-published and published through HarperImpulse, a division of HarperCollins Publishers.

Addicted to binge-watching TV shows she struggles to think of a life before Netflix or Amazon Prime, loves rock music, tattoos – of which she has many – spicy food, superheroes (she’s a slightly obsessed Avengers fan-girl who harbours a particularly unhealthy obsession with Captain America), and Keanu Reeves – a crush that’s lasted well over twenty years, and one she blames entirely on ‘Point Break’. The original. She refuses to acknowledge any remake exists.

Her dream is to ride a Harley, visit Las Vegas, and be able to eat any amount of chocolate without putting on weight.

She lives in County Durham, north-east England, with her husband and West Highland Terrier, where she can be found most days drinking tea and making up stories.

Q1. Can you tell us a little about your current WIP?

At the minute, I can’t really say much at all, it’s a bit of a secret. What I can say, though, is that it’s a little different to any of my other books, and I’m having a blast writing it!

Q2. What’s next for the writing?

Again, it’s a bit of a boring answer because I’m currently so involved with that secret project I mentioned before. The one I can’t say much about! However, I’m also making a lot of notes on future book ideas, because they’re coming thick and fast. And I’m also genre-hopping again. It’s a habit of mine.

Book Series Collection

Q3. In addition to your books, what kind of career have you had?

A bit of a varied one, to be honest. I started out as a secretary in an accountant’s office before leaving that job to train as a nursery nurse. I then became a one-on-one assistant for a teenager with cerebral palsy, accompanying her to school, helping her with certain aspects of lessons she found difficult, that kind of thing. And over 25 years later I’m happy to say we’re still very good friends! In 1994 I went back to college and gained a BTEC in Performing Arts before becoming a media technician at the University of Sunderland, which was the best job in the world, I loved it! But I gave it all up when we moved to Tenerife for a couple of years in 2004, and that’s when the writing bug really bit hard, because I finally had the time to pursue it.

Q4. A typical day in the life of you – what does that look like?

Well, a typical day would start at around 7.15am when me and Archie – my little West Highland terrier – go out for our morning walk. Then we have breakfast, watch some news, I do a (little) bit of housework, and then I’m usually at the desk for about half past nine. It’s a break for lunch around twelve-thirty, and that’s when I try to grab some reading time before I take Archie out for his afternoon walk, which is always welcome. It’s nice to get a bit of fresh air to kick-start the brain again before an afternoon of writing. And I stay at the desk until about five 0’clock – that’s when I let reality take over again. We make dinner, there’s more dog walking, but I always squeeze in some early evening reading, too. I can’t write in the evening. I need to switch off at some point, although, to be fair, switching off completely is a very hard thing to do for any writer, I’m sure! So, not the most exciting of days, but that’s very much a typical one at the moment.

Q5. I collect elephant ornaments (and books of course!) – do you have something you collect?

I’m slightly obsessed with mugs. I’d have a cupboard full of them if I could, it drives my husband to distraction!

Q6. If you could branch out into a different genre, which one would you choose and why?

Well, I’ve done quite a bit of genre-juggling with my books as it is, so I’ve already tried a few, but, I’ve never tried my hand at horror. And I LOVE reading horror books, I adore being scared witless by the likes of James Herbert and Stephen King. So, maybe one day I’ll have a go myself. After all, I do have a VERY dark side!

Q7. Do you have any tips for the budding novelists out there reading this?

The most important thing – never, ever give up! If you love what you, if you truly love writing, then keep going, no matter how many knock-backs you may get. And learn to love your own voice – never try to emulate anyone else. Be inspired, of course, but find your own voice, and then learn to love it.

Q8. What are you reading currently?

‘Obsession’ by Amanda Robson. Really enjoying it.

Q9. Before you start a new novel, do you plot extensively, focus on the characters, or take an idea and run with it?

Oh, I am definitely a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants writer! I never really plan extensively. I take an idea, make notes, create characters – I have to have the characters fairly clear in my head before I begin – but apart from that I just start writing, and let the story take me where it needs to go. Mind you, having said that, the book I’m currently working on at the minute has meant I’ve had to forget all ofthat, and for the first time ever I’ve actually had to plan a story from start to finish! It’s been an education, to say the least. A very different way of working for me, but I’ve picked up some very useful tips along the way, which is always a good thing. As writers I don’t think we ever stop learning.

Q10. Who are your favourite writers in the genre you write in?

Well, I write in a few different genres, so I’ve got favourite authors in those different genres, too. I’ve always, always loved Jackie Collins’ books for the pure escapism. Her books are my guilty pleasure. I also adore the likes of Kylie Hillman and Jordan Marie for MC (motorcycle club) romance, James Herbert and Stephen King for horror, and I’m also a big fan of Jill Mansell and Marian Keyes.

 

Thanks for coming to chat Michelle, I can’t wait to chat with you later in the summer about series writing!

For more info on Michelle and her books, follow the links below.

Website:

Twitter:

Facebook:

Instagram:

Amazon:

 

Rachel xx

Book Blogger Spotlight – Being Anne

Today I have the lovely Anne coming to chat about her blog. Welcome, Anne!
1. How long have you been a book blogger?
Do you know, I had to check – my first blog, on the Blogger platform, launched in February 2013, so just over four years. Fancy reading my first ever post? You’ll find it here – I’ve got a lot better since then, promise!
2. How old is your blog? Did you have any before?
No blog before that, but i’ve always loved reviewing the books I read. I can even remember (and it’s a long, long time ago…) keeping a notebook of reviews i did while awaiting my A-level results – George Orwell really doesn’t need to worry about his reputation. As a grown-up (forget the in-between years – I discovered boys!) I joined a few on-line book groups, reviewed on sites like Librarything and always on Amazon… and I guess that’s when the book blogging revolution started, and I decided to be part of it.
3. Why did you get into blogging in the first place?
I just thought it made sense to keep all my thoughts in one place – and share them. Friends had made the leap, so I thought “why not”. The first year was difficult – I was working all hours, and the blog took second place. But then I retired – and having tidied out my cupboards and re-organised my finances, I thought “what next?” – and I decided ”how about building that blog?”. I’ve never looked back – and I’m having so much fun!
4. Tell me about your blog, why the theme? Why is your blog different than the others?
I’m not sure if it’s that different really – there are some magnificent book bloggers out there that I don’t feel fit to kiss the boots of. I think my USP might be that I like to give some of the little people a chance – I still love featuring the blockbusters, reading them and reviewing, but I particularly like shining a light on the people who don’t make the headlines. I don’t think I could never write a book, but those who actually get up and do it really deserve a forum and someone to help them shout more loudly. Those Facebook shares, those multiple tweets on Twitter, all mean such a lot – and I have a fantastic network of bloggers and authors who help me make that happen.
5. Talking books – what genres do you review/prefer?
I’m never sure how to define what I enjoy. Maybe “women’s literature” is the best definition? I know what I like, and when I agree to review I’ve usually spotted something that makes me think the book has “me” written on it. I used to love chick lit – but I’m getting too old to identify with the main characters, so I do it less these days. I did love thrillers, but there were too many missing children – and I don’t like the gory, or the forensic detail. I like literary – but I am quite fussy. I like a cracking story. But above all, I like to really feel something – if you can engage my heart, that’s one guaranteed high star review.
6. Apart from blogs – do you blog about any other subject? If not, do you have plans to in the future?
This is a bit of a regret, really. I love my holidays, often in really unusual locations, and I always planned to write a few travel based blog posts – but the books took over and it has just never happened. I doubt it will now.
7. What is your favourite book so far this year?
Did you know this would be a “favourite child” question? Already there have been half a dozen, but I think the one I must single out is Sealskin by Su Bristow. This book captured my heart – on paper, maybe not my kind of book at all, but it certainly moved me more than anything else I’ve read this year. A really special book.
seal skin
8. What is your favourite book?
It depends what day you ask me. I know people wax lyrical about their first Enid Blyton or their favourite Jane Austen, but I just can’t. I read English Lit at university, and I know I should probably pick a Dickens or a Bronte (Mrs Gaskell was always a favourite, and Thomas Hardy…)., I can’t even pick out my favourite of the last couple of years – but I have a really soft spot for Letters to the Lost by Iona Grey. I hate picking just one – but you did ask…
letters
9. Which book are you looking forward to the most due to come out?
Definitely the new one by Vanessa Lafaye – At First Light comes out on 1st June, I have my advance copy, and I’m dying to read it. But there are more –
 The Faithful by Juliet West, Skin Deep by Laura Wilkinson, Julie Cohen’s Together, the new Rowan Coleman on 29th June, Carol Lovekin’s new one later in the year… I really shouldn’t have started this one, should I?
10. Tell me a little about you!
I’m 61 years old and single – not for the want of trying – with no family now other than my mum, who’s over 90 and has just moved to live near me.  I used to work in project management and business management, with a focus on people development and communications, but I retired – with a sigh of relief – three years ago. I’m Welsh by birth – from near Bangor in North Wales – but I’ve lived in Yorkshire, in the beautiful market town of Wetherby, for over 25 years now, and I never made a better decision. I’m equidistant from Harrogate, Leeds and York, with everything they have to offer – and if London beckons, as it often does, I can get there in under two and a half hours. Other than books, my passion is travel – I like to do a couple of long-haul holidays a year, and I’m rapidly catching up with my bucket list. I do a regular book slot on local radio – Tempo FM – and run the book club for my local U3A group too.
11. Sweet or savoury?
Savoury – pies, pasties, sarnies – but also a real weakness for chocolate, preferably dark…
12. Summer or Christmas?
Christmas, I think – love all the sparkle and schmaltz…and the Christmas books…
13. Finally, if you could have written any book already in existence, which one would you choose and why?
It’s funny – I know I couldn’t have written Anna Karenina or Wuthering Heights, so I wouldn’t try and lay claim to them. But every so often I come across one that might just have been within my grasp – Sue Watson’s We’ll Only Have Paris maybe, or Liz Trenow’s The Forgotten Seamstress, and I wonder if I really should do that OU writing course or apply for the RNA New Writers’ scheme. Have I left it too late, do you think? Maybe, one day…
Anne, you should definitely give it a go, and I know a fair few authors (including me) who would be there to cheer you on!
To connect with Anne, see her pages!

Author Interview: Mark Hill – Two O’Clock Boy

mark-hill

Today I have the pleasure of talking about this wonderful book, and sharing my little review. This author gets a 5 star thumbs up from me. He will be going on my auto-buy list!

REVIEW

This book rather took me by surprise. I love a good crime thriller, police procedural, and this has all that in spades. The thing you don’t expect is the character development. I don’t post spoilers, I believe that they detract from reading the actual book and forming your own opinions, but I have to say. The ending. Wow. I am salivating for the sequel. I would love to see this book as a TV drama. Done well, it would be amazing, as the story is.

Mark Hill took the time to give me a little interview, so thank you Mark for that – and for waiting till my deadline was done and I got to wade through my to-do list!

There is a sequel to Two O’Clock Boy, so can I ask – do you have a title, and can you sum up the feeling of the book in a sentence?
I’ve got a long list of titles for the second book, but what it will end up being called is uncertain at this time! Titles are terribly important to some authors – I have friends who can’t write a word until they know what the book is going to be called. But it’s the last piece of the puzzle for me. What I can tell you is that the second Drake book is a creepy, bittersweet tale of unrequited sibling love…
In addition to your books, what kind of career have you had?
I’ve been a journalist, and I was a producer at BBC Radio 2 for many years, working across a number of daytime shows and projects. Actually, after I left there I worked for an independent company, producing Alan Carr’s Saturday night show on the network. I loved that job! It meant I could write for five days and then spend two days playing fantastic tracks and laughing my socks off.
A typical day in the life of you – what does that look like?
A typical day for me would see me drinking too much coffee and eating pastries a pastry in a café. I’ll go home and stare out the window with my fingers poised over a keyboard. If I’m working on a novel, I’ll try to do a couple of thousand words at least, and then I’ll charge aimlessly around North London with a wild look in my eye as I think about what I’ve written and what’s coming next. I’ll accelerate past the pastry shop – just in case.
I collect elephant ornaments (and books of course!) – do you have something you collect?
I collect movie posters. Sadly, I only have a certain amount of wall space so I have to change them up occasionally, but I get enormous pleasure from looking at them every day.
If you could branch out into a different genre, which one would you choose and why?
I’d like to write a really frightening horror book. In the movies it’s easy to scare people – a jump-cut, a glimpse of a glinting knife, some choppy violin strings – but I’d like to write something that really gives you a creeping dread, something that makes your skin crawl so much that you’ll be using bleach as a shower gel.
Do you have any tips for the budding novelists out there reading this?
Keep going. I ain’t the youngest debut writer on the block – I mean, I may look youthful **cough** but appearances can be deceptive. There’s never a right time or a wrong time to get published. Just keep rolling that boulder up the hill, press your shoulder into it and keep pushing. Nobody ever got anywhere by quitting. And naps help. Yeah, plenty of naps. And pastries.

What are you reading currently?
I’ve been reading Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner. It’s hugely enjoyable, empathetic and witty – and DS Manon Bradshaw is a fictional detective superstar in the making.

Before you start a new novel, do you plot extensively, focus on the characters, or take an idea and run with it? 
I plot, plot, plot and plot some more. There’s a school of thought that you should ‘pants’ it, let your story pour out of your subconscious as you go along. That works for some people but I wrote scripts before novels and I’m a huge believer in structure, making sure all the pieces of story furniture are placed *just so* to my liking on the pages. Which is weird, because I’m actually a really sloppy individual in real life – I’ve always got food stains down my jumper and pastry crumbs in my hair. That’s not to say that everything is set in stone. Characters do unexpected things as I sit and write, situations develop out of nowhere. The main thing is there’s no right way or wrong way to write a novel – find the way of working that works for you.
Who are your favourite writers in the genre you write in? 
Oh god, I really hate this question. There are too many. Here are some. Dennis Lehane, Megan Abbott, Patricia Highsmith, Don Winslow, Megan Abbott, Alex Marwood, Belinda Bauer, Gillian Flynn, Richard Price, David Peace. That guy with the nice hair. William Gibson, Joseph Heller, Gillian Flynn, Graham Greene, Ian Fleming, Ian Banks, Belinda Bauer, Kate Atkinson, Thomas Harris, Ted Lewis, Laura Lippman, Pierre Lemaitre, Charles Willeford, Mo Hayder, Gregg Hurwitz, Sarah Waters, Dan Simmons, Paul Auster. The Dickens bloke who wrote the thing about the kid. Neil Cross. Stephen King – I mean, that’s obvs, right? Patrick Hamilton, love Patrick Hamilton, Shirley Jackson, Chandler and Hammett. That fellow who wrote the trilogy about the pastries. Anthony Powell, Carl Hiaasen, Scott Smith, Anthony Powell, Harlan Coben, Chuck Palahniuk, Alan Moore, Chuck Hogan, James Ellroy, Anne Tyler, Carl Hiaasen, Daphne du Maurier, Jim Thompson, Jonathan Coe. George MacDonald Fraser. That lady who wrote that thing that did well. George V. Higgins, Ira Levin. John Le Carre. Ian McEwan, Michael Connelly, John Wyndham.
Tell me when you want me to stop…

Mark, it’s been an utter pleasure. I am already desperate for the sequel!

Two O’clock Boy is out now on Amazon

Christmas tipples #AldiWineClub #AldiSpirits

In today’s austere times, the advent of shopping smarter is more important than ever, and I for one have noticed the great difference in shopping with Aldi. One, I have more food in my kitchen for my money. Two, I have more money FOR food. The quality hasn’t suffered at all, and when I got the chance to join the wine club, it was pretty much a no-brainer, given that I do enjoy the odd glass after a day of kidwrangling and writing romance.

Some of my clear favourites, are the Toro Loco range of wines, which are amazing and taste and look more expensive than they are (see Instagram for photos) and the Salted Caramel Vodka Liquer. This bottle is like manna from heaven, is perfect with ice on its own or awesome in a cocktail or six.

Tamova Liqueurs Salted Caramel Vodka Liqueur

£9.99 per bottle

Available now in stores

Described as “amazing” by Holly Willoughby, this smooth and seductive salted caramel liqueur is the ultimate festive party drink, made exclusively from caramel flavours, finest rock salt and triple distilled British grain vodka.

If it works for Holly, it works for me!

If you are looking for BUBBLES, I would recommend their pink champagne, or this little beauty, which I would be proud to take to a party.

Veuve Monsigny Champagne Brut Single bottle 75cl £9.99 / Case of 6 £59.94 Available in stores and online now at aldi.co.uk Every Christmas should be celebrated with an award winning Champagne. Aldi’s Veuve Monsigny Champagne Brut, delivers a gorgeous bouquet of ripe apples, floral hints and soft red fruits and boasts an aroma of baked apple and brioche. This sparkler is best served with Aldi’s Exquisite Rope Hung Scottish Smoked Salmon and enjoyed perfectly chilled.

To see the photos (and more of bookish things and the reasons I enjoy wine) check out my Instagram

Happy Christmas everyone!!

 

Author Interview: Ellie Darkins

darkins

Hi, thanks for coming to chat to us today!

Q1. Can you tell us a little about your WIP?

My new book is called HOLIDAY WITH THE MYSTERY ITALIAN and was inspired by TV dating shows. The hero and heroine meet on a celebrity version of the show, and I loved exploring that excitement of seeing that two strangers have a spark and attraction, and voyeuristically following them to see if it would lead somewhere!

Q2.What’s next for the writing?

Up next is FALLING FOR THE REBEL PRINCESS: royal party-girl marries rock-star in Vegas!

Q3. In addition to your books, what kind of career have you had?

Before I was a writer I was a professional editor, and I balance the two careers at the moment. I mentor lots of budding authors and get the first look at some fabulous stories! Back when I was still at university (studying English Literature) I worked in a bookshop, so I’ve pretty much been steeped in books for my entire professional life.

Q4. A typical day in the life of you – what does that look like?

As well as the reading and the writing I look after my one-year-old, so on nursery days it’s all about getting us both out the house, dropping little one off at nursery, finding a friendly coffee shop and settling in with the laptop until lunch. Then it’s home and chaos until bedtime, after which I’ll open the laptop again and try and get some more words down (or maybe watch a sneaky episode of something if the morning went well!)

Q5. I collect elephant ornaments (and books of course!) – do you have something you collect?

Do dust bunnies count?!

Q6. Women writers, and romance writers in particular, often see prejudice and a certain ‘pigeon holing’ when it comes to their books – what would you say about your own work?

I have to say I’ve had nothing but supportive words from people I’ve met in real life (perhaps it’s because when people ask me what I do, I tell them with a beaming smile and assure them that, yes, it is super-amazing to be a romance author). But I’ve read articles and reviews that show that there are still people out there that don’t value the romance genre as much as it deserves. Of course it’s disappointing to know that attitudes like this still exist, but I think it comes from unfamiliarity with the genre. So I try to combat it sharing as many great authors as I can, talking to everyone I meet about how fabulous romance novels are, and pressing books into the hands of anyone who will take them.

Q7. If you could branch out into a different genre, which one would you choose and why?

I think I’d explore something the darker and edgier, like psychological women’s fiction.

Q8. Do you have any tips for the budding novelists out there reading this?

My only advice really is to just keep writing. Sadly there are no shortcuts to the Happy Ever After, you just have to keep putting one word in front of another.

Q9. What are you reading currently?

I’m currently re-reading Apple Tree Yard, by Louise Doughty. It couldn’t be further from a Mills & Boon, but it’s a book that’s been haunting me since I first read it a couple of years ago. I recommended it to a mentoring client, and then couldn’t resist going back to see if it’s as good as I remember. It’s better.

Q10. Finally, do you have a next goal or dream in life? If so, what is it?

Wow, big question. At the moment, my big goal is to start the next book! It can be tricky letting go of a story and characters you love and know so well and starting again at a blank first page. I’m doing lots of character work at the moment to get to know my new hero and heroine and hopefully their story will start to flow soon.

To hear more about Ellie and her book – see below!

HOLIDAY WITH THE MYSTERY ITALIAN – OUT 1 DECEMBER 2016

Since the accident that paralyzed him, Italian tycoon Mauro Evans vowed to embrace life. So when he stars in a dating show for charity, picking prickly journalist Amber Harris as the winner to take on holiday is a challenge he can’t resist!   In Amber’s experience, relationships equal pain, so she’s determined to ignore her attraction to charismatic Mauro. But his bravery and strength threaten to tear down her defenses, giving her a new Christmas dream—ringing in the New Year with wedding bells!

Ellie Darkins  writes heart-warming stories about falling in love, finding your soul mate and fighting hard to make real relationships work. The HEA is guaranteed, but nothing else along the way is. Expect to see surprise babies, breath-taking settings and alpha heroes by the bucketload. Plus steamy kisses, heaps of sensual tension, and fireworks just audible from behind a closed bedroom door.

Elliedarkins.com

Facebook: facebook.com/elliedarkins

Twitter: twitter.com/elliedarkins

Insta: Instagram.com/ellie_darkins