Book Haul January 2018

At the moment, I am in a real book “pickle”. I have started to read about six books, but have not got very far through them I am struggling to concentrating on one book. I have so many books I want to read, but just cannot focus. I hope this improves with time. Anyway, enough of my grumbles here are a few books I have either purchased or have been kindly sent (I will clearly let you know which is which). I hope you enjoy.

The Assassination of Gianni Versace – Maureen Orth 

On 15 July 1997, Gianni Versace was shot dead on the steps of his Miami Beach mansion. Within hours, the police had identified his murderer as Andrew Cunanan, a serial killer on the FBI’s Most Wanted list.

At the time of Versace’s murder, award-winning journalist Maureen Orth was already investigating Cunanan’s killing spree for Vanity Fair. Drawing on over 400 interviews and thousands of pages of police reports, she reveals the story of what led Cunanan to become one of America’s most notorious serial killers, and how he managed to elude the police and FBI for so long.

About the Author

Maureen’s award-winning career begain as one of the first women writers at Newsweek. Currently a Special Correspondent for Vanity Fair, she has profiled everyone from Margaret Thatcher and Angela Merkel to Bruce Springsteen and Taylor Swift, and has researched and written groundbreaking pieces on Woody Allen and Michael Jackson, among others.

The Innocent Wife – Amy Lloyd 

You love him. You trust him. So why are you so scared?

Her obsession started eighteen years after the first documentary……As the story unfolded on screen everything else started to fade away. At the heart of it the boy, too young for the suit he wore in court, blue eyes blinking confused at the camera, alone and afraid. It hurt her to look at him….barely eighteen years old, alone on Death Row.

You’re in love with a man who’s serving time for a brutal murder on Florida’s Death Road. He’s the subject of a true-crime documentary that’s whipping up a frenzy online.

You’re convince he’s innocent, and you’re determined to prove it. You leave your old life behind.

Now, you’re married to him. And he’s free, his conviction overturned.

But is he so innocent after all?

How do you confront your husband when you don’t want to know the truth?

About the Author

Amy studied English and Creative Writing at Cardiff Metropolitan University. Her writing combines her fascination with true crime and her passion for fiction. The Innocent Wife is her first novel and was borne out of a course module in university. She lives in Cardiff with her partner and two cats.

@AmyLloydWrites

This book was kindly sent to me.

Back Up – Paul Colize 

Berlin 1967: four members of the British rock band Pearl Harbor die at the same time but in separate locations. Inexplicably, the police conclude natural causes are to blame.

Brussels 2010: a homeless man is hit by a car outside Gare du Midi, leaving him with locked-in syndrome, only able to communicate (sometimes) by blinking.

Irish journalist, Michael Stern, starts to investigate. How did the members of Pearl Harbor die, and how is this linked to the homeless man in Brussels?

About the Author

Paul was born in Brussels in 1953. He is the author of  ten novels including Back Up, which was shortlisted for the Prix Victor-Rossel and the Prix Saint-Maur en Poche. He lives in Waterloo, Belgium.

This book is due to be released on 1 February 2018 and was kindly sent to me by Oneworld.

http://www.oneworld-publications.com

Darkest Hour – Anthony McCarten 

May 1940, Britain is at war, European democracies are falling rapidly and the public are unaware of this dangerous new world. Just days after his unlikely accession to the post of Prime Minister, Winston Churchill faces this horror – and a sceptical king and a party plotting against him. He wondershow he can capture the public mood, and does so, magnificently, before leading the country to victory. 

About the Author

Anthony is a celebrated New Zealand-born film-maker, novelist and playwright who now divides his time between London, Los Angeles and Munich. He recieved early international success with his play Ladies Night, which was translated into twelve uages. His screenplay for The Theory of Everything, which he wrote and produced, won a Bafta and  was nominated for an Oscar.

Why I Read The Serious Pleasure of Books – Wendy Lesser 

Wendy draws on a lifetime of pleasure reading and decates of editing to describe a life lived in and through literature. Wendy examines work from such perspectives as “Character and Plot”, “Novelty”, “Grandeur and Intimacy” and “Authority”, the reader will discover a definition of literature that is as broad as it is broad-minded. In addition to novels and stories, Wendy explores plays, poems and essays, along with mysteries, science fiction, and memoirs. Wendy’s passion for reading is infectious – and is resonates on every page. 

About the Author 

Wendy is the founder and editor of The Threepenny Review. She is the author of eight previous books of non-fiction and one novel. 

The Miniaturist – Jessie Burton 

There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed…..

On an autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman arrives at a grand house in Amsterdam to begin her new life as the wife of wealthy merchant Johannes Brandt. Through curiously distant, he presents her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. It is to be furnished by an elusive miniaturist, whose tiny creations ring eerily true.

As Nella uncovers uncovers the secrets of her new household she realises the escalating dangers they face. The miniaturist seems to hold their fate in her hands – but does she plan to save or destroy them?

About the Author

Jessie Burton was born in 1982. She studied at Oxford University and the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, and worked for nine years as an actress and a PA before The Miniaturist was published.

The Miniaturist is Jessie’s first novel. An international bestseller, it has been published around the world in over thirty languages. She has siince written a second bestselling novel, The Muse.

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What She Left – Rosie Fiore 

Helen Cooper has a charmed life. She’s beautiful, accomplished, organised – the star parent at the school. Until she disappears. 

But Helen wasn’t abducted or murdered. She’s chosen to walk away, abandoning her family, husband Sam, and her home. 

Where has Helen gone, and why? What has driven her from her seemingly perfect life? What is she looking for? Sam is tormented by these questions, and gruadually begins to lose his grip on work and his family life. 

He sees Helen everywhere in the faces of strangers. He’s losing control.

But then one day, it really is Helen’s face he sees……

Rosie was born and grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa. She studied drama at University and has worked as a writer for theatre, television, magazine, advertising, comedy and the corporate market. she has lived in London since 2000. 

Rosie is a keen cook and an avid runner, and is always keen to write about either. 

When you manage to finish a book in one day, it’s a pretty good sign that it’s a good book. Rosie covered a topic which I strongly believe needs to be discussed a lot more and that is missing people. We need to establish a better understanding as to why people do it and at times people just do not want to go back and ensure there is a proper support network for families that are left behind. 

Helen is most definately a “perfect” wife and mother but there is a lot more to this perfection which you will later learn in the story. I do not want to say too much about what happens as I feel it would spoil the story. It’s a book that explores the complex relationships families can have and not everything maybe what it seems. 

I appreciated Rosie’s reflection on what Helen may have felt for the family that she had left behind: 

pg143 

“My darling Frances is a careful, shy girl. She’s not one for forming close, passionate friendship bonds, as so many little girls do. She tends to hang back. She has friends, and she’s kind and quietly confident, so she’s generally popular. But she doesn’t let any of them get too close. I know, deep down, that this is the fault of her feckless father, and it is another on a long, long list of reasons why I want to punch him.’ 

You go on the rollercoaster ride of emotions, not only for Helen but Sam, Helen’s husband the children and the impact on the wider community. Rosie also reflects the behaviour changes, challenges and relationship changes from Helen leaving. Sam’s behaviour becomes quite obsessive as he has so many unanswered questions and because of this his mind starts to play tricks on him. At some points in the book, I became increasinly frustrated with Sam and kept shouting at him to pull himself together and to look after his children as I felt that they were always forgotten about, and actually his children were the ones that needed him the most. 

pg.268 

“What are the odds of bumping into someone in London? One in several million? And yet it happens. Had happened. Helen has obviously decided that it was worth the risk of staying in London, that the odds were overwhelmingly in her favour. She might easily have lived another lifetime in the city without ever encountering me or anyone she knew. But she’d been unlucky. She’d caught the wrong Tube on the wrong day, and despite the enourmous changes to her appearance, I’d seen her.” 

This is a must read book, and one I would highly recommend. I have had an amazing start to my reading in 2018. 

If you would like to keep up to-date with what Rosie is doing or purchase her amazing book, clickhere. 

This blog tour was arranged by Rachel, if you are an author and require any promotional work for your new book, please click here for more details. 
 

 

The Matter of the Crown – Linda Ferreri 

The Crown of the Andes, one of the world’s most precious and beautiful sacred objects, has been stolen right off the stage at Satterling’s Auction House in New York City. Five pounds of magnificent baroque gold that ransomed the Inca Ruler Atahaulpa, and hundreds of perfect Colombian emeralds, all gone without a trace! With this legendary treasure be destroyed for its gold and emeralds? One woman is dead and another one in hot pursuit. 

About the Author 

Linda is a well-known art lawyer and author. Her books include novels about the Crown of the Anes, a novella entitled The King of UNINI, and whimsical hand-illustrated iBooks. She is known, also, for her drawings. She divides her time between Italy and the United States, and lectures widely around the world about art and history. Her next novel is in progress. 

Linda has kindly provided an extract from her amazing book, I hope you enjoy. 

“The story opens with the fact that a woman living alone is missing from her small house in a small medieval hill town in Le Marche, Italy. Baldo, soon to become one of the main characters in the novel, puzzles int he street in front of her house.

Baldo knew something of the habits of the occupant of the house with the open door. Avi, he had seen, was an orderly young woman who lived quietly there in her small house on the outer rim of the historic center of the town. He believed she was American. The residents had taken an interest in her when she had come to Castello Piceno a few months go, but by now she was simply a respectable wallflower there. It was the woman’s practice to stay in her house in the mornings, except on market day when she could be seen wandering from stall to stall, admiring the fruits and vegetables and buying a few. She went about alone, people noticed.

“She paints, you know,” Baldo said to the old woman.

“Maybe she’s a shoe buyer, too,” the old woman replied. “I think that might be how she makes her living. Buying shoes here from the manufacturers. That’s normal, yes?”

“Ah, si, perhaps,” Baldo answered. “An artist, however. I am guessing that.”

The old woman made a humphing sound that failed to form a word. It indicated that Baldo might be correct, or might not, but that she was disinterested in the matter.

“Oh I think so,” Baldo continued. “But I don’t really know. She has some nice paintings on the walls. I think she made them. But she seems not the type to wander off. I will see about this.” Baldo spoke to himself as well as the old woman at the chapel door.

“Yes, yes, Baldo! You should do that,” the old woman was offering encouragement that bordered on instructions.

The old woman, wearing her sensible black shoes and navy-blue sweater, had dressed properly before going out in public to place flowers on the door of the chapel of Santa Maria. She wore a single rope of small pearls around her neck and small gold earrings. Her hair was grey but her eyes were bright. She knew what went on along this street, though it had very few residents, because of her regular walks there. And she knew Baldo.

Like everyone in the town, the old woman relied on Baldo’s credentials for everything from negotiations about street repairs to opinions about rose bushes. After all, he was a retired policeman from Loreto that was only 70 kilometers away. Loreto was the place of the Blessed Virgin, her protection and her healing. If Loreto, with all of its pilgrims and spirits, could trust Baldo, then he was to be trusted with everything and called upon by anyone in Castello Piceno who had concerns about almost anything.

Baldo had great height, an unusual and attractive characteristic in an Italian man, affording him an extra degree of authority in any small town he visited but especially the one in which he lived. So yes, the old lady who was delivering flowers to the chapel dedicated to the Blessed Virgin knew he could be trusted to see about this mystery across the street from a holy place.

Baldo reassured the old woman that she could continue with her floral work on the chapel door, and that what investigating was required he would do. In order to satisfy her, he was compelled to turn around and walk back along the narrow street in the direction of the center of Castello Piceno, but he walked slowly and continued to stop, then turn to stare at Avi’s house.

The windows were open, he noticed. It was a fine but almost cold day, and Avi’s windows were open to the world as though the owner were at home. Not only were the windows open, but the wooden shutters upstairs stood ajar.

Her full name, he knew because she had told him, was Avelina Valencia. A signora or a signorina? He had no idea so he called her Signorina and she did not correct him. There was no evidence whatsoever of a husband, and she seemed youthful. He gathered that she had come to Castello Piceno in the first place because she wanted peace and quiet and the use of the thermal baths. Some kind of condition of her body, he remembered her saying once in passing. She told him that she needed the healing. But maybe she was a shoe buyer. Everybody in Le Marche sooner or later wanted to buy the fine Italian shoes made there. The foreign buyers for the best stores in other countries all came there to visit the shoe factories.

“Ah, Signor Baldo!” she always greeted him politely when he arrived to tend the garden. “Thank you for your work,” she would say before Baldo had touched the first blade of grass.

On more than one occasion, he had found her seated in her small garden with her long dark hair spread freely over her shoulders. Sometimes he would discover her there, her head bent forward over a watercolor block, saying “Just one moment, Signor Baldo. I am finishing this one part of my painting.”

Baldo had once asked her, perhaps rudely, whether she was American. Thinking back, now, he remembered that she had not answered him but implied yes. “Ah, from over there, yes,” she had said, and then offered him coffee. He respected a person’s privacy. He knew better than to ask more questions. Her house was always quiet and she was always alone. Baldo understood very well that many people wanted their homes just that way. Quiet.

Her neighbors, however, had not been so respectful. The old lady who regularly delivered flowers to the door of the chapel across the street had asked Avi once what had brought her to Castello Piceno. The old woman told Baldo all about that interview while he was examining what appeared to be Avi’s empty house on the day of her disappearance.

“She said she had been both sent here and called here,” the old woman in the navy-blue sweater said to Baldo. “What was that supposed to mean?”

“I don’t know,” Baldo answered.

“So I told her I did not understand her, and she said that she knew I didn’t understand her. She just smiled at me. That was all. It was strange, eh Baldo?”

Linda’s amazing book and her website are available here. 

This blog tour was arranged by Rachel if you require her services or to find out further information please click here. 

Appetite – Anita Cassidy 

Because everyone hungers for something. 

Food and sex: two appetites the modern world stimulates, but also the ones we are expected to keep under control. But what happens when you don’t?

Embarking on an affair, lonely wife and mother Naomi blossoms sexually in a false spring while David, the fattest boy at the local comprehensive and best friend of her son, struggles to overcome bullying and the apathy of his divorced mother. David finally starts to learn about the mechanisms of appetite through a science project set by his intelligent but jaded teacher, Matthew. David’s brave efforts to change himself open Matthew’s eyes to his activist girlfriend’s dangerous plans – to blow up VitSip, a local energy-drink company where Naomi works…… 

About Anita 

Having enjoyed a successful career in recruitment and advertising and begun to raise her children, Anita started to write in 2012 during No NoWriMo. Anita divides her time between London and Kent and is currently writing another novel focussing on the intersections between work, love and life, covering issues such as family and self vs community, BDSM and polyamory. Her writing both challenges and entertains. 

About the Book 

It is the first time I have read a book that really explores the complexities around the relationship with food and the community. We follow David, Naomi and Matthew’s lives and the tangled web that ensues. 

Initially, I didn’t warm to Naomi I felt that she was cold and I just could not connect with her. However, as I progressed through the book my views did thaw and I realised that she was lonely despite having people around her and having a great job but it felt as if something was missing and she felt this too and went out exploring what this could be and embarked on an affair, would this be the missing piece?

pg296 

“Her chest ached, her vision blurred, snot filled her nose. Eyes burning, the tears ran down her face. She knew they would stop, supposed they had to at some point but the pain ached and throbbed in her chest – not her heart, no, that had frozen over. She felt both chilled and raw, the fire she had been feeling of late put out in an instant. It was as if she would never feel like that again.”

Anita during this novel explored many current issues being reported in the press with such respect and dignity but ensuring she got her point across. For example, dealing with obesity in young people and for them dealing with not just that, dealing with their peers in school and other issues impacting on their home life. 

pg136

“A few pages in, he found himself settling back and settling in. The colours, the simple text, the drastic before – and after images. It was an assault on his eyes and mind, a barrage of exclamatory capitalisation, but the narratives were utterly absorbing. The battle of the bulge, the war on sugar, the fight againstthe flab. Strategies were outlined, failures mourned and victories celebrated. Page after page of this magazine was filled with stories; tales of young women and old. Age was not a factor in the war against excess weight.”

This book truly reflected the important relationship between pupil and teacher and the positive influence they could have on one another. Matthew, David’s teacher seems lost in his life and uncertain as to what he wants to do and what his future may look like. He realises the positive impact he could have on David to help and advise him to make improvements on his life and lifestyle choices. However, perhaps Matthew needs to take some of his own advice in his personal life. 

This was such a great start to my reading for 2018, and I cannot wait to read Anita’s next book, I will be keeping my eye out for it. 

If you would like to purchase a copy of Anita’s book or catch up with what she is up to her website is available here. Or, you can follow Anita via Twitter @AnitaCassidy76.

Anita is published by RedDoor Publishers, further information is available here.  

Springtime At The Cider Kitchen – Fay Keenan 

Caroline Hemingway can’t help but feel a little strange watching her ex sister-in-law marrying the ownder of Carter’s Cider Farm, but she’s delighted Anna’s found happiness after the death of her late husband, and Caroline’s brother, James. If only Caroline could find her own love story…..

Desperate to escape the rat race, Caroline decides to take the plunge and move to the idyllic village of Little Somerby, where she is given the task of opening and running a restaurant in one of the forgotten barns on the Cider Farm. 

Opening and running The Cider Kitchen is no easy task, and there are many challenges on the way, but slowly Caroline feels she’s being accepted into the local community, and starts to believe she may have found her forever home. But secrets from her past seem destined to haunt her, and not even the attentions of the very dishy Jonathan Carter can distract her from all she’s left behind…..

About the Author 

Fay was born in Surrey and raised in Hampshire, before finally settling back in the West Country. When Fay is not chasing her children around or writing, she teaches English at a local secondary school. She lives with her husband of fourteen years, two daughters, a cat, two chickens and a Weimaraner called Bertie in a village in Somerset, which may or may not have provided the inspiration for Little Somerby.

Fay and Aria Publishers have kindly provided me with an extract from this amazing book. 

“Matthew extended a hand and shook Caroline’s outstretched one. ‘It’s lovely to meet you at last. Anna’s told me so much about you.’

‘Not too much, I hope!’ Matthew laughed and the two women joined in. ‘It’s great that you could make it. We’re both so happy you could come.’ Then, turning his gaze back to his wife fleetingly, ‘Anna said you’d booked into the Rose Cottage B&B in the village. You’re more than welcome to come and stay with us if you’d like.’ Caroline smiled. ‘Thanks, but I thought I’d save you the hassle of a houseguest during your own wedding. And Rose Cottage comes highly recommended.’

‘They’ve had five stars on Trip Advisor since they opened,’ Anna said. ‘But you are coming to dinner tomorrow night, aren’t you?’

‘Definitely,’ Caroline replied. ‘Wouldn’t miss it.’ Looking at the two of them, and her own niece, so happy in this new life, Caroline felt another wave of grief washing over her. Cursing what she knew to be the brightness in her eyes, she searched over Anna’s shoulder for where the drinks were being served. ‘I’d better go and get a glass of this famous sparkling cider!’ she said. Somehow, she knew Anna understood. Just as she was about to turn away, however, Matthew called out.

‘Jonno, come and join us for a moment,’ he said, beckoning to his younger brother.

Jonathan Carter paused on his way to the makeshift bar and took a detour in his brother’s direction. As he drew closer, he smiled at his brother and their guest. ‘Hi. I’m Jonathan,’ he said, extending his hand to Caroline. Caroline immediately noticed the tidy, square cut nails, the long, elegant fingers. ‘It’s lovely to meet you.’

‘Caroline Hemingway,’ Caroline replied. ‘It’s nice to meet you, too.’

‘You’re Anna’s sister-in-law, right?’ Jonathan smiled. ‘Ellie’s aunt?’

‘That’s right.’ Caroline took a moment to study the man in front of her. He was broad shouldered, although not as broad as her sister-in-law’s new husband, and up close, Jonathan looked like the watercolour version of Matthew’s oil painting. His features were similar, but softer, lighter somehow, as if more prone to laughter than his volcanic older brother. Caroline liked the look. The grey suit perfectly offset his colouring, which was itself enhanced by a light suntan. Unguardedly, Caroline wondered how far down the tan went below his clothes.

‘It’s lovely that you could be here,’ Jonathan said softly. He glanced at his brother and new wife. ‘It can’t be easy. Can I get you a drink?

I was just on my way to the bar myself,’ Caroline replied, suddenly very much in need of an escape from Anna and Matthew’s almost incandescent love. ‘Why don’t I join you?’ Jonathan smiled. ‘Sounds good. I can point you in the direction of the better variety of sparkling cider that we’ve got on offer.’ Gesturing in the direction of the bar, he bore Caroline off. As they walked away, conversation sparked between them. Anna watched them speculatively. Matthew gave his new wife a glance.

‘What are you smiling at?’ he asked.

Anna smiled back. ‘Oh, nothing.’ She slid a hand into Matthew’s, which was still nestled into her waist. ‘You know me; I like to see what happens when people meet new people.’

‘If I didn’t know you better…’ Matthew shook his head. ‘I don’t think Jonno needs any help meeting new people, if the tales Dad keeps telling me about overnight guests at the cottage are anything to go by.’ Anna laughed. ‘He’s still up to his old tricks, is he? And Jack doesn’t mind?’

‘Are you joking? He’s quite partial to a pretty girl, as you know. He might not feel the need to go out on the tiles himself these days, but I think living vicariously through Jonathan has certainly perked him up lately!’

‘You almost sound like you approve,’ Anna wrinkled her brow. ‘You’re not jealous, are you?’ Matthew ducked his head and gave his wife a lingering kiss. ‘What could I possibly have to be jealous of, when I’ve got you in my life?’ he said softly. He followed Anna’s gaze to where Caroline and Jonathan were standing. ‘Although if there’s a chance of making Jonathan as happy as you’ve made me… I’m all for it.”

If you would like to find out further about Fay or purchase her book, please click here. Fay also has a website which is available here. 

Or you can follow Fay on Twitter @faykeenan.  

For more information about Aria Publication, please click here.
 

 

The Single Girl’s Calendar – Erin Green 

A task a day to cure a broken heart. 

Esme Peel is approaching thirty with some trepidation, but hope in her heart. If she can just get her long-term boyfriend Andrew to propose, she will have ticked everything off her ‘things to do by the time you’re 30’ list. She didn’t reckon on finding another woman’s earring in her bed however, and soon she finds herself single, homeless and in need of a new plan. Her best friend Carys gives her the perfect present – The Single Girl’s Calendar – which has a different cure for heartbreak every day:

Day 1: Look and feel fabulous with a new hair style. 

Day 2: Step out of your comfort zone and try something new. 

Day 3: Reconnect with friends and enjoy!

Despite thinking it’s a bit of a gimmick, Esme hasn’t got any better ideas, so she put the plan into action. By the end of week one she has four new male housemates, and despite a broken heart she is determined to show Andrew she can do more than survive, she can thrive. 

About the Author

Erin was born and raised in Warwickshire, where she resides with her husband. She writes contemporary novels focusing on love, life and laughter. An ideal day for Erin involves writing, people watching and copious amounts of tea. Erin was delighted to be awarded The Katie Fforde Bursary in 2017 and previously Love Stories ‘New Talent Award’ in 2015. 

Blog – The Single Girl’s Calendar

Erin’s recipe to overcome a broken heart:

1 A handful of genuine friends that care about you is essential.

2 A tonne of chocolate helps to dull a painful heartache.

3 Carefully peel away, delete and disconnect all social media connections with the

recent partner – why torture yourself following their away days and nights out?

4 A pinch of self-indulgence doing what you like and when you wish, is essential.

5 Unmeasurable amount of time spent doing interests/pastimes that you previously participated in and enjoyed.

6 Add a guilt-free pass to hibernate from all social situations, but only valid for the duration that is absolutely necessary, trust your instinct regards how long.

7 A huge dollop of me-time to reflect and heal before venturing to pastures new.

8 Add a brand-new outfit that makes you feel fabulous and wonderful – in preparation for the day when your renewed faith wishes to take flight.

I had lot of useless suggestions during my twenties when broken hearts seemed to be my penchant. Age-old advice revolved around red wine, match-making suggestions and fly-fishing amongst the bountiful fish in the sea were all totally unhelpful. If anything, they resulted in more heartache than the original situation.

As time went by, along with various beaus, I learnt what was best for me. It usually involved a damned good cry where I got to choose all the rules in relation to the duration, the frequency and the moping about on sofas. Seriously, I literally gave myself permission to grieve for what could have been, might have been and for the hurt that had been caused to me in the process. A diet of Cadburys chocolate and Lucozade is perfectly fine in such circumstances! A balance diet of vegetables and fish can wait their turn!

I used to withdraw from social occasions too, I literally couldn’t abide doing the whole glad-ragging events where I was supposed to wear a huge smile and chat about inane subjects while dragging about a heavy heart that was smouldering inside my chest. All I͛d do was watch the clock until I could escape to go home. Sadly, I found that the more I put on a brave face, others would incorrectly assume oh she’s back on her feet– er, no, I’m simply going through the motions to please everyone else. Left to my own devices, I’d have chosen to be in my pyjamas for a stint of hibernation and reflection, with plenty of wound licking.

It would take a little while, sometimes a few weeks, on a couple of occasions nearer a few months but hey, I knew what was best for me. I only ever put my best foot forward when I knew I was ready to face the world and rejoin the party.

During my hibernation, I did usually return to the things that made me truly happy.

The reading of favourite books was one such treat – Fitzwilliam Darcy has rebuilt my faith in others on more than one occasion. On the most desperate days, I’d simply adlib Elizabeth’s lines… guaranteed to make me feel better every time!

I valiantly fought and refused to attend those situations where people have secretly match-made during their lunch hours – thinking they know what’s best for you. I remember being invited to a house party where the host had virtually promised my hand in marriage to a police officer. It made for an uncomfortable evening, as everyone in the room knew and so watched as he chased, attempted to chat-up and woo me with an audience of twenty. Thankfully, I had a loyal friend who told me before the event as she felt it was unfair that this damsel-in-distress should be violated to grace another with match-making bragging rights and an unwanted date.

It’s one reason why I never match-make, I know the downside.

And finally, when you are back on your feet don’t forget to tread carefully, there’s no race, simply take your time and be happy. The best things in life are worth waiting for, I promise.

Erin and Aria Publication have kindly provided a small taster from The Single Girls Calendar, I hope you enjoy. 

‘Look at you, jumping the gun – you’ll only be disappointed if he doesn’t ask,’ warned Marianne, buttoning her coat against the March chill. ‘Most men need an arm up their back or an unexpected pregnancy to force them into marriage. Take my Jimmy… twelve years of dating and still nothing.’

All three women shook their heads, knowing the tale of woe which would follow, each was word perfect in their practised lines for the retelling of Marianne’s one and only proposal story.

‘You ruined your chances by pushing your luck,’ began Penny.

‘Really?’ said Esmé in a bewildered tone, feigning interest, much like a first-time listener.

‘I made an appointment with the vicar, tea and sponge cake arranged…’ explained Marianne.

‘All proper and above board, then?’ asked Penny, knowing her lines.

‘I drove us to the local church and then bam… delivered the ultimatum – marry me or else!’ announced Marianne, her cheeks flushed with embarrassment.

‘Such a beautiful declaration of love,’ said Esmé, her eye lashes fluttered at Marianne.

‘Who’d have thought such a proposal could be perceived as a tad too pushy,’ said Penny.

‘Exactly,’ giggled Esmé. ‘Wasn’t it your fairy-tale dream?’

Marianne nodded in a comedic fashion, her maturity enabled her to laugh at herself, unlike five years ago.

‘I’ve lost count of the nights I’d dreamt of him springing such a gallant gesture, driving me to church and booking a wedding date.’

‘Locking himself inside your car and performing a one man sit-in for eight hours, while you pleaded with the vicar, was a definite cry for help,’ said Penny.

‘A definite answer, though,’ said Esmé, who hugged her friend.

‘The vicar was none too chuffed given his wasted sponge cake and tea platter,’ said Marianne, adding. ‘Seriously, Esmé – joking aside, what have you planned?’

Esmé gave a cheeky grin, before she stared at each colleague in a bashful manner.

‘Oh Lord, if that’s not the face of a woman on a mission!’ cried Penny, her wide eyes sparkling.

‘I’ve got it all planned… candlelight, champagne on ice, bubble bath for two, a slinky silk number ordered from Agent Provocateur and a fresh set of Egyptian cotton sheets,’ reeled off Esmé, trying to supress the shiver of anticipation that ran along her spine.

‘A dirty night on clean sheets, hey?’ said Marianne with a knowing smile. ‘That should do it.’

‘And not too much champagne… be giggly but not drunk,’ warned Penny, her blonde curls bobbing from side to side. ‘And above all… let him think it was his idea!’

‘If that fails, hail a cab, drive to your local church, present him with the ultimatum and see if he does a sit-in,’ laughed Marianne.

‘Andrew wouldn’t do a sit-in… not with a taxi meter running,’ said Esmé, tying the belt of her new coat. Esmé doesn’t like to criticise his habits, not even to her friends, but Andrew could accommodate both ends of the generosity spectrum. Self- indulgent with his own perceived needs such as designer suits, high-tech gadgets or boys’ nights out whilst a smidgen stingy where others are concerned. Esmé could laugh it off, everyone had their faults. Being ‘financially savvy’ as Andrew called it wasn’t Esmé’s style, she liked to be generous with those she loved.

‘Yet he’ll waste good money on a snazzy rental apartment,’ muttered Marianne. ‘The man needs sorting out, and quick.’

‘I’m trying,’ said Esmé, trying to keep her tone light hearted.

‘Enjoy,’ Marianne gave Esmé a quick squeeze and an air kiss, ‘but don’t hold your breath, lovey.’

‘Enjoy your weekend… whatever happens, OK?’ added Penny, hugging Esmé tightly before she and Marianne hastily departed for the bus station.

Since starting at Stylo Stationery some nine years ago, the trio had shared so many of life’s moments during office hours and coffee time: Esmé’s first date dress dilemma, post-date dissections – of which there had been far too many for Esmé’s liking, and numerous post-coital mishaps during her pre-Andrew existence, obviously.

Since meeting Andrew, Esmé’s daily chatter had been the detail of their seven year love story: the occasions, the memories and the day to day routines. Events slowly evolved, reaching today’s pivotal moment – the evening of her happy-ever-after.

Come Monday, if tonight goes well, the three colleagues would be sharing celebratory drinks after work in a local bar. How exciting? But first, tonight. St Martin’s church clock shows six o’clock. Esmé watched the pair disappear amidst the bustling crowd. Her heart pounding faster, with anticipation, that the very next time she’d see either of them, she could be, might be, correction, would be starting a new chapter of her life.’

If you would like to know further information about Erin, she has an amazing website available here. 

Or, Erin is available on Twitter @ErinGreenAuthor 

To purchase Erin’s book or to find out more on Aria Publication please click here. 

That Girl – Kate Kerrigan 

You can escape a place. But you can’t escape yourself. 

Hanna flees the scene of a terrible crime in her native Sligo. If she can just vanish, re-invent herself under a new name, perhaps the police won’t catch up with her. London seems the perfect place to disappear. 

Lara has always loved Matthew and imagined happy married life in Dublin. Then comes the bombshell- Matthew says he wants to join the priesthood. Humiliated and broken-hearted, Lara heads to the most godless place she can find, King’s Road, Chelsea. 

Matthew’s twin sister, Noreen, could not be more different from her brother. She does love fiance John, but she also craves sex, parties and fund. Swinging London has it all, but without John, Noreen is about to get way out of her depth. 

All three girls find themselves working for Bobby Chevron- one of London’s most feared gangland bosses – and it’s not long before their new lives start to unravel. 

About the Author 

Kate lives in County Mayo, with her husband and children. Her novels include Recipes for a Perfect Marriage, shortlisted for the 2006 Romantic Novel of the Year Award and Ellis Island, which was a TV Book Club Summer Read.

Kate and the amazing staff at Head Of Zeus have provided an extract: 

“One day Hanna came home from school and found Dorian standing in the hallway to meet her. His face was stricken. Hanna remembered the expression from when she was eleven years old and her mother told her that her father had been killed in a car accident.

She screamed out. Dorian ran across the hall and held her in his arms. She sank her head into his chest, drawing what comfort she could from the smell of soap and tobacco on his cashmere sweater. The smell of a father. He was all that was left of her family now. Hanna did not remember much of the next few hours. Dorian administered tea and comfort and, eventually, to stop the jagged sobbing that she feared would snap her body in half, a sedative to help her sleep.

Late at night or early the next morning – she could not be sure – Hanna was woken by the sound of Dorian opening her bedroom door.

‘Father?’ she called out in her groggy state. It was the first time she had called him that.

She could see from his outline against the light from the hall that it was Dorian, but he did not reply.

Instead he walked silently across the room towards her. Hanna was briefly warmed with a child’s moment of relief that a parent is nearby. She felt the warmth of his breath as Dorian leaned down to kiss her on the forehead, as he had done a hundred times before. But he did not kiss her as he had done before. Instead, he kissed her on the mouth and bore his body down and into her.

Her body clenched as the first pain shot through her, but after that, Hanna did not struggle or scream. Her limbs, in any case, felt too weak and he was too heavy to fight. She kept her body as still as she could. Afraid to move. Terrified that any movement on her part might be read as encouragement. His body was heavy and his touch firm and confident. The same chest she had leant against for comfort when her mother was sick, the same hands that had patted her back with reassurance, betraying themselves in this appalling act. Hanna was numb, unable to comprehend if this was really happening. Why was he doing this? Had she done or said something to invite it? This man called himself her father. Although, she now realised that he never actually had. She had not allowed it. She had demanded that she call him by his first name. Perhaps if she had called him father, as her mother had wanted, this would not be happening.

After he had finished, Dorian lay down next to Hanna. She had not realised she was crying until he gently wiped her tears away with the palm of his hands. Her body flinched at the gentleness of the gesture. There was something even more terrifying about that than what had gone before. The betrayal of it.

‘I probably should not have done that… but you looked so sad.’

Hanna did not know how to react. Sad? Her mother had died. Was that what you did to people when they were sad?

‘You are still crying,’ he said, and then he began to cry himself. It was terrible to see a man cry. Despite what he had done to her, Hanna wanted him to stop. She wanted to make his tears go away.

‘I am sorry,’ he said. He told her that he missed her mother and had simply acted out of grief. He said he would never do it again. He seemed so contrite, so upset by his own actions that when he said, ‘Do you believe me Hanna? Please. I’m sorry. Forgive me,’ she said that she did and would.

Although she knew in her heart that things would never be the same between them, she wanted to believe him.

Nonetheless, Hanna locked her bedroom door that night. Over the coming days, through the drama of the wake, funeral and burial of her mother, Dorian’s actions became subsumed by Hanna’s despairing grief.

The night after the burial, she heard him try the door of her bedroom. She was protected by the lock. He went away and she told herself that he would not come back again. The locked door had made him pause. She would just have to continue locking it until he came to his senses.”

If you would like to find out more about Kate or purchase a copy of Kate’s amazing book, please click here. 

Or, you can follow Kate on Twitter @KateKerriganAuthor 

The Diary Of A Bookseller – Shaun Bythell 

The Bookshop, Wigtown, is Scotland’s largest second-hand bookshop. It’s a booklover’s pardise, a Georgian townhouse full of twisting corridors and roaring fires, set in a beautiful town by the edge of the sea. A rummage on its crooked shelves can produce anything from a sixteenth-century leather-bound Bible to a first edition Agatha Christie. 

But behind the scenes of this slice of literary heaven, things are very different. Meet Shaun Bythell, owner of The Bookshop, bibliophile and misanthrope extraordinaire. Seen through his honest and wryly hilarious diaries, we get a very different view of bookselling: one beset with malfunctioning heating, eccentric customers, bad-mannered bin-foraging employees and a perennially empty till. 

As Shaun takes us with him on buying trips to old estates and auction houses, recommends books (both lost classics and new discoveries), introduces us to the thrill of the unexpected find, and evokes the charms and horrors of small town life, we gain an inside look at the trials, tribulations and joys of life in the book trade. 

Shaun Bythell bought The Bookshop in Wigtown in November 2001, and has been running it since then with an increasing passion for the business matched only by a sense of despair for its future. In 2004 he became involved with the Wigtown Book Festival, during which The Bookshop wines and dines the 200 (or so) visiting authors. He enjoys cycling- usually to the pub- and lives above the shop with his cat, Captain.

pg.58

“The old woman who complained about the price of the Stalin biography came back. When she found out that I had put the price up, she told me that I couldn’t do that. I told her that I could. She was furious, but she bought it, muttering that she would never set foot in the place again.”

I have a slight obsession of reading books about books or very bookish people – so, this book fitted right in and I devoured it in one sitting.

Shaun’s writing makes you feel like you have a front row seat to what is going on in his amazing book shop. I love his brutal honesty about each of his customers, his staff and the book industry as a whole. I have to confess that since reading this amazing book I have taken the decision to only use internet bookshops as a last resort. As, I have to confess, I used to use them alot because it was easier, especially when you have two screaming children who have decided to annoy everyone in your local Waterstones, or I have attempted to take them into my local second hand book shop and have not managed to even get the buggy in the door due to the vast amount of books. My husband has kindly agreed that as and when I need to spend some time browsing bookshops, he will take custody of the children and distract them – which I am looking forward to taking him up on this offer.

Shaun is a great ambassador to reading and books in general and what he has done for his local community and to the wider reading world is amazing and I hope this continues. I am also in the process of trying to persuade my husband that we need to holiday in Scotland, so we can stop near or around Wigtown just so I can visit The Bookshop. I wonder whether Shaun will let me just stay in the shop for the day of course looking at all the books and I may have to purchase a few books whilst there but the one thing I would love to do is spend the day people watching.

If you would like to catch up with The Bookshop click here for further information. 

To purchase a copy of Shaun’s amazing book or to find out more information on Profile books please click here. 

You, Me and Us – Liam Hurley 

“F*** you for breaking my f***ing heart…..”

Jimmy Rowland has the perfect life. He works in his favourite bar by day, and by night he lieves his dream with his two best friends in his band. 

Erin Poppet crashes into Jimmy’s life like a beautiful storm. He falls in love with her as quickly and as deeply as possible. The intensity of their relationship leaves Jimmy with a broken heart, a useless vacuum and a demon inside him. 

When he hits rock bottom, he decides he only has one choice to rebuild his life from scratch. He has to get back the life he had before Erin. 

This is her story. This is his story. This is their story. 

Or as Jimmy would say….. 

“this is the story of You, Me and Us.”

About The Author 

Liam is an author from Manchester. He loves three things in this world:

Writing

Reading

Viral video of the Irish family trying to catch a bat (Liam’s girlfriend, family, friends and cats may be unhappy with this).

Liam’s hobbies include listening to podcasts, watching grown men fight and trying every possible type of ground coffee in the world.

Liam’s Top Ten reasons to read his book:

1. It won’t cost you much.

2. It will be over relatively quickly.

3. He would be very grateful.

4. You can tell other people about it if you enjoyed it.

5. If not, don’t bother.

6. It’s always fun to have something in your hands to flick through.

7. You can review it online.

8. It will leave a mark on you.

9. You won’t want to put it down.

10. It’ll make you laugh.


Liam has kindly provided an extract for you. In the following extract Jimmy has been dragged along to a New Years’ Eve party at his Dad’s golf club. They have just arrived at the club and are queuing up for parking. Jimmy does not want to go in so decides to spend the evening making his own fun…

“My dad was drumming his fingers against the wheel with impatience. He kept looking out at the drive and shaking his head. I was toying with the idea of winding him up further when what looked like a small child pulled open the driver’s door and popped his head into the car.

I almost threw the second punch of my life, fearing we were being robbed by this extra from the Rugrats, but before I could even consider clenching my fist a warm smile broke across the youth’s face.

“Ah, Dr. Rowland!” he said.

“Timothy.” My dad chimed back at him.

“Mrs. Rowland.” He said with a smile at my mum.

“Hello.” She replied.

He then turned his attention to the backseat. He raised his eyebrows at me.

“Don’t worry about me, I just came with the car.”

“What?” he said.

“Ignore him.” Said my dad. “So, they’ve got you lot doing valet service tonight?”

“Yeah me and two other caddies.”

“Well thank you Timothy.”

Timothy stepped backwards and allowed my dad to get out the car, he then raced around the back of the car and ripped open my mum’s door. She smiled politely at him and stepped out too. I realised then I too wouldn’t be subject to this treatment as Timothy had clearly taken my dad’s advice. I pushed my door open and dragged myself out from the seat.

Timothy jumped into the driver’s seat, pulled the car out, and drove slowly into the darkness.

I looked to the entrance and saw my mum and dad waiting besides the large oak doors. I walked towards them and the doorman pushed the doors open. He greeted my dad with a handshake, and my mum with a hug. I smiled from the back of the party and he offered his hand to me, I shook it.

“Happy New Year.” He said to us all.

The three of us returned the sentiment. The warmth from this doorman made my mind wander to a long time ago when a certain doorman in the Gay Village wasn’t as up-to-date with his greetings. I stopped in my tracks for a moment as the memory of first meeting Erin flooded my brain.

“Come on James.” Mum hissed at me.

They were striding into the building so I jogged to catch them up. We were walking along the main foyer. There was a large desk with brass fixings to our left, an empty seat sat behind it. On the wall to our right was a huge leader board, inscribe with numerous names and numbers alongside them. It might as well have been written in Swahili for all the sense it made to me. I hated golf.

We took a left at the end of the foyer and my dad pushed the doors open below a large sign reading ‘banquet hall’. I shook my head, ‘hall’ would have been fine. As we entered I noticed two things, the room was huge, and there was a lot of people here.

Mum and my dad were instantly lost in a crowd of people, shaking hands and giving hugs out. I had no desire at all to be introduced to anyone. I scanned the room and locked my eyes on the far-left corner, there was bar.

I made a purposeful start towards it, jumping left and right to avoid people dancing and talking. I noted that I was the youngest person here by a good twenty years. Eurgh I needed to drink.

I arrived at the bar and found myself at the back of a queue, thankfully it was only two-deep, (not so bad in the porn industry that one), so I patiently began to scan the optics for the options available. All manner of drinks were on offer. And if my eyes weren’t deceiving me there was a bottle of single-malt resting on top of the worktop at the back of the bar.

“Will there be anything else Mr. President?”

I was distracted by the barman’s question. I looked to whom he was talking to. It was an old white man. They were all old white men. He didn’t look like any of the Presidents I’d heard of. Maybe some far-flung nation.

“No that’ll be all thank you.” Said the President.

He lifted his tray of drinks and started to hobble his way back into the crowd. I darted into the space he’d just vacated. The barman looked at me with a slight shadow of shock creeping across his face. This was probably the first time he’d served someone not from the cast of Cocoon.

“Yes sir?” he said to me.

I span around to check who was behind me.

“Oh me?”

He laughed.

“Yes sir, what can I get you?”

“Erm how much is the single malt?”

“It’s a free bar sir.”

“It’s a what?”

“Free bar.”

“Woah don’t say it too loud, you’ll cause a stampede.”

“Well the tickets and fees cover the cost.”

“There were tickets for this thing?”

“You don’t know much about this place, do you?” he asked.

“Less than nothing.” I said. “So yeah, the malt please, and ice. Make it a double.”

The barman gave a little nod and turned towards his worktop. He turned back to me and placed a crystal class half-filled with golden liquid in front of me.

“Brilliant.” I said.

“Will that be all sir?”

“Yes. Oh no wait. Why were you calling that guy Mr. President?”

I pointed behind me in the general direction he’d gone. The barman looked over my head.

“He’s President of the club.”

“And you call him Mr. President?” I asked.

“I have to call him Mr. President.” He replied.

“Erm excuse me, are two going to continue to natter all evening or can I get some service?”

I turned around. A small woman wearing a peach suit was staring at us. Layers of make-up were encrusted into her wrinkles. She was glaring at us both.

“Sorry love, yeah let me get out of your way.”

I stepped back.

“I am not your ‘love’ young man, I am the First Lady of this clubhouse.”

She stepped into the space. I looked at the barman, he let his eyes flicker back at me for a moment but kept his lips slammed shut. I looked back at the First Lady.

“Sorry, I should’ve realised.”

“Yes, get me a gin and tonic.” She began her order. She stopped for a moment and looked at me. “Wait, why should you have realised who I am? Have we met before young man?”

“No, it’s just that you look like the First Lady. The first lady to even exist.” I smiled at her. She began to bluster. I nodded to the barman. “Thanks for the drink.”

You can catch up with Liam via his website which is available here. 

Or you can follow Liam via Twitter @LjHurleywriter.  

The Children Act – Ian McEwan 

Fiona Maye, a leading High Court judge, renowned for her fierce intelligence and sensitivity, is called on to try an urgent case. For religious reasons, a seventeen-year-old boy is refusing the medical treatment that could save his life. Time is running out. 

She visits the boy in hospital – an encounter which stirs long-buried feelings in her and powerful new emotions in the boy. But it is Fiona who must ultimately decide whether he lives or dies and her judgement will have momentous consequences for them both. 

About The Author 

Ian’s first published work, a collection of short stories, First Love, Last Rites won the Somerset Maugham Award. His novels include The Child in Time, which won the 1987 Whitbread Novel of the Year Award, The Cement Garden, Enduring Love, Amsterdam, which won the 1998 Booker Prize, Atonement, Saturday, On Chesil Beach. Solar and Sweet Tooth. In 2011 he was awarded the Jerusalem Prize. 

Extract From Book 

Pg.82 

“John Tovey rose and, somewhat breathlessly, told Fiona that given the hour he had no questions to ask of Mr Henry, but he would call the social worker, the Cafcass officer. Marina Greene was slight, sandy-haired and spoke in short precise sentences. Helpful, at this stage of the afternoon. Adam, she said, was highly intelligent. He knew his Bible. He knew the arguments. He said he was prepared to die for his faith.”

This is the first novel I have read by Ian McEwan and I certainly was not disappointed. I read this book in one sitting as I just could not put it down. It is a thought provoking book which left me in a dilemma as to what was right or wrong and to this day I still think about this book and what I would do if I was in the Judge’s position. What a difficult choice to make. It also made me think about what if I was in a position where a decision was taken out of my hands with regards my own children and my own personal beliefs. In addition, how I would feel if my child was sick and I was fighting with those health professionals looking after them. So many questions were left without a definitive answer. 

From reading this book, Ian has certainly done his research and ensured there was no biased on both sides and was compassionate towards his readers. I believe this book is being made into a film which I will be going to see once it is released. 

Ian’s website and books are available here.