The Big Event – Anne John-Ligali 

You are cordially invited to the party of the season where you’ll meet Constance and friends in action. 

Constance Jeffries is excited when she gets the chance to meet up with virtual friends a get together in a London hotel. She’s been tweeting and messaging her lovely friends for years and feels they must be just as excited to finally meet her in person too. Or so she hopes. 

The Big Event is first part in a short story series about the importance of being ‘real’ friendships and how it’s the little things that matter the most. 

A Gorgeous venue, A room full of friends, what could possibly go wrong?


Anne is a writer and the founder of Books and Authors UK, a popular website featuring author interviews and book reviews. She loves all things books, reading, writing, going to book events, and meeting other book lovers. She has written a series of short stories and is currently writing her first novel.

When Anne is not writing, she is likely to be at soft play with her kids, taking long evening walks in Hyde Park, making green smoothies, window shopping, or having a pampering session at her local beauty salon (whenever she gets the chance). She can also be found watching box sets.

Originally from Peterborough. Anne now lives in London. After moving to London, she studied graphic design at the University of Arts and has had a number of IT administration jobs in the city. Anne continues writing and aspires to write more women’s fiction books, a non-fiction book and several children’s books.

I do not really read short stories, I am not too sure why not to be honest I suppose it’s just not my usual and you know how it is with leaving your comfort zone. But, after reading The Big Event, it has changed this and has encouraged me to look into reading more short stories. It would certainly fit into my current situation with having two children under the age of three.

From reading this story, it certainly is a true reflection of life on social media. The only social media I do partake in is Twitter and Instagram which is all linked into my blog. I do not do Facebook, I never have and never will. I get there is a place in society for it, it is just not for me. I don’t need to know what everyone is doing everyday of their lives it just gets a bit much. It is certainly entertaining when friends of mine say, they have all of these “friends” on Facebook – who they don’t really know or have ever met. I have certainly recommened this story to them.

This story reflected how empowering people can be without even realising and the importance they may have in a persons life which I found myself empowering. In addition, how your behaviour not just in person but via social media could have an impact on others.

Anne’s own personal website is available here or via Twitter @annejohnligali.

Books and Authors website is available here or catch up with this amazing website via Twitter @BooksNAuthorsuk

Secrets & Fries At The Starlight Diner – Helen Cox 

What brings Bonnie Brooks to The Starlight Diner? And, why is she on the run?

As the front-woman in a band, Bonnie is used to being in the spotlight, but how she must hide in the shadows.

Bonnie only has one person who she can turn to: her friend Esther Knight, who waitresses at the fifties themed diner. There, retro songs play on the  jukebox as fries and sundaes are served to satisfied customers. But where has Esther gone?

Alone in New York City, Bonnie breaks down in front of arrogant news reporter, and diner regular, Jimmy Boyle, Jimmy offers to help her. Can she trust him?

When the kindly owner of the Starlight Diner offers Bonnie work, and she meets charming security officer, Nick Moloney, she dares to hope that her luck has changed. Is there a blossoming romance on the cards? And can Bonnie rebuild her life with the help of her Starlight Diner friends?

Helen is a book-devouring, phototaking, film-obsessed novelist. After completing her MA in Creative Writing at York St John University, Helen found work writing for a range of magazines, websites and blogs, as well as writing news and features for TV and radio. She has written three non-fiction books and founded the independent film publication New Empress Magazine. She currently lives in York and writes novels.

Here is a sneaky snippet from Helen’s book to give you a little taster:

And yet, this guy, the same guy that had somehow mortally offended Esther, had taken me in without any real reason to trus me, and definitely without any benefit to himself. My own parents would’ve kicked up more of a fuss about inviting me in out of the cold than he had. Something about him just didn’t add up. I guess we had that in common.”

“I turned to Jimmy and stared at him, shaking my head. He looked from Angela to me and started at the look on my face. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t in a position to judge anybody, but I didn’t walk around like I was either. Jimmy, however, had been nothing short of snide about Jack and Esther. If everything Esther and her friends said was true, why did he feel entitled to be cruel about them?”

Check out Helen’s amazing blog here and her books are available here.  

You can follow Helen on Twitter @Helenography

Endurance – Scott Kelly 

A year in space, a lifetime of discovery.

From the NASA astronaut who spent a record breaking year aboard the International Space Station – what it’s like out there and what it’s like now, back here. Enter Scott Kelly’s fascinating world and dare to think of your own a little differently.

The veteran of four space flights and the American record holder for most consecutive days spent in space, Scott Kelly has experienced things very few of us, ever have and very few of us ever will.

But this is the next best thing. Kelly describes navigating the extreme challenges of long-term space flight with humanity, humour and passion.

From the youthful inspiration that sparked his astounding career to his belief that Mars could hold the key to our future, Scott Kelly’s Endurance is one of the finest examples of the triump of the human imagination, the strength of the human will, and the boundless wonder of the galaxy.

On 27 March 2015, Scott and his Russian co-pilot Mikhail arrived at the International Space Station to begin ‘The One-Year Mission’, a one year scientific research project that studied the health effects of long term spaceflight on the human body.

As an identical twin, Scott Kelly was in a unique position to complete this mission; for the duration of the year his brother, Mark was on earth conducting the same experiments on himself that Scott was completing aboard the ISS. Mark and Scott’s research supported the NASA Twins Study, which is absolutely vital to the future of missions to Mars.

Scott Kelly is a retired astronaut and International Space Station commander. He recently returned from his #YearInSpace to break all records and become the longest serving American in space. Scott Kelly’s contribution to his field is immeasurable and his experience utterly unique. Endurance will bring it to life for those of us who may never make it beyond the Earth’s atmosphere.

pg.189

“There is no good way to engage in a Twitter debate with an American hero, so I don’t. In my mind, I reflect on the fact that the crew of Apollo 11 spent eight days in space, traveling half a million miles; by the time I’m done I will have spent a total of 520 days in space and will have traveled over two hundred million miles, the equivalent of going to Mars and back. Only later, when the Twitter chat is over, do I have the chance to reflect that I just experienced being trolled, in space, by the second man on the moon, while also engaging in a Twitter conversation with the president.” 

I think this may be one of my favourite books of the year. Scott is an inspirational man and he certainly worked hard to obtain his dream job. Even if you are not keen on space, this is a great motivational book, which truly inspires you to reach whatever goals you have.

Two stories run side by side the first is the back story following Scott from his childhood, his parents and his school life, whilst the other story is of his year in space. I thought it was very clever way of making the stories Scott had to be interesting and reflect from where he was to where he is now. Being a military wife, I had great empathy towards his family and dealing with my husband being away for long periods. But, it was also insightful to hear from Scott’s side with being away from his family and their lives continuing without Scott being around and what he potentially may have been missing out on. Even though Scott spent long periods away from home, his family was never too far away from his mind and you can feel the support / love he has for them ooze from the pages.

I would highly recommend this book and you can purchase this book here.

You can follow Scott on Twitter @StationCDRKelly  or on his website http://www.scottkelly.com

Fatherland – Robert Harris 

April 1964

The naked body of an old man floats in a lake on the outskirts of Berlin. In one week it will be Adolf Hitler’s 75th birthday. A terrible conspiracy is starting to unravel. 

Robert Harris is the author of eleven bestselling novels. Several of Robert’s books have been filmed, including The Ghost, which was directed by Roman Polanski. 

His work has been translated into thirty seven languages and he is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. He lives in West Berkshire with his wife, Gill Hornby. 

Extract from Book 

pg.36 

“The Great Hall of the Reich is the largest building in the world. It rises to a height of more than a quarter of a kilometre, and on certain days-observe today- the top of its dome is lost from view. The dome itself is one hundred and forty metres in diameter and St Peter’s in Rome will fit into it sixteen times.” 

I have only just begain to read Roberts’s books and to be frank he has me hooked. Fatherland offers a scary insight into what it may have been like if World War 2 had ended differently and Hitler was now stronger and powerful then ever. It was a frightening insight into the “what ifs” the rules and regulations were so incredibly stricted. Some of the German people were too frighten to question what happened to the Jewish people and the citizens that just didn’t fit into Hitler’s remit. Others were so brainwashed they just didn’t care. 

Robert had certainly done his research and you can really tell that he really has a passion for this subject it just comes out in the writing.

I am now officially hooked on Robert’s books so be warned there will be a further post of more books to come. 

You can follow Robert on Twitter @Robert_Harris 

You can purchase a copy of Robert’s book here or find out more about Robert’s other books are available here

Penguin books here.

@PenguinUKBooks

Instagram – penguinukbooks 


Christmas Angels – Nadine Dorries 

The nurses of Lovely Lane face Christmas dramas at the busiest time of the St Angelus year. 

Christmas may be the season of goodwill, festive cheer and family cheer for some – but not for the poor of 1950s Liverpool. And for St Angelus Hospital in Lovely Lane, it is frantically busy. There are the old, the dying, the children – and the emergencies. The nurses, known locally as the Angels of Lovely Lane, are run off their feet. Dana, Beth, Pammy and Victoria hardly have time to catch their breath, let alone have a Christmas of their own. 

Nadine grew up in a working-class family in Liverpool and spent a great deal of time in Mayo with her Irish grandmother. She trained as a nurse and has been the MP for Mid-Bedfordshire since2005. She has three daughters.

Nadine and the lovely staff at Head of Zeus has kindly provided an extract from Nadine’s book. I hope you enjoy:

“Maura caught just a glimpse of a woman being transported on a trolley with a drip in her arm. The glass bottle of the drip contained blood. Maura swallowed hard as memories of her pregnant friend flooded her mind. She could see her, remember her, sense her. Her mother-in-law had told Maura on many a day that her friend hadn’t left them, that her soul was still in the house with them. It was the Irish way. To hold on to people. To honour and mourn them, and in doing so, to keep the memory so strong that it was as if they were simply in another room. Maura’s eyes softened as she thought of her friend. She could hear her whispering to her, warning, Run! Run! Take the kids, Maura. Run!

Maura jumped to her feet. ‘Tommy, come with me – now!’ she said. ‘Let’s get Kitty.’ Her heart was beating a tattoo against the wall of her chest and her top lip was breaking out into beads of sweat. ‘Kitty, quickly now!’ she called. ‘Let’s get over to the appointment and then get out of here. I’ve left the washing out.’

Tommy knew better than to argue. Angela was still in a deep sleep. Maybe she was turning a corner? He might be the biggest eejit to walk the dock streets, but even he knew that two nights without sleep was enough to make Maura hit him over the head with her precious handbag if he made a fuss. He stood up as Kitty, half skipping, half walking and with biscuits in her hand, given to her by Maisie for having returned the empty cups and saucers, made her way towards them.

Maura noticed that Maisie was now chatting to a large lady in a navy-blue dress and a frilled hat. The lady was tall, broad and imposing and stood with her legs apart and her arms folded. Just the sight of her terrified Tommy.

‘Feckin’ ’ell,’ he said, ‘she could unload the hull of a ship all by herself, that one. We wouldn’t even be needing the crane. Would you look at that. Would you?’ His mouth fell open. ‘Jesus, feck, sure, come on. Come here, Kitty, we have to be going to see the doctor.’

As the three of them made a hurried and suspicious-looking shuffle towards the main doors and the steps, they heard Maisie shout something to them.

Without turning round, Tommy raised his hand and shouted back, ‘Thanking you for the tea and your kindness, Maisie, but we’re off to the appointment now.’ He held the door open for Maura and Kitty to pass through. ‘Come on, faster,’ he urged, then continued muttering to himself. ‘Jesus, if any of the lads could see this. They won’t believe me when I tell them there’s a nurse here who’s bigger than any of them lot.’

But just as he felt the welcome fresh air on his face, there was a shove in his back and the Amazonian woman pushed past him. ‘Mrs Doherty?’ she said, addressing Maura.

Maura stopped dead on the red sandstone steps and turned around. ‘Yes,’ she answered, with a warble in her throat.

‘I’m Sister Antrobus and if you don’t come with me now, you will be late for your outpatient appointment.’ Sister Antrobus was looking and talking to the fob watch she held out from her dress and was peering over her glasses at Maura as though she was daring Maura to challenge her. She looked up sharply towards Tommy before Maura could swallow her breath and reply. ‘Mr Doherty.’

Tommy was speechless with fear and simply nodded, fully aware that this was a statement and not a question or a request to verify that fact.

‘I have no idea what you are doing here. Or this child.’ Again, she peered over the rim of her glasses as though Kitty were not a child at all but rather something which had crawled out of an apple or from under a stone.”

Yet another amazing book by Nadine. I have a confession, my husband who happens to be from the north west and knew where Lovely Lane was, took me there. It took me back to the books and the stories from the 1940s and 1950s. So now whenever I have Nadine’s books, my husband asks me lots of questions about them to find out whether he knows where Nadine is writing about.

I read this book in two sittings, its a true comfort read and perfect for this time of year. I do not feel that you had to read the other books in the series as Nadine does a great job of embracing new readers – but be warned, once you read one you will end up wanting to buy the others.

If you would like to purchase a copy of this amazing book, please get a copy here and to find out more about Nadine or Head of Zeus, please click here. 

A Pearl For My Mistress – Annabel Fielding

Forbidden passion in the shadow of war…..

England 1934 Hester Blake, an ambitious girl from an industrial Northern Town, finds a job as a lady’s made in a small aristocratic household. 

Despite their impressive title and glorious past, the Fitzmartins are crumbling under the pressures of the new century. And in the cold isolation of these new surroundings, Hester ends up hopelessly besotted with her young mistress, Lady Lucy. 

Accompanying Lucy on her London Season, Hester is plunged into a heady and decadent world. But hushed whispers of another war swirl beneath the capital….and soon, Hester finds herself the keeper of some of society’s most dangerous secrets. 

Annabel having graduated from the University of Arts London with an MA in Public Relations, is a PR assistant by day and a novelist by night. Being a self-professed history geek, she dedicates her free time to obscure biographies, solo travel and tea. She also posts a mix of book reviews and travel photos on her blog. 

Extracts from Book 

Her hometown was a practical place, built around shipyards and factories. Lady Lucy’s Victorian grandmother must have seen it rising. It was sturdy; it was sensible; it was part of the backbone of the industrial empire. It wasn’t a gloomy place, either; there were teashops, and Saturday dances, and even a park. But no oranges or lemons bloomed there in March. Or in any other months, for that matter.”

“A weight seemed to lift from Hester’s shoulders. She had already imagined the trouble of carving out time for trips to the nearest town’s library; or even worse, the nightmare of living without any new books at all.”

To be honest, I had not realised how far through the book I actually was it certainly was no chore. The book seems to take you on the slow journey through Hester’s and Lucy’s lives and the building of their relationship. 

You can almost feel the slightly sinister side of Lucy and she definately knows how to get her way and wrap people around her fingers. I was not sure whether Annabel did it on purpose but as a reader I disliked Lucy from the start as she does know how to manipulate people to get what she wants. Lucy certainly uses her position of class to her advantage – but, upon reflection most people probably did in that time and this continues today.

I was willing Hester to improve herself and almost take advantage of her position as a Lady’s mistress but instead was obsessed with her and this ended up being a distraction and a diversion to what Hester actually wanted for her life. In addition, there was a lot happening in the Country that could impact on both of their futures. 

The one thing that is very noticable in this book it is very well researched and you can feel Annabel’s passion for history oozing from the book. Annabel’s passion for history is contagious and she certainly makes you want to research more. (It is well worth a little peak at her blog). 

Annabel’s blog / book is available here.

I would like to thank Annabel for the opportunity to review her amazing book. 

The Forgotten Children – Anita Davison 

Fiona Maguire’s life is perfect – a beautiful home in Belgravia teeming with servants, a loving husband, and a new baby Arthur to enjoy. But when she is invited to tour St Philomena’s Children’s Hospital in deprived Southwark, she gets a harsh insight into the darker side of Edwardian London. 

Shocked by the conditions people are living in, she soon uncovers a scandal with a dark heart – children are going missing from the hospital, apparently sold by their own families, and their fate is too awful to imagine. With the police seemingly unable or unwilling to investigate, Flora teams up with the Matron of the hospital Alice Finch, to try to get to the bottom of it. 

Soon Flora is immersed in the seedy, dangerous underbelly of criminal London, and time is running out to save the children. Will they get to them in time, or was their fate decided the day they were born poor……

Anita was born in London and has always had a penchant for all things historical. She now lives in the beautiful Cotswolds, the backdrop for her Flora Maguire mysteries.

If you would like to find out more about Anita and her amazing books please  follow her on Twitter @AnitaSDavison or her blog which is available here.

In the meantime, Anita and Aria Publication have kindly provided an extract from The Forgotten Children, I hope you enjoy. 

“Chapter 3

Miss Finch’s office was located at the rear of the ground floor; a spacious room that still managed to be cosy. A black leaded grate framed by Morris tiles, each decorated with a blood-red poppy, was set at right angles to a window that looked onto a walled garden. A sturdy oak desk sat facing a dresser that took up the majority of the opposite wall, the shelves tightly packed with leather-bound books with gold tooling on the thick spines.

The same woman who had upbraided Nurse Prentice earlier arranged ledgers on the oak desk. She barely looked up when they entered, her bland gaze sliding over them without recognition. Her black hair was pulled into a severe bun from a centre parting, above a heart-shaped face and close-set pebble eyes. The black uniform dress on her angular frame reminded Flora of a spider, her movements awkward as if she was uncomfortable in her own skin.

‘Ah, Sister Lazarus, there you are,’ Miss Finch greeted her. ‘Would you be so kind as to fetch some tea for both myself and my visitors?’ She waved Flora into an upholstered chair that proved more comfortable than it looked.

‘As you wish, Miss Finch.’ Sister Lazarus dropped the last ledger onto the desk with a thud, flint in her swift glance at the matron as she left the room; the first sign of animosity towards the matron by her staff Flora had seen. Or did she regard making tea as a task beneath her status?

‘Sister Lazarus can be reserved, but she means well. Most of the time,’ Miss Finch said, catching Flora’s contemplative look at the closed door.

‘I do so admire young women who follow a career.’ Flora settled into the chair and arranged the folds of her skirt. ‘I’m afraid I took the first post offered to me as a governess and never thought to look further.’

‘Where was this?’ Miss Finch took her seat behind the large desk, her hands clasped on the tooled leather inlay.

‘In the country.’ For reasons she could not yet fathom, Flora was unwilling to reveal too much about herself. ‘My former charge is now an impressive young man of seventeen.’

‘I should imagine you were a very successful governess,’ Miss Finch said.

‘She was,’ Bunny broke off from his examination of a row of certificates displayed on a wall.

‘You must be proud of your former charge,’ Miss Finch added.

Flora smiled, self-conscious at their combined compliments, although a possessive pride in his achievements and hope for his future was exactly what she felt for the boy she had been responsible for. In any other circumstances, they would have retained contact through polite birthday and Christmas greetings and a sepia photograph on a bureau. However the revelations of two years before meant he was her cousin. Their relationship had grown closer since Flora’s marriage, though at times she found it difficult to forget she had once been his main disciplinarian; a fact he reminded her of with good natured teasing when she became too authoritarian.

‘Young women these days have more independent spirits than in my day, though at times I fear they venture into dangerous territory,’ Miss Finch continued, apparently happy to share confidences. ‘Several of my nurses flirt with the idea of joining the Women’s Social and Political Union.’

‘Do you disapprove of votes for women?’ Flora debated whether to mention her affiliation with the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies, but decided this was not the time.

Bunny had turned from his scrutiny of the pictures, his arms folded across his chest regarding them both steadily; a clear message that he was interested in what Miss Finch had to say on the subject.

‘Not at all,’ Miss Finch said. ‘I encourage modern thinking, however, most men of my acquaintance regard women as incapable of using the privilege of a vote wisely. They think we would select the candidate purely on a handsome face or a well turned-out suit.’

‘I agree, although if the former were true,’ Flora said, ‘Arthur Balfour would never have become Prime Minister.’

Miss Finch’s uninhibited, joyful laugh sent blood rushing through Flora’s limbs. It was familiar, as if reminding her of someone or maybe a place and time she couldn’t remember. Her inability to recall it one way or the other frustrated her.”

The Murderess – Jennifer Wells 

1931

Fifteen year old Kate witnessed her mother Millicent push a stranger from a station platform into the path of an oncoming train. There was no warning, seemingly no reason, and absolutely no remorse. 

1940

Exactly nine years later, Kate returns to the station and notices a tramp laying flowers on the exact spot that the murder was committed, the identity of the victim, still remains unknown. 

With a country torn apart by war and her family estate and name in tatters, Kate has nothing to  lose as she attempts to uncover family secrets that date back to the Great War and solve a mystery that blights her family name. 

Jennifer works in Market Research when not writing. She lives in Devon with her young family and cat. The Murderess is her second novel. 

Jennifer has also written The Liar. 

Jennifer and Aria Publication have kindly provided an extract of The Murderess for you to enjoy:

“Prologue

Kate

It happened long ago when I was a child but, every time I close my eyes, I can still see the blood creeping along the iron rail and hear the screams behind me. My life would not be the same after that day, and the years that followed were full of questions and regrets. I never thought that, exactly nine years later, I would return to the place it had happened.

One May morning when I was fifteen years old, my mother woke me early. She laid my new school uniform out on the ottoman and called for her lady’s maid to help me with the fastenings on the blouse and skirt. When I made my way downstairs, breakfast had already been set out in the dining room. We pulled our chairs up close to the window and ate poached eggs and crumpets as we watched the sparrows fluttering over the flower beds, the scent of lilac gusting in from the garden. My mother talked about the weather and the annoyance of the rabbits that ran across the Long Lawn, but then she stopped and her brow became furrowed. She unfastened her necklace with the jade pendant and folded it into my hand.

‘Always remember you are mine,’ she said.

When the grandfather clock in the hallway struck ten, my mother folded up her newspaper and rang for the driver to collect the trunk from my bedroom and to bring the car round to the drive. She drove me along Willow Street, past the village green and down the hedge-lined road to Missensham Station. She bought one single ticket from the office and made enquiries about the next northbound train and the connections to Oxfordshire. Then she instructed the porter to carry my luggage to a cool spot near the station clock. I sat on my travel trunk as she strolled down the platform, stopping to glance at the posters and timetables on the wall.

It was then that a woman approached her, a stranger with a pocket timetable open in her hands. They spoke for a few minutes, moving closer to the track so that they could view the timetable away from the shade of the platform canopy, and I watched as my mother pointed out things on the timetable and the woman nodded earnestly.

Then the track started to hiss with electricity; my mother looked up and saw the train approaching. She glanced at me and smiled, then she turned back to the stranger and pushed her on to the tracks.

I can still hear the screams, I can still see the blood. Things are different now, it is no longer summer and I am grown. There are no more motorcars or lady’s maids, no more poached eggs and crumpets and no more scented gardens and, as far as I am concerned, I no longer have a mother.”

The Murderess book is available here.

You can keep up to date with what Jennifer is up to via her Twitter page which is @jenwellswriter.

Many thanks to Jennifer and Aria Publication. 

Stuck With You – Anna Premoli 

A smart, romantic comedy about how finding The One doesn’t always have to be love at first sight………

Lavinia Ferrari is in her fifth year at Bocconi University where she studies Economics when she is introduced to a new project that will guarantee her extra credits. She’s intrigued……but it means the class must team up with students from the Computer Engineering Course. Lavinia has absolutely no interest in the project, and to top things off, she is paired with Seb Marconi who is less than enthusiastic. 

When the work begins, her friends seem to be making great progress with their partners, but Lavinia isn’t having the same luck…….

Seb is making it quite clear that he’s not interested in the project, or Lavinia, fuelling her frustration. She has no choice – they’re stuck in this, and besides, she won’t recieve her extra credits unless they work together. Lavinia must come up with a way to convince the guy who drives her crazy to put the work in…..but how?

Anna is a bestselling author in Italy. She began writing to relieve stress while working as a finanical consultant for a private bank. Her previous novel, Love To Hate You won the Bancarella Prize in 2013. 

Other books by Anna are:

Love To Hate You 

You Drive Me Crazy 

Until Love Do Us Part 

Here are some sneaky extracts from Stuck With You:
“There is a hint of resignation in his eyes, which appeals to me more than it pushes me away. There’s something between us, even though he insists on denying it. Any other guy in his shoes would have taken advantage of this opportunity to move closer and to kiss me. And to hell with everything else.”


“I turn to him, curious to see how he is reacting to this realisation. His eyes look tormented, but at the same time alive and incredibly bright. He has a wonderful look on his face……It’s wrong for him to be so expressive and intense right at the worst possible moment.”

Stuck With You is available here.

Many Thanks to Anna and Aria Fiction.