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Thursday, 1 October 2020

Author Q & A with Kathleen Whyman

 




Wife Support System is about three mums who are frustrated by the lack of support they get in their family homes. They decide they’ve got the balance wrong. Instead of living with their husbands and struggling with careers, childcare and housework by themselves, they should live together, and help each other out, and date their husbands.

At first, communal living seems like the answer to their prayers – childcare on tap, rotas for cleaning and someone always available to cook dinner (no more last-minute pizza delivery!). But over time, resentment starts to grow as they judge each other’s parenting styles and bicker over cleaning, cooking and whose turn it is to buy toilet rolls.

But as one woman has her head turned by a handsome colleague, one resorts to spying on her husband and another fights to keep a dark secret, they need each other more than ever. But can the women keep their friendships and relationships strong? Or will their perfect mumtopia fall apart? 

Title:  Wife Support System
Author: Kathleen Whyman
Published By: Hera Books
Publication Date: 29th July 2020
Links: Wife Support System is available on Amazon, Apple and Kobo


Author Q and A

Today we would like to welcome the fabulous Kathleen Whyman to talk about her debut novel Wife Support System.

Hi Kathleen can you tell us what was the inspiration behind Wife Support System?

The inspiration for Wife Support System came on a typically frantic day. I was trying to test spellings, get to an after-school club, cook dinner, book a plumber and meet a work deadline. Oh, and complete the simple task of making a gas mask for a school project that was due in the next day. Many of my friends are struggling in the same way and it occurred to me that if we lived together, we could help each other out and life would be much easier. Providing I didn't ask for help with the gas mask.

I’m not as brave as the three women in my book to do this (although I am often as desperate), but it was great fun imagining what issues would occur, both with each other and their husbands.

Did you always want to be a writer?

Yes! I’ve always loved writing. My style is witty (you may disagree after reading this blog post) banter and when I’m writing it’s as though I’m chatting to friends. I wrote my first book, The Ghost of Cripple Creek, when I was 10. It filled two exercise books, although quite a lot of that space was devoted to illustrations. These must have been awful, as I can’t draw for toffee. Fortunately I don’t like toffee, so I’m not too concerned about this. I submitted it to a publisher, who sent me a letter saying that it wasn’t right for them, but that I should keep writing. They didn’t return the book though. I’m still upset about this.

I wrote short stories throughout my teens – I have several rejection letters from Jackie magazine – and started a couple of novels in my twenties, but never got very far with them. (I blame the close proximity of my local pub.) I wrote a novel when I was pregnant with my first daughter Eve (not being able to go out drinking meant that I had much more time on my hands than I was used to), about the pros and cons of being pregnant. The main con being not able to go out drinking. I finished the novel, but wisely abandoned it.

As a journalist, I had an outlet for writing in my day job, but still longed to be a novelist. I got slightly sidetracked from this goal over the years by work, children and Mad Men box sets. It was Eve’s words – 'Stop talking about writing a book and just write one' – that gave me the motivation to knuckle down and write Wife Support System. I began writing the day my youngest daughter, Elena, started primary school and it got published a week after she left in year six. If someone had told me it would take seven years, about 20 rewrites/edits and countless rejections from agents and publishers I’d probably have cried and gone back to watching Mad Men.


What other jobs have you had?

I’m an NCTJ-trained journalist and was managing editor of a publication for the leisure industry for 12 years. After having Eve and Elena, (who are now 12 and 14 – there’s currently a lot of door slamming going on), I became a freelance journalist and now write a column for Writers’ Forum magazine.

Randomly, I trained to become an aerobics instructor in my twenties and taught evening classes. This was a bid to satisfy my secret desire to become a dancer. As that’s clearly never going to happen, teaching exercise to music seemed to be the next best thing. It wasn’t quite the outlet I’d hoped it would be and I only did it for a couple of years. What I really need is to become such a successful author that I get invited to be a contestant on Strictly Come Dancing. Alijaz – are you limbering up in anticipation?!


How did it feel when your first novel was published?

Amazing, but not quite as I’d imagined. I’d envisaged spending the day sipping champagne while never-ending bouquets of flowers arrived and my family waited on me hand and foot.

In reality, it was a normal day with me waiting on my two daughters and chauffeuring them to their various social engagements. I guess they’re keeping me grounded!

I did get to have some champagne in the evening, but there was no sipping involved. Plenty of quaffing though!


What other books have you written?

My other novel, Second Wife Syndrome, was shortlisted for the Comedy Women in Print (CWIP) prize in the unpublished comic novel category. It examines, in a humorous way, the challenges that blended families have with step-children and co-parenting with ex-partners. The blurb is… Determined not to be the resentful second wife, Marie tolerates Scott seeing his first family (that she has never met!) more than his current one. Instead, she focuses on the other aspects of her life: stopping three-year-old Anna using the swear words her grandma taught her – just because they’re in French doesn’t mean they’re not rude; promoting her dressmaking business via social media, without accidentally using the dick pic her cousin sent her; and avoiding the new, Idris Elba-lookalike doctor. He might be hot, but he’s not taking Marie’s quest to quit sugar at all seriously, mocking her insistence that it’s causing extreme paranoia. But it must be. Why else would she sometimes feel as though someone’s watching her?

It didn’t win CWIP but I’m thrilled it was shortlisted. I’m currently editing it with the hope of a publishing deal at some point. Hopefully it won’t take seven years this time!


Have you ever had writer's block?

No, the reverse. I can’t stop writing and waffle on for far too long. Wife Support System initially had four women living together and came to 180,000 words, which is 80,000 words too long! I had to take out one of the women and completely rewrite it. Several times!

What motivates you to keep writing?

I just love it. Time flies when I’m writing. It’s as though a film’s running through my head and I can’t write fast enough to get the story out. When I had to pick the children up from school, I used to set an alarm to remind me, as I was worried I’d be so absorbed I’d forget the time and not collect them!

Where is your favourite place to write?

In a penthouse in New York overlooking the city, with a cocktail by my side. Unfortunately this scenario is pure fantasy.

When we’re not in lockdown I write at my local library. It’s the best way of ensuring I don’t get distracted by jobs at home. Plus I feel it’s important to support libraries. They’re an endangered species and if we don’t use them, we’ll lose them.

At home, I write in what used to be my youngest daughter’s bedroom, but is now a study/dumping ground for things my daughters and husband no longer want but aren’t ready to get rid of. I’ve put my own pictures up, but haven’t redecorated or even taken the bunting down. I claim that this is for sentimental reasons, but really it’s because I can’t be arsed.


What three pieces of advice would you give to an aspiring writer?

1. Give yourself permission to write. I treat writing as a reward that I only allow myself to do when I’ve done all the other jobs. The trouble is, there are always other jobs to do, so I could go days without getting any writing done even though I’m itching too. I need to follow my own advice and prioritise my writing.

2. When you sit down to write, don’t waste time perfecting what you wrote last time. Instead, focus on getting the story down. Then go back and edit and perfect it when you’ve finished writing the book. I wasted countless hours tinkering with chapters of Wife Support System that I ended up cutting out.

With Second Wife Syndrome, I had a deadline to meet to enter the Comedy Women in Print prize so hammered it out. I didn’t even have time to read it before submitting it. I wouldn’t recommend doing that under normal circumstances though!

3. Tell the story you want to tell and don’t worry about what other people might think of it when they read it. There wouldn’t be any swearing or salacious behaviour in any books if we all worried about what our grandmas would make of it. (I’m very impressed with my use of the phrase salacious behaviour. Usually I just say shagging. My grandma would be impressed!)


Which authors inspire you?

I love all styles of books but I particularly enjoy ones that make me laugh out loud. Catherine Bennetto, Lucy Vine and Kirsty Greenwood all do and I really hope that my books make people laugh too.

What are you reading at the moment?

Last Tang Standing by Lauren Ho. It’s a brilliant romantic comedy about a Chinese woman trying to fulfil her mum’s plans for her to make partner in her law firm and marry well. I recommend it!


Who would you choose to play your favourite character in the film of your book?

I see Wife Support System more as a TV series than a film. Although if Steven Spielberg rang and said he was interested in buying the film rights I wouldn’t say no!

In my mind Erica looks like Nana Munchetty, the BBC Breakfast presenter. Very beautiful and glamorous with cropped black hair and a no-nonsense approach, but who also likes a laugh. I know Nana Munchetty isn’t an actress but she learned to dance on Strictly, so maybe she’d learn to act to be in the film!


Which song would you choose for the opening credits for Wife Support System the movie?

Sisters Are Doin' It For Themselves by The Eurythmics, performed by Annie Lennox and Aretha Franlin because Wife Support System is about women pulling together.


Thank you so much for joining us today Kathleen and congratulations on being shortlisted for the Comedy Women in Print award for unpublished novels.

Sincerely
Book Angel x


About the Author


Kathleen Whyman is an author and freelance journalist.

Her debut novel, Wife Support System, was inspired by her own feeble attempt to juggle a career with childcare, never-ending house ‘stuff’ and, outrageously, occasionally some time for herself. She is still struggling.

Kathleen’s novel Second Wife Syndrome has been shortlisted for the Comedy Women in Print prize 2020.

Both novels are contemporary, humorous, women's fiction.

Kathleen writes a column for Writers’ Forum magazine and contributes to the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s magazine Romance Matters. She also wrote short stories for Jackie magazine in her teens. These were, thankfully, never printed.

Kathleen lives in Hertfordshire with her husband and two daughters.

@kathleenwhyman1

Tuesday, 18 August 2020

The Night Swim



The Night Swim, a new thriller from Megan Goldin, author of the “gripping and unforgettable” (Harlen Coben) The Escape Room, a true crime podcast host covering a controversial trial finds herself drawn deep into a small town’s dark past and a brutal crime that took place there years before.

Ever since her true-crime podcast became an overnight sensation and set an innocent man free, Rachel Krall has become a household name—and the last hope for people seeking justice. But she’s used to being recognized for her voice, not her face. Which makes it all the more unsettling when she finds a note on her car windshield, addressed to her, begging for help.

The new season of Rachel's podcast has brought her to a small town being torn apart by a devastating rape trial. A local golden boy, a swimmer destined for Olympic greatness, has been accused of raping the beloved granddaughter of the police chief. Under pressure to make Season 3 a success, Rachel throws herself into her investigation—but the mysterious letters keep coming. Someone is following her, and she won’t stop until Rachel finds out what happened to her sister twenty-five years ago. Officially, Jenny Stills tragically drowned, but the letters insist she was murdered—and when Rachel starts asking questions, nobody in town wants to answer. The past and present start to collide as Rachel uncovers startling connections between the two cases—and a revelation that will change the course of the trial and the lives of everyone involved.

Electrifying and propulsive, The Night Swim asks: What is the price of a reputation? Can a small town ever right the wrongs of its past? And what really happened to Jenny?


Title: The Night Swim
Author: Megan Goldin
Published By: Mirror Books
Publication Date: 4th August 2020



Author Q & A

1. Your previous novel, The Escape Room, was set in the world of Wall Street high stakes investment banking. How did you decide to set your next book in a seaside resort community?  


For me, part of the pleasure of writing is to explore characters, places, issues and even writing styles. When I finished writing The Escape Room, I was interested in expanding my horizons as a writer rather than embarking on a new novel that would  tread similar ground to The Escape Room. I'd been reading about several sexual assault cases going through the courts and I was interested in exploring some of the issues in my fiction. Not just about sexual assault itself but about the judicial process and the effects of it on families. As for my choice of location, my process is that I sit down and start writing, and let the story unravel in a very organic way. So when I started writing The Night Swim, the setting sort of chose itself! 


2. Rachel, the main character in The Night Swim, hosts a true crime podcast.  Are you a fan of those types of podcasts yourself?  Why do you think they're so popular these days? 


I love podcasts and I listen to them often, while exercising, cooking and driving. Of course among the podcasts that I enjoy most are true crime podcasts although I also enjoy history podcasts and current affairs podcasts as well. True crime podcasts are popular because people are fascinated by the dark side of human nature. Like many podcast listeners, I became a fan after listening to Serial. I quickly became addicted to other podcasts as well. The biggest problem right now with true crime podcasts, and podcasts in general, is that there are so many fantastic ones around. I wish I had more time to listen to them all. 


3. What made you decide to write the book from a dual point of view?  Did that make it easier or more challenging to explore the parallel storylines? 


It's actually quite challenging writing from multiple points-of-view as each narrative has its own 'voice' and style  so it's quite a complicated process. I often start my writing day by spending the first couple of hours just reading back on the previous chapters of that particular point-of-view so that I can get the 'voice' back of the character before I start writing. 


4.  Are courtroom scenes difficult to write?  How do you keep the energy or tension up? 


I've read novels and watched movies with terrific courtroom scenes over the years. When done well, powerful courtroom scenes are among the most memorable scenes in films and books. So I have to admit that I rubbed my hands with glee when I had the opportunity to write the courtroom chapters. It's almost as if I'd been working towards writing those chapters my entire life! 


5. The tight-knit town in the story is torn apart over charges that the town's "golden boy" brutally attacked a young woman.  Were there any real-life cases you drew from to tell this story? 


There wasn't any specific cases that I based the novel on but there were many sexual assault cases that had been in the news over the years that I had read about. Many of them left a deep impression. When I started writing The Night Swim, I went back and read courtroom transcripts from some of these cases as well as other cases that came up in my research. I also read, watched and spoke with as many people as I could in order to get an insider view of what happens when these cases are brought to court. 


6. The parallel storyline involves someone (Hannah) leaving mysterious notes for Rachel, begging her to investigate their sister's death from decades ago.  Why was their approach so secretive, and at first, vaguely threatening? 


Hannah had a traumatic childhood because of what happened to her mother and sister. She never really recovered from those childhood traumas so she was understandably wary about whether her story would be taken seriously. She was a fan of Rachel's podcast and she truly believed that Rachel would get justice for her sister if she only knew what had happened, but she also knew that she needed to find a way to connect with Rachel and get her attention. Following Rachel, and leaving messages for her was her way of connecting. Hannah was so focused on getting to the truth about what happened to her sister that she didn't realize that it might be perceived as threatening. 


7. The Night Swim looks at how sexual assault victims who come forward often face an equally traumatic ordeal with the investigation and publicity. How did you portray this with sympathy and care, while still keeping the pages turning? 


I tend to put myself in my characters shoes when I write so I found it emotionally gruelling to write some of the chapters related to sexual assault in The Night Swim. I felt an enormous obligation to be as accurate as possible about what sexual assault survivors and their families go through. So I did as much research as possible and wrote, rewrote, edited and re-edited those scenes many times over. I did my very best to write it with the respect and sympathy that the subject matter deserves as it's a truly harrowing trauma that affects people for the rest of their lives. 


8. A nightingale makes regular appearances throughout the book.  Are you a bird lover yourself?  What made you include that in the story? 


As part of my research, I'd read about the Greek myth of Philomela. She was raped and then silenced when her tongue was cut out and eventually turned into a nightingale. There are various interpretations of the story but some suggest that the silencing of Philomela symbolises the silencing of women over the centuries. So that's how the nightingale found its way into the book. As for whether I'm a bird lover: I'm living in Australia right now and we have magnificent wild parrots and rainbow lorikeets which are the most stunning rainbow colored birds that live in the trees by my house. We're currently locked down due to coronavirus so it's somewhat liberating watching the beautiful Australian birds fly around freely even if we are stuck at home.


9. I hear you just got a new puppy to help you and your family get through the lockdown in Melbourne.  Tell us about her! 


I jokingly call her our lockdown puppy but in truth we'd been thinking of getting a puppy for a long time. She is a Labrador puppy and we were lucky to get her because in Australia there is such a demand for dogs right now that there are few rescue dogs available and pedigree breeders have multi-year waiting lists. My beloved Lab cross died of cancer a few years ago and I'd been waiting until my kids were old enough to get a new puppy. I volunteer to care for temporary guide dog puppies so our new puppy was always going to be a Lab of some description. They are beautifully natured dogs although they spend the first year tearing the house apart as they chew everything in sight. My last Lab ate books from cover to cover. With the pressures of the lockdown and the effect it has on kids, it's a welcome distraction for my kids to have a puppy to help raise.


Thanks for joining us on the blog today Megan and good luck with The Night Swim.


Sincerely

Book Angel x




About the Author


MEGAN GOLDIN worked as a correspondent for Reuters and other media outlets where she covered war, peace, international terrorism and financial meltdowns in the Middle East and Asia. She is now based in Melbourne, Australia where she raises three sons and is a foster mum to Labrador puppies learning to be guide dogs. The Escape Room was her debut novel.

 Social Links:


Author website

Twitter @megangoldin

Facebook

Author Blog

GoodReads





Saturday, 15 August 2020

Starcross Manor by Christie Barlow



Dying to know more about the brooding and mysterious Flynn Carter and the secrets behind his plans for Starcross Manor?

You won’t want to miss the next spellbinding chapter in the Love Heart Lane series – where friends are there for you no matter what.

When Julia Coleman meets Flynn Carter again in the cosy village of Heartcross it can only mean trouble. Flynn might be rich, brooding and sexy, but Julia knows first-hand he’s ruthless and she plans to watch his every move.

When Julia discovers Flynn’s plans for beautiful Starcross Manor her greatest fears come true. Because Flynn’s dreams of turning Starcross into a luxury hotel could ruin Julia’s dreams…and finish off the community of Heartcross for good.

Flynn makes it clear he doesn’t want trouble, and he’s not the man Julia thinks he is. As he sets about convincing the community he’s changed, he hopes he can convince Julia to give him another chance too…


Title:   Starcross Manor
Author:  Christie Barlow
Published By: One More Chapter
Publication Day: 14th August
Links:  UK:  Amazon       



Our Review

This is book four in the Love Heart Lane series by Christie Barlow and what a lovely heartwarming story it is.. When I read the first couple of chapters and saw what a difficult relationship that Julia and Flynn had, I must admit I did wonder how on earth this could possibly work out. But eventually that mystery was resolved as the story unfolded and things were not all as they seemed. I really didn't like Flynn at first after all the horrible things he'd done in the past and i felt that Julia was quite justified to do what she did, even though it may not have been the right thing to do.

Starcross Manor is perfect escapism which really does provide you with a huge dose of the feels and offers us another chance to visit Heartcross and see how all the characters from the previous books in the series are getting on.

I loved getting lost in the pages and especially towards the end when Flynn pulls out all the stops with a couple of exciting and fabulous surprises. It was just so romantic and I really felt as though I was caught up in the moment and wished it was happening to me but with my husband obvs hehe.

Also I’m suspecting one of his surprises is going to be the subject of the next book which I think is really exciting.

Christie Barlow has created a gorgeous little community in Heartcross and I can’t wait for my next visit and i beliee there are ten in the series so we have alot more to look forward to. 


Sincerely 
Book Angel x

About the Author



Christie Barlow is the number 1 international bestselling author of A Year in the Life of a Playground Mother, The Misadventures of a Playground Mother, Kitty's Countryside Dream, Lizzie's Christmas Escape, Evie's Year of Taking Chances, The Cosy Canal Boat Dream, A Home at Honeysuckle Farm, Love Heart Lane and Foxglove Farm. Her writing career came as somewhat a surprise when she decided to write a book to teach her children a valuable life lesson and show them that they are capable of achieving their dreams. The book she wrote to prove a point is now a #1 bestseller in the UK, USA, Canada & Australia.

Christie is an ambassador for @ZuriProject raising money/awareness and engaging with impoverished people in Uganda through organisations to improve their well-being.

Friday, 7 August 2020

Hush Little Baby by Jane Isaac


Someone stole a baby...

One sunny day in July, someone took three-month-old Alicia Owen from her pram outside a supermarket. Her mother, Marie, was inside. No one saw who took Alicia. And no one could find her.

They silenced her cry...

Fifteen years later, a teenager on a construction site sees a tiny hand in the ground. When the police investigate, they find a baby buried and preserved in concrete. Could it be Alicia?

But the truth will always out.

When Alicia disappeared, the papers accused Marie of detachment and neglect. The Owens never got over the grief of their child's disappearance and divorced not long after. By reopening the case, DC Beth Chamberlain must reopen old wounds. But the killer may be closer than anyone ever suspected...

Title: Hush Little Baby
Author: Jane Isaac
Published By: Aria
Publication Date: 23rd July
Links: UK:  Amazon   US: Amazon 


Our Review


This has to be Beth’s most difficult role as family liaison officer in the police force. The subject matter is very emotive as the body of a baby is found encased in concrete. The police have to find out if the body belongs to a baby that went missing fifteen years before and I found the scenes with the mother of the missing baby truly heartbreaking. 

As the police dig deeper they uncover lots of twists and turns along the way and the pace just races along with lots of people finding themselves under suspicion. 

I love it when we get a glimpse into the detective's private lives and it was interesting to see how Beth’s forbidden relationship with Nick was getting along as he seems like a real hunk and I love the complication of their relationship.

Beth is a flawed Character with lots of problems and that just makes her more unlikely to rely on anybody. This crime becomes a little too close to home for her. Shocking and heartbreaking in equal measures, another tough crime for DC Beth Chamberlain to solve. A real page turner.

Sincerely
Book Angel x


About the Author
Jane Isaac is married to a serving detective and they live in rural Northamptonshire, UK with their daughter and dogs. Jane's debut novel, An Unfamiliar Murder, introduces DCI Helen Lavery and was nominated as best mystery in the 'eFestival of Words Best of the Independent eBook awards 2013.'

The Truth Will Out, the second in the DCI Helen Lavery series, was nominated as 'Thriller of the Month - April 2014' by E-thriller.com and winner of 'Noveltunity book club selection - May 2014'.

Jane' s ninth novel, Hush Little Baby, is the third in the highly acclaimed DC Beth Chamberlain (Family Liaison Officer) series and scheduled for release in July 2020.

Jane loves to hear from readers and writers. You can reach her via her website at www.janeisaac.co.uk





The Minute I Saw You by Paige Toon





When Hannah meets Sonny, she's irresistibly drawn to him: he's sexy and confident, but only in town on holiday. That's fine with Hannah - she doesn't do long-term relationships. And luckily for her, neither does Sonny. But before they can even so much as kiss, Sonny receives some shocking news and commits to making serious life changes - ones that can't and won't include romance.

With even a short fling now off the cards, Hannah and Sonny settle for being friends. But as summer hots up and their chemistry shows no signs of cooling, they start to question their reasons for shutting each other out.

Are they both too broken to find love? And if they tear down the walls between them, will they still like what's on the other side?



Title: The Minute I Saw You
Author: Paige Toon
Published By: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: 6th August 2020
Links:  UK:  Amazon   US:   Amazon





Our Review


Wow, what a book. Hannah works at an opticians and when a gorgeous hunk called Sonny comes in for an eye test she falls in lust with him. The feeling seems to be mutual except when she sees him again he is only a shadow of his former self.

The story is set in Cambridge which is one of my favourite local cities and I loved reading about their trips along the river and I think the canoeing was a lovely touch.

Neither Hannah or Sonny are looking for relationships and as Sonny is put on a self induced sex ban they are unable to do what they would normally do so instead they become friends. Both of the characters have such devastatingly painful pasts which eventually come to light and the reasons for their behaviour becomes apparent.

As they work through their problems they both learn to accept themselves and through the despair there is an uplifting sense of light at the end of their tunnel. Never have two people deserved to be loved more.

This is Paige Toon at her very best and as always the last line gave me goosebumps because it was such a beautiful sentiment. It's a story that will stay with me for a very long time.

Sincerely
Book Angel x




About the Author

Paige Toon was born in 1975 and grew up between England, Australia and America, following her racing driver father around the globe. A philosophy graduate, she worked at teen, film and women's magazines, before ending up at Heat magazine as Reviews Editor. Paige is married, has two small children and lives in Cambridge.
The Sun in Her Eyes, out 21 May 2015, is her tenth book.

Visit Paige's website at paigetoon.com to sign up to her free book club, 'The Hidden Paige', and say hi to her on Twitter @PaigeToonAuthor and Facebook.com/PaigeToonAuthor

Thursday, 6 August 2020

All My Lies Are True by Dorothy Koomson




Verity is telling lies...
And that's why she's about to be arrested for attempted murder.

Serena has been lying for years. . .
And that may have driven her daughter, Verity, to do something unthinkable...

Poppy's lies have come back to haunt her . . .
So will her quest for the truth hurt everyone she loves?

Everyone lies.
But whose lies are going to end in tragedy?



Title: All My Lies Are True
Author:  Dorothy Koomson
Published By: Amazon
Publication Date: 9th July 2020
Links: UK: Amazon   US:  Amazon



Our Review

OMG! Stunning, Shocking, this book knocked me speechless. It also took me through every emotion, so much so that I wanted to scream, throw the book and actually wish a lot of nastiness to one of these characters.

I really don't want to give too much away but the Ice Cream Girls as they are known really deserve to be left alone to get on with their lives after what they've been through but someone close to them stirs everything up again in the most horrendous way and with the most horrific consequences.

I don't know that much about coercive control but I think everyone needs to read this book for a perfect example of how it works.

Serena and Poppy were abused and groomed by their teacher in the previous book 'The Ice Cream Girls,' and he ended up dead. One of them went to jail for it and the other one didn't which has caused a lot of contention in the past. Instead of them being seen as abuse victims they were blamed for what happened and this shines a spotlight on what's been happening in the real world.

When Serena feels her daughter Verity is slipping away from her she has no idea of the extent to which this situation is headed and takes the blame upon herself for trying to protect her children.But that all backfires.

I really can't find words good enough for this important novel which clearly shows the pain caused when a person is being groomed and isolated from their family and all the repercussions on everybody else. 
This book is hard hitting and exposes misogyny and abuse at it's very worst. Dorothy Koomson really puts her characters through their paces and just when you think it's all over, it kicks in the solar plexus and has you shouting Nooooooooooooooooo.

This book is the sequel to the Ice Cream Girls so I highly suggest you read that first and then move onto this but I guarantee you will have steam coming out of your ears at the injustice served up by one of these characters. An utterly brilliant psychological thriller, Dorothy Koomson has not held back here, this writing is fearless and not to be missed.

Sincerely
Book Angel x



About the Author

Dorothy Koomson is the award-winning author of 15 novels and has been making up stories since she was 13 when she used to share her stories with her convent school friends. Her published titles include: Tell Me Your Secret, The Brighton Mermaid, The Friend, When I Was Invisible, That Girl From Nowhere, The Flavours of Love, The Woman He Loved Before, Goodnight, Beautiful and The Chocolate Run.

Dorothy’s first novel, The Cupid Effect, was published in 2003 (when she was quite a bit older than 13). Her third book, My Best Friend’s Girl, was selected for the Richard & Judy Summer Reads of 2006 and went on to sell over 500,000 copies. While her fourth novel, Marshmallows For Breakfast, has sold in excess of 250,000 copies. Dorothy’s books, The Ice Cream Girls and The Rose Petal Beach were both shortlisted for the popular fiction category of the British Book Awards in 2010 and 2013, respectively.

Dorothy’s novels have been translated into over 30 languages, and a TV adaptation loosely based on The Ice Cream Girls was shown on ITV1 in 2013. After briefly living in Australia, Dorothy now lives in Brighton.

In 2019 Dorothy was awarded the Image Award by The Black British Business Awards to celebrate and honour her achievements.

For more information on Dorothy Koomson visit www.dorothykoomson.co.uk

Sunday, 12 July 2020

Author Blogswap with Laura Bambrey


 Tori Williamson is alone. After a tragic event left her isolated from her loved ones, she’s been struggling to find her way back to, well – herself. That’s why she set up her blog, The Beginner’s Guide to Loneliness, as a way of – anonymously – connecting with the outside world and reaching others who just need a little help sometimes.

When she’s offered a free spot on a wellbeing retreat in exchange for a review on her blog, Tori is anxious about opening herself up to new surroundings. But after her three closest friends – who she talks to online but has never actually met – convince her it’ll do her some good, she reluctantly agrees and heads off for three weeks in the wild (well, a farm in Wales).

From the moment she arrives, Tori is sceptical and quickly finds herself drawn to fellow sceptic Than, the retreat’s dark and mysterious latecomer. But as the beauty of The Farm slowly comes to light she realizes that opening herself up might not be the worst thing. And sharing a yurt with fellow retreater Bay definitely isn’t. Will the retreat be able to fix Tori? Or will she finally learn that being lonely doesn’t mean she’s broken . . .

Welcome to The Beginner’s Guide to Loneliness! Where you can learn to move mountains by picking up the smallest of stones…

Title:  The Beginner's Guide to Loneliness
Author:  Laura Bambrey
Published By: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: 28th July 2020
Links:  UK:   Amazon     US:   Amazon


Author Q & A and blog swap with Laura Bambrey

I had the pleasure of meeting Laura a few years ago at a blogger/author meet up in London, organised by the fabulous Kim Nash. we got on really well and have stayed in touch ever since. So I was absolutely delighted to hear that she had signed a book deal with Simon and Schuster, I got in touch to congratulate her and to confide that I had also signed a book deal with Orion Dash, it was such a fantastic co-incidence and Laura suggested that we do a blog swap to celebrate. So today we are welcoming her to sincerely book angels blog and I am over at laurabambreybooks.blogspot.com.


Hi Laura and welcome to Sincerely Book Angels blog.
Hi Annette - thank you so much for having me over to your gorgeous blog today! Who’d have thought when we met all those years ago that our debuts would be publishing in the same month?!


It was something we could only ever dream of and as we've learnt dreams can and do come true. 
What was the inspiration behind The Beginner’s guide to Loneliness?
Tori, my main character, has been pottering around in my head for a long time. I knew she had a story to tell me, but it took a long time for her to share it. I recon she was waiting for me to gather a bit more life experience before opening up!

I think we have all experienced loneliness at some point (even more so now that we’ve all had to endure lockdown!) Whether you’re completely isolated or surrounded by people, part of a huge family or flying solo - loneliness can hit at such random moments. It can be a flash that dies away quickly or something far more persistent, and exploring that feeling and the way it can affect your life was my inspiration and the theme that I wanted to explore.


Did you always want to be a writer?
I’ve always loved the idea of being a writer - but I was attracted to an abstract image rather than the reality - a character wafting around, sitting on hay bales with a notebook at sunset, playing the part of “writer” in a romcom. It’s only more recently that I’ve fallen in love with the reality of sitting down and actually writing, long hours immersed in an imaginary world, getting those sentences just right.


What other jobs have you had?
I’ve had quite a mixed bag of jobs, from Sculpture Conservator to Trapeze Choreographer and Stilt Walker. I’ve worked in retail, theatres, and the charitable sector as a fundraiser. The one thing they’ve all had in common is the opportunity to study people and gather stories and characters along the way.

How did it feel when your first novel was published?
I’ll let you know on the 28th July ;) Finding out that I had a contract with the Books and the City team at Simon and Schuster for their DigitalOriginals was an incredible moment - something I’ll never forget.


Can you please tell us a little about your publishing story.
Last year, I fully committed to my writing for the first time and I promised myself that I would take every opportunity I came across. I joined the RNA New Writers’ Scheme to help push me to complete my debut novel. Then I spotted the #DigitalOriginal #OneDay open submission call from Simon and Schuster and on the 15th of July last year, I hit send on my submission. Two days later, I received a request for the full manuscript.

At this point I had to come clean and tell Sara-Jade and the team that I hadn’t yet completed the draft. I asked for six weeks to finish writing it, and they very kindly agreed. I spent a very busy summer, and by the end of August, I had it ready for them. October saw me visiting the S&S offices for a meeting about the book, the Autumn and Winter saw me working hard on a structural edit, and early in the new year, 2020, my dream came true when I signed my contract.


Have you ever had writer's block?
Not so much writer’s block - I’ve had Writer’s Doubt. You know what I mean? The “I’m not good enough”, “I can’t possibly...”, “I’m never going to be able...”


If so how did you overcome it?
For me, the best possible way to get past Writer’s Doubt is to sit down and keep writing, even if it’s structural work on the plot rather than actual word count. I interviewed my characters to get to know them better, I made a huge visual plan of what I had left to do and what I’d already I achieved. I set a series of personal deadlines to keep me motivated. And then I got back to achieving that word count - because nothing makes me feel more positive than moving forward with the story.


What motivates you to keep writing?
Deadlines. I love a challenge, and there’s nothing more likely to get my bum in gear than something that feels only just within the realms of being possible to achieve.


Where is your favourite place to write? ( can we please have a picture)
I have an armchair that’s right next to my writing desk. I love to write new words in the chair and edit at the desk. The main problem is Mop, my rabbit, also loves the writing chair so we have a bit of a turf war going on!


What three pieces of advice would you give to an aspiring writer?

1. Write as regularly as you can. It’s a muscle and it needs to be used to get stronger (and to stave off the dreaded Writers’ Doubt)

2. Set yourself achievable targets. I started off by giving myself a tiny 400 word daily word count target. It soon adds up, and even on the toughest of writing days, it’s still achievable.

3. Be yourself. Sounds clichéd, but when you settle in and find your own writing voice, your characters and story come to life.


What are you reading at the moment?
I’ve just finished My One True North by Milly Johnson - gorgeous gorgeous book! Next up, Sunshine and Second Chances by Kim Nash.


If your book was made into a film what song would you choose for the opening credits?
Ooh can I choose end credits instead? Then it would be True Colours performed by Ane Brun.


Who would you choose to play your favourite character in the film of your book?
I can really imagine a dark-haired, thirteen year old Chloë Grace Moretz as Rowan.


What is your next book about?
I can’t say too much about it yet as I’m in the very early stages of writing - but it will be a story that explores identity and the healing power of community.

Thank you so much for having me on your beautiful blog, Annette - and I can’t wait to read Wedding Bells at the Signal Box Cafe!

Thank you so much for joining us Laura and Mop, we can't wait to read The Beginner's Guide to Loneliness. Just think next time we meet at one of Kim's shenanigans we will both be published authors, as is she. What a celebration that will be.

Sincerely
Book Angel x




About the Author
Laura Bambrey was born in Dorset but raised in Wales. She's worked as a trapeze choreographer, sculpture conservator and stilt walker, amongst others, and spent most of her time collecting stories from the people she met along the way.

She has spent many years as a book blogger and reviewer of women's fiction and now lives in Devon with her very own romantic hero and a ridiculously fluffy rabbit named Mop. The Beginner's Guide to Loneliness is her début novel.

You can connect with Laura on twitter @laurabambrey, on Instagram @laura_bambrey_books, on Facebook @laurabambreybooks, and via her author blog laurabambreybooks.blogspot.com