Wednesday, 26 October 2016

A Year And A Day By Isabelle Broom

A Year And A Day 


Isabelle Broom

Three women. Three love stories. One city.

For Megan, visiting Prague with her friend Ollie is just business. Nothing more. Because if she admits the truth she might lose everything.
For Hope, this trip is a surprise treat from Charlie, her new partner. But she's struggling to enjoy the city when she knows how angry her daughter is. And that it's all her fault.
For Sophie, Prague has always been magical. And now she's counting down the moments until her boyfriend Robin joins her in the city that holds so many of their memories . . .

Thank you to NETGALLEY and publisher Penguin/Michael Jones for this advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

I absolutely loved My Map of You and The Wedding Speech so I was really pleased when Michael Jones sent me this advance copy of Isabelle's next novel. 

This story is set in Prague and follows the stories of three women Megan, Sophie and Hope. Each woman has her own personal reason for visiting Prague. 
The first thing I noted was as in Isabelle's first book My Map of You, she describes the area for her books settings so well. Whilst reading My Map of You she had me wanting to jump on a plane to Greece to stuff myself with Moussaka, with A Year and a Day, she had me hankering after strudel - and lots of it - warm, cuddly, snugly jumpers, open fires and snow. I could almost smell the strudel, taste the honey cake and feel the frost on my nose as I read.
Isabelle definitely has a unique flair for throwing her readers headfirst into the places she is writing about and she bombards your senses with her vivid descriptions of the sights, sounds and smells.

The story itself had me weeping and me all snotty is not a pretty sight I can tell you! 
Megan is on holiday with Ollie. He is a primary school teacher on a fact finding tour of Prague and Megan is a photographer in the making. Ollie wants more than anything to be more than just good friends with Megan, but Megan doesn't think of Ollie in those terms.
Sophie is holidaying alone and waiting for her new Fiance Robin to join her. They met in Prague ten years ago and have returned every year since.
Hope is on holiday with her new love Charlie. Unfortunately Charlie became her new love whilst she was still very much married to her husband Dave, albeit very unhappily. Her daughter Annette spotted Hope kissing Charlie in the back of his driving instructors car and Annette has now decided that she wants nothing more to do with her Mother, which is breaking Hope's heart.
The three women end up meeting and sharing a drink in the hotel bar.

Hope feels very maternal towards Sophie, who is a waif like figure and Hope can see the blossoming love between Megan and Ollie even if Megan can't and all of the women come to some life changing decisions whilst on holiday.

I thoroughly enjoyed A Year and a Day. It is the ideal book to snuggle up with in the coming chilly nights with a cup of something warm and a huge slab of cake. Be prepared to laugh and cry though, so bring tissues!

Pre-Order here  Published on 17th November 2016

Friday, 16 September 2016

BLOG TOUR - Catherine Miller

Firstly thank you Catherine for inviting me to take part on your blog tour. I am very honoured and chuffed to be honest!

I am delighted to welcome Catherine Miller to my blog for the final day of her successful blog tour for her brand new book All That is Left of Us. Catherine is published by Carina and you can purchase her book here - out 15th September 2016

One of My Own…

Dawn loves being a mother. No matter how Archie came into her life, or the fact he's a little different from other children, he is precious and loved. He is hers, after all. Especially because she’s never told anyone who the father of her son is.
So when Dawn’s twin brother David and his wife Rebekah are struggling to have their own child, Dawn agrees to become their surrogate, as it is the one thing she can do to help.
However, creating the perfect family doesn’t always go to plan and when Dawn realises just how much her nephew needs his mother, she begins to wonder if the time has finally come to confront the past she has kept secret for so long.
From the author of Waiting for You comes a story of friendship, motherhood and hope.

I enjoyed this book immensely, in fact I read it in two evenings tutting at anyone who disturbed me! 
The subject of surrogacy is something we have all heard about, but not something I have read about before in a fictional book.

We meet Dawn as she is attending an ante-natal class with her sister in-law Rebekah. Rebekah is wearing a prosthesis so she looks pregnant, but it is Dawn who is carrying her baby. Rebekah is married to Dawn's twin brother David and has been unsuccessful in bringing a pregnancy to full term. She has suffered many miscarriages and the fact that she hasn't mourned these lost babies affects her ability to be a Mother to the baby that Dawn has for her.

Dawn has a son of her own. The very likeable character of Archie. He has disabilities, which mean he enjoys routine. I found this character very well written as I have experience of caring for children with similar issues. Archie is obsessed with the family of meerkats at the local zoo and come rain or shine visits the zoo every Saturday with his Mum to make notes and observations on the meerkat family.
Whilst visiting one weekend, Archie befriends the new meerkat keeper - Joel - and they quickly bond, which surprises Dawn as this isn't something that Archie is usually able to do. 

This book is about family and how it doesn't have to be a Mum, Dad and 2.4 children. Family is what you make it and shows us that as long as there is love you can overcome anything that life throws at you.

I shed a few tears throughout and also giggled at Archie's exploits. Brilliant read.  

The Lovely Catherine Miller

Find other novels by Catherine here and catch up with her on Twitter and Facebook

Thank you Catherine and her publisher for inviting me to take part in this blog tour and for the advance copy of the book via Netgalley.

If you want to catch up with the tour then follow the links below:

Monday 12th September ; The Writing Garnet

Tuesday 13th September: The Romaniacs

Wednesday 14th September: Daniel Riding

Thursday 15th September: Jo Lambert - A Writer's Journey

Sunday, 28 August 2016

The Missing by C.L Taylor - Book Review

The Missing


C.L Taylor

When fifteen-year-old Billy Wilkinson goes missing in the middle of the night, his mother, Claire, blames herself. She's not the only one. There isn't a single member of Billy's family that doesn't feel guilty. But the Wilkinson's are so used to keeping secrets from one another that it isn't until six months later, after an appeal for information goes horribly wrong, that the truth begins to surface.
Claire is sure of two things – that Billy is still alive and that her friends and family had nothing to do with his disappearance.
A mother's instinct is never wrong. Or is it?
Sometimes those closest to us are the ones with the most to hide…

The story begins with messages between two people. We don't know if the characters are male or female or their ages as they are using screen names. They appear all through the book gradually teasing the reader with a little bit more information.
The book then moves on to Claire Wilkinson. She is getting ready to attend an appeal on the six month anniversary of her son Billy Wilkinson's disappearance. Billy went missing one night and has not been heard from despite appeals, posters, fliers, Facebook pages and a website. Mark - Claire's husband and Billy's Dad - is distant. He compartmentalises stress into boxes and can only cope with one problem at a time. Jake Wilkinson the older brother of Billy lives with his parents along with his girlfriend Kira.
It is obvious from the start that this family have secrets from each other. Claire doesn't know who she can trust and whether or not everything she sees or hears is in fact reality. 
I honestly had no idea how this would end. There are many theories that went through my head as I was reading, all of them wrong I have to say! The ending actually threw me completely and was very well written. I think the characters were rounded and the anguish of the family shone through. I can only imagine what it must feel like to not know where someone is, how do you move on with your life? How do you sleep? How do you carry on with the mundane everyday tasks?

I would highly recommend this book and will definitely be looking out for more titles by this author.
Order here

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Book Review - My Husband's Wife by Amanda Prowse

My Husband's Wife


Amanda Prowse

Once a week, Rosie Tipcott counts her blessings.
She goes to sit on her favourite bench on the north Devon cliffs, and thanks her lucky stars for her wonderful husband, her mischievous young daughters, and her neat little house by the sea. She vows to dedicate every waking hour to making her family happy.
But then her husband unexpectedly leaves her for another woman and takes the children. Now she must ask the question: what is left in her life? Can Rosie find the strength to rebuild herself? More importantly, does she even want to?


Ok, so first of all I was enjoying this book and found the humour really funny, especially "Rosie Shitstar". The children were delightful and their conversations and interactions with the adults lifted the story. It then became a quite difficult read as I had a friend whose husband left after a very long marriage and the book made me angry for her and Rosie.

However I couldn't quite understand the character of Gerri. What was her aim? Why did she pick Phil? Why did Rosie's in-laws and best friend get taken in so quickly by her, if they genuinely cared about Rosie? For instance when Gerri went all psycho on Rosie at her house, why did Rosie's best friend immediately side with Gerri. Surely she would have taken Rosie's side?

The book seemed to build up to Phil leaving (although if you read the blurb, you know this is coming) and then concentrate on Gerri's plan to destroy Rosie's life by moving the children to another school and cutting their hair. Then almost as quickly as her life is destroyed, Phil appears and says "You were right Rosie, I'm sorry, Gerri was a psycho!" - or words to that effect!
I found myself shouting at Rosie "Tell him to piss off for f**ks sake,he ruined your life, took your children and now he wants to come back and start again!"

Thankfully Rosie doesn't return to Phil, but realises that his brother Kevin is her true love.

I found this book to be funny and emotive, but when Phil leaves Gerri, I felt that part was rushed. It was almost as if the author hadn't got enough information to tell us about Gerri, so she moved on to the ending.

I have enjoyed Amanda Prowse's work before though and to say I hated this is an overstatement.


Order here

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Saving Sophie by Sam Carrington - Book Review

Saving Sophie


Sam Carrington

A teenage girl is missing. Is your daughter involved, or is she next?
Your daughter is in danger. But can you trust her?

When Karen Finch’s seventeen-year-old daughter Sophie arrives home after a night out, drunk and accompanied by police officers, no one is smiling the morning after. But Sophie remembers nothing about how she got into such a state.

Twelve hours later, Sophie’s friend Amy has still not returned home. Then the body of a young woman is found.

Karen is sure that Sophie knows more than she is letting on. But Karen has her own demons to fight. She struggles to go beyond her own door without a panic attack.

As she becomes convinced that Sophie is not only involved but also in danger, Karen must confront her own anxieties to stop whoever killed one young girl moving on to another Sophie.

Thank you to NETGALLEY and Harper Collins/Avon for my advance copy in return for an honest review.

Well, well, I was hooked from the very start. The story is told from the point of view of Sophie, her Mother Karen and a DI investigating the case.
Sophie arrives home one Saturday night in a police car and appears very drunk. She goes to bed after questioning by her parents, but she cannot remember anything of what has happened. All she can remember is having drinks at her friend's house and then nothing. The police found her wandering near a main road and said they had a duty of care to bring her home.

Karen texts one of the other Mums (Mother of Amy) as Sophie had been rambling on about Amy the night before. It turns out that Amy is missing. Sophie can still not remember anything of what has happened, despite text messages from friends telling her that her friends Amy and Erin had put her into a taxi.
Sophie then receives a disturbing email from an unknown sender featuring a picture of a girl on a chair. The girl has the same dress on and the same snake tattoo as her missing friend Amy.

Then a body is found. Amy's parents go to identity her, only it is not Amy. It is Erin, Sophie's friend since she was little. Karen had been friends with Erin's Mum Rachel from school, but cannot go to help her as she is battling with agoraphobia.

Sophie goes to work and Amy comes into work too. Amy doesn't appear to want to talk about Erin or the nights events, which Sophie cannot understand.
The plot moves on and Sophie receives more messages and feels she is being stalked.

Karen recognises the email address the stalker is using and the whole story comes tumbling out. Mother and daughter finally become open with each other and learn to trust each other.

The epilogue left me with chills, a brilliant piece of writing.

I would highly recommend this book, the plot is fast paced and easy to follow.

Order here

Monday, 22 August 2016

The Wrong Hand by Jane Jago - Book Review

The Wrong Hand


Jane Jago

We all make mistakes. Moments that change us and the path we are on irrevocably.

For Rachel Allen it was the moment that she let her son's hand slip from hers. For Danny Simpson and Graham Harris it was the moment one of them took it.

Seven years ago Danny and Graham were just children themselves, angry, marginalized and unguided. That was, until they committed a crime so heinous that three families were left devastated. They were no longer just boys. They were monsters.
Released from juvenile detention, it is time for the boys, now men, to start again; new names, new people. But they can never escape who they are or what they did. And their own families, now notorious; the Allens, destroyed with grief; and the country at large have never been able to forget.
They will always be running. They will always be hiding. But are some mistakes too large, the ripples to far reaching, to outrun forever?

Thank you to NETGALLEY and Michael Jones/Penguin for this advance copy in return for an honest review.

The first thing that was obvious about this book was that despite it being set in Australia the events were almost a mirror image of the terrible events in Liverpool when Jamie Bulger went missing. This makes it a very, very difficult and emotive read.

The novel begins with Danny one of the boys imprisoned having to choose a new identity. He is given a book of baby names to choose from and is asked by his therapist to write down ten names. He is angered when none of his choices are taken in consideration and the fact he was asked to chose was to dismiss any names he may be associated with. The name Geoffrey is chosen for him, which he is not happy about.
We also meet Rachel and Matthew Allen, who are the parents of the child Benjamin who has been murdered. They have both has suffered abuse from the local community, because Rachel "let go of her son's hand" therefore allowing him in their eyes to be taken. They are now divorced and Rachel has remarried and has more children who she guards obsessively.

We next meet Liam (Graham) who is the other boy imprisoned for Benjamin's murder. He is now an estate agent and newly married to Catherine who has just announced she is pregnant. This strikes fear into Liam's heart as he doesn't want to be anywhere children, in fact he fears them. We find out this is not because he thinks he will harm them, but he cannot bear to think that someone may do to his child, what he did to someone else's.

I found some of this book difficult. I started reading one scene between Danny and Graham where they find a cat and her kitten. I guessed at what was coming and skipped the scenes, not wanting those images in my head.

The book flashes backwards and forwards between before the murder, the time of the murder, the boys incarceration and present day. We meet other characters including journalist Alex Reiser and Detective Kendall who are closely involved with trying to find out the new identities of the murderers.

All through the book I felt a little compassion with Graham/Liam as he seemed to be genuinely sorry for what he had done whereas Danny/Geoffrey seemed to look upon his past as an inconvenience that wasn't of his own doing. The point that children killing children is something that has happened for hundreds of years didn't make it any easier and I suppose there will always be some kind of morbid fascination as to why children kill other children. Is it right to look on these children as monsters? Is it their nature or nurture that shapes them? Some interesting points are raised in the book by the author.

The ending for me didn't "wrap up" the story and I was left with questions in my head. However I would recommend this book, but as I said it is hugely emotive.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Heidi Swain - Novels, a cover reveal and more!

Heidi Swain

It has been a whirlwind year for Norfolk based author Heidi Swain. Following on from the hugely successful 'The Cherry Tree Cafe' last year, her second novel 'Summer at Skylark Farm' was published in June this year. Then came the exciting news that it would be released as a paperback exclusive to Sainsburys on 25th August.

Then yesterday we were treated to the cover reveal for Heidi's third novel 'Mince Pies and Mistletoe at the Christmas Market', which is available to order now - click here - and will be published as both an eBook and paperback on 17th November.

Heidi says about her third novel "I think I always knew, right from the moment she took the job in The Cherry Tree Cafe, that Ruby had her own story to tell and here she is spreading some seasonal joy and keeping us all on the edge of our seats!"

Isn't it a beauty? I can almost smell the mince pies and feel a chill in the air!

This novel sees us back in Wynbridge with Ruby back from University wanting to earn some money for her travel fund. With Christmas around the corner, she takes on a stall at the local market, and sets about making it the best Christmas market stall ever. There'll be bunting and mistletoe and maybe even a bit of mulled wine.
But with the new out-of-town superstore just opened, the market is under threat. So together with the other stallholders, Ruby devises a plan to make sure that locals make the Christmas market their first port of call for all their Christmas present needs.
But it's hard to concentrate when she keeps bumping into her ex, Steve - and especially when she realises that her feelings for him are still there. 

It sounds brilliant and I have already pre-ordered my copy.

The Author

Although passionate about writing from an early age, Heidi Swain gained a degree in Literature, flirted briefly with a newspaper career, married and had two children before she finally plucked up the courage to join a creative writing class and take her literary ambitions seriously.

A lover of Galaxy bars, vintage paraphernalia and the odd bottle of fizz, she now writes contemporary fiction and enjoys the company of a whole host of feisty female characters. 

Heidi can be found at the keyboard at all hours of the day and night and quite often scribbling longhand in her car during her lunch break. She lives in stunning south Norfolk with her wonderful family and a mischievous cat called Storm.

The Books

Order here

Order here

Order here

Congratulations to you Heidi

You can find Heidi on Twitter and on Facebook this busy lady also has a blog which you can read here Heidi Swain Blogspot
Her official author page with her publisher Simon and Schuster can be found here

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Local Girl Missing By Claire Douglas - Book Review

Local Girl Missing
Claire Douglas

 Purchase here

Twenty years ago

21-year-old Sophie Collier vanishes one night.
She leaves nothing behind but a trainer on the old pier - 
and a hole in the heart of her best friend Francesca.


A body's been found.
And Francesca's drawn back to the seaside town she's tried to forget.
Perhaps the truth of what happened to Sophie will finally come out.
Yet Francesca is beginning to wish she hadn't returned.

Everywhere she turns are ghosts from her past.
The same old faces and familiar haunts of her youth.
But if someone knows what really happened to Sophie that night then now's the time to find out - isn't it?

Except sometimes discovering the truth can cost you everything you hold dear - your family, your sanity and even your life . . .

Thank you to NETGALLEY and Michael Joseph/Penguin for my advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

The book is told from the point of view of the two main characters Francesca (Frankie) and Sophie. We find out early on that tragedy hit the pair when Sophie goes missing one night. She is thought to have fallen into the sea from the derelict pier in the town. Years later and Frankie has moved on and reinvented herself. She is the running her Father's business in hotels and has an apartment of her own. She receives a phone call from Sophie's brother - Daniel -who tells her that remains of what they think is Sophie's body have been found and he wants Frankie to return to her old home town to go with him to identify the body remains.
When Frankie gets there it is clear Daniel wants more. He wants to look into why his sister went missing and the nature of her death, Frankie experiences some strange things whilst staying in a holiday apartment that Daniel has rented for her. She can hear a baby crying through the night and she keeps having visions of Sophie. She sees Sophie on the pier, she sees Sophie at her apartment window and feels that someone has been n the apartment when she has been out. The apartment is also impossible to keep warm even with the radiators on and the fire blazing.

There is also the fact that Frankie and Sophie were hiding a secret from everyone and Frankie now has to come clean to Daniel about what this was. We also learn that something is going on concerning Frankie's Father who is currently lying in hospital after suffering a severe stroke. In fact there seems to be something going on with every character! 

Sophie's POV is obviously set in the past and Frankie's in present day, but it is pretty simple to navigate this. The characters are well written and the plot thickens and keeps you in suspense. I certainly had no idea about the ending and it came as a huge surprise. I also liked the explanation at the end in the form of a news report by Daniel.

Would definitely recommend this book and will be looking out for future work by this author.


Tuesday, 16 August 2016

In the Clouds - A short story

Here is a short story I wrote a while ago, I hope you enjoy it! You may need tissues x

In the Clouds
Mary Anne Lewis

There was a loud crash followed by a flash of lightning. I looked to the skies and saw that the clouds appeared to be splitting as if trying to reveal something hidden underneath. Another huge fork of lightning came from the cloud and the rumble of thunder that came afterwards shook the house.
I was mesmerised by the parting clouds. There were hues of pink and red surrounded by blackness. The pink was gently swirling as if beckoning me in, I couldn’t tear myself away. I wanted nothing more than to walk into the pinkness and lose myself forever.
I couldn’t even think about my responsibilities of a house, child and a wife. My wife was leaving me anyway, not that she’d told me yet, but I’d heard her on the telephone to her lover the night before telling him that she would be telling me today. How apt that on the day my marriage was to end a massive storm was raging overhead.

“Daddy, I don’t like the noise,” whimpered Josh “Teddy doesn’t like it either.”
“It’s ok,” I said picking him up, “look at all the beautiful clouds, they are all pink.”
“Ugh, pinks for girls,” laughed Josh.
Another lightning flash came followed by yet another huge rumble. The storm was directly overhead now. Rain and hail followed interspersed with rays of sunlight and we could see a rainbow in the distance partly obscured by a black cloud. The rainbow looked like it was fighting to get its bright colours seen.
“Mummy said that the noise is God moving his furniture around and the lightning is the angels turning the lights on and off,” said Josh “I think Mummy is silly. We did it at school and it’s the hot and cold air smashing into each other.”
Josh demonstrated this by smashing his fists together.
“Yes you are absolutely right Josh. I think Mummy told you that as she didn’t realise you were so grown up.” I replied. Josh got down and sat on the windowsill trying to count the hail.
I wondered if Susan would be taking Josh with her. Did her other man want a child around? I didn’t want her to take Josh, I would cope and I had begun to put things into place so I would be ready. Susan didn’t know this, she had no idea that I knew about her bit on the side. I had known for months. She said she had been going to the gym and one night I was passing and popped in. The receptionist said she hadn’t been that night, so I went home. Susan had arrived not long after dressed in her gym kit complaining that her back was aching from the exercise. I had gone over to hug her and she had kept me at arm’s length telling me she was sweaty and needed a shower. Now I know that was to shower off the scent of another man.
Would she tell me tonight once Josh was in bed? Would she leave tonight? I had checked earlier and noticed a suitcase was packed and hidden at the back of our wardrobe. She had spread some clothes out on the rail to make it look fuller. I had checked drawers and found bits and pieces missing. I had checked Josh’s room too, but hadn’t found anything missing as far as I knew, but she could have already moved things out of his room whilst I was at work.

The pink clouds were slowly being enveloped by the blackness surrounding them and it made me feel as if I had missed an opportunity somehow.
Susan called out to Josh that it was nearly bedtime. “I’m not going to be able to sleep through this noise Daddy,” Josh said. “Well maybe listen to your IPod for a while and then you won’t hear the thunder. You could finish listening to that story about the dinosaurs that you like,” I suggested. “Good idea,” said Josh “Night Daddy.”
“Goodnight Mate,” I replied giving him a hug, “I love you.”
“Love you too!” he sang as I walked out of the room.

Susan went up to say goodnight and settle Josh into bed and then came downstairs to make us a coffee. She sat next to me on the sofa and put her hand on my knee. I noticed her hand looked gaunt and bruised and the veins looked very prominent. She must have been putting some work in somewhere, maybe she was going to the gym. She had lost weight too, a little too much although there was little physical contact between us so I didn’t know for sure just how much.
“Phil I need to tell you something and it’s going to be the hardest thing I’ve ever had to tell you,” Susan said. I moved my leg and her hand fell to the sofa. I wanted to scream that I knew and tell her to just go now, but I needed to know why.
“Phil, I’m dying,” she said. I was stunned. I gripped her arm and felt how thin it was in my grasp.
“Stop messing around Susan,” I replied. “Phil believe me if it wasn’t true I wouldn’t say it. I found a lump a few months ago in my breast, but it was too late. It had already spread and there’s nothing they can do. The pain is getting worse and I don’t want to end up with you having to care for me. So I am booked on a flight to Switzerland tomorrow, I’m going to one of those clinics to….”
“NO, NO!” I shouted. “Phil please, you’ll disturb Josh.”
“You’re not going Susan, I forbid it. There must be something they can do.” I cried.
“There’s nothing. They offered me chemotherapy, but said it would give me a few extra weeks if that. I’ve been having morphine and I go to the clinic to have this checked.” She pulled down her t-shirt and I saw a tube going into her chest. I struggled to remember the last time I had seen my wife naked and realised that it must have been months ago and I hadn’t noticed. I began to sob, huge tears fell from my eyes and onto the carpet. I pulled her to me and was shocked by her frailty.
“Susan, please no, don’t leave. We’ll manage, I’ll look after you, don’t do this.”

The storm continued overhead rain lashing at the windows. “I have to Phil, I don’t want you and Josh to see me die. I don’t want to become so ill that I don’t know who you are. This way Josh will remember me like this.”
“No Josh will remember that his Mummy left him while he was in bed and didn’t say goodbye! I’ll be left to tell him that you died in a strange country with strange people.”
“Phil, please don’t. I wanted to make it easier for you.”
“Easier? Firstly you don’t bother telling me you have cancer, then you casually announce you’re dying and you’re off to Switzerland to bring it on quicker. You clearly haven’t thought this through Susan.”
Susan tried to pull me to her, I couldn’t bare it. I was angry, hurt, devastated and sad all at once. I opened the French doors and stepped out into the rain.

After about ten minutes Susan joined me with an umbrella. We talked and cried, but I couldn’t change her mind. She told me she had written Josh a long letter explaining everything and she had made him a memory book. She told me that everything I would need was in the suitcase at the back of the wardrobe. It contained information on her funeral, clothes she wanted to be buried in, all our household accounts and the dates bills needed to be paid. She had written down dates for parents evenings and when and where to buy Josh’s school things. There were also letters for her Mum and family.

We stood together in the garden. I held my Susan tight making up for the times I hadn’t. The clouds parted again revealing their bright pink hue.
“If you need me Phil, I’ll be there,” Susan said looking up to the clouds.
“I know,” I said.

The End

This remains the intellectual property of MARY ANNE LEWIS

Monday, 15 August 2016

Writing a book

Writing a book

Why oh why did I think it would be a great idea to write a book? How did I even start? The answer is I haven't a clue!

I've always loved reading, in fact I cannot remember a time when I haven't had a book on the go. I read pretty much everything and as a child would lie prostrate on the carpet, flat on my belly with a book in front of my plate. Not a healthy way to eat, but it meant I didn't have to try and prop my book up whilst eating. The only time I didn't read was in the car as it made me (and still does) very car sick.

I've also always had a good imagination and have written lots of beginnings of books and short stories. Sometimes an idea just pops into my head and nags at me until I write it down somewhere. As I get older I have to write it down as I will forget. I go upstairs and forget what I went up there for so I'm not going to remember something I thought of in the morning driving to work 9 hours later when I settle down to write. I have pieces of paper everywhere, in my handbag, in pockets and I always carry a notepad with me.

People always respond with one of two comments when you tell them you're a writer. The first is "Oh I write," to which I answer "Do you? What do you write? Have you sent anything to any publishers?" They usually look at me blankly and say "No, I just know I have a book in me and it's not that hard to write stuff down." No it's not hard to write stuff down at all, the hard bit comes trying to keep a plot line going, having a timeline that flows in the right direction, building your characters into people that your reader wants to invest their time in, forming your insane ideas into some semblance of a book, editing what you've written - Milly Johnson likens this to "Killing your darlings" - and finally when you've finished all of that sending your unseen work to agents and publishers and trying to avoid the dreaded "Slush pile,"
The second comment is usually "Oh let me know when you get it published?" My response is "Definitely" however I know it won't be that simple. There are thousands of authors and writers out there who are all wanting their books to be published. I am up against not only the new writers, but the established authors who are on their second or third or some cases tenth book and who have a publisher, agent and an army of fans.

This is the reason that before I have even finished my book I have social media accounts and I monitor them as much as I can. You have to become a brand, a presence. We all know how fickle the public are and hard it is to get yourself noticed. Like I said there is not only many writers and authors out there, but also the new culture of celebrities now writing books. They don't just have have their autobiography out at Christmas now, but novels too!
I have a facebook page Mary's Writing Page and a Twitter account Mary Lewis Writer I also have a hashtag #marylewiswriter and an Instagram account where I post pictures of books, links to reviews and quotes.

On top of all this I still read and I also review books on my blog (you're reading my blog now!). I belong to Netgalley where I read advance copies of books in return for an honest review and I also review most books that I have read on my Kindle or have bought in physical form.

So the reason I became a writer? I suppose because I couldn't imagine not being a writer. I have a part time job, but on the days I'm not working and sometimes in my lunch break I write. I have a very supportive husband and son who understand that if I'm bent over an A4 pad or the laptop that I'm writing. My writing is not a hobby, I don't put myself through the stress of writing just for the fun of it, I want to be an author and I will keep writing until I am.

If you want to try creative writing for yourself check out your local Adult Education Centre. They often have brilliant classes running. Also visit your library where you can find loads of books on the subject.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

My Map of You by Isabelle Broom - Book Review

My Map of You 
Isabelle Broom

Penguin - April 2016

Holly Wright has had a difficult few years. After her mother's death, she's become expert at keeping
people at a distance - including her boyfriend, Rupert.
But when Holly receives an unexpected letter explaining that an aunt she never met has left her a house on the Greek island of Zakynthos, the walls she has built begin to crumble. Arriving on the island, Holly meets the handsome Aidan and slowly begins to uncover the truth about the secret which tore her family apart.
But is the island where Holly really belongs? Or will her real life catch up with her first?

The novel begins when Holly receives a letter with a foreign postmark. Holly is frightened of opening the letter and obviously has a tormented past, which is preventing her from wanting to reveal the letters contents.
Her boyfriend the high flying, successful businessman Rupert finds the letter and opens it revealing the contents to Holly. Holly's aunt - Sandra - who she didn't know existed has died and left Holly her house on the Greek island of Zakynthos.

Holly goes to the island alone to find the house and ends up discovering her forgotten past from the locals and a map she finds at her aunt's house.

Aidan - the friendly Irish vet, who lives next door - helps Holly to piece together all the pieces of the puzzle that will reveal her true past. Aidan in my mind looks like Aidan Turner and sounds like the Supervet guy from the TV!

The descriptions of the island are so vivid you can picture the blue and whitewashed houses, the cobbled streets, the blue sea and the colourful Greek salads served in the tavernas. I particularly liked the scene by the Blue Caves in Cape Skinari and I want to get on a plane and a boat and visit right now.
Blue Caves

This is a beautiful story of love and family set in glorious Greece. I loved it and can't wait to read more books by Isabelle Broom.

I received an advance copy from the publisher Penguin in return for an honest review. Apologies for the delay in posting the review.

Purchase My Map of You here

About the author

I have been lucky enough to meet Isabelle many times and chat to her on social media - I know I'm a name dropper! She is also the author of the utterly fabulous novella The Wedding Speech as well as being book reviewer for Heat magazine.

She is a warm, friendly and generous person who I am proud to call a friend.

Her next novel A Year and a Day is due to be published on 17th November 2016. Isabelle can be found on Twitter where she posts some funny stories and pictures of the exquisite Max (her doggy).

Purchase The Wedding Speech here 
Available to buy, link above

Pre-order A Year and a Day here  published 17th November 2016

Available to pre-order, link above

Find me on Twitter and on Facebook Please come and say Hi and share you book loves and recommendations with me.