Book review: Inferno by Dan Brown

Inferno (Robert Langdon, #4)Inferno by Dan Brown
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was an interesting book – Robert Langdon has lost is memory, he has to solve a number of puzzles whilst being chased by people who are trying to kill him… except no one is quite what they seem to be.

It was high action all the way and there was quite a lot of interesting discussion about the population explosion and the limited amount of resources the Earth has. I think, if you’re familiar with Florence, Venica and Istanbul, you’d get a lot out of this book (I’ve only been to two of those places).

All in all, a good fun read. High octane, lots of descriptions of architecture, lots of puzzle solving.

View all my reviews


Inheritance Books: Hannah Ellis

Today’s guest on Inheritance Books is Hannah Ellis. Hi Hannah, welcome to Inheritance Books. Have a seat on the sofa. While I put the kettle on, why don’t you tell us a bit about yourself.

Profile pic(1)I was born in Durham and grew up in Sheffield, so despite living in Germany now, I’m a northern lass at heart. I studied Early Childhood Education at the University of Northumbria and then went on to work as a nanny in various parts of the world. I lived in America, Australia and Ireland before I finally settled in Munich, where I now live with my husband and two little boys. As well as writing and taking care of my boys, I also work part-time, teaching English in Kindergartens.
Which book have you inherited from generations above? Why is it special?

My inherited book is Alice in Wonderland. It is a beautiful illustrated hardback which was given to me by my grandmother. Even before I could read, I loved this book for the wonderful illustrations. It is such a fantastically bizarre story which transports you to somewhere else entirely. The characters are so very odd but so richly portrayed.aliceinwonderland

I love how this book appeals to both young and old alike and how it has deeper meanings depending on when in life you read it. I think the Cheshire Cat really sums up people perfectly: “We’re all mad here.” I love that line.

Which book would you leave for future generations? Why?

pride and prejudiceThe book I would like to leave to future generations is another classic: an old hardback copy of Pride and Prejudice. I found it in a gorgeous little English bookshop in Majorca. The shop had books haphazardly stacked all over the place, like someone had turned the downstairs of their house into a bookshop but hadn’t really planned it out – just crammed in as many books as possible. I think I lost a whole afternoon there and came away with a collection of beautiful old classics in hardback. Pride and prejudice sits on my bedside table and I dip in and out of it. I love the writing style, and I always feel as though I’m being transported to a different era. Austen’s humour is brilliant, and the wonderfully civilised sparring sessions between Elizabeth and Mr Darcy are just brilliant. I love everything about this book. It even smells incredible!

Old books do smell wonderful!

Thank you for sharing your special books with us Hannah. All the best for Always With You. I hope it flies off the shelves.

alwayswithyouHannah’s book Always With You is available to buy now. You can find out more about Hannah by visiting her website, on Facebook or Twitter (@booksellis).


Girl At Christmas is out!

Hooray! Girl At Christmas is available to buy now.

Girl at christmas cover w quote

If you like your Christmas novellas with a side order of beta hero and warm humour, then this is the book for you.

Here are some (very) early review quotes:

“Fresh and Fun.” Goodreads review

” … real, ordinary people, with real, ordinary lives, they are honest and believable.” Amazon review

“Simple truth about your day to day life that any woman can relate with” Amazon India review

And of course, the quote on the cover from the fabulous Jane Lovering – who knows a thing or two about writing rom coms: “Warm, witty, cute and Christmassy. I just loved it!”

So, go buy:

Everywhere else (Kobo, Ibooks etc)

I hope you have as much fun reading it as I had writing it.

Inheritance Books: John Jackson

Today’s guest on the Inheritance Books sofa is a regular at the RNA parties – the historical novelist John Jackson. 

Hi John. Welcome to Inheritance Books. I’ll go put the kettle on, why don’t you tell us a bit about yourself.

JOHN JACKSONI am a retired ship’s Captain, now living in York. I’ve loved historic fiction since I first read Treasure Island, and the romantic side of histfic since I discovered Georgette Heyer.

The history thing got combined with a love of genealogy and a REALLY good mix of ancestors, from the boring and humdrum to the scarily bad! Writing a historical novel, with a strong thread of romance running through it sort of fell into my lap.

After I met some members of the Romantic Novelist Association their siren calls started, and soon the pressure to “give it a go” and try and write something myself became too strong to resist!

Which book have you inherited from the generation above? Why is it special?

Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Books – Dad spent some years in India as a child; my grandfather was in the Indian Army. I still love the stories, and reread them most years.

Kipling was a writer of his time. Mum and Dad also gave me The Wind in the Willows, and Winnie the Pooh. All still magical favourites!

Dad put me on to Georgette Heyer, and there are three of her books which I have reread many, many times.

Frederica, the complete Regency romance and the longest book she wrote. (I have a first edition)

An Infamous Army, her story of Waterloo. Wonderfully accurate; it was, for many years, in the library at Sandhurst as a textbook!

The Spanish Bride. A fantastic tale of Wellington’s Peninsular campaign, and the story of Harry and Juana Smith (Later the Lady Smith who had the town in South Africa named after her) Also a novel with a stunning, and true, love story running through it.

My Great-great-grandfather had a career very similar to Harry Smith, only without meeting the love of his life on the battlefield. He too joined Wellington’s army as an Ensign, and finished up as a Lt. Colonel at Waterloo. (He will be in book 3 or 4)
I can see you’re having trouble choosing one book. I’ll let you off.
Which book would you like to leave to future generations? Why? 


Swallows and Amazons. We’ve loved them, our children love them, and he was a cousin of mine (Arthur Ransome) Wonderfully evocative for a time gone by. When we lived in the Falkland Islands our girls and their friends had some of the same freedoms that the children of the books enjoyed.

Phillip Pullman’s Dark Materials series. A truly wonderful imagination, and brilliantly told.

Bernard Cornwell and Conn Iggulden continue to turn out wonderful historical novels. I’ve included Azincourt and The Lords of the Bow as representative examples of their work.

Thank you for sharing your favourite books (all of them!) with us, John. All the best with Heart of Stone. Hope is soars up the charts.

thumbnail_Cover - 1John’s Book Heart of Stone is available to buy now. You can find out more about John on his website or chat to him on Twitter (@jjackson42) or Facebook.

It’s Christmas novella time! Girl At Christmas is out soon.

It’s that time of year when everyone starts thinking about Christmas. I’ve got not one, but TWO Christmas novellas coming out in the next month. The first one is out next week.

Girl at christmas cover w quote.jpg


Tammy is normally at her happiest at Christmas when she has the flat to decorate and those perfect days between Christmas and New Year to relax. But when her long term partner dumps her with no real explanation, her Christmas starts to look very bleak.

Lawrence usually spends Christmas watching DVDs and catching up on his paperwork. At thirty one, he’s already stuck in a rut.

When Lawrence has a sudden heart attack, it is Tammy who comes to his rescue. It turns out a happy Christmas can be made from the most unexpected ingredients.


You can preorder it  now – or just order it in the normal way next week.

Amazon US

Amazon UK 

Everywhere else:

Book Review: The Importance of Book Cover Design by J. D. Smith

The Importance of Book Cover Design and FormattingThe Importance of Book Cover Design and Formatting by J.D. Smith

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I picked up this book because I wanted to know what to look for in a book cover – what was good practice, what info did a cover designer need. Also, since I was thinking of putting together some covers for short stories myself.
It is interesting and informative and gives me an idea of what goes into the design of a cover. With book covers the actual making of the cover (the messing around with image manipulation software) is the easy bit. The difficult bit is getting the design part right. This book covers things like font pairing, font placement, contrast etc.
If you’re working with a designer, it also gives you a good handle on what your cover designer is talking about.

It won’t tell you HOW to do it, but will tell you what needs doing. I now have fewer unknown unknowns about book cover design.
A useful book all round.

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Do romance heroines have to be ‘nice’?

Continuing on my tour of blogs – today I’ve over at Short Book and Scribes, talking about the ‘unlikable’ heroine. I don’t find Olivia in Girl In Trouble particularly unlikable, but she’s not your kooky, clutzy, oh-so-nice girl either. She’s outspoken, laddish and confident. I don’t think that precludes her from being liked … or means she can’t have a happy ending. Do you?

Go check out the post here:

Diversity in genre fiction. Why I would like to see more.

As part of the promo for Girl In Trouble (which came out yesterday – you can still grab it for 99p if you act fast), I was given the chance to do a guest post on Rachel’s Random Reads. Rachel asked me why representation in fiction mattered to me. You can read my very personal reasons for wanting to see more non-white characters in genre fiction here:

And here’s a picture of Girl In Trouble, in case you’re not seeing enough of this week 😉

Girl in Trouble cover 3 w quote

Girl In Trouble is out now!

To celebrate the release of Girl In Trouble (the sequel to Girl Having A Ball),  I’m having a small blog splash (a blog splish?). To kick things off, there are my own responses to the three prompts:

Both Olivia and Walter undergo changes that they feel are bad, but end up being positive. Have you ever had a blessing in disguise? … 

When I was at university (years ago now – before Twitter or Facebook existed!), I was on a four year course. My college allocated accommodation in college owned houses for fourth  years and where you ended up was decided by ballot. I was given a place in a college house which was in North Oxford. It was lovely and cheap. The only problem was, I wouldn’t be living with any friends. Everyone else in the house was a lot cooler and smoother and more ‘Oxford’ than I was. Most of them went to public school – whereas I went to a small northern comprehensive. Even though they were all very nice people, I would Not Fit In.

This caused me quite a lot of anxiety at the time. I was already hamstrung by impostor syndrome at ‘work’, I didn’t need to face it at home as well! The final blow came in the form of an invitation to a birthday party which suggested ‘designer labels’ as a dress code (I didn’t own any). I panicked and started to look for somewhere else I could live. A friend mentioned a place affectionately called ‘the nunnery’ – a student community run by the Convent of the Sacred Heart (the house appears in Girl In Trouble as the venue for Tom’s wedding). You had to have an interview to get a chance to live there. It was a chance. I took it. I was lucky enough to get in.

In my first week living in the house, I met a skinny young research chemist who was starting his first year as a PhD student. We bonded over a very stupid joke that no one else got. We’ve been together ever since. So, yes. Being allocated a room in a house where I would not fit in was definitely a blessing in disguise.

Walter thinks hydrothermal vents are beautiful, but no one else does. What is your obscure love/ guilty pleasure, and why? …

I have a thing for carnivorous plants. Okay, I’m not terribly good at keeping them alive (they’re delicate little things), but for a while I had a small collection – several sundews, a butterwort and one tiny liverwort which lived in a terrarium on my windowsill and every so often produced the most incredible flowers. I also had several pitcher plants – two nepenthes and one sarracenia which lived outside in a pear tree. I used to carry a matchbox around into which I could put dead flies so that I could feed them to the sundews.

They are delicate and need rainwater to survive (not the hard water that came out of the tap) and after the kids were born, I kept forgetting to water them. In the end, when we moved house, I left them behind.

As for hydrothemal vents, I think they’re amazing… but not as beautiful as Walter thinks they are. Weirdo.

 Since The Octonauts comes up a lot in the book – what is the TV program or book or game that you miss most from your childhood? 

My older daughter was a big fan of The Octonauts, so I watched a lot of it. I still find the little figurines from time to time. There were some seriously odd things about the show – the matter of scale, for a start; and then the fact that those creatures would naturally be part of a food chain… On the other hand, they had some cool tech. The Octopod is very space age. The creatures that show up in the show are carefully researched and reflect marine life very well (when we moved to Hull and started visiting The Deep, we were surprised at how accurate the descriptions and pictures on the show were). We’ve had many interesting discussions about life via The Octonauts. Like the distinction between ‘A medical doctor like Peso, or a doctor who studies things, like Shellington’.

I had rather a lot about The Octonauts in the book – because Walter’s daughter (well, Walter, really) is a fan. I ended up editing quite a lot of it out because it didn’t have much to do with the story.

I hope you enjoyed my contribution to the blog splash. I’ll be sharing the other posts from people throughout the day. And… please buy my book.

Girl in Trouble cover 3 w quote

Grown up tomboy Olivia doesn’t need a man to complete her. Judging by her absent father, men aren’t that reliable anyway. She’s got a successful career, good friends and can evict spiders from the bath herself, so she doesn’t need to settle down, thanks.
Walter’s ex is moving his daughter to America and Walter feels like he’s losing his family. When his friend-with-benefits, Olivia, discovers she’s pregnant by her douchebag ex, Walter sees the perfect chance to be part of a family with a woman he loves. But how can Walter persuade the most independent woman he’s ever met to accept his help, let alone his heart?
Girl In Trouble is the third book in the award nominated Smart Girls series by Rhoda Baxter. If you like charming heroes, alpha heroines and sparkling dialogue, you’ll love this series. Ideal for fans of Sarah Morgan, Lindsey Kelk or Meg Cabot’s Boy books. Buy now and meet your new favourite heroine today.
Buy link (should go to your preferred bookstore):


It’s on special offer for 99p until the 10th of October (tomorrow!). If you buy this week you get two short books as a bonus!

Go buy – Go! Go! Go!