The first Book Review of Please Release Me

Book cover for Please Release Me - a bride at sunrise

I saw the first review of Please Release Me today (the advance review copies have gone out to reviewers now and the book is on Netgalley.) I’m limp with relief that this reviewer liked it (4.5 stars! Yay!). I’m also delighted that she took from the story what I’d try to convey.

I tried to write a book that was about falling in love, falling out of love and inadvertently becoming friends with your enemy. A small part of me was worried that it had all come out in a jumbled mess. I’m very relieved to hear that it didn’t.

You can read the review here:

Book Review – Please Release Me by Rhoda Baxter.

And, of course, you can preorder Please Release Me here: myBook.to/PleaseReleaseMe  🙂

I’m off to celebrate by eating copious amounts of chocolate.

Please Release Me book trailer (in Lego)

Book cover for Please Release Me - a bride at sunrise

As some of you will know, I like playing with Lego. Given that I usually have more pressing things to do, it’s always nice to have an excuse to get the Lego out. With Please Release Me coming out on the 11th of September, I thought ‘I need a book trailer’. I can’t afford real actors, so here’s my book trailer in Lego.

I’m particularly pleased with the shot of Sally’s car accident. Playdoh may have been involved. Luckily I have kids, so there’s plenty of the stuff lying around in our house.

Incidentally, I wasn’t very keen on girl’s Lego when my daughters first started getting it. I find the idea that someone saw the need for Lego in ‘girly’ colours and themes a little patronising. I’ve got used to it now. Since no one is likely to buy the girls a Star Wars Lego set, I’ll just have to buy the Lego Stormtroopers myself.

If you want to see the trailers DD1 and I did for Doctor January, you can see them here.

There’s a long time between writing The End and publication; Looking back at Please Release Me

Book cover for Please Release Me - a bride at sunrise

About two years ago, I wrote a post about the character Sally and Grace, who were mere doodles at the time.  Now they are finally ready to be released into the real world. PLEASE RELEASE ME will be published by Choc Lit next month and is available to preorder now.

Look, isn’t it lovely!

Book cover for Please Release Me - a bride at sunrise
Please Release Me by Rhoda Baxter (Choc Lit)

What if you could only watch as your bright future slipped away from you?

Sally Cummings has had it tougher than most but, if nothing else, it’s taught her to grab opportunity with both hands. And, when she stands looking into the eyes of her new husband Peter on her perfect wedding day, it seems her life is finally on the up.

That is until the car crash that puts her in a coma and throws her entire future into question.

In the following months, a small part of Sally’s consciousness begins to return, allowing her to listen in on the world around her – although she has no way to communicate.

But Sally was never going to let a little thing like a coma get in the way of her happily ever after …

I’ve just gone back and read my old post from September 2013. The scene I posted there is still pretty much the same, apart from the swearing, which has been removed. I cleaned up Sally’s language a lot during edits.

I will be donating 50% of my royalties from this book to Martin House Children’s Hospice. Why? Because I was blown away by the amazing work they do.

Charity Reg. No. 517919, Company Limited by Guarantee, reg. no. 02016332, England & Wale
Charity Reg. No. 517919, Company Limited by Guarantee, reg. no. 02016332, England & Wales

Goodreads Book Review: The Wild One by Janet Gover

The Wild OneThe Wild One by Janet Gover

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ve just finished reading this one. I really enjoyed the first book in the series The Flight to Coorah Creek (apart from the bit that made me cry. I’ve had words with Janet Gover about this making people cry business).

Dan is an ex-military sniper, now a park ranger with PTSD. Quinn is a photographer who lives in the back of her converted Humvee. I love that detail – she LIVES in a converted Humvee. And she knits when she’s bored. I like that too. There’s a secondary love story about Justin the horse breeder and Carrie the ex-jockey who has a touch of PTSD herself. And there’s horses. Lots and lots of horses. As someone who is currently reading the Usborne Book of Pony Care to her 7 year old as a bedtime story, I quite enjoyed the horses.

I liked that the heroines were strong, but not two-dimensionally so. The men were proper butch outback men, but without the alpha male tendency to throw their weight around. To be honest, Trish, who runs the pub in Coorah Creek would soon sort them out if they tried it! I feel like I’m really getting to know the people in Coorah Creek now. I really like the feeling of community.

So… when’s the next Coorah Creek book coming out then?
Oh, and this one didn’t make me cry. I might have teared up a tiny bit at Quinn’s story, but that was just something in my eye.

View all my reviews

Inheritance Books: Liz Harris

Children Reading by Valerie Everett

This week’s Inheritance Books are from my fellow Choc Lit author, Liz Harris. I’ve known Liz through the Oxford chapter of the RNA from way before either of us were published, so I’m delighted that she finally made it to the Inheritance Books sofa. I’ve baked a chocolate cake especially for the occasion.

Hi Liz, welcome to Inheritance Books. While I get us some cake, why don’t you introduce yourself.

Liz HarrisThank you very much for inviting me to chat about books with you today, Rhoda; it’s a lovely idea.

First a bit about me. I’d like to say I’ve always wanted to be an author, but I can’t because I haven’t.

I’ve always been an avid reader of books of every genre; I’ve always loved writing essays, letters, exam answers, and I’ve always enjoyed bringing characters to life in amateur dramatic productions, but it was years before I thought of connecting those three by writing a novel. Books just magically happened, I would have thought, if I’d thought about it at all.

As the years passed by, I devoured all the books I could get, especially those by my favourite authors: from Noel Streatfield and Enid Blyton – the Famous Five were Six when I read her stories – to Mickey Spillane and Jane Austen. Then the day came that I left university, tucked my Law degree under my arm and set off to see the world.

I began in California, and ended there.

I had a brilliant year in San Francisco and then five in Los Angeles, where I tried everything from cocktail waitressing on Sunset Strip to returning hired cars to their home location (imagine being paid to drive convertibles across the State, the radio blaring out, the wind in one’s hair … bliss!); from being the secretary to the CEO of a large Japanese trading company to being a ‘resident starlet’ at MGM. This would make a good novel, I mused at times, but never thought of myself as being the person to write it.

Six years later, real life intervened and I returned to the UK, did a degree in English, and went into teaching. During the following years, I wrote voluminous letters to friends until one day a friend in desperation, a mighty tome from me in her hand, suggested that I write a novel. I took the hint, and in 2012, my debut novel, The Road Back, was published by Choc Lit.

Which book have you inherited from a generation above?

Miniature editions of ShakespeareI could have chosen Children of the New Forest or Little Lord Fauntleroy, both of which were given to me by my mother, and both of which fired my imagination. However, I’ve chosen the complete works of Shakespeare in miniature, which stand in their own wooden case. Tiny though it is, each miniature play is the complete, unabridged play.

The miniature plays were passed down to me by my mother, who was an actress. We started reading Shakespeare as a family when I was about nine, acting out all the parts. My mother and I divided the best roles between us, and my sister and father, reluctant participants, would be allocated third servant or fourth gardener.

Thumb-sized copy of Julius Caesar
Aren’t they dinky!

To read together as a family is a truly lovely thing to do, and I shall never forget how lucky I was to have such an introduction to the greatest of our playwrights, whose themes are universal and are as relevant today as they were when they were written.

Which book would you like to leave to future generations?

Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck.  This is a short novel, published in 1937, which had originally been written for the radio. It tells the story of the friendship between George and Lennie, two itinerant ranch workers, who move from place to place, searching for work during the Great Depression in the US.

With themes such as dreams – each character in the novella has a dream which gives purpose to his/her life, a purpose which is never more needed than in times of economic hardship – and loneliness and the need for companionship, conveyed in a novella which has the nature of true friendship at its heart, John Steinbeck speaks as powerfully to the readers of today as he spoke to the readers in 1937.Of Mice and Men

I’ve read the novel a number of times, and I never fail to cry at its moving conclusion, which demonstrates the unselfish nature of real friendship. Just as with the plays of Shakespeare, Of Mice and Men, a story told with thought-provoking profundity and a great understanding of human nature, deserves to live for many more years in the minds of readers.

Excellent choices! I read Of Mice and Men a long time ago and still remember bits of it vividly – which is a sign of a great book.

Thank you for sharing your Inheritance Books with us, Liz. All the best with Evie Undercover in paperback.

Evie Undercover paperbackLiz’s latest release Evie Undercover is published by Choc Lit and is available in paperback now. You can find out more about Liz’s books from her website and blog, or chat to her on Facebook or Twitter (@lizharrisauthor). 

I’m dreaming of… Midsummer Dreams

Today is publication day for m’chum and Choc Lit colleague Alison May’s new book Midsummer Dreams. For those who don’t already know, Alison writes rather fabulous modern adaptations of Shakespeare. Her previous book Sweet Nothing is a great read.

MIDSUMMER_FRONT3_RGB-150dpi

To celebrate the big day, Alison asked a whole bunch of us to write something about dreams. So here goes.

I had a dream about two women. It was all very exciting, but the only bit I remembered when I woke up was a single image of the two women sitting on a park bench together. You could tell they knew each other very well, but that there was something awkward between them. Frenemies, if you like. One of the women was quiet and mousy and the other was a ghost in a wedding dress. This image stayed with me for the whole day. Eventually, I decided I had to find out what was going on. The end result was Please Release Me – which will be published by Choc Lit later this year. It didn’t turn up as a complete story (if only!), but it started with a dream.

I had a nightmare where I was trapped inside a giant chocolate sponge. More specifically, I was in one of those air bubbles that you get when the cake doesn’t rise evenly – the sort that Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry would probably tut at. ‘But what’s nightmarish about that?’ I hear you cry. Well, the nightmarish bit was that I started to eat my way out and started to feel sick! See. Total nightmare, right? I felt so ill that I couldn’t eat any more and I knew I still had several feet of cake to eat before I could get through. And then I remembered that it was Monday morning and I hadn’t sorted the kids’ school uniforms out, which made it all the more important that I break out of the giant cakey prison. Shudder.

I do believe that nightmares (and dreams) are my subconscious trying to tell me something. I think the subtext in this one is probably that I eat too much cake. And that I need to be more organised about school uniforms…

My dream for the future: I reckon, in the future we’ll make more of the sea and start having underwater communities where people live in giant bubbles with the entrance at the bottom of the bubble (so that the air pressure keeps the water out). A cross between the Willard Price’s Underwater Adventure and The Octonauts. Any power needs would be generated using tidal turbines and drinking water would be desalinated from the surrounding area. There are issues with waste disposal and disrupted eco systems, but I’m sure we can sort something out.

Of course, by then, I’ll be a fabulously famous novelist with oodles of money. I will also know some fabulous recipes for seaweed cake.

Right. Enough of my wittering. Now please go and check out Alison May’s Midsummer Dreams. Shakespeare never sounded so good.

Inheritance Books: Romy Somner

Children Reading

A rather different Inheritance Books today from Romy Somner. She asked if she could have three copies of the same book. I thought this was really charming. So, instead of the usual style, I’ll let Romy explain. (While I have a nice sit down on the sofa).

Inheritance Books: The Enchanted Wood a blog post by Romy Sommer

Romy 2014Considering how our bookshelves are overflowing, it seems unreasonable to have three hard cover copies of the same book. But when you look closer and see that the books in question are Enid Blyton’s The Faraway Tree series, you might realise that these books represent three generations of our family.

For three generations of women in our family, The Enchanted Wood was the start of a love not only for Enid Blyton’s books, but for reading.

Enchanted Wood

The cloth-bound version dates back to the early 1950s and belonged to my mother when she was a child. Then there are the books from the early 80s which I grew up with – their black and white line drawings exactly how I still picture the characters.

Line drawingThe newest versions are the set I picked up off a bargain books table on a whim for my own daughters. Even though they hardly needed another copy, I wanted desperately for them to love these stories as much as I did, and the full colour, glossy pages were too attractive to ignore.

New colour versionI’ll admit, these newest books disappointed me. It turns out they aren’t Enid Blyton’s original words, but rather modern re-tellings of the stories. They might make the stories more accessible to today’s children, but I far prefer reading to my daughters from the earlier books. It has lead to some fascinating conversations, including what the purpose of a handkerchief is or how clockwork toys work. We go off on tangents, exploring how children lived decades ago.

So not only are these books treasured for their memories, but they’re still very much in use today. While I read from one of the older books, my daughters get to sit with the newer one and look at the corresponding pictures. And in the process we’re making a whole lot of new memories to pass on to the generations to come.

What a lovely post. I have a set of the new ‘updated’ (I call them sanitised) versions, but I remember reading ones with line drawing in when I was younger. 

Thank you for sharing your Inheritance Books with us Romy. All the best with your new book.

Not a Fairy Tale_SmallerRomy’s latest book Not A Fairy Tale is published by Harper Impulse and is available to buy now. You can follow Romy on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Goodreads or on her website/blog.

Inheritance Books: Gina Rossi

This week’s Inheritance Books come from Gina Rossi, all the way from South Africa! Hi Gina, take a seat. I’ve got carrot cake or coffee cake today – here, have one of each.

While I make the tea, why don’t you tell us a bit about yourself?

030 CroppedTo be honest, as 2015 flashes by, I’m not too sure where I come from anymore. After living for seven years based in Monaco, we can’t seem to sit still (I blame the contractual nature of my Real Life Hero’s career). Since June last year we have been in the Channel Islands, Paris, London, even New Zealand. We have visited Marrakech three times and set off tomorrow to Poland. Have I left someplace out? Probably. Any writer out there needing a location consultant? If so, I’m over here *waves*!

That aside, the best thing about writing is that you can do it anywhere. I’ve been writing full time since my debut was published in 2012, and I love every moment. On reflection, that’s a bit of a lie, so I’ll put it this way: I have no problem writing every day of my life…or at least thinking about writing every day of my life…or…

Moving swiftly on, I am both traditionally and self-published, with four books published, and a fifth to come before the end of 2015. I’ve written one historical novel, but the rest are contemporary romances, and this is where I’ve found my niche.

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

IMG_4126‘The Story of San Michele’ a book of memoirs and reminiscences by Swedish physician, Axel Munthe, first published in 1929, was given to me by my late father over twenty years ago. It’s hard to describe this fascinating book and my best advice is read it, now, if you haven’t already. Munthe describes life as a doctor in Naples and Rome, among the wealthiest and poorest patients of both, and how he discovers a ruined chapel on the unspoilt (then) island of Capri, and sets about restoring it, all the while venturing from reality to fantasy, between the world of celebrity and poverty. It’s an autobiography, except it isn’t. I rest my case.

From The Sotry of San Michele
From The Story of San Michele

My father, who grew up in the remote Karoo area of South Africa was sent to war in Italy in 1942, and fell passionately in love with all things Italian, having never set foot on foreign soil. After the war, he visited Italy as often as he possibly could. ‘The Story of San Michele’, quite simply, was his favourite book.

Munthe wrote when he first set eyes on the ruined chapel of San Michele:

‘Just over our heads, riveted to the steep rock like an eagle’s nest, stood a little ruined chapel. Its vaulted roof had fallen in, but huge blocks of masonry shaped into an unknown pattern of symmetrical network, still supported its crumbling walls.’

A few pages later, he says, ‘I looked at the little house and the chapel. My heart began to beat so violently I could hardly speak.’

You will know how he felt, I promise, if you ever manage to visit his beloved villa on the island of Capri: http://www.villasanmichele.eu/en/welcome.

Which book would you like to leave to future generations? Why?

IMG_4134The term ‘future generations’ brings children to mind, immediately. While there are so many wonderful new books for children and teens on the market these days, I’d love to pass some of the classics to my grandchildren (thus far we have a mere two, both under five years of age, but fingers crossed!).

While my RLH has the grandson (s) covered, with his original treasured collection of Arthur Ransome, W.E Johns, G. A. Henty, etc., my own battered collection of childhood favourites has all but disintegrated. Starting over, with big holes to fill for my granddaughter (s), I have traced some first editions of those books handed down to me by my mother, and that I in turn, passed on to my daughters.

Obviously, first editions of books like ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and ‘Little Women’ are beyond reach, costing thousands, but imagine my delight when I discovered this affordable first edition of ‘Green Dolphin Country’ by Elizabeth Gouge! This was one of my treasured books as a teenager, and it resonates today as I have spent some time in the Channel Islands, and visited New Zealand for the first time earlier this year.

Why would I leave ‘Green Dolphin Country’ it to future generations? It’s a love story rather than a romance – an astonishing epic of loss, self-sacrifice, devotion, loyalty, courage, love and intricate emotions played out against the breath-taking landscapes of the 19th century Channel Islands and New Zealand. Frankly, or so I thought as a teenager, it has everything; I spent months, years, searching for another reading experience like that and I’m not sure I ever found it.
TheSeahorseDoor_w9279_750Gina’s latest book The Seahorse Door is available to buy now. You can find out more about Gina on her website, on Facebook or on Twitter (@ginagina7).

Inheritance Books: Sarah Waights

This week’s Inheritance Books are from my fellow Choc Lit author Sarah Waights. Helloo, Sarah. Welcome to Inheritance books. Can I offer you a slice of my (experimental) chocolate orange cake?

Now we’re comfy, please tell us a bit about yourself.

Hi Rhoda. Thanks so much for inviting me on your inheritance books blog and – may I just say – what a fabulous idea!

IMG_0881b-squareSo, what can I tell you about myself? Because of my father’s job in the RAF and diplomatic corps, I had a strange childhood, moving from place to place. I was at boarding school for most of it, joining my parents in the school holidays at whatever exotic location they had been posted to. The most unlikely fact about me is that I’m a trained classical singer and this comes in handy (not) in my professional life where I’ve spent years working in public relations, campaigning and lobbying on everything from plastic card fraud to disability rights.  The lobbying work did inspire the background for my novel, ‘Never Marry a Politician’ which gently makes fun of the whole parliamentary and party political scene, with its massive egos, continuous spin-doctoring, and back stabbing at every turn. Nowadays, I am happy to multi-task unsuccessfully with family, marketing consultancy, charity work and a fat black Labrador taking turns to demand my attention in our little Sussex cottage where there would be roses around the door if I ever got around to the gardening.

If I’m typical there’s nothing writers like better than reading and I was a prolific reader long before I thought I might be a novelist myself… At boarding school I escaped into a book every minute I could spare and worked my way through the school library, devouring everything from Camus in translation to endless worthy, improving books about the saints and their lives (it was a convent, after all). There was also a thriving underground supply of ‘unsuitable’ books by authors such as Danielle Steel and Virginia Andrews which we all read under the blankets at night and found absolutely riveting.

Virginia Andrews oo-er. I remember feeling cheated when I found out that those books were ghostwritten. Moving on (more cake?), which book did you inherit from a generation above? Why is it special?

JaneEyreAlthough I was basically undiscerning, and still am, my chosen inheritance book reflects my mother’s early influence on my reading habits. She instilled her own love of reading in me at an early age and, when I was ten, gave me a beautiful leather bound edition of ‘Jane Eyre’ by Charlotte Bronte (pictured). In my first reading of it the depiction of Jane Eyre as an isolated and lonely child appealed hugely to my inner drama queen. I lapped up the early parts of the book where she is rejected by her cruel aunt and packed off to Lowood Institute for orphans where she befriends fellow student, Helen Burns, before waking up to find Helen has died in the night. I thought that was all marvellous stuff. At that age I was perplexed at why Jane was so smitten by grumpy Edward Rochester though, and I didn’t think much of saintly and boring St John Rivers either. Reading it a few years later, and again at various times through my adult life, I find something new to admire about Charlotte Bronte’s writing and insights every time. Given her own very sheltered life, her depiction of Jane and Edward as such complex and believable characters is an extraordinary feat, and the timeless popularity of the book is no accident. ‘Jane Eyre’ is an absorbing story for readers of any age and era.

Which book would you leave for later generations? Why?

I was given a box set of Roald Dahl books which is very precious to me. Although the FantasticMrFoxbox set I later bought for my own children is an awful lot bigger – arguably his best known books are the more recent ones such as The Witches and The Twits – my book choice to pass down is one of Roald Dahl’s earlier stories; ‘Fantastic Mr Fox’ entranced me and it was the Dahl story I always turned to when I was looking for a bit of familiarity and escapism. I adored the idea of the network of tunnels and the Fox family’s house under the tree. The grotesque comedy villains, Boggis, Bunce and Bean are easily outwitted by Mr Fox who is a proper action hero as well as being charm personified. The illustrations in this early edition are by talented artist, Jill Bennett, and – by an extraordinary twist of fate – Jill has become a great friend of my mother, who is also an artist. I was so excited to have the chance, a few years ago, to tell Jill how charmed I was by her work and to show her my very well thumbed copy of the book (pictured).

Thank you for having me Rhoda. I hope you and your readers enjoyed hearing about my inheritance books. Well done again for a brilliant idea. x

Why thank you. And thank you for sharing your favourite books with us. Best of luck with your book. I read it a while ago and now I watch the wives when they’re standing beside their politician husbands and wonder what they’re thinking.

PIcover-webSarah’s novel Never Marry a Politician was shortlisted for the Good Housekeeping Novel Writing Prize 2014 and is published by Choc Lit. You can also follow Sarah on Twitter.