Goodreads book review: Carpe Demon by Julie Kenner

Carpe Demon (Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom, #1)Carpe Demon by Julie Kenner

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I picked this up after hearing Julie Kenner talking about it on the Smart Bitches Trashy Books podcast. Demon Hunting Soccer Mom. I love the idea!

Kate Connor is a retired demon hunter, but there’s a whole load of demons around and SOMEONE has to do something about it. Turns out that someone is Kate.
I like the juxtaposition between domesticity/ parenthood and the drama of demon fighting. It’s a good, light hearted read. I figured out who the baddie was (and the thing about Eddie and holy water) relatively early, but it was still good fun.

I dithered about giving this four stars because I love the premise so much, but ended up with 3 instead because I picked up the second book (I bought a box set) and thought… not right now, thanks. Is there a 3.5 stars option? No? Ah… okay then.

Brilliant premise. Good fun read.

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Goodreads book review: The Christmas Promise by Sue Moorcroft

The Christmas Promise: The perfect cosy festive treat!The Christmas Promise: The perfect cosy festive treat! by Sue Moorcroft

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I picked this up because it’s a Sue Moorcroft book. I tend to read anything she releases!

Ava Bliss makes couture hats. She’s fiercely independent (to the point of irritating people ). She’s also being threatened with porn bombing by her sleazy, creepy ex. The ex is a total douchbag, but seems almost a different person when sober, so you can see what Ava saw in him at first. A lot of the book deals with the all too familiar threat of porn bombing – specially, pointing out that the victim did nothing wrong by posing for someone they trusted. This is likely to be thing that stops people from getting help, so it was good to see it tackled head on like this.

Issues aside, it’s a lovely story about an independent woman struggling to make a success of her business and a man who is trying very hard to be a good son. The relationship between Sam and his mother is beautiful. I dare you to read it without melting.

The celebs who walk into the story are brilliant (and realistic).

I live in a town where there’s a race course and lots of hat shops, but I’d never stopped to think about hats and the people who make them. I learned a lot about hats through reading this book. I’ll look at those hat displays with new understanding now!

All in all a lovely, festive story. My thanks to the publishers and Netgalley for the review copy of the book.

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Inheritance Books: Ellie Gray

Children Reading by Valerie Everett

This week on the Inheritance Books sofa, we have romance novelist and fellow East Riding lass, Ellie Gray. I have cake. I’ll go put the kettle on and locate the cake. While I’m doing that, why don’t you tell us a bit about yourself, Ellie.

Ellie Gray Profile PicI live in a small village just outside the beautiful market town of Beverley in the East Riding of Yorkshire. It’s only about ten miles away from where I grew up, living in a little cottage on the edge of woods where my father was the woodman and my mum a nurse. My two brothers and I spent a halcyon childhood exploring those woods, building dens and having adventures. Come to think of it, perhaps that’s why I loved Enid Blyton books so much – maybe I felt we were somehow living one of those adventure novels in some small way.

I’ve always loved reading and, to some extent, I’ve always written stories – I kept them in my head when I was younger but, oh they were so very detailed. It was only later, in my teenage years, that it occurred to me to write them down. My first full novel (if it can be called that, as it is unlikely to ever see the light of day) was written when I was about 18 years old. Since then I’ve written quite a few (again, maybe best kept hidden in that drawer) but my first ever published novel, Beauty and the Recluse, was released earlier this year, swiftly followed by my second, Love on the Nile.

I work full-time for the local authority and, having just completed a Masters Degree, am now concentrating hard on producing my third novel. The ultimate aim, of course, is to one day be able to write full time.

Ha! I know exactly what you mean about first books. Mine will never see the light of day either.

 

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

IMG_1668Sax Rohmer’s Tales of Secret Egypt. This book wasn’t passed down to me as such but my dad found it during one of his many forays into old, hidden second hand bookshops and bought it for me, knowing how fascinated I was by anything to do with Ancient Egypt. I inherited my father’s love of both books and history and, since he passed away, I often think back to my childhood, where Dad and I would spend hours wandering around castles and museums, my mum and my brothers waiting impatiently for us in the carpark or café! This book reminds me of my dad and our shared love of reading.

 

Which book would you leave to future generations? Why?

IMG_1669My daughter has not inherited my love of books or of reading, although she has inherited my creative side but expresses hers through art. My son, however, has inherited my passion for books and is an avid reader. JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings Trilogy is the one I would like them to inherit. It might seem like an obvious or over-used choice, but the reason I would like them to inherit is more to do with the ethos of the book and the story, of good triumphing over evil, of the message that ‘even the smallest person can change the  course of the future’. It’s a message I feel very strongly about.

Brilliant choices! Thank you for sharing your favourite books with us, Ellie. Best of luck with your new book. 

LoveOnTheNilebyEllieGray-500You can buy Ellie’s book Love On The Nile from all good ebook retailers. You can find out more about Ellie on her website, Facebook or Pinterest. Or you could chat to her on Twitter (@elliegray58)

 

 

 

 

 

Would you like to share your Inheritance Books with us? If so, please drop me a line – either in the comments or by email.

Inheritance Books: Kate Frost

This week’s guest on Inheritance Books is Kate Frost. Welcome to the sofa, Kate. I’m sorry, we haven’t had a guest in a while. Let me dust it down for you. There you go. I’ll go put the kettle on, why don’t you tell us a bit about yourself.

KateFrostHeadShotI live in Bristol, a city I was born in and have always lived in, apart from three fabulous years spent at university in Aberystwyth. I grew up in the 1980s in a Victorian terraced house with a park at the end of the road. I have fond memories of my childhood with Sunday afternoon tea in front of the telly watching nature programmes; camping holidays with my Mum, Dad and younger brother getting bitten by mosquitos, discovering beautiful places and having barbeques in the rain; and Christmas spent with my Grandparents on their farm in Norfolk. I also have vivid memories of being in hospital when I was seven and undergoing open heart surgery to fix a hole in my heart. I was at that blissful age where it was an adventure rather than a traumatic experience. It also put me on the path to becoming a writer, as I had an amazing home tutor during the months following the operation, who taught me all about dinosaurs and how to write stories.

I studied drama while at Aberystwyth, but after graduating got disillusioned with the whole audition process of having to look a certain way or know the right person to get a role. I started writing again and over the next few years had articles and short stories published in magazines such as New Welsh Review and The London Magazine. I had various jobs along the way including being a bookseller at Waterstones, a Virgin Vie consultant hosting make-up parties, and putting my drama background to good use working as a Supporting Artist appearing in the films Vanity Fair, King Arthur and The Duchess. I did a MA in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University in 2004-05 and then wound up working out of hours for NHS Direct for a few years while I finished writing my debut novel, The Butterfly Storm and built up my freelance writing business writing blogs and features for easyJet.  

The past few years have been busy. I got married in 2008, and later that year we bought a house in need of complete renovation so spent the next couple of years doing it up. We then got our dog, Frodo, a gorgeous Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, struggled through four rounds of fertility treatment, during which I published The Butterfly Storm, finished writing my first children’s book and was made redundant from NHS Direct. In February 2014 our miracle son was born and now my life is happy and hectic and revolves around a very energetic toddler while trying to write novels.

 

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

Narnia seriesThe Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – well in fact C.S. Lewis’ whole series of Narnia books. They weren’t passed on to me but bought for me by my parents. Despite my mum being a prolific reader now, she was never interested in reading when she was a child, as she was too busy playing outside (she lived on a farm near the north Norfolk coast) to be interested in books. As an adult she realised what she’d been missing out on all that time and encouraged me to read. I remember being about eight or nine years old and getting swept up in Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy’s adventures and devouring the whole series of seven books. I also remember being bitterly disappointed when the back of my wardrobe didn’t lead into a snowy Narnia. But my love for books was cemented and I quickly realised the power of imagination, and so started writing my own stories.

Yay! An excellent choice!

 

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

Year of WondersI’m fascinated by the Restoration period with the plague and the Great Fire of London and so I loved Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks, a novel about the plague set in 1665-66. I first read it when I was in my mid-twenties, just as I was really focused on writing for a living and not long before I did my Creative Writing MA, and so it was a book that influenced me greatly. It’s also one of a handful of books that I wish I’d written.

Apart from being based on a true story, which in itself is fascinating, it’s beautifully written, descriptive, emotional and poignant. It’s one of those novels that stays with you long after you’ve read the last line and I’d encourage anyone to read it.

I’ve not read that. It sounds really interesting. Thank you for sharing your favourite books with us Kate. Good luck with the book.

 

BTAB_eB_cov_FINAL

Kate’s latest book Beneath the Apple Blossom is out now. You can find out more about Kate on her website, Facebook or Twitter (@kactus77)

 

Goodreads Book review: Falling by Julie Cohen

FallingFalling by Julie Cohen

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When I saw this book up on Netgalley, I grabbed it because I’ve never, ever been disappointed by a Julie Cohen book. This is what I call a ‘burning dinner’ sort of book – one I couldn’t bear to put down for very long, so I end up reading it while stirring things on the hob. It’s lovely!

Jo is struggling to keep everything going. She is a really, really nice person and tries to help everybody. But somewhere inside, she’s still getting over the death of her first husband. Her second husband’s betrayal seems almost an incidental annoyance compared to how much she feels about her first husband. I sympathised with Jo, especially when it came to the bits where the kids were going nuts. Oh yes.

Lydia is in love with her best friend and can’t come out about her sexuality without risking losing her best friend. She’s about to sit her exams too, so the pressure is really on. The high pressure environment of school and the casual cruelty of teenagers was really well captured. Lydia was a fantastic character.

Honour was my favourite. She’s old, cantankerous and fiercely independent. The way she treated Jo at the start was shocking, but she mellowed wonderfully as the story progressed. She was wonderful. When I grow old, I totally want to be as fiery as Honour (although, maybe not as rude!)

This is a wonderful book about how we orbit each other, trapped in our little worlds without really understanding what other people are going through. I especially liked that Jo and Honour were in-laws, because it was different to a mother-daughter relationship (whilst also being fairly similar to a mother-daughter relationship in so many ways).

This is a wonderful book. Go buy it.
(I received a free copy from Netgalley, in return for an honest review)

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Book review: Falling by Julie Cohen

FallingFalling by Julie Cohen  (In the US it’s called After the Fall)

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When I saw this book up on Netgalley, I grabbed it because I’ve never, ever been disappointed by a Julie Cohen book. This is what I call a ‘burning dinner’ sort of book – one I couldn’t bear to put down for very long, so I end up reading it while stirring things on the hob. It’s lovely!

Jo is struggling to keep everything going. She is a really, really nice person and tries to help everybody. But somewhere inside, she’s still getting over the death of her first husband. Her second husband’s betrayal seems almost an incidental annoyance compared to how much she feels about her first husband. I sympathised with Jo, especially when it came to the bits where the kids were going nuts. Oh yes.

Lydia is in love with her best friend and can’t come out about her sexuality without risking losing her best friend. She’s about to sit her exams too, so the pressure is really on. The high pressure environment of school and the casual cruelty of teenagers was really well captured. Lydia was a fantastic character.

Honour was my favourite. She’s old, cantankerous and fiercely independent. The way she treated Jo at the start was shocking, but she mellowed wonderfully as the story progressed. She was wonderful. When I grow old, I totally want to be as fiery as Honour (although, maybe not as rude!)

This is a wonderful book about how we orbit each other, trapped in our little worlds without really understanding what other people are going through. I especially liked that Jo and Honour were in-laws, because it was different to a mother-daughter relationship (whilst also being fairly similar to a mother-daughter relationship in so many ways).

This is a wonderful book. Go buy it.
(I received a free copy from Netgalley, in return for an honest review)

Buy link UK

Buy link US (After the Fall)

Inheritance Books: Barb Taub

Children Reading by Valerie Everett

It’s been a while since we had someone sitting in the Inheritance Books sofa. I’m delighted to have a visitor today, so welcomd Barb Taub, to Inheritance Books. While I go put the kettle on and fetch the biscuit tin, why don’t you tell us a bit about yourself.

Barb TaubIn the halcyon days BC (before children), I wrote a humor column for several Midwest newspapers. With the arrival of Child #4, I veered toward the dark side and an HR career. Following a daring daytime escape to England, I’ve lived in a medieval castle and a hobbit house with my prince-of-a-guy and the World’s Most Spoiled AussieDog. Now all my days are Saturdays, and I spend them consulting with my occasional co-author/daughter on Marvel heroes, Null City, and translating from British to American.

Which book have you inherited from a generation above? Why is it special? Try and talk about what the book symbolises to you/reminds you of etc.

SerapinaMy husband’s parents married young, and soon had two young children. Money was tight, but that didn’t stop them from passing along their lifelong love of books. One that was acquired early and read often was The Story of Serapina, an unusual cat who came to help the Salinas family, mostly by using her amazingly long and dexterous tail.

” … it took some time for Mrs. Salinus to accustom herself to the presence of Serapina in her house, although the children were delighted. Never before had there existed such a cat who woke the family, took in the milk, supervised baths, played ball and baby cat! It was embarrassing, and caused disparaging rumors as to the sanity of the Salinus family in the neighborhood. But Serapina, in a great and gruding sacrifice to modesty, set them straight ….” —The Story of Serapina, Anne H. White, Viking Press, 1951

Serapina2The funny adventures and gentle black and white drawings were an instant hit. My mother-in-law passed on this book to our children, and Serapina became a part of our own family, bequeathing her name to our own Serapina cat.

On top of that, my wonderful mother-in-law spent many a Saturday going to yard sales and buying books. It was always a hugely exciting day when one of those book-filled boxes arrived. She didn’t believe in “children’s literature”, so our kids received—and devoured—everything from Shakespeare to SciFi.

At their grandmother’s funeral, each of my children spoke about how much those books she’d sent to them had meant in their lives. She had given them so much more than The Story of Serapina, beloved as it was. Thanks in large part to the legacy and love of books she passed on, every member of my family is a writer today. We’re in different fields, but all those books are our teachers and our guides.

That sounds like a lovely family heirloom. I had an uncle who used to turn up with bags of second hand books. Relatives like that are treasures.

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

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This is actually a question I’ve already faced. You see, our family has a little problem when it comes to books. We like to get them. We don’t like to give them back. We never had a lot of money to spare, and we couldn’t get our kids the latest electronics or take them on trips to Europe. But we could afford books. So every milestone was recognized with a book, every special victory or occasion marked by a trip to the bookstore to choose a new one.

When we were moving to England a few years ago, I knew we would have to move the books. But there was no way we could store all of the literally thousands of volumes crammed from basement to attic in our old victorian. We went through, pulling out our old favorites, the companions from so many wonderful literary journeys. Regretfully, we boxed up the remaining books—over 2500 that we sent to our local library. What did we keep? Any childrens’ books, of course. Special series, the first set of Harry Potter, copies of classics, books with special inscriptions across the flyleaf, and some that were just too beloved to part with.

We sent over a hundred boxes of books to storage. It’s been so strange to be here in the UK without our books, our old friends and companions. We still buy new ones, of course, but now they are for our Kindles, so our house doesn’t have shelves groaning under the weight of books. Which book will I leave for future generations? They can have their pick. There are about five thousand of our old friends waiting patiently in storage. They won’t disappoint.

I can totally sympathise. I did something very similar when I was sixteen and moved to the UK. Every time we move house, we have a ‘book cull’ and send bags and bags of them to the charity shop. There are still hundreds of books. Oh well. Guess we need a bigger house.

Thanks for sharing your Inheritance Books with us, Barb. Best of luck with Null City!

Null City Stories (1)You can find out more about Barb on her website,Facebook or Twitter (@barbtaub) and check out her Null City books on Amazon.

Would you like to share you own inheritance books? Get in touch!

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

Inheritance Books: Inge Saunders

This week’s Inheritance Books are from the lovely South African author, Inge Saunders. Hi Inge, welcome to the Inheritance Books sofa. (I’m still getting used to the sofa, personally. In a good way). Can I get you a cup of tea?

While the tea’s brewing, please tell us a bit about yourself.

IMG00551-20121118-1305I`m a Pisces. I love dancing. I daydream A LOT. I have this thing about Top Gear (British), I can`t explain it…but Jeremy, James and Hammond *shakes head in awe*

 Top Gear? Riiight. Moving swiftly on. Which book have you inherited from a generation above? Why is it special?

My grandmother was an avid reader. At age ten or so, I asked her what she was reading one day and she showed me the book. An Afrikaans romance novel, Van Tinkie, Met Liefde by Ella Van Der Mescht. She gave the book to me and it`s the first romance novel I ever read.

2074374_150213160844_DSCN2929I still remember all the details of the story although the book itself had gotten lost as we moved to our new home. I had reread it so many times. It was my go-to book when I was bored, sad, or just wanted an escape from the everyday. This spunky heroine who travelled on her horse from one small town to the next because her father`s former childhood friend had invited her for a visit, meanwhile the two were planning on getting her married to the friend`s son! *laughs* It`s brilliant in its simplicity. Needless to say, the two end up together. But not before the sparks fly, a current money-grabbing fiancé provides problems and the two, themselves, are as apposite as night and day.

The book was the start of many sessions of reading with my grandmother and a shared love for books. She unfortunately died before I could share my first novel with her. I know that where she is, she`s only read it but wrote it with me.2074374_150213160815_DSCN2928

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

 It`s no secret to those who know me. I adore Jane Austin`s work. Therefore, I do firmly believe future generations would benefit from reading Pride & Prejudice.

I’ve often asked myself, what did a twenty-first century teenage girl from South Africa have in common with a woman who lived a completely different life on another continent and time, why did her love story impact my world? Why did Elizabeth Bennet make me root for her, laugh with her, get angry for/with her, and become completely besotted by Mr. Darcy with her? When viewed like this it doesn`t make sense!

Yet, Jane (because we`re cool like that *wink*) managed to draw me in. Elizabeth`s vivacious, strong-willed, kind, compassionate, passionate, and terribly wrong when she`s wrong and remorseful. She recognizes her position in the world and instead of letting her family`s circumstances get her down, she enjoys her life, appreciate what they have and doesn`t dwell on what she can`t have. And she`s extremely intelligent. It makes her a bit formidable. She doesn`t have to suck up to anyone to gain their approval, because she`s content with her life. And a bit arrogant about it *laughs*

Pride & Prejudice serves as a mirror. It`s hard pressed not to find a character with elements of yourself in there. But most of all, it`s a fun read. It`s romantic. It`s a commentary on class. It`s a view of the role of women, what`s acceptable or not. And funnily enough those things are still relevant today. My teenage self had these things in common with Elizabeth Bennet and I still do, which makes this book relevant and timeless.

 It certainly is timeless. The dialogue is as fresh today as it would have been back in the day. Thank you for sharing your Inheritance Books with us, Inge. All the best with the new book. Come by again soon.

Falling-For-Mr.-Unexpected-200x300Inge’s next book Falling for Mr Unexpected is published by Decadent Publishing and is available to buy now. You can find out more about Inge on her blog, Facebook, Pinterest, Goodreads or Twitter (@IngeUlrike).