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

Blurb

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:

Goodreads book review: The Velvet Cloak of Midnight by Christina Courtenay

The Velvet Cloak of Moonlight (Shadows from the Past #4)The Velvet Cloak of Moonlight by Christina Courtenay

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve just realised I hadn’t reviewed this book. I finished it weeks ago, so my memory is already fading. (This is why I joined Goodreads – to keep track of what I read!)

This is a lovely story. It’s time slip/ ghost story. Sometimes, in time slips one of the stories over shadows the other (usually the one in the past is the more compelling one). In this case, both stories are equally compelling. I liked that a lot. All the characters were interesting and I really cared for them.
Now I want to go visit Raglan Castle!

Usual disclaimer – I write for the same publisher as Christina Courtenay. I received a free copy via Netgalley.

View all my reviews

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)

View all my reviews

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: Catherine Ryan Howard

This week’s guest on Inheritance Books is Catherine Ryan Howard – who was primarily known for her non fiction (and her fabulously useful Catherine Caffeinated blog). Her latest book Distress Signals is a thriller set on a cruise ship. Hi Catherine, have a biscuit. Why don’t you start off by telling us a bit about yourself?

Catherine Ryan Howard by City Headshots Dublin
Catherine Ryan Howard by City Headshots Dublin

I live in Dublin, Ireland, but I’m from Cork. I’m currently studying for a BA in English Lit as a mature student in Trinity College Dublin and trying to finish my second thriller before the excitement of the first one, Distress Signals, coming out gets too much for me! I’ve self-published a number of non-fiction titles about some of my travel adventures, and then the obligatory ‘how to’ self-publishing guide. I’ve been blogging since early 2010 and love Twitter. It’s caffeine that flows through my veins and I still want to be a NASA astronaut when I grow up.

 

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

I didn’t inherit any physical books, but a book my mother bought for me helped change the course of my life and get me where I am today. Now, don’t laugh, but it’s Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton.

IMG_3601

The movie came out in the summer of 1993, when I was just eleven, and I convinced her to buy the movie tie-in paperback of it for me. I can still remember that her, my brother and sister and I were en route to the caravan we kept by the seaside in East Cork, and she stopped at a shopping centre so I could run in and pick it up so I’d have it to read while we were down there. I just loved, loved, LOVED that book. The mixture of fact and fiction, the imagination needed to create that park and bring it to life… It was fantastic. It made me want to create something like that. I re-read it every year and still have that 23 year-old paperback, which is only held together now by tape and love.

I’m not laughing. I was totally blown away by Jurassic Park when it came out. So much so that I did my A-level English lit dissertation on it (comparing it to The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle). 

 

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

I think Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. It’s one of my favourite novels. So simple in terms of the language he uses, but so utterly devastating in its impact. I don’t want to spoil the ending for anyone, but it also gives you a stark reminder of how short our time here is, and why you should make the most of this great adventure of life while you can. Because of its setting, it also has a kind of timeless quality, so I think future generations will find it as relevant as we do now.

 

Excellent choices. Thank you for sharing your Inheritance Books with us. All the best with Distress Signals. It sounds great.

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Catherine’s new book Distress Signals is available now! You can read the first three chapters on her website. You can find out more about Catherine in her website, Twitter (@cathryanhoward), Facebook or Instagram. 

PS: If you’re a huge fan of Jurassic Park, you might be interested in Chip Kidd’s TEDtalk about how he designed the iconic cover.

 

Inheritance Books: Elle Turner

Children Reading by Valerie Everett

Hello, it’s been a while. I’ve finally brushed down the Inheritance Books sofa in order to welcome Elle Turner. And I’ve got stollen! You’ve got to love stollen. yummmm.

Anyway, welcome to Inheritance Books, Elle. Why don’t you start us off by telling us a bit about yourself.

100_0740Thank you so much, Rhoda, for having me on Inheritance Books! It’s a lovely idea and I’m delighted to be taking part.

My love of books started when I was very young and I first decided to write a book myself when I was eight. I only got as far as chapter headings, though, and these were directly influenced by the books my mum introduced me to that I talk about below. I did have some real friends, but I spent most of my time talking (out loud) to the Famous Five and sleeping with a stuffed dog called Timmy on my feet. My young childhood was definitely characterised by books, sitting by the fire when the weather was bad (as it often was as I live in beautiful, but often wet and windy, Scotland) or in my bed until I could hardly keep my eyes open. I thought in stories, imagined I lived in the books I read and was more than happy with their characters for company. 🙂

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

IMG_1563It’s really my mum who started me off down the path of loving books. She gave me many, but the ones I loved the most were from the Abbey Series by Elsie J. Oxenham. These were stories of young women and schoolgirls growing up by an Abbey near High Wycombe. Red-haired Joan and Joy were the original Abbey Girls and the series followed them into adulthood, with eventually their own children following the original Abbey Girls’ traditions. I only have a few of the books, nowadays they are collectors’ items, but I’d love to track down more in the series one day.

The Abbey Girls were members of the Hamlet Club, they learned elaborate country dances that I wanted to be able to do and spent ages prancing around our living room pretending I could. The girls were chosen to be “May Queens” with their own designated flower and colour associated with their reign. I wore a nightie of my mum’s and rooted through our linen cupboard for something I could use as a train when I was pretending to be a May Queen. I think I used a bath towel in the end, probably not exactly the look the characters were going for! Joy was responsible for me wanting red hair from a young age, something I’ve achieved a few times over the years. Sometimes a female character would “disappear” for a short while only to “reappear” with twins, which I also thought was kinda cool. A bit eerily, fast forward a few years and I too now have twins, so I should probably be grateful I inherited the Abbey books from mum and not, say, a Stephen King novel, or who knows how my life would have turned out. 😉

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

IMG_1560My twin boys are now in their early teens. I think the book I would want to pass on to them is Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. It was on the syllabus at school when I was just a few years older than they are now and it’s the main book from that time that resonated with me. It’s such a famous book that we probably all know it’s about the burning of books as they are no longer allowed in society. Books are thought to cause unrest and unhappiness as they risk leading people to think. Better to be anaesthetised watching screens the size of walls pump information that doesn’t take too much processing.

Eep.

Considering it was written in 1953, it’s a scary, but wonderful, book. I remember my English teacher saying that when she first was teaching it, personal Walkman stereos were starting to become popular. This was the advent of people walking about wearing earphones, disconnected from those around them (which I’m not immune to doing, I admit). It struck such a chord with me at the time (around 35 years after the book was written) and I’d love to know how it’s viewed by my guys a further 30 years down the line.

That’s quite a mind-boggling thought. Thank you for sharing your inheritance books with us, Elle. Good luck with your new book.

TAPESTRY_front150dpiElle’s latest book Tapestry is available to buy now. You can find out more about Elle by visiting her on Twitter (@ElleTWriter), Instagram (elletwriter), Facebook (elleturnerwriter) or her website (www.elleturnerwriter.com). 

 

 

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: 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).

Inheritance Books: Kate Lord Brown

This week’s Inheritance Books are from lovely Kate Lord Brown.Hi Kate, welcome to the Inheritance Books sofa. (Yes, we have a sofa now! And cushions. Did you see the cushions?) Anyway, biscuit?

Please, tell us a bit about yourself.

kate I’m the desert living author of ‘The Perfume Garden’ and ‘The Beauty Chorus’. When I was four, my mother put a yellow cloth bound copy of the 1001 nights on the top shelf of my wardrobe because it was ‘too advanced’. Naturally, I was captivated, and clambered up the wardrobe at every opportunity for a spot of clandestine reading, (this is a good trick if you desperately want your children to learn, say, Shakespeare or algebra). I have no idea what happened to that copy, or if it influenced me working and living in the Middle East. My family and I have lived in the only true desert country in the world for five years, which sounds rather exotic and ‘English Patient’ but we have just had the worst sandstorms in fifty years which was – frankly – like a gritty apocalypse.

It must feel awfully cold and clammy for you on the sofa then. Let me shut the window. There. 

Where were we? Oh yes. Which book have you inherited from a generation above? Why is it special?

Puffin Book Of Children's Verse coverOne book I have tucked safely away in storage in the UK (along with a library which fills half a container), is the treasured germolene pink copy of ‘A Puffin Book of Verse’ inscribed wonkily by Katy Lord in felt tip, and given to me by my parents at a time when I still pronounced ‘Anonymous’ as ‘Anymouse’. It was required reading at prep school, and from its pages we learnt a poem each week off by heart. I had the great good fortune to have teachers who genuinely loved literature. It instilled in me a love of the rhythm and beauty of language, and along with battered copies of the Observer’s books of Wild Flowers, Horses and Dogs it transports me back to early childhood growing up in a wild and beautiful part of the West Country.

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

LittleprinceBoth my children were given their own copies of ‘The Little Prince’ – it was a book we read over and over again when they were small (those lovely, cosy tea/bath/bedtime story times), and we wore out the BBC audio cassette on the school runs to and fro along the Meon Valley from Petersfield. It’s a children’s book, but in a very gentle, magical way teaches important lessons, which I hope sunk in, about living a good life and the importance of trusting your heart. The children gleefully rescued a French rag doll Little Prince from a yard sale here for me, and he sits tucked in among my notebooks – we’re past bedtime story times now, but every time I catch a peek of him he reminds me of a lovely period of our lives, (and I love his yellow ‘fro). princeHe also sits above the files for the new book I’ve written about the artists’ Schindler, which features Consuelo de St Exupery, wife of Antoine who wrote ‘The Little Prince’. She was the inspiration for the Little Prince’s ‘Rose’, and I like the idea that they are together.

Thank you for sharing your Inheritance Books with us, Kate. All the best with your new book. I just love the cover!

perfume gardenKate’s book The Perfume Garden is available to buy now. You can find out more about Kate on her website, or chat to her on Twitter (@katelordbrown).