Playing For Love (by Jeevani Charika) is out today!

My alter ego, Jeevani Charika has a new book out today! Playing For Love is a romcom. Here’s a tweet that tells you all about it (in the style of a Reddit post):

I (28F) am in love w my computer game buddy (??M) but he’s not interested because he’s in love w someone IRL. Also, there’s this IT guy at work (30M) who’s asking me out. He’s cute, but he’s not gamer guy, is he? Advice please. PLAYING FOR LOVE. Out NOW: books2read.com/PFL

‘LOVED it… Romantic, witty, insightful and engaging.’ Sue Moorcroft, Sunday Times bestselling author of A Home in the Sun

When Sam’s not working on her fledgling business, she spends her time secretly video-gaming. Her crush is famous gamer Blaze, and she’s thrilled when she’s teamed up with him in a virtual tournament.

But what Sam doesn’t know is that Blaze is the alter ego of Luke, her shy colleague – and he has a secret crush too.

Luke has a crush on Sam.
Sam has a crush on Blaze.

How will this game of love play out?

A fun, feel-good romance for fans of You’ve Got Mail, Helen Hoang, Jasmine Guillory and Lindsey Kelk.

‘Fabulous… A perfect lazy Sunday read… Such a treat!’ Sarah Bennett, bestselling author of the Mermaids Point series

‘A sweet, witty story… Delightful.’ Farah Heron, author of Accidentally Engaged

Book review: Let It Snow by Sue Moorcroft

Let It SnowLet It Snow by Sue Moorcroft

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am a fan of Sue Moorcroft’s books and I normally read the ARCs before they come out. I missed doing it with this one, so I saved it to read over Christmas.

We go back to Middledip for this story. I like this sort of thing, where you see characters from other books pass through in the background. It makes me feel like part of a community.

Lilly finds out about her father the day he dies. She has complicated feelings about her blood family and wants to get to know her half brothers. But they might not be so pleased to meet her. So she’s working part time as a barmaid at the Three Fishes pub while she works out what to do.
Isaac is picking him self back up after the double whammy of losing his old business and breaking up with his ex. He’s working as a temporary manager at the Three Fishes. He’s Lilly’s boss.
Both the characters are interesting and easy to relate to. I liked that Isaac is a stickler for the rules and that Lily admits the mixed feelings she has when Isaac has to go and help someone. Oh, I nearly forgot Doggo! He’s a dog. You’ve got to love an exuberant dog!

Lily’s journey eventually takes her to a winter wonderland in Switzerland (via a trip to A & E). You don’t get much more Christmassy than a choir singing carols in a Swiss winter market.

There’s plenty going on in this book and everything that can go wrong, does. It’s a lovely, romantic story about the family you’re linked to and the family you find through your friendships.

Buy link UK

Buy link US

Book review: The Hopes and Dreams of Lucy Baker by Jenni Keer

The Hopes and Dreams of Lucy BakerThe Hopes and Dreams of Lucy Baker by Jenni Keer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a lovely heartwarming book.

Lucy is a kind soul, if a little lacking in confidence. Her neighbour Brenda is a colourful character who may or may not be a little bit magic. When Brenda gives her a locket which urges Lucy to do some spells to help her win the new neighbour George's heart.

There were some lovely touches in this book. I especially liked the office awkward/sexist guy Adam was a really nice guy at heart, despite his clumsiness and sexist comments. The feud between Danny and Adam was fun. Likewise, I liked that Sam was painted as a nuanced character.

If you're looking for something to keep you company on a chilly winter night, this would be just the thing.
I got a review copy of this book from Netgalley. I had met the author as we both belong to the same professional organisation.

Buy link UK
Buy link US

Introducing Beth and Hibs from Doctor January

Since it’s publication week for Doctor January, here’s an extract. Meet Hibs. He’s just getting dumped.  

Beth removed her cycle helmet and fluffed up her hair before she punched in the security code to get into the labs. As soon as she entered the corridor, she heard the shouting. Since she hadn’t had a card or text from Gordon, she was hoping she’d at least get a couple of cards and ‘happy birthday’s’ from her colleagues, but it looked like she got to witness some sort of argument instead.

Vik, her fellow PhD student, was standing beside the door to the lab, apparently listening.2014-02-07 17.59.07 A female voice wailed, ‘You care more about those bloody bacteria than you do about me!’

Beth shot Vik a questioning glance. He put a finger to his lips, so she stopped outside the door too.

Hibs said something, his voice too low for Beth to make out the words. ‘Well, I’ve changed my mind,’ the woman said. ‘You can keep your experiments. I’ve had enough. We’re finished.’

Footsteps stamped towards the door. Beth pulled back, flattening herself against the wall.

‘Wait,’ Hibs said, and the footsteps stopped. ‘You forgot your scarf.’

The girl made a strangled ugh noise and stormed out of the door. Beth tried to look like she hadn’t been listening outside as the girl gave another ugh, marched down the corridor and slammed the security door behind her.

Beth entered the lab to find Hibs concentrating on his computer screen. ‘Are you okay?’

Hibs tied back his long hair and shrugged. He was tall and slim and moved like something on the hunt. A Japanese ancestor a few generations back meant he had a faint, high-cheekboned exoticism about him. Beth was so comfortable hanging out with him as a friend, it sometimes surprised her that he was such a success with women. On the other hand, he was so phenomenally bad at keeping hold of the ones he bedded that being his friend was a far better long-term option.

‘That one lasted … what, two weeks?’ Beth asked as she hung up her coat.

‘Ten days,’ said Hibs as he returned his attention to the computer. Beth shook her head.

‘Anyone would think you don’t really want a girlfriend.’

‘Why would I want a girlfriend? They just get in the way and make you go to dinner parties,’ he said, without turning away from the screen.    

 

Doctor January - Romance with science Doctor January is available as an ebook now and will be out in paperback in August. *mad, happy grin*

Sri Lankan Party food #3 – Seeni sambol (caramelised onions)

‘Caramelised onions’ is a bit misleading. It conjures up sweet and tangy flavours, maybe something that goes nicely with cheese. Seeni sambol’s main reason for being popular is that it blends the sweet and tangy oniony flavours with chili. The best seeni sambol is eye-wateringly hot. It still goes nicely with cheese.

Seeni Sambol (recipe from infolanka.com)

1 lb onions, sliced finely (red onion is best, regular onions work as well)
1/4 lb maldive fish pieces (optional)
3-4 tbsp chilli powder
a sprig of curry leaves
Rampe, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces (I can never find these, so just leave them out)
cinnamon (2 pieces, each about 1 inch long)
5 cloves
5 cardamoms

5 tbsp vegetable oil

3 tbsp tamarind pulp
2 tbsp sugar
Salt to taste

Mix the first eight ingredients together. Heat a pan with oil. Add the onion mixture. Fry till caramelized.
Next add the tamarind pulp, sugar and salt to taste.
Cook for a few minutes. Serve in a bun.

Book cover for Girl Having A Ball by Rhoda BaxterAnd here’s an extract from Girl Having a Ball, featuring seeni sambol buns and a very shouty retired military man.

As she approached the table, an elderly man with a handlebar moustache helped himself to a couple of buns that had been helpfully labelled “Hot and Spicy”. He looked at her with narrowed eyes.

“You the party planner girl?”

“Yes sir, I am.” Stevie smiled pleasantly, noting that the less fiery nibbles were almost gone. She began to gather empty trays.

“Splendid buns these,” he said.

“I’m glad you like them, Mr.…?”

“Major. Major Cosham.”

Ah, Lady Beryl’s friend. “I’m glad you like them, Major Cosham. I see they’re a bit strong for a lot of people.”

“That’s why I like ’em,” he said. “Reminds me of my time in India. Good stuff, this. Not like the nonsense you get in curry houses.” He paused for a moment, his eyes far away.

Stevie carried on gathering plates.

“I say,” said the Major. “What’s the name of your caterer?”

“There isn’t one. We made all these nibbles here, under Priya’s excellent supervision.”

The Major bit another bun in half and gulped it down. Stevie was impressed. She’d tried one of those and it had made her eyes water.

“You mean to say, Evelyn and Beryl made these? Well, I’ll be damned.”

“Evelyn and Priya, yes. Of course, the rest of us, helped out.”

“Hmm.” The Major eyed the food. “Excuse me.” He wandered off bellowing “Darling!” at a woman who was standing at the other end of the lawn talking to someone.