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Monday, 30 November 2015

Chickens Eat Pasta - Author Q&A with Clare Pedrick


Chickens Eat Pasta is the tale of how a young Englishwoman starts a new life after watching a video showing a chicken eating spaghetti in a mediaeval hill village in central Italy. Unlike some recent bestsellers, this is not simply an account of a foreigner's move to Italy, but a love story written from the unusual perspective of both within and outside of the story. As events unfold, the strong storyline carries with it a rich portrayal of Italian life from the inside, with a supporting cast of memorable characters. Along the way, the book explores and captures the warmth and colour of Italy, as well as some of the cultural differences - between England and Italy, but also between regional Italian lifestyles and behaviour. It is a story with a happy ending. The author and her husband are still married, with three children, who love the old house on the hill (now much restored) almost as much as she does. Chickens Eat Pasta is Clare's autobiography, and ultimately a love story - with the house itself and with the man that Clare met there and went on to marry. If you yearn for a happy ending, you won't be disappointed. It's a story that proves anything is possible if you only try.


Q&A with Clare Pedrick

Hi Clare and welcome to Sincerely Book Angels
What was the inspiration behind this novel?
Well first of all, in the very strict sense of the word, this isn’t a novel. My publisher bills it as a travel memoir, and it is sometimes classified as an autobiography, which makes it sound rather heavy and pompous, which is definitely not the case. In actual fact, Chickens Eat Pasta is my story, the tale of how I bought an old ruin in a remote part of central Italy as a young woman, and the love story that ensued – with the house itself and with a man I met there. Having said that, I went to great pains to write it more as a novel, with supporting characters and quite a bit of suspense. I would say the book is 95 per cent based on true facts, but I tried very hard not to make it too self-centred, and some of the other characters are so much larger than life that they almost take over the story at certain points.

Did you always want to be a writer?
In a sense I always have been a writer, because I earn my living as a journalist, and that’s a job I have done ever since I left university. Although of course, depending on your point of view, you may say journalists are not writers at all, but just hacks! As I soon found out, writing a novel, or travel memoir, or whatever you want to call it, is very different from writing an article for a newspaper, and a great deal more challenging. Though I never imagined it would be quite as demanding until I actually sat down and tried. The minute I bought this beautiful old house in Umbria, I realised that I would absolutely have to write a book to tell the story. As things turned out, it was to be a long time before I finished the book and got it published, and by then, events had taken over and it had turned into a love story, as well as the tale of my adventures in this spectacular, but very isolated part of Italy, where time has really stood still.

What other jobs have you had? 
As I said, I have been a journalist ever since I left university, although thinking carefully, that’s not completely true. Getting my first job on a newspaper was no easy task, and while I was waiting for my big break, i.e. for an editor to take me on as a trainee reporter, I needed to make some money to keep body and soul together. Then a job offer came from a very unexpected quarter. I was living in a rented cottage with my boyfriend on a gorgeous but quite out-of-the way farm estate in Cambridgeshire, complete with moat and peacocks in the grounds. And one day the owner told me that a Chinese man who rented a warehouse on the estate wondered if I’d like to work for him growing beansprouts! This Chinese guy was a real techie and had rigged up an ingenious electronic timer system that ensured his beansprouts were automatically watered at exactly the right time every few hours. My job was to keep an eye on all the switches and then harvest and pack the sprouts once they were ready and drive him and his beansprouts to Chinese restaurants to deliver them. I remember he was always invited in to lunch, and I was made to sit in the van while they brought some Chinese food out for me in a polystyrene dish. I was over the moon when a big newspaper group based in Bedford finally took me on and I was able to leave the beansprouts, and the unfriendly Chinese restaurant owners, behind.

The other job I do, as an (unpaid but hugely enjoyable) sideline to my journalism, is organising riding holidays here in the beautiful Umbrian countryside. I’m a qualified guide and take groups out for treks up into the rolling hills here, and although it’s extremely time-consuming, it’s a wonderful contrast to the hours spent sitting in front of a computer screen.
Lake Piediluco where I kept my rowing boat

How did it feel when your first novel was published?
Well of course I was extremely happy. I think any author gets a tremendous kick out of seeing their book in print at last, and I was particularly thrilled with the cover, which looked better than I had ever dared to hope. It’s taken from a beautiful watercolour of my house, done by a very dear childhood friend called Colleen MacMahon, so it meant a great deal to me to have it as the cover. But I also felt rather vulnerable when the book came out, and perhaps a little foolish. I suppose that’s because a very important part of my life is laid bare in the pages of Chickens Eat Pasta, and I have always been quite a private person. Luckily, people have been extremely warm and genuinely appear to have enjoyed reading my story. But when you write a book and put it out there for public consumption, you really are sticking your head above the parapet. That’s something I hadn’t bargained for, and it’s taken quite a bit of getting used to.

Have you ever had writer's block? If so how did you overcome it?
I’ve never suffered from fear of the blank page, or writer’s block in any form, and I think that’s probably because of what I do for a living. When you are a journalist, there is no question of sitting and waiting for inspiration. You have an allotted word count to fill, and a very strict deadline to meet, and however you are feeling, you just have to get on and get the story out. So when it came to writing my book, finding the words was never an issue. What certainly was problematic was finding the time and the peace and quiet that I needed to immerse myself in the story and do it justice as a writer. I have a husband and three children, so there was always a lot going on and the house could become pretty noisy. I would often get up early to work on the book before anyone was awake, especially in times like the Christmas holidays. But at a certain point, I think you just have to make a commitment to finishing a book, or at least to writing a certain number of chapters so that you can then start touting it to publishers. Otherwise, there will always be a hundred reasons for being distracted and the book just remains a dream in the back of your head. I know so many people who have had an idea for a book, but have never managed to get as far as writing The End. That’s a great shame, as it’s an extraordinarily satisfying experience.

Do your characters moods ever affect your mood and vice versa?
Oh very definitely! I should first explain that although on the surface, Chickens Eat Pasta sounds like the classic formula of foreigner-moving-to-another-country, in the vein of Under the Tuscan Sun, it’s not like that at all. For a start, there is nothing at all sugary about the way I have presented my experiences. On the contrary, I had some very difficult times, probably because I was only 26 and all on my own -- very unusual in that part of the world – so I was seen as easy prey by some people. When I was writing about some of these episodes, especially the charmless father and son who tried to cheat me out of part of my property, I felt my anger and disgust brimming over. Luckily, I also made some extraordinarily generous friends in this tiny mediaevel hill village, and they protected me and looked out for me in a way that I could never have imagined. Writing about them always brought a smile to my face, especially Ercolino and Angela, an Italian and his English wife who virtually adopted me as their own daughter – my own parents were dead – and saved me from countless scrapes, but always with great warmth and humour.
My house now

What three pieces of advice would you give to an aspiring writer?
Quite simply, I would say if you have an idea for a book, then make a start, be determined and carry on writing whatever the distractions. And finally, make sure you get it published. These days, with self-publishing, it’s so much easier that there’s really no excuse for not getting your book out there. If you can’t afford all the bells and whistles offered by some of the self-publishing companies, then you can turn out a very decent DIY product as an ebook for a trifling investment. Of course in all cases, there is a massive amount of work to be done after publication, in terms of marketing and running social media campaigns, so it’s not for the faint-hearted. But if you really are determined, becoming a published author has never been easier.

Which authors inspire you?
I love the travelogue style of Bruce Chatwin, H.V. Morton and Eric Newby, amongst others. The latter two wrote about Italy and I am a particular fan of Eric Newby’s Love and War in the Appenines. It’s the story of how Newby was captured while serving in the Special Boat Service in Italy in 1942. He remained a prisoner-of-war until 1945, but in the end he managed to escape, with the help of a young Italian woman called Wanda and her family. I hope I’m not spoiling the story by telling you that he goes on to marry Wanda. It’s a fantastic book that I never tire of reading. In fact, it’s time I read it again.
The village that became my second home

What are you reading at the moment?
I’m reading The Violet Hour by Katherine Hill. It’s the story of how a relationship that seemed perfect unravels and falls apart, which I think is a very interesting theme, as I’ve noticed that couples who seem to have the ideal marriage often have dark secrets. On the whole, the book isn’t as enthralling as I had hoped, but I have decided to stick with it, though I have long ago decided that if a book doesn’t engage me – if I don’t actually care about the characters – then I’ll simply put it down. I’m making an exception in this case because the author paints an incredibly vivid portrait of marital infidelity by the leading female character, and it’s really very compelling indeed.

If your book was made into a film what song would you choose for the opening credits?
I love Ludovico Einaudi. He’s an Italian composer and pianist who writes and plays the most haunting songs. He’s done quite a few concerts in England, for example at the Royal Albert Hall, and I think if you heard his music, you might well recognise it. Quite a few of his songs have been used as film scores, so I’m sure I would be on the right track here. I’d like to think that he’d write a special one just for my film, but if not, Divenire (Becoming) would do very nicely. You can find it on YouTube here, so I strongly suggest you and your readers listen to it. It sends shivers up my spine every time I hear it.

Who would you choose to play your favourite character in the film of your book?
As you may already have guessed, my favourite character is Ercolino, which isn’t his real name by the way, although it’s not that dissimilar. Ercolino is quite simply unique, so finding someone to project his very unusual mix of warmth, generosity and ability to work himself up into a frenzy at the drop of a hat – usually because of something I had done to infuriate him, such as order a cappuccino at the wrong time of day – would be quite a tall order. Whoever it is would have to have those laugh lines around his eyes, as Ercolino’s eyes virtually disappear into the rest of his face when he smiles, which is very often. He’d also have to be extremely small, as Ercolino only comes up to my shoulder. Dustin Hoffman would be perfect, or maybe Robert de Niro, though of course it should really be an Italian actor. I’m glad to say that Ercolino is still around, and he still gets cross with me and starts spouting torrents of malapropisms, the more worked up he gets. For some reason, he always speaks to me in English, and he loves telling me that I drive him ‘up the bend’ or that I’m a ‘bloddy pain in the harse’. You couldn’t have invented him if you tried.
Ercolino with Mamma outside their house

Thank you so much for joining us on our blog today and good luck with the book.
It’s been a great pleasure. Thank you so much for having me!
Click here to purchase

Sincerely
Book Angel x


About the Author

Clare and House
Clare Pedrick is a British journalist who studied Italian at Cambridge University before becoming a reporter. She went on to work as the Rome correspondent for the Washington Post and as European Editor of an international features agency. She still lives in Italy with her husband, whom she met in the village where she bought her house.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Every Time a Bell Rings by Carmel Harrington




Carmel Harrington’s new novel, Every Time A Bell Rings is a captivating story told in Harrington’s trademark charming and emotive voice. Heartwarming, magical and full of the warmth of Christmas.
Every Time A Bell Rings !
… an angel gets its wings…!
Belle has taken all the Christmas decorations down. This year they won’t be celebrating. As foster parents, Belle and Jim have given many children the chance of a happier start in life. They’ve loved them as if they were their own. They shouldn’t have favourites but little Lauren has touched their hearts. And now her mother is well enough to take her back and Belle can’t bear the loss. Hence, Christmas is cancelled.!
So when Jim crashes his car one icy December night, after an argument about Lauren, Belle can only blame herself. Everything she loves is lost. And Belle finds herself standing on The Ha’Penny Bridge wishing she had never been born.!
But what happens to a Christmas wish when an angel is listening…!
Will Belle realise, before it’s too late, that her life is the most wonderful life of all?!

Inspired by the timeless tale of beloved Christmas movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, Carmel Harrington’s next book is full of Irish charm, magic, and the warmth of the festive season this is an emotional, heartwarming story that will stay with you long after you’ve reached ‘The End’. !

Author: Carmel Harrington
Title: Every Time a Bell Rings
Publishers: Harper Collins
Publication Date: Ebook; 15th Oct, Paperback; 19th Nov 2015
Link: Uk: Amazon

My Review

If you are a fan of 'It's a Wonderful Life' then you will certainly love 'Every Time a Bell Rings.'
This charming story really took me by surprise as it wasn't what I expected at all. I have to say that the voice in my head when I was reading this had a lovely soothing Irish lilt to it and the story unfolded beautifully.

Belle Bailey has been in foster homes ever since she was little when she was rescued from a dangerous situation that her mother had left her in, she was scared when she came to Tess's house aged eight, so much so that she wouldn't speak, luckily for her Tess was such a kind and patient person and provided her with a loving home where she could flourish. She was soon joined by a red haired boy called Jim and they become best friends, but Jim is only being fostered temporarily and soon leaves her to go back to his mum.

When Belle grows up she arrives at Tess's house and is shocked to find a handsome man visiting, he has come looking for her but she needs to get over her shyness at seeing him again.
The relationship between Jim and Belle was amazing and the fact that they wanted to give something back to society by looking after children to make them happy was a lovely touch and I could really understand why they wanted to do that. 

Tess had a wonderful relationship with Belle and they loved each other as mother and daughter, I loved their relationship and the way they just 'got' each other with jokes and companionably watching their favourite telly programmes together, Jim also slotted very nicely into this relationship.

Although Belle hadn't seen her mother since she was taken away from her she discovered that she still had the capacity to hurt her very deeply and she was broken hearted by this and another awful incident in her life that she couldn't get over. 

After feeling completely useless in life Belle decides enough is enough and is ready to give up but a special someone comes along to show her what life would have been like without her and Belle manages to understand that she wasn't responsible for things she always felt she was to blame for and that the people she loved still needed her around.

An endearing, heart warming, christmassy tale of love and family, learning to walk away from those who try to bring us down and realising the difference it makes to a child's life when someone shows they believe in them.

Thanks to Carmel for the review copy in exchange for an honest review.
If you would like to read our Q&A with Carmel then please click here.

Sincerely 
Book Angels x

About the Author

Carmel Harrington lives with her husband Roger and children Amelia and Nate in a small coastal village in Wexford. She credits the idyllic setting as a constant source of inspiration to her. !
Her first book, ‘Beyond Grace’s Rainbow’ was originally self-published in August 2012. Grace’s
story quickly became a bestseller - fast forward 12 months and Carmel joined the prestigious
HarperCollins publishing house, represented by Trace Literary Agency. Beyond Grace’s Rainbow was voted Romantic eBook of 2013 and Kindle Book of Year 2013. Her second novel ‘The Life You Left’, was published in June 2013, was also an eBook bestseller and earned Carmel the nickname, ‘Queen of Emotional Writing’. !
Carmel writes emotional family dramas and they share one common theme - strong characters who
find themselves in extraordinary situations. She loves to dig deep and see how they cope, as they grapple with life-changing moments. !
She is a regular on Irish TV as one of the panelists on TV3’s Midday Show, as well as being interviewed on RTE1’s Today Show, TV3’s IrelandAM and TV3’s The Morning Show. She has also been interviewed on US TV - Indiana’s WNDU. A a regular guest on radio stations and a
popular freelance writer. Carmel is also a popular motivational keynote speaker, at events in Ireland, UK and US. !
Twitter @HappyMrsH !
Facebook/happymrsh !
www.carmelharrington.com !

Monday, 16 November 2015

Talk of the Toun - Author Q & A with Helen MacKinven



 ‘She was greetin’ again. But there’s no need for Lorraine to be feart, since the first day of primary school, Angela has always been there to mop up her tears and snotters.’ An uplifting black comedy of love, family life and friendship, Talk of the Toun is a bittersweet coming-of-age tale set in the summer of 1985, in working class, central belt Scotland. Lifelong friends Angela and Lorraine are two very different girls, with a growing divide in their aspirations and ambitions putting their friendship under increasing strain. Artistically gifted Angela has her sights set on art school, but lassies like Angela, from a small town council scheme, are expected to settle for a nice wee secretarial job at the local factory. Her only ally is her gallus gran, Senga, the pet psychic, who firmly believes that her granddaughter can be whatever she wants. Though Lorraine’s ambitions are focused closer to home Angela has plans for her too, and a caravan holiday to Filey with Angela’s family tests the dynamics of their relationship and has lifelong consequences for them both. Effortlessly capturing the religious and social intricacies of 1980s Scotland, Talk of the Toun is the perfect mix of pathos and humour as the two girls wrestle with the complications of growing up and exploring who they really are. "Fresh, fierce and funny...a sharp and poignant study of growing up in 1980s Scotland. You'll laugh, you'll cry...you'll cringe" - Karen Campbell

Author: Helen MacKinven
Title: Talk of the Toun
Publishers: Thunderpoint Publishing Ltd
Publication Date: 28th October 2015
Link: Uk: Amazon   US: Amazon

Q and A with Helen MacKinven

Welcome to Sincerely Book Angels blog Helen, it's a pleasure to have you with us.

Did you always want to be a writer? 
No, I’ve always been an avid reader and natural storyteller but it wasn’t until my late 30s until I decided to challenge myself to write a novel.

What other jobs have you had? 
I worked in a café and library as a student while I trained to be a primary school teacher but I left the classroom to work as a Road Safety Officer, working mainly in schools. I then went to work with an environmental charity as the national training officer helping schools working towards their Green Flag and I now work as a consultant, again travelling all over Scotland but this time training teachers in a maths programme.

How did it feel when your first novel was published?
Surreal! My dream had always been to see my book on the shelf of my local book shop and I couldn’t resist taking a ‘shelfie’ in front of the display to record this very special moment.

Have you ever had writer's block? If so how did you overcome it?
Yes, and for me the best way is not to force it if I’m stuck with the novel. I take a break then try to experiment by writing a piece of flash fiction as often it triggers a bigger idea that can be fleshed out and used in the novel.

What motivates you to keep writing?
I like to create stories which will hopefully entertain and interest readers.

Do your characters moods ever affect your mood and vice versa? 
No, although I feel as if I can hear them talking and can visualise them as real people they remain on the page and I can leave them there. But if I’m in an unhappy mood I’d find it difficult to write an upbeat scenario.


What are you reading at the moment?
An excellent black comedy called The Last Four Days of Paddy Buckley by Jeremy Massey about a Dublin undertaker who finds himself on the wrong side of the Irish mob.  It’s set in Dublin so it reminds me of Roddy Doyle’s books, a writer I greatly admire.

If your book was made into a film what song would you choose for the opening credits?
Girls Just Want To Have Fun by Cyndi Lauper which could be Angela and Lorraine’s theme tune.

Who would you choose to play your favourite character in the film of your book? 
The actress Barbara Rafferty from the TV show Rab C Nesbitt would be great as Senga, the gran in the story.



What is your next book about? 
Although lots of folk have asked me to write a novel following the lives of the same characters, particularly Senga, I’d like to try something very different to Talk of the Toun. I’ve done research and made notes so I’m ready to start writing a story set in a Lanarkshire town after the Scottish referendum result which also features a local historical event related to the Leningrad Siege. 

Thanks for visiting us Helen and good luck with the book.

Sincerely
Book Angel x

About the Author

Helen Mackinven
I write contemporary Scottish fiction, with a particular interest in exploring themes such as social class and identity, using black comedy and featuring Scots dialect. I graduated with merit from Stirling University with an MLitt in Creative Writing in 2012. 
My short stories have appeared in a number of anthologies and literary journals, such as Gutter magazine and one of my novels was shortlisted in a UK-wide competition by Hookline Books. My debut novel, Talk of the Toun, will be published by ThunderPoint in October 2015. 
I blog at helenmackinven.co.uk and you can find me on Twitter as @HelenMacKinven

Friday, 13 November 2015

How to Stuff Up Christmas by Rosie Blake


Eve is heartbroken after discovering her fiance is cheating on her. Being surrounded by the joys of Christmas is more than Eve can bear, so she chooses to avoid the festivities by spending Christmas alone on a houseboat in Pangbourne. Eve gets gets an unexpected seasonal surprise when handsome local vet Greg comes to her rescue one day, and continues to visit Eve's boat on a mission to transform her from Kitchen Disaster Zone to Culinary Queen.

Author: Rosie Blake
Title: How to Stuff Up Christmas
Publishers: Corvus
Publication Date: 5th November 2015
Link: Uk: Amazon   US: Amazon

My Review

Having met Rosie at Paige Toon's book launch I was really excited to read her book as she was such a lovely full of fun person and I remember what the title of this book was going to be!!

Having now read the book I was certainly not disappointed and really enjoyed it.

The story was about Eve who had found out in a very explicit way that her fiance, Liam, had cheated on her just a couple of months before Christmas. Feeling heartbroken she knew she didn't want to spend christmas with her family as it would remind her too much of the previous one when he had proposed. Much to her mother's disappointment she decides to go away and books herself onto a pottery course in the country, she can't find any reasonable accommodation so has to stay on a tiny houseboat, off she goes taking her dog Marmite with her to start a scary but exciting new adventure.

When she gets there she finds she is terrorised by a wild goose and is often caught outside in her pyjamas by a gorgeous man named Greg. When he finds her in the river with a soggy phone he takes charge and tries to help her by fixing her phone and helping her to cook but he often has to disappear and Eve feels she can't trust men after what Liam did to her especially when he lets her down on a date. Eve also feels a bit let down by her best friend Daisy as she can tell she is hiding something from her.
I loved the comfy cosy, christmassy feel to this book and found Rosie's voice very soothing and relaxing and absolutely hilarious in parts. I loved the tentative  relationship between Eve and Greg and felt she conveyed very well how hurt she had been and her need to slowly recover from that. Liam was a sod. I especially liked Eve's relationship with her sister Harriet and niece Poppy. It was nice to have the recipes for the thoughtful dishes in the book as you could have a really interactive time with it.
I really loved it and will be sure to read Rosie's other books.

Thanks to Corvus for the review copy in exchange for an honest review.

Sincerely
Book Angel x

About the Author

Rosie Blake
Rosie is an author of comic commercial fiction. She spent her university years writing pantomimes based on old classics. The 2003 production of 'The Wizard of Odd: Search for the Ruby Strippers' enjoyed critical acclaim. This was followed a year later with a successful showing of 'Harry Potter: The Musical' (complete with moving opening number, 'In my Cupboard I will Stay'). Rosie went on to write a winning short story in the La Senza/Little Black Dress Short Story Competition, features for Cosmopolitan magazine, The Lady Magazine and Stand Up Drama and then started writing books. After some false starts, and horrendous jobs that she wishes to keep a closely guarded secret (or write about in the future), her debut novel 'How to get A (Love) Life' was published by Novelicious Books in January 2014.

Rosie likes baked items, taking long walks by the river and speaking about herself in the third person.


Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Snowflakes on Silver Cove by Holly Martin




Libby Joseph is famous for her romantic Christmas stories. Every December, readers devour her books of falling in love against the magical backdrop of the Christmas season. If only Libby believed in the magic herself…

Struggling to finish her current novel, Libby turns to her best friend and neighbour George Donaldson to cheer her up. But George also needs a bit of support himself. Nervous about getting back into the dating saddle after splitting from his wife, he and Libby strike a deal. She will teach George how to win over the ladies, and Libby will in turn be inspired to inject her novel with a good dose of romance.

As Libby and George explore the beautiful White Cliff Bay on a series of romantic Christmas-themed dates, Libby finds herself having more fun than she’s had in ages and…discovers feelings that she never knew she had for George.

But is it too late? Will George win someone else’s heart or can Libby act like the heroine in one of her stories and reach for her own love under the mistletoe this Christmas?

Snuggle up with a piece of Christmas cake and mulled wine, and spend the festive season at White Cliff Bay. You won’t want to leave! Christmas at Lilac Cottage also out now see our review here.

Author: Holly Martin
Title: Snowflakes on Silver Cove
Publishers: Bookouture
Publication Date: 29th October 2015
Link: Uk: Amazon   US: Amazon

My Review

Libby Joseph is an author of romance novels who never stays in one place for very long and even though she loves White Cliff Bay she has plans to move to New York to research her new novel. Although she doesn't normally make friends she has built a very strong relationship with her now best friend George and they know everything there is to know about each other, they walk into each other's flats without knocking and have a lovely friendship. 

When a beautiful new neighbour called Giselle moves into one of the flats Libby decides to help George to ask her out on a date but because he is so nervous she agrees to go on some practice dates with him first. She is a little taken aback by how much she enjoys the dates and begins to realise she has feelings for him just as he is asked out on a date by a stunning redhead, 

Libby had almost been persuaded to stick around even just for friends sake as she had made a couple of girlfriends too, Amy and Kat had started to really mean a lot to her, Amy was in love with her boss Seb but he had promised his mother in law that he would never go with anyone else after his beloved wife died and while his mother in Law, Judith, was beginning to accept that he needed to find love she could not accept Amy whom she hated.

However when Libby sees George asking Giselle out on a date she decides to leave after all and books her flight for Christmas day.

George doesn't have long to persuade her to stay and he is a bit of a disaster area where Libby is concerned but will his lovingly planned dates persuade her to stay?

This is a hilarious series of unfortunate events which inevitably leads to a sweet Christmas love story. Some of the things that happen had me laughing out loud and only managed to make George even more endearing to Libby. I especially loved the little cross over events to Christmas at Lilac Cottage and can safely say that Holly has managed to create the perfect place to spend a snowy Christmas.  

Thanks to Bookouture and netgalley for the advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

Sincerely
Book Angel x

About the Author

Holly Martin
Holly lives in sunny Bedfordshire in a house with round windows. She studied media at university which led to a very glitzy career as a hotel receptionist followed by a even more glamorous two years working in a bank. The moment that one of her colleagues received the much coveted carriage clock for fifteen years' service was the moment when she knew she had to escape. She quit her job and returned to university to train to be a teacher. Three years later, she emerged wide eyed and terrified that she now had responsibility for the development of thirty young minds. She taught for four years and then escaped the classroom to teach history workshops, dressing up as a Viking one day and an Egyptian High Priestess the next. But the long journeys around the UK and many hours sat on the M25 gave her a lot of time to plan out her stories and she now writes full time, doing what she loves.

Holly has been writing for 6 years. She was shortlisted for the New Talent Award at the Festival of Romance. Her short story won the Sunlounger competition and was published in the Sunlounger anthology. She won the Carina Valentine's competition at the Festival of Romance 2013 with her novel The Guestbook. She was shortlisted for Best Romantic Read, Best eBook and Innovation in Romantic Fiction at the Festival of Romance 2014. 

Follow her on Twitter @hollymartin00

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Nowhere Girl by Ruth Dugdall

Probation officer, Cate Austin, has moved for a fresh start, along with her daughter Amelia, to live with her police detective boyfriend, Olivier Massard. But when she realises just how casually he is taking the disappearance of Ellie, Cate decides to investigate matters for herself. She discovers Luxembourg has a dark heart. With its geographical position, could it be the centre of a child trafficking ring? As Cate comes closer to discovering Ellie's whereabouts she uncovers a hidden world, placing herself in danger, not just from traffickers, but from a source much closer to home.

Author: Ruth Dugdall
Title: Nowhere Girl
Publishers: Legend Business
Publication Date: 31st October 2015
Links: Amazon

My Review

A Riveting read from beginning to end. I really didn't know what to expect from this book as I have never read any books by Ruth Dugdall before, however I was gripped from the first few paragraphs as soon as Ellie Scheen went missing from the fair in Luxembourg until the very end. 

Cate Austin had moved to Luxumbourg with her Police detective boyfriend Olivier and her daughter Amelia, she has left her interesting job in probation to be a lady of leisure for a while however her inquisitive mind soon kicked into action when her daughter's friend's seventeen year old sister disappeared at a local fairground. Cate can't understand why her boyfriend doesn't seem to be taking it seriously but this is partly due to the fact that Ellie has left home before to stay with a boyfriend so he automatically thinks she is a runaway and will soon be home. Until a witness says they saw Ellie's mum Bridget smack her in the fairground because she hadn't known where she was, this causes Olivier to suspect the mother and this causes a rift between him and Cate who has seen how devastated Bridget has been.

The story switches to some other characters Amina and Jodie who have been smuggled into the country from Algeria by a man called Jak. Their families think they have gone to a better life but although Amina is working in the nail bar for now, Jodie has been sent on a more sinister path and that will also be Amina's future. Amina becomes friendly with Jak and his wife's young son who is desperately ill and needs treatment but because they are illegally in the country they have to accept that he will die. Amina though so young is one of the strongest characters and she tries to think of a way to keep everybody happy.

The characters soon become entwined in a complicated situation and Ellie has to come to terms with some very disturbing news. Cate finds it hard that Olivier doesn't trust him with any of the police business and it becomes obvious that she misses her job in England. She also has to deal with some personal issues in her family that she has tried to run away from.

I found the story intriguing and although I could have had a lie in this morning I found that I woke up at the normal time and the first thing I did was reach for this book so I could finish it.

Thanks to Legend and Netgalley for the advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

Sincerely
Book Angel x

About the Author

Ruth Dugdall worked as a Probation Officer for almost a
decade in high security prisons in the Suffolk area. Now living
in Luxembourg, she is currently working at a local prison.
Ruth has years of experience working with children who
have been convicted of murder, having been based at one of
the UK’s 3 prisons that specialise in this area. Ruth’s writing is
heavily influenced by her professional background, providing
authenticity and credibility to the crime genre.
Visit Ruth at ruthdugdall.com Twitter: @RuthDugdall
Visit Legend Press at www.legendpress.co.uk
Twitter: @legend_press

Monday, 2 November 2015

A Blonde Bengali Wife by Anne Hamilton - Author Q & A


They all said that Bangladesh would be an experience ...

For Anne Hamilton, a three-month winter programme of travel and "cultural exchange" in a country where the English language, fair hair, and a rice allergy are all extremely rare was always going to be interesting, challenging, and frustrating. What they didn't tell Anne was that it would also be sunny, funny, and the start of a love affair with this unexplored area of Southeast Asia.

A Blonde Bengali Wife shows the lives beyond the poverty, monsoons, and diarrhoea of Bangladesh and charts a vibrant and fascinating place where one minute Anne is levelling a school playing field "fit for the national cricket team," and then cobbling together a sparkly outfit for a formal wedding the next. Along with Anne are the essential ingredients for survival: a travel-savvy Australian sidekick, a heaven-sent adopted family, and a short, dark, and handsome boy-next-door.

During her adventures zipping among the dusty clamour of the capital Dhaka, the longest sea beach in the world at Cox's Bazaar, the verdant Sylhet tea gardens, and the voluntary health projects of distant villages, Anne amasses a lot of friends, stories ... and even a husband?

A Blonde Bengali Wife is the ‘unexpected travelogue’ that reads like a comedy of manners to tell the other side of the story of Bangladesh.


All money earned from A Blonde Bengali Wife goes direct to the charity, Bhola's Children, of which the author and agent are active participants. A Blonde Bengali Wife isn't about Bhola but it is a tribute to Anne's journeys into Bangladesh and all the friends she has made there. Most of all, it is the story of the country that inspired Bhola's Children.

Author: Anne Hamilton
Title: A Blonde Bengali Wife
Publishers: Anne Hamilton
Publication Date: 3rd November 2015
Links: Amazon

Author Guest Post

Welcome to Sincerely Book Angels

What was the inspiration behind this book?
My very first trip to Bangladesh in 2002. I kept a diary whilst I was there as a volunteer with the Irish organisation Voluntary Service International (VSI) and initially I just expected to use the notes to write up my reflections on the experience. But I had so many stories and met so many ‘characters’ it spiralled out of control and ended up as A Blonde Bengali Wife.

Did you always want to be a writer?
In hindsight I realise that I’ve always written. I remember, aged 6, writing my first proper story at school. I retold the tale of ‘The Goose that Laid the Golden Egg’ and I’m not sure who was more surprised, me or my teacher – I hadn’t shown much interest in school work before that!

What other jobs have you had?
When I was at college I spent my holidays working as a National Express stewardess on the coach between Norwich and London; I was the one serving tea and sandwiches as we sped along the motorway. I was actually studying to be a social worker, and I worked with children and families for a long time, then moved into community health. I got a qualification in epidemiology and that’s what eventually led me to working in rural health and social projects in Bangladesh.

How did it feel when your first book was published?
Truthfully? It was something of an anti-climax. My little boy was born the very same week and, obviously, everything else went over my head for a while! The highlight was the book launch in Edinburgh; there was a huge crowd, A Blonde Bengali Wife was very well-received – and the baby slept peacefully in his car seat throughout. The excitement I do remember was getting an agent. Dinah Wiener invited me to her home; she loved the book, we clicked, and clichĂ© or not, I left walking on air. Dinah, now mostly retired, remains a great friend.

Have you ever had writer’s block? How did you overcome it?
I get stuck on different scenes or chapters sometimes, and end up deleting far more words than creating them, but luckily I’ve never had a total block where I can’t write anything. If I’m simply bored, or uninspired, I push on and get down the bare bones of what I want to say – I can come back later and edit. When I realise I’m going round and round in circles, I revert to my notebook and pen and doodle some notes – it tricks my mind into thinking I’m not writing and curiously works.

What motivates you to keep writing?
I sometimes wonder that myself. All I know is that the desire to write outweighs the desire not to – even when it’s all going wrong, when I’ve had a spate of rejections and when I doubt I have any ability, I’m still writing.

Do your characters moods ever affect your mood and vice versa?
All the time! With A Blonde Bengali Wife, the ‘characters’ are real people, of course, but writing about them – originally and in this current re-edit – never fails to lift my mood. As a travel memoir, it reminds me of some very happy days and enough time has passed for me to don rose-coloured glasses for even the frustrating and challenging times.

What three pieces of advice would you give to an aspiring writer?
Write. Stop thinking, dreaming, plotting, talking about it and get some words down on paper.
Create. Write your story and don’t worry too much about your spelling, grammar and punctuation. You can always find someone to help you with the technical aspects of writing but only you have the unique take on your story.
Enjoy. You have to love what you’re writing. If you write with passion and enthusiasm that will come through; if you are bored or insincere, you lose something… and you’ll certainly lose your readers. 

Which authors inspire you?
I spend a lot of my time mentoring writers and helping them edit their first novels. I also tutor creative writing. Because of my work – which I love – I find it very hard to read like a reader as opposed to reading like a writer (editing and correcting in my head). Any author who can pull me into a story so that I forget the language, the format, the ‘making’ of the novel, really inspires me. I appreciate so many of the classics but I can identify more easily with contemporary writers. Recently, Scarlett Thomas, Barbara Kingsolver and Patrick Gale have all captured my imagination.

What are you reading at the moment?
I’m reading and enjoying the eBook, The Infinity Pool, by Jessica Norrie.  I’m also re-reading Deborah Moggach’s These Foolish Things. This was the inspiration for the film, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, which I loved – I wanted to see if the film had in any way altered the way I read the book.

If your book was made into a film what song would you choose for the opening credits?
Adele doing a cover version of George Harrison’s Song 'Just Bangladesh.'

Who would you choose to play your favourite character in the film of your book?
Can I play myself? That would be an experience… good or bad, I’m not sure! (And more so since I’m not an actor). I recently saw an adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca at the theatre and the second Mrs de Winter was played by Imogen Sage. She would be perfect for the character I would want me made into… if that makes any sense.

What is your next book about?
I’m just revising my first novel, Chasing Elena. It’s set on Cyprus and is dual narrative: in 1974, ten year old Elena was taken from England to the war zone the island had become. Thirty years later, her childhood friend, April, goes looking for her. But April has a whole lot of other things going on in her life and what she finds on Cyprus isn’t necessarily what she expects...

Thanks for joining us today Anne and good luck with the book.

Sincerely
Book Angel x

About the Author

Anne Hamilton
Anne Hamilton wrote A Blonde Bengali Wife after she fell in love with Bangladesh on her first (of many) visits there. The travelogue inspired the charity, Bhola’s Children, and continues to support it. Before she became a full time writer, editor and tutor, Anne’s career was in social work and community health – which led to many of her earlier international travels.  Anne can never quite decide if she comes from the East of England or the West of Ireland, so she compromises by living in Scotland, with her small son; they still travel when they can. Anne has a PhD in Creative writing from the University of Glasgow, and is the editor of local online magazine, Lothian Life. She is currently revising and seeking representation for her first novel, Chasing Elena, and working on her second.

Twitter: @AnneHamilton7 and @Anne_ABBW
FB:  https://www.facebook.com/ablondebengaliwife
Blog: https://www.facebook.com/ablondebengaliwife
Website:  WriteRight Editing Services: www.annehamilton.co.uk
Magazine: www.lothianlife.co.uk and @LothianLife

What Happens at Christmas by T. A Williams - Author Q & A and a snippet from the book


The perfect holiday read, a feel-good festive romance with hot chocolate, tinsel and mistletoe by the bucket-load!
For the perfect Christmas…

When career-girl Holly Brice learns that her estranged father has died, she decides to take a trip down memory lane and find out about the man she never knew.

Arriving in the sleepy little Dartmoor village, she’s shocked to discover that she’s inherited the cosy little cottage she remembers so fondly, a whole load of money – and her father’s adorable dog, too!

Head to snow-covered Devon!


And as the first snowflakes begin to fall and Holly bumps into her gorgeous neighbour, Jack Nelson, life gets even more complicated! Men have always been off the cards for high-flying Holly, but there’s something about mysterious writer Jack that has her re-thinking her three-date rule…

Author: T. A Williams
Title: What Happens at Christmas
Publishers: Carina
Publication Date: 22nd Oct 2015
Links: Book Links
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Goodreads

Author Guest Post 

Welcome to Sincerely Book Angels

 What was the inspiration behind this novel?

When my editor at Carina UK told me she wanted me to write a “Christmas book”, I knew I wanted something set here in Devon. As for the idea for the story, it came to me while I was on a long walk on Dartmoor. I was thinking about letters I had written as a young man (before the days of emails) and that’s how it happened. Letters play an important role in What Happens at Christmas.

Did you always want to be a writer?
Yes, always. I’ve still got my very first work here in my office. The Lake Dwellers, a shameless rip off of Swallows and Amazons, written in pencil when I was about 13.

What other jobs have you had?
I spent my working life in the English language industry, first as a teacher, then director of studies and then principal of one of the best-known EFL schools in the UK.

How did it feel when your first novel was published?
It felt absolutely amazing. Even more amazing was the email I got from the publishers some months earlier telling me they wanted to publish me. I remember running to tell my wife. She was in the shower at the time and had to wipe the soap out of her eyes as she read it.

Have you ever had writer's block? If so how did you overcome it?
I usually have two or three projects bubbling away at any one time, so if things get tricky in one, I swap to another for a few hours/days and my subconscious usually sorts things out.

What motivates you to keep writing?
It’s a drug. I can’t not write. As for motivation, the answer certainly isn’t money (unless you are very, very lucky, there’s not a lot of money in writing, unless it’s ransom notes). It’s just the knowledge that there are thousands of people out there who have read and enjoyed my stuff.

Do your characters moods ever affect your mood and vice versa?
Very definitely. Normally the former. If I’m lucky, about a third of the way through writing a new book, the characters start to take on a life of their own and they sometimes head off in unexpected directions. I know that sounds crazy, because it’s me writing, but it happens. I can easily get stinging eyes when I read a scene where something sad has happened.

What three pieces of advice would you give to an aspiring writer?
Enjoy your writing. Write what you want to write. Never give up, even when the pile of rejections reaches ceiling height.

Which authors inspire you?
I’ve always loved Tom Sharpe and JP Donleavy. Some of my fellow authors at Carina UK like Annie Lyons are awesome.

What are you reading at the moment?
A book called Tregian’s Ground by Anne Cuneo. It’s the story of the life of a musician at the time of Queen Elizabeth I. I’ve always loved historical novels. My all time favourite book is probably Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantell.

If your book was made into a film what song would you choose for the opening credits?
Great question. The opening sequence would be Holly and her friend driving her old Porsche along a sinuous Dartmoor road in midwinter. Her father has just dies, so something sombre. An off the wall option might be the Winter part of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.

Who would you choose to play your favourite character in the film of your book?
Really great question. Holly is beautiful, intelligent and pretty self-sufficient. It would have to be a confident actress, maybe Anne Hathaway?

What is your next book about?
It’s about a girl setting up her own language school in the Italian Alps. It’s a love story with a difference. 

Thanks Trevor, it's been a pleasure to have you on the blog.

See below for an excerpt from the book and a chance to win a prize.

Snippet & Giveaway

She woke up at seven o’clock next morning with somebody trying to strangle her. A heavy weight was pinning her to the pillow, while a muscular arm pressed down upon her windpipe. She opened her eyes, but it was still pitch dark in the house. As the panic began to build, a long, warm tongue began to lick her cheek.

‘Oh, God, Stirling, stop that, will you. And your breath stinks. Get off this minute. Please, Stirling.’ With difficulty she managed to dislodge the dog from her throat and tip him over the edge of the bed onto the floor. He landed with a thud. Staying under the duvet, she shimmied across to the edge of the bed to check that he hadn’t hurt himself. She peered down into the dark. A large back nose appeared right in front of her and he would have licked her again if she hadn’t retreated. She lay there for another five minutes, conscious of the dog’s staring eyes, before accepting the inevitable. She pushed back the covers and climbed out of bed. Reaching for the matches, she lit the candle and looked down at the dog.

‘You’re a pain in the backside. You know that, don’t you?’ Delighted to hear her talking to him, he jumped to his feet and started wagging his tail. ‘God, it’s bloody cold.’ She pulled her jeans and jumper on over the top of her pyjamas and slipped on her warmest shoes; a gorgeous pair of Jimmy Choo ankle boots she had found in the Harvey Nicks sale last January, at less than half price. She took the candle and followed the now very excited dog downstairs into the kitchen. It was equally cold in there, so she put the candle down on the table and set about lighting the stove.
Once she had got a good fire going, she plucked up the courage to go to the loo. As she feared, the bathroom was freezing cold. She came back downstairs, went across to the window and looked out over the back garden. Dawn wouldn’t be for another hour, but it was not totally dark out there. The moon had disappeared, but there was still enough light from the stars for her to be able to distinguish shapes of bushes and trees in the garden. Closer to her, Greta the Porsche was sparkling with frost, the starlight reflecting in the host of ice crystals that covered all the horizontal surfaces. As Holly looked out, she ran her fingers across the inside of the glass. She wasn’t surprised to see them come away with a thin layer of ice on them. She went back over to the stove and packed another couple of logs into it.

‘I’d give my eye teeth for a cup of tea.’ She gazed wistfully at the electric kettle on the worktop, idly wondering to herself what eye teeth were. Stirling was standing beside his basket, unsure whether he should be gearing up for a walk or whether he would be told to go back to bed. Holly gave a little smile as she saw that he had somehow collected her father’s old jumper and brought it downstairs. A grey sleeve was hanging over the side of the basket. She stared at it for a few seconds before taking a deep breath and deciding she had better take the dog for a walk. He was delighted.

For your chance to win an ecopy of 'What Happens in Tuscany' click here

Sincerely 
Book Angel x

About the Author

Firstly, my name isn't T A. It's Trevor. I write under the androgynous name T A Williams because 65% of books are read by women. In my first book, "Dirty Minds" one of the (female) characters suggests the imbalance is due to the fact that men spend too much time getting drunk and watching football. I couldn't possibly comment. Ask my wife...
I've written all sorts: thrillers, historical novels, short stories and now I'm enjoying myself hugely writing humour and romance. Romantic comedies are what we all need from time to time. Life isn’t always very fair. It isn’t always a lot of fun, but when it is, we need to embrace it. If my books can put a smile on your face and maybe give your heartstrings a tug, then I know I’ve done my job.
I‘ve lived all over Europe, but now I live in a little village in sleepy Devon, tucked away in south west England. I love the place. That’s why you’ll find leafy lanes and thatched cottages in most of my books. Oh, yes, and a black Labrador. 
I've been writing since I was 14 and that is half a century ago. However, underneath this bald, wrinkly exterior, there beats the heart of a youngster. My wife is convinced I will never grow up. I hope she's right.

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