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Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Author Q & A Iain King - Last Prophecy of Rome


Author: Iain King
Title: Last Prophecy of Rome
Publishers: Bookouture
Publication Date: 28th Jan 2016
Link:
 
 UK: Amazon US: Amazon

Welcome to Iain King who has joined us to talk about his new book Last Prophecy of Rome


What was the inspiration behind this novel? 
The tragedy of the refugee crisis and the way it’s being exploited.  It’s one of many parallels between today’s Western world and ancient Rome - and if we don’t learn from the Roman Empire’s demise, we may go the same way. 

Did you always want to be a writer? 
Yes, but I think that to be a good writer you need to have some experiences of other things, too. 

What other jobs have you had? 
I’ve negotiated with former terrorists in several places, led research on wars and conflict, and worked for the United Nations.  I’ve also been a busker.  

How did it feel when your first novel was published? 
Like I’d spent ages pushing something really heavy, and suddenly it was rolling by itself.  I was overawed by the complete strangers who wrote such wonderful reviews for ‘Secrets of the Last Nazi,’ and when it topped kindle charts in Britain over the summer, I was overjoyed. 


Have you ever had writer's block?  
Yes.  

If so how did you overcome it? 
If it’s short-term, coffee.  If it’s long term, take a break, rest, and immerse yourself in books, film and music. 

What motivates you to keep writing? 
The mirage of the end in sight. 

Do your characters moods ever affect your mood and vice versa? 
Absolutely.  Just as method actors try to live the experiences they portray, writers can, too.  I write night scenes in the dark and happy scenes when I’m happy.  I wrote some of the refugee scenes in ‘Last Prophecy of Rome’ when I was in Libya, just after I’d met some and heard their personal tales. 

What three pieces of advice would you give to an aspiring writer? 
1 - Imagine people’s reactions to your completed book before you start writing it.

2 – Readers are won or lost in the first few pages, and so write them last and make them fantastic.

3 - Enjoy it.

Which authors inspire you? 
Authors who have inspired me through their books: Alastair Maclean, Johnathan Freedland, and Bernard Cornwall.  Authors who inspire me because of what they’ve gone through: JK Rowling, Simon Weston, and an anonymous single mother of five who writes every morning for two hours before housework and her job. 

What are you reading at the moment? 
Does reading books for my children count?  Am I allowed to admit I’m not reading anything? 

If your book was made into a film what song would you choose for the opening credits? 
‘Mars, the Bringer of War’ by Holst.  Not quite a song, I know, but it fits. 

Who would you choose to play your favourite character in the film of your book? 
For Myles Munro - the wayward military historian who stars in both my novels so far – I’d go for Cary Grant or Richard Burton.  (What do you mean, they’re both dead…?) 

What is your next book about? 
‘Secrets of the Rogue Alchemist’ will reveal how medieval alchemists made gold – and yes, it’s a method people can still use today, and I’ve seen it done…

Thanks so much Iain and good luck with the books.

Sincerely
Book Angel x

About the Author

Iain King
Iain King CBE has lectured to packed university halls across Britain. He speaks about the realities of modern war and peacebuilding, the history of ideas, and philosophy.

Iain has worked in ten conflicts and warzones, including Iraq, South Sudan, and throughout the Balkans. In Afghanistan, where he came under fire several times, he served alongside both the battalion commanders who became UK's most senior casualties, and was deployed to more frontline bases in the notorious Helmand Province than any other civilian. In 2013, he became one of the youngest people to be made a Commander of the British Empire.

It was while based in Benghazi, coordinating international civilian support during part of the 2011 Libyan war, that Iain met some of the refugees who feature so prominently in his new thriller, 'Last Prophecy of Rome'. The book begins with terrorists threatening to inflict on America the fate of ancient Rome. Could Western civilisation be destroyed by barbarians a second time...? Read 'Last Prophecy of Rome' to find out - an edge-of-your-seat thriller with some unexpected warnings from history. The book will be published on 28th January, and is now available to pre-order.

Since its release in July 2015, 'Secrets of the Last Nazi' has topped Amazon kindle charts in the UK, and become the number one new release in its thriller category in the United States. The story traces an extraordinary pursuit across Europe, as Cold War rivals hunt the secrets of former SS Captain Werner Stolz. The debut novel has won effusive reviews both as a compulsive page-turner and for the amazing secret at the heart of the tale. Readers have called it 'gripping', 'spell-binding', and 'suspenseful', and several have said it was the best book they had read for years. Bloggers have called it 'unputdownable', 'fantastic', and 'mesmerising'. A well-known American reviewer described it as 'One of the most original and carefully thought out stories that have yet to appear in print,' while a Guardian columnist claims it will 'turn everybody's ideas upside down and back to front.'

Iain has also written two non-fiction books:

'How to Make Good Decisions and Be Right All the Time' is an easy-to-understand introduction to moral philosophy, which also presents a radical new theory on ethics. Used in philosophy courses, it avoids jargon and explains complicated ideas in simple language. The book invites readers to consider some practical dilemmas and long-standing problems in moral philosophy, and offers innovative solutions.

'Peace at Any Price' chronicles the international intervention in Kosovo, explaining what worked well, what didn't and why. The Economist praised it as 'refreshing, serious and well-considered... excellent,' while the Journal of Southern Europe described it as 'one of the most perceptive accounts ever written on the practical difficulties associated with peace building in the aftermath of ethnic conflict.'

Iain also edited and wrote the opening chapter of 'Making Peace in War'. This compilation of stories from civilians who served in Helmand's frontline is both moving and compelling. It tells of absurd but very human events during the war, and offers a unique and fascinating perspective on recent events in Afghanistan.

Author Q & A Dani Atkins - Our Song



The stunning new emotional drama from ebook phenomenon Dani Atkins, author of Fractured.

This is the story of Ally and Charlotte, whose paths have intersected over the years though they've never really been close friends. Charlotte married Ally's ex and first true love, David. Fate is about to bring them together one last, dramatic time and change their lives forever.

Full of Dani's signature warmth and emotion, this is a gripping and emotional family drama. With breath-taking plot twists, Dani explores themes of serendipity, friendship and love. She fully engages the reader in the dilemmas faced by her characters. What would you do if your husband was the love of somebody else's life? And when faced with an agonising decision, could you put the past behind you and do the right thing?

Author: Dani Atkins
Title: Our Song
Publishers: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: Ebook 21st Jan 2016 Paperback 28th Jan 2016
Link: Uk: Amazon US: Amazon


We would like to welcome the fabulous Dani Atkins to Sincerely Book Angels blog to talk about her new book Our Song.

What was the inspiration behind this novel?
The first germ of an idea came as quite a disquieting thought.  I was thinking randomly about how many women (myself included) have a special place in their heart for the very first person they fell in love with.  It then occurred to me that somewhere out there, is a woman I don’t know, have never met, and probably never will, who holds my own husband in her heart.  He is her “someone”.  I then started thinking what if two women who had both loved the same man at different times in their life were to meet… what if a tragedy in both their lives brought them together on a single night…  And there you have Our Song.

Did you always want to be a writer?
I actually can’t think of a time when I haven’t wanted to be a writer.  It just took me a little longer to achieve than I had anticipated.  Even as a child I would always be scribbling away at short stories and poems.

What other jobs have you had?
For most of my life I worked in a variety of secretarial jobs in companies as diverse as a BMW car dealership to the BBC (and quite a few in between).  My secretarial skills are practically prehistoric – I learned to type on a manual typewriter, and learned good old-fashioned shorthand!  My final position was working as a Work Experience Co-ordinator in the offices of a secondary school.  I was there for twenty years, and it was quite a wrench to finally leave to become a full-time author.

How did it feel when your first novel was published?
It is an almost indescribable feeling, particularly if you have waited so long for that moment, that you have almost given up hope of it ever happening.  I think, even more than publication day, it was the day I met with my publishers and was actually given my very first copy of my book.  I can vividly remember sitting on the train journey back home, smiling like an idiot and just staring at it.  I had to resist the urge to keep telling all the other people in the carriage “I wrote this!”

Have you ever had writer's block? If so how did you overcome it?
There are days, every writer has them, when the words just won’t come – or they come out halting and stilted.  I always know when this happens because I keep stopping and changing a word or a phrase here or there, instead of just letting the story unfold.  I normally battle on, hoping that out of the pile of drivel I am producing, there might be something – anything – that can be salvaged.  Invariably, when I go back and read it all again the following day, much of it gets to magically disappear with a press of the Delete key.

That’s the funny thing about writing, you just never know when you’re going to have a brilliant day, or a totally rubbish one.  But if you walked away and chose not to write anything at all when you think you’ve hit a wall, well, then you’d never know if that was the day when something absolutely amazing would have materialised.

What motivates you to keep writing?
The pure and simple joy of telling a story and sharing it.

Do your characters’ moods ever affect your mood and vice versa?
It’s hard not to be affected by what is happening in the lives of the people you have created.  My books have all been fairly emotional stories, and my characters have had to go through some pretty harrowing experiences.  Sometimes I get to a point in a story when something dreadful is going to happen, and I desperately want to find a way of sparing my character from the pain I know I have waiting for them.  But of course I can’t.  I find it really beneficial to read what I have written each day out loud, and I frequently embarrass myself by choking up when reading the sad bits, but as the audience is only my husband, I suppose that is okay.

What three pieces of advice would you give to an aspiring writer?
Firstly – and I’ve seen this advice from a great many authors – read.  A lot.  Most of us are fairly discerning when we read, you know when something is working and also when it isn’t.  The more you read, the more you absorb about what makes an engaging story, and more importantly, what doesn’t.

The second thing is to just write.  Don’t tell yourself that “one day I am going to write a book”.  Do it.  Do it now.  It’s all too easy to allow yourself to think that you don’t have time to write, but you just need to be disciplined and determined.  I am in awe of authors who manage to produce books when they have small children running around to look after, but it can be done.  When my own children were younger I wrote in notepads in the car while they were having music or swimming lessons.  When they were babies I wrote when they napped.  I know of several authors who write on the commute to work, or during their one-hour lunch break at their desk.  Don’t set yourself impossible goals, start with just 1000 words a day (it takes a surprisingly short amount of time to achieve that).  If you do that for just one hundred days, that’s only three months, you’ll have a novel.

The third piece of advice is simple.  Don’t give up.  Keep writing and when you’re happy with it, start sending it out to literary agents.  Persistence pays off… as does hard work and a whole lot of luck.

Which authors inspire you?
My favourite author is Stephen King.  Surprisingly this is not because I particularly enjoy the horror genre and will actually skip over passages that are overtly gory.  But Stephen King is without doubt the master of suspense and storytelling and has a unique and insightful way of bringing his characters to life with such honesty and realism using just a few well-chosen sentences or dialogue.  He is a true observer of human nature.

What are you reading at the moment?
I have just started to read After You by Jojo Moyes.  I absolutely loved Me Before You and I can’t wait to reacquaint myself with the wonderful characters Jojo created.

If your book was made into a film what song would you choose for the opening credits?
Good question and I know the answer straight away, because I played this song on a continuous loop for a lot of the time while I was writing certain scenes.  It is I Got The Boy by Jana Kramer.

Who would you choose to play your favourite character in the film of your book?
I always find this question hard to answer, because I have seen these people in my head for such a long time, that no actors on either the big or small screen look quite right.  I really love hearing the suggestions put forward by readers. Some of the choices people make take me a little by surprise, because they don’t look at all the way I had imagined.  But that’s what makes this such a fun question.

What is your next book about?
My next book is going to be another emotional drama with, of course, a strong love story running through it.

Thank you so much for joining us on our blog today and good luck with the book.



Sincerely
Book Angel x

About the Author

Dani Atkins
Dani Atkins was born in London in 1958, and grew up in North London. She moved to rural Hertfordshire in 1985, where she has lived in a small village ever since with her family. Although Dani has been writing for fun all her life, Fractured was her first novel. She has since written The Story of Us.

Monday, 25 January 2016

Author Q & A with Holly Seddon - Try Not To Breathe



You won't be able to put it down.
Just remember to breathe.


Alex is sinking. Slowly but surely, she's cut herself off from everything but her one true love - drink. Until she's forced to write a piece about a coma ward, where she meets Amy.

Amy is lost. When she was fifteen, she was attacked and left for dead in a park. Her attacker was never found. Since then, she has drifted in a lonely, timeless place. She's as good as dead, but not even her doctors are sure how much she understands.

Alex and Amy grew up in the same suburbs, played the same music, flirted with the same boys. And as Alex begins to investigate the attack, she opens the door to the same danger that has left Amy in a coma...

Title:               Try Not to Breathe
Author:           Holly Seddon
Published By: Corvus
Date:               7th Jan 2016
Link:               UK: Amazon US: Amazon

Author Q & A

We are delighted to welcome Holly to our blog today to talk about her writing.
What was the inspiration behind this novel? 
I was listening to a radio programme about persistent vegetative states. The idea of people’s loved ones moving on around them, while they’re in suspended animation, was heartbreaking. I imagined a teenage girl on the cusp of adulthood, suddenly being stopped, frozen in time. From there, the story came quite quickly!

Did you always want to be a writer? 
Yes. I was always convinced I was a writer, from a very early age. It was like eating or drinking to me, it was only in my mid to late twenties that I started to accept that while I was a writer by trade (a journalist, which I enjoyed), I wasn’t a writer in the way that I had always hoped to be. I almost accepted that. And then when I was 30 I started writing Try Not to Breathe. I was kidding myself to think I’d ever stop trying.

What other jobs have you had? 
I was always a grafter! From 12 onwards I’ve almost always had a job: I worked at a dog kennel, waitressed, babysat, did telesales flogging these mad vacuum cleaners that also had extensions for dog grooming and painting a fence, worked in a call centre taking calls from drunk people buying things they’d seen on late night shopping channels, worked in events, worked in marketing, started my own music website, finally cracked my way into journalism, worked for online newspapers and magazines, worked in online communities and social media and went freelance doing a bit of everything.

How did it feel when your first novel was published? 
Too big to process. Overwhelming. Numbing. There are lots of milestones along the way, all of which I celebrated and felt completely giddy about (getting an agent, getting a publishing deal, seeing the cover, holding the proof, seeing the finished book) but the actual publication was too big. I felt numb for part of the day. When I saw it actually in the shops the next day, I welled up. And then when I did a little speech at my launch party, it fully hit me. My knees shook and I very nearly cried my eyes out in front of everyone!

Have you ever had writer's block? If so how did you overcome it? 
Not really… yet. I did pause writing Try Not to Breathe for quite a long time while there were some other big things happening but that was a decision rather than a block. But I partly try to pre-empt it by having daily and weekly word count targets and then the old grafter spirit kicks in. 

What motivates you to keep writing? 
Honestly, the fear that all this could be taken away. I write as much as I can while I can! 

Can you give us a glimpse into your writing day? 
I have some childcare twice a week, so those days are jam-packed with writing. The rest of the time I write at night, when the kids are in bed. I sleep quite badly, so if I’m awake in the night or early in the morning, I’ll often get some writing done.

Do you have a favourite place you like to write? 
The sofa. Bad for my back, but even when I have a desk it just gets covered in junk and I still lie on the sofa with my laptop. I do like the romance of writing in cafes too but the reality is often too noisy.

Do your characters moods ever affect your mood and vice versa? 
Yes, though I try not to let that happen. There is a married couple in Try Not to Breathe who bicker and snipe: Jacob and Fiona. There was one time when I’d been editing scenes with them, they were still whizzing around my head and my husband said: “you seem to be really irritable and I don’t know why” and I thought, oh crap, I am! It was residual tension from the characters and I tried to make sure that never happened again.

What three pieces of advice would you give to an aspiring writer? 
1. Just do it. Don’t overthink it. Write, plan a little, write some more.
2. Don’t make excuses. If you can find time to watch TV, you have time to write.
3. Don’t think about who you aren’t as a writer, focus on your own style and voice. Comparing yourself to others can only ever drag you down.

Which authors inspire you? 
Any and all. Even if I don’t enjoy a book, it’ll be useful or inspiring in some small way. I find it hard to read contemporary novels in similar genres while I’m writing, it messes with my head. So I’ve been going back in time and reading Agatha Christie and old mysteries by writers like C. H. B. Kitchin. 

What are you reading at the moment? 
Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith.

If your book was made into a film what song would you choose for the opening credits? 
Well, I guess ‘Try Not to Breathe’ by REM would be the obvious choice! I’d prefer something by Pulp though. Maybe ‘Do You Remember The First Time?’

Who would you choose to play your favourite character in the film of your book? 
Oh life, that’s a tough one because I don’t know who my favourite character is! I’m obviously extremely fond of Amy and Alex both, but also Jacob. Okay, I think that my favourite character of all is actually Bob and I think Ray Winstone would be awesome as Bob. Imagine!

What is your next book about? 
Childhood decisions coming to roost.

And now think about the books you've read and just give the first one that comes into your head for our quickfire 'Which book round.'

Which book has made you:

Laugh out loud?
Bossypants by Tina Fey

Cry your heart out?
Gypsy Boy by Mikey Walsh

Want to read it again?
Illywhacker by Peter Carey

Think more?
Being deadly serious, Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story by Arnold Schwarzenegger. It honestly inspired me immensely.

Wish it would be made into a film?
Death and the Penguin by Andrey Kurov would make an amazing animated film.

Shocked?
Any Other Mouth by Anneliese Mackintosh. An incredible book, I was shocked (in a good way) by the bravery and punch of the writing.

Scared?
We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Schriver. The way the suspense builds, the control she wields over the story, it’s just painfully chilling.  

Thank you do much for talking to us Holly, wishing you lots of luck with your books.
Please see below for our review.

My Review

Wow, wow, wow! This book is amazing, I read the whole thing in one day simply because I couldn't put it down.

The story starts with Alex, a freelance journalist who is writing a story about a hospital ward with patients in comas. Whilst there she realises that one of the patients is a girl called Amy who had been abducted, beaten and left for dead fifteen years ago. Alex realised that she was the same age as Amy and remembered the story when it happened. She becomes intrigued with the unsolved case and is determined to find out what really happened.

There are many elements to the story but one of the most compelling is how much Amy actually brings to Alex's life, as she has had no sense of purpose for a few years since losing her baby and husband due to her excessive use of alcohol. She is troubled and lonely but Amy's story gives her a sense of purpose and gradually the strength to prove she is good at what she does and she can finish what she started. Alex's story was in some ways as sad as Amy's and that is probably what draws her to Amy.

It was interesting to read about how Amy's situation had affected those around her, especially her boyfriend at the time, Jake, who almost loses his current relationship because of divided loyalties.

The saddest part was being able to read about Amy's thoughts and the fact that she could still hear people talking to her but was quite confused about the whole situation, I was so pleased that Alex had found her and I was very moved at the end with just one simple act from Alex which would have made such a difference to Amy.

Holly Seddon is a natural storyteller, I could almost hear her voice reading this out to me around the campfire with every word  keeping me enthralled. Her descriptive prose set up each scene clearly in my mind and her characters were strong despite their flaws. She is an amazing writer and is brilliant at building suspense, my stomach was tensed the whole way through with this gripping story.

Although it is about a traumatising event with a devastating outcome for Amy there is an uplifting light that shines through from the eventual friendship between Amy and Alex.

Simply brilliant, an outstanding cleverly written masterpiece from an awe inspiring writer. This book will stay with me for a long time.

Thanks to Corvus books for the review copy.

Sincerely
Book Angel x

About the Author

Holly Seddon
Holly Seddon was born and raised in the sleepy south-west of England and now lives slap bang in the centre of Amsterdam with her husband and four children. Throughout her 15-year career, Holly has been privileged to work in some of the UK's most exciting newsrooms.

TRY NOT TO BREATHE is her first novel, published in the UK (Corvus/Atlantic) in January 2016. Soon after, it will be available in the US (Ballantine/Penguin Random House), Germany (Heyne), Russia (Sindbad), Swiat Ksiazk (Poland), Crown (Taiwan) and Netherlands (Ambo Anthos).

Holly is currently writing her second book.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Behind Closed Doors by BA Paris



Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace. He has looks and wealth, she has charm and elegance. You might not want to like them, but you do.
You’d like to get to know Grace better.
But it’s difficult, because you realise Jack and Grace are never apart.
Some might call this true love. Others might ask why Grace never answers the phone. Or how she can never meet for coffee, even though she doesn’t work. How she can cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim. And why there are bars on one of the bedroom windows.
Sometimes, the perfect marriage is the perfect lie.


Author: B. A Paris
Title: Behind Closed Doors
Publishers: Mira
Publication Date: 11th Feb 2016
Link:
 
 UK: Amazon

My Review

One word, "Wow" this is the most fast paced psychological thriller I have ever read. The narrative races along and gives you a feeling of foreboding and absolute terror at what awaits Grace and her sister Millie who has Down's syndrome.


To all their friends Grace and Jack have the perfect life, they have a beautiful house, fancy holidays and they are completely in love with each other and everyone thinks Jack is so kind for offering to let Millie live with them but what goes on behind closed doors is another matter.

Jack is in complete control of Grace's life and he has every corner covered. Grace knows that time is running out and soon her sister finishes school and comes to live with them for good and then she knows there will be no escape. New friend Esther seems suspicious of their relationship but if Grace lets anything slip then she will be punished beyond belief and so will Millie.

This book was thrilling and scary in fact I was actually scared to go to the loo on my own and my heart was still racing for a while after I'd finished reading it. There were some lovely moments when describing the relationshipsbetween Grace and Millie. It portrayed Millie's personality very sensitively which I thought was lovely and she was a brilliant character.

A gripping thriller that will ensure you will not want to put this book down, I have never rooted so much for a murderer to come out on top. I have just watched 'Room' which was brilliant and I think this is on a par with that.

Thanks so much Mira for the review copy.

Sincerely
Book Angel x

About the Author

B.A. Paris is from a Franco/Irish background. She was brought up in England and moved to France where she spent some years working as a trader in an international bank before re-training as a teacher and setting up a language school with her husband. They still live in France and have five daughters. This is her first novel.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Redemption Song by Laura Wilkinson


If you lost everything in one night, what would you do?

Saffron is studying for a promising career in medicine until a horrific accident changes her life for ever. Needing to escape London, she moves to a small coastal town to live with her mother. Saffron hates the small town existence and feels trapped until she meets Joe, another outsider. Despite initial misgivings, they grow closer to each other as they realise they have a lot in common. Like Saffron, Joe has a complicated past … one that’s creeping up on his present. Can Joe escape his demons for long enough to live a normal life – and can Saffron reveal the truth about what really happened on that fateful night? Love is the one thing they need most, but will they – can they – risk it?
Redemption Song is a captivating, insightful look at what happens when everything goes wrong – and the process of putting the pieces back together again.

Title:               Redemption Song
Author:           Laura Wilkinson
Published By: Accent Press
Date:               28th January2016
Link:               UK: Amazon US: Amazon

My Review

My first impression of this book was that I fell in love with the beautiful cover and I thought the title was very interesting.
The book is based in a small Welsh village, the characters all started off being very subdued and with good reason. Rain, a minister in a Baptist church was still in mourning after the loss of her husband in a car accident but was trying to rebuild her life with the help of her faith and her sense of duty to the community. Her daughter Saffron not only lost her father in the accident but also her fiancé and eventually had to drop out of medical school due to depression. She and her mother were basically just existing until Joe turns up, he is a very handsome builder who is not a native of the village but something about him doesn't add up for Saffron and she is keen to discover what he is hiding. Both mother and daughter fancy him so it was interesting to see whether he would choose one of them.
I thought all of the main characters were likeable but very insular and as the story unfolds we find out why, they are all harbouring their own secrets and some have guilty confessions, when the issues are all untangled Saffron finally begins to unleash her feelings, only to have them trodden on by further revelations.
Beautifully written at a very relaxed pace with twists and turns and a good build up of tension when the secrets start to unravel. Personally I would have preferred the pace a little quicker at the beginning but the pace did increase with the tension and I did enjoy the story very much.

Thanks to Laura Wilkinson for the advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

Sincerely
Book Angel x

About the Author

Laura Wilkinson
I grew up in a Welsh market town and now live in Brighton with my husband and two boys. As well as writing fiction, I work as a mentor and editor for The Writing Coach and literary consultancy, Cornerstones.

Find out more here: http://laura-wilkinson.co.uk or follow me on Twitter: @ScorpioScribble. I love to hear from readers.


Monday, 18 January 2016

That's What Friends are for by Marcie Steele


Best friends tell each other everything… right?

Sam and Louise have been best friends since they hung their coats side by side on the first day of primary school. Now in their thirties, they’re still just as close, but life is a little bit more complicated …
Sam loves running her market stall with Louise by her side. They’re right at the heart of the community – and always one step ahead on local gossip. But Sam’s marriage is in a bit of a rut, and handsome stranger Dan has her wondering if the grass might be greener …

Louise is the life and soul of every party, but she’s hiding a broken heart, and worries about her beautiful but secretive daughter Charley. All she wants is someone to love – but could Mr Right be just around the corner?

Just when Sam and Louise need each other most, they suddenly have reason to wonder whether they ever really knew each other at all. Can the two best friends put the past behind them, and help each other find love and happiness again?

An emotional and uplifting tale of love, secrets and the importance of having a best friend.

Title:               That's What Friends Are For
Author:           Marcie Steele
Published By: Bookouture
Date:               11th December 2015
Link:               UK: Amazon US: Amazon

My Review

This book was very much about real people and real life with no sugar coating. I must say in the beginning I was slightly confused with all the characters but they did all fall into place and they were relevant to the story.
I really enjoyed the book even though some of the characters were not immediately likeable and made mistakes in their lives, it showed that there were consequences for these bad choices and I did warm to them more throughout the story. I also really enjoyed the way the author explored the relationships between different characters, there was a focus on Louise and her teenage daughter. Louise had fallen pregnant at eighteen and was determined that wouldn't happen to her daughter but made the mistake of not listening to her when she was being bullied and also failed to take responsibility when she found out that some of the bullying was because of her behaviour.
I think the book really focuses on the complexities of life and love. The peer pressure faced by teenagers, the loneliness of a single mum who can't see what's under her nose, the sad demise of a marriage and the secrets that a friend will keep to protect a friend. I loved how everyone came together to help out and showed what the true meaning of friendship is.

Huge thanks to Bookouture for the review copy in exchange for an honest review.

Sincerely
Book Angel x

About the Author

Marcie Steele
I'm Mel Sherratt but I also write under the name of Marcie Steele. I'm a romantic at heart and have always wanted to write about characters who were not necessarily involved in the darker side of life. Coffee, cakes and friends are three of my favourite things, hence Stirred with Love for my first book writing as Marcie Steele. My second, That's What Friends are For, will be published in December 2015.

As Mel, I write crime thrillers, psychological suspense and fiction with a punch - or grit-lit, as I call it. Shortlisted for the prestigious CWA (Crime Writer's Association) Dagger in Library Award 2014, my inspiration comes from authors such as Mandasue Heller, Lynda la Plante, Mandasue Heller and Elizabeth Haynes. Since 2012, all seven of my crime novels have been bestsellers, each one climbing into the kindle UK top 20 and I've had several number ones.

I live in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, with my husband and terrier, Dexter. You can find out more at my website www.melsherratt.co.uk or I'm on Twitter at @writermels


Friday, 15 January 2016

Author Q & A with Isabelle Broom



My Map of You by Isabelle Broom will be published on the 21st April 2016. Available to pre-order now.

About the Book

Holly Wright has had a difficult few years. After her mother's death, she's become expert at keeping people at a distance - including her boyfriend, Rupert.
But when Holly receives an unexpected letter explaining that an aunt she never met has left her a house on the Greek island of Zakynthos, the walls she has built begin to crumble. Arriving on the island, Holly meets the handsome Aidan and slowly begins to uncover the truth about the secret which tore her family apart.
But is the island where Holly really belongs? Or will her real life catch up with her first?

Title:     My Map of You
Author: Isabelle Broom
Published By: Penguin
Date:      April 21st 2016
Link: Amazon Available to pre-order now

Author Interview with Isabelle Broom

We are delighted to welcome the lovely Isabelle Broom to our blog today to tell us a little about her brand new book which is due to be published in April.

How did it feel when you first got the news that your book was being published? 
Thank you! To be honest, it all felt very surreal. It all happened quite quickly after the manuscript went out on submission, so I felt a bit like my head was spinning! But it was just so amazing, and it still is. I called my mum straight away and she was so happy that she cried – that was a special moment.

Your first book is called My Map of You, what was the inspiration behind this novel?
 
I always wanted to write a book set in Zakynthos, because I see the island very much as my second home and I have such a strong connection to it. Holly’s story very grew from the setting, and the island is a character in itself. My aim going forwards is always to make my various settings just as vital as the characters, because it’s so often the place that is the crux of the story. 

Did you always want to be a writer?
 
Yes! I have been writing stories for as far back as I remember. My mum has notebooks full of my ramblings. Writing, to me, is the only thing in the world better than reading. It’s a magical process. 

Apart from Book Reviews Editor at heat magazine, what other jobs have you had?

I’ve worked in many bars and restaurants over the years, but I’ve been in the media industry since leaving university. I started at a local paper, where I was a junior sub editor, then eventually joined heat and worked my way up to my current position. 

Do you feel that reviewing books for Heat magazine has helped you to gain an insight into what readers are looking for in a book? 
It’s certainly afforded me the opportunity to read a far wider range of genres, and I’m a firm believer in the more you read, the better writer you become. I think that each reader is unique when it comes to what they’re looking for in a book, so I would always approach my own work in an open-minded way. A fellow author once told me that you should aim to write the sort of books you want to read, and I’ve always held on to that. 

What is a typical day like for you at the office?
 
Well, as well as being the Book Reviews Editor at heat, I’m also the Deputy Production Editor, and so most of my day involves reading and subbing the pages of the mag. I tend to get around ten-to-fifteen books in the post every day, too, so I spend time entering new titles into the planner and working out which ones I want to review. There are always heaps of emails to be answered, too, and at lunchtimes I try to get out of the office and work on my own book. 

How do you manage to juggle writing with a full-time job? 
You just do. I mean, you really have to want to write, because it can be tricky motivating yourself when you’re exhausted, but for me it’s never been too much of an issue. I write on the bus to work, at lunchtimes, during any downtime I have and in the evenings, too. Weekends are great for nailing bigger chunks and editing what I’ve done during the week. It’s amazing how much you can get done if you just try to write a bit every single day.

Have you ever had writer's block? If so how did you overcome it?
 
Only very occasionally, to be honest, and I feel very lucky about that fact, because I know some writers do struggle with it. I usually find that a nice walk with the dog can give me the thinking time I need to push past any mental blockage.

What motivates you to keep writing?
 
There’s nothing I enjoy more, it’s as simple as that. Even if I wasn’t fortunate enough to have a book deal, I’d still be writing every day. 

Do your characters moods ever affect your mood and vice versa? 
Oh, definitely. I went through a period of horrible, debilitating heartbreak earlier this year, and I certainly harnessed those emotions and fed them back into my characters. Hopefully they have become far more real as a result. I’ve never been affected by their moods per se, but I do begin to see them as real people and when they’re crying, I’m generally crying, too.

What three pieces of advice would you give to an aspiring writer? 
1) Write. It sounds so simple, but it’s the best advice. Nobody is going to write a book for you. Try to get some words down every day.
2) Read lots of books! Every single one will enrich and inspire you, even if it doesn’t feel like it at the time.
3) Be honest. I always think the best writing comes from the heart. Don’t be afraid to share what you feel and what you’ve been through, even if you’re scared – it will add huge amounts of depth to your work.

Which authors inspire you? 
All of them. Writing a book takes passion, determination and a lot of hard work. They all deserve medals! I’m always inspired by authors who aren’t afraid to take risks and do something different and exciting. Just look at JK Rowling! She had so many rejections and never gave up. It’s hard to imagine a world without Harry Potter now, isn’t it? She’s amazing, brave and incredibly talented. 

What are you reading at the moment? 
Frazzled by Ruby Wax. It’s all about mindfulness and it’s brilliant! She’s a great writer and so witty, but almost unflinchingly honest. I’m also reading about Prague on a daily basis at the moment, as it’s the setting for my next novel.

If your book was made into a film, what song would you choose for the opening credits?
 
What an amazing question! Well, I guess I would have to opt for something Greek with a plinky-plonky guitar. Zorba The Greek? Or anything by McFly, because I love them. 
Click here for Zorba the Greek dance

Who would you choose to play your favourite character in the film of your book?

That’s easy – it would be Aidan Turner (aka Poldark) playing my Aidan. They have tallness, Irishness and handsomeness in common. Swoon… 


What do you hope readers will take away with them from your book? 
My Map Of You is very much a story about being true to who you really are and learning to accept that person. I fully believe that people are responsible for their own happiness – you can’t rely on another person to make you happy – and until you work out how to do that, you can’t be in a proper, honest relationship. I would like readers to go on the same journey as Holly, my central character, does, and stop being so hard on themselves. We are all unique and lovable, but so often we put pressures on ourselves that we never would on anyone else. Learning to be happy in your own skin is what it’s all about. 

I'm so excited to have won a competition to have a character named after me in your next book, can you tell us anything about it? 
The finer details are still secret at the moment, but I can tell you that the story will revolve around three couples that are all in very different stages of their lives and their relationships. They all come together in Prague and what happens over the course of five days changes all their lives forever.

Thanks you so much for joining us today Isabelle and wishing you lots of luck with your book which will be published in April next year. X x x

Sincerely
Book Angel x

About the Author

Isabelle Broom Author
Isabelle Broom was born in Cambridge nine days before the 1980s began and studied Media Arts at the University of West London before starting a career first in local newspapers and then as a junior sub-editor at heat magazine. She travelled through Europe during her gap year and went to live on the Greek island of Zakynthos for an unforgettable and life-shaping six months after completing her degree. Since then, she has travelled to Canada, Sri Lanka, Sicily, New York, LA, the Canary Islands, Spain and lots more of Greece, but her wanderlust was reined in when she met Max, a fluffy little Bolognese puppy desperate for a home. When she's not writing novels set in far-flung locations, Isabelle spends her time being the Book Reviews Editor at heat magazine and walking her beloved dog round the parks of north London.
You can follow her on Twitter @Isabelle_Broom or find her on Facebook under Isabelle Broom Author.



Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Try Not to Breathe by Holly Seddon



You won't be able to put it down.
Just remember to breathe.


Alex is sinking. Slowly but surely, she's cut herself off from everything but her one true love - drink. Until she's forced to write a piece about a coma ward, where she meets Amy.

Amy is lost. When she was fifteen, she was attacked and left for dead in a park. Her attacker was never found. Since then, she has drifted in a lonely, timeless place. She's as good as dead, but not even her doctors are sure how much she understands.

Alex and Amy grew up in the same suburbs, played the same music, flirted with the same boys. And as Alex begins to investigate the attack, she opens the door to the same danger that has left Amy in a coma...

Title:               Try Not to Breathe
Author:           Holly Seddon
Published By: Corvus
Date:               7th Jan 2016
Link:               UK: Amazon US: Amazon

My Review

Wow, wow, wow! This book is amazing, I read the whole thing in one day simply because I couldn't put it down.

The story starts with Alex, a freelance journalist who is writing a story about a hospital ward with patients in comas. Whilst there she realises that one of the patients is a girl called Amy who had been abducted, beaten and left for dead fifteen years ago. Alex realised that she was the same age as Amy and remembered the story when it happened. She becomes intrigued with the unsolved case and is determined to find out what really happened.

There are many elements to the story but one of the most compelling is how much Amy actually brings to Alex's life, as she has had no sense of purpose for a few years since losing her baby and husband due to her excessive use of alcohol. She is troubled and lonely but Amy's story gives her a sense of purpose and gradually the strength to prove she is good at what she does and she can finish what she started. Alex's story was in some ways as sad as Amy's and that is probably what draws her to Amy.

It was interesting to read about how Amy's situation had affected those around her, especially her boyfriend at the time, Jake, who almost loses his current relationship because of divided loyalties.

The saddest part was being able to read about Amy's thoughts and the fact that she could still hear people talking to her but was quite confused about the whole situation, I was so pleased that Alex had found her and I was very moved at the end with just one simple act from Alex which would have made such a difference to Amy.

Holly Seddon is a natural storyteller, I could almost hear her voice reading this out to me around the campfire with every word  keeping me enthralled. Her descriptive prose set up each scene clearly in my mind and her characters were strong despite their flaws. She is an amazing writer and is brilliant at building suspense, my stomach was tensed the whole way through with this gripping story.

Although it is about a traumatising event with a devastating outcome for Amy there is an uplifting light that shines through from the eventual friendship between Amy and Alex.

Simply brilliant, an outstanding cleverly written masterpiece from an awe inspiring writer. This book will stay with me for a long time.

Thanks to Corvus books for the review copy.

Sincerely
Book Angel x

About the Author

Holly Seddon
Holly Seddon was born and raised in the sleepy south-west of England and now lives slap bang in the centre of Amsterdam with her husband and four children. Throughout her 15-year career, Holly has been privileged to work in some of the UK's most exciting newsrooms.

TRY NOT TO BREATHE is her first novel, published in the UK (Corvus/Atlantic) in January 2016. Soon after, it will be available in the US (Ballantine/Penguin Random House), Germany (Heyne), Russia (Sindbad), Swiat Ksiazk (Poland), Crown (Taiwan) and Netherlands (Ambo Anthos).

Holly is currently writing her second book.

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Kitty's Countryside Dream by Christie Barlow


When Kitty inherits Bluebell Lodge from her grandmother, a farm in the beautiful Staffordshire countryside, it’s time for fresh air and a fresh start. Up to her elbows in chickens and ponies, Kitty soon realises there’s an awful lot to learn about farming. Still, at least the locals seem friendly, not least her handsome neighbour Tom…

Title:               Kitty's Countryside Dream
Author:           Christie Barlow
Published By: Bookouture
Date:               25th Feb 2016
Link:               UK: Amazon US: Amazon

My Review

This book was delightful and I thoroughly enjoyed it from beginning to end. Kitty had been caring for her mum until she sadly passed away and feeling very lost she was surprised to receive a Solicitors letter which explained that her Grandma had also died and left her a flat to live in and a farm called Bluebell Lodge. I say surprised but she was actually extremely shocked as she didn't know that her Gran had still been living. This becomes the first of many secrets which she would need to get to the bottom of.
Kitty decides that it would be good for her to have a fresh start so moves miles away from her home into the cosy flat. She cycles to Bluebell Lodge and is more than a little surprised to meet the unusual residents there that she will be looking after.
After falling off her bike she is rescued by the manager, Tom Drew, who is rather hunky, she fancies him immediately but then feels she has no chance compared to his beautiful assistant Jeannie. Tom and Jeannie show her the ropes and she is happy to make friends as she had been so lonely before.

However she soon feels as though all is not what it seems with her new friends, she is sure she can see Tom's curtains twitching when he says no one is there and she feels like she is being drawn into betraying Jeannie which makes her feel unhappy.
She soon begins to unravel the strands of secrets which have been tightly wound to hide a past in which decisions were made to protect her but would ultimately cause her hurt.

I felt as thought the book was happily plodding along with a lovely story and all of a sudden everything was turned on it's head for poor Kitty who had already been through so much. A mixture of secrets from the past and misunderstandings from the present are entwined together with lots of funny moments to make this a delight to read which I would highly recommend.

My thanks go to Bookouture for the review copy in exchange for an honest review.

If you would like to read my review of Christie's other books please click Misadventures of a Playground Mother

Sincerely
Book Angel x

About the Author


Christie Barlow is the author of A Year in the Life of a Playground Mother, The Misadventures of a Playground Mother and Kitty's Countryside Dream. She lives in Staffordshire with her husband, four kids, horses, chickens and a mad cocker spaniel. Her writing career came as somewhat a surprise when she decided to write a book to teach her children a valuable life lesson and show them that they are capable of achieving their dreams. She is a Mum who wrote a book to prove to her children whatever you want to do in life go for it. The book she wrote to prove a point is now an Amazon #1 bestseller in the UK and USA.

Christie loves to hear from her readers and you can get in touch via her website www.christiebarlow.com Twitter @ChristieJBarlow and Facebook page Christie Barlow author
Christie Barlow is the author of A Year in the Life of a Playground Mother, The Misadventures of a Playground Mother and Kitty's Countryside Dream. She lives in Staffordshire with her husband, four kids, horses, chickens and a mad cocker spaniel. Her writing career came as somewhat a surprise when she decided to write a book to teach her children a valuable life lesson and show them that they are capable of achieving their dreams. She is a Mum who wrote a book to prove to her children whatever you want to do in life go for it. The book she wrote to prove a point is now an Amazon #1 bestseller in the UK and USA.

Christie loves to hear from her readers and you can get in touch via her website www.christiebarlow.com Twitter @ChristieJBarlow and Facebook page Christie Barlow author

Monday, 11 January 2016

Author Q & A with Robert Bryndza - The Girl in the Ice


The Girl in the Ice: A gripping serial killer thriller
      (Detective Erika Foster crime thriller novel Book 1)



Title:               The Girl in the Ice
Author:           Robert Bryndza
Published By: Bookouture
Date:               12th Feb 2016
Link:               UK: Amazon                                                                                                                         

                                                                                                                               

Welcome to Sincerely Book Angels blog. 
Thank you for having me here today.

What was the inspiration behind The Girl in the Ice?  
I had the idea, several years ago when I was listening to the Kate Bush album 50 Words For Snow. It’s a very hypnotic and evocative album and captures the loneliness and beauty of snow and ice in winter. An image came into my mind of standing on a frozen lake, scraping away the snow and seeing a girls face staring back at me from underneath the ice.

Did you always want to be a writer?  
Yes, although I took a ten-year detour, going to Drama school and then working as an actor through my twenties.

What other jobs have you had?  
I’ve been an actor, a pensions advisor, a PA, a Clown at children’s parties, I’ve peeled potatoes in a chip shop, worked on the cheese counter in Somerfield, been a waiter in several restaurants, a barman… all good research for being a writer!

How did it feel when your first novel was published? 
I had a bit of a strange first publishing experience. I live in Slovakia with my Slovak husband Ján, and he is also the Slovak language translator for my books. My first book ever published was sold to a publishing house in Slovakia, and I still remember the feeling when we went to the warehouse and saw a giant pallet of the books. Thrilled and excited.

Have you ever had writer's block? If so how did you overcome it? 
I don't know if writer's block exists. Unless you physically can't write, you will always be able to put pen to paper and write something. I've found a great exercise for me, when the ideas aren't flowing, is to just write anything, even if it's the same word over and over - a stream of consciousness if you like. It's very liberating and often some really interesting unexpected stuff can come out of it.

What motivates you to keep writing? 
It’s split equally between the love of writing, and the need to pay the mortgage.

Do your characters moods ever affect your mood and vice versa?  
My characters moods don’t affect me, but one thing I have noticed is the difference between writing comedy and drama. Comedy is exhausting; it leaves bad tempered and a bit of a nervous wreck. Writing drama, in comparison isn’t any easier, but I do feel lighter and happier after a long day at the keyboard killing people and causing mayhem.

What three pieces of advice would you give to an aspiring writer? 
Read widely, write every day, and don’t give up.

Which authors inspire you? 
Stephen King and Sue Townsend.

What are you reading at the moment? 
The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King

If your book was made into a film what song would you choose for the opening credits? 
If one of my books were made into a film, I would steer well clear and let them get on with it. Authors should steer well clear when their books are made into films!

Who would you choose to play your favourite character in the film of your book?  
I’m hoping that one day my Coco Pinchard makes it to film, and hopefully, if it’s soon, I would love Kate Winslet to play her. For The Girl In The Ice, I would love Kristen Wiig to play DCI Erika Foster.

What is your next book about?  
My next book is The Girl In The Ice, a crime thriller and I’ve taken this from the product description;

When a young boy discovers the body of a woman beneath a thick sheet of ice in a South London park, DCI Erika Foster is called in to lead the murder investigation.

The victim, a beautiful young socialite, appeared to have the perfect life. Yet when Erika begins to dig deeper, she starts to connect the dots between the murder and the killings of three prostitutes, all found strangled, hands bound and dumped in water around London. What dark secrets is the girl in the ice hiding?

Thank you so much for joining us on our blog today and good luck with the book. 
Thanks for having me, it’s been great to talk to you. 

Sincerely
Book Angel x


About the Author

Robert Bryndza
Originally from the UK, Rob lives in Slovakia with his Slovak husband and their two crazy dogs. He originally trained as an actor, but was bitten by the writing bug in his mid-twenties and hasn't looked back.

His debut novel, The Not So Secret Emails of Coco Pinchard became an Amazon bestseller, and has grown to a best selling series of five books.

In addition to his recent number one romantic comedy Miss Wrong and Mr Right, Rob is excited to embrace the darker side of life, and has just signed a three-book deal with Bookouture to write a crime thriller series. The first book, The Girl In The Ice will be released in Spring 2016.

You can find out more about Rob at www.robertbryndza.com

Sign up to Robert's New Release Mailing List here: http://eepurl.com/UITxz

(Simply cut-and-paste that address into your browser. Your email will never be shared and you will only be contacted when a new book is out.)