Sunday, 27 November 2016

Blog Tour: Second Helpings by Kristen Bailey

Today I'm welcoming the delightful Kirsten Bailey onto the blog, where she talks about friends. I had the pleasure of meeting Kirsten recently at Jackie Kabler's book launch, and felt an immediate kinship with her as she too was mad enough to have four children. Unlike me, Kirsten has actually finished and published two novels. Second Helpings is the sequel to Kirsten's first novel, Souper Mum.

The Blurb
Exactly eighteen months after her dramatic cook-off against nemesis Tommy McCoy, Jools Campbell's down-to-earth approach to cooking and family life has won her many fans. But when the roof of her house caves in she is desperate for cash and finds herself agreeing to be a judge on a kids' cooking show called Little Chefs.
She is soon horrified to find that her co-star and fellow judge is none other than Tommy McCoy, on a mission to save his reputation. The audience loves the abrasive chemistry between Jools and McCoy whose style involves making the child-contestants cry and soon the show is hugely popular.
Behind the scenes, Jools is juggling all the relationships in her life with being a working mum. Will she succeed? Will she ever work out what quinoa is? Can she deal with Second Helpings of McCoy and the all too familiar media intrusion into her life?
Author Guest Post: Kristen Bailey
My seven-year-old daughter is currently obsessed with the idea of best friends. Every day, she returns home from school relaying to me the intricacies of the playground hierarchy, how friends have been won and lost over games of ‘It’, who’s not inviting who to the next party. ‘Who is your best friend?’ she always asks me. I always reply with my stock answer. ‘You.’ She always gives me a look. ‘Well, that’s a bit sad, isn’t it?’ I should also mention she’s also a bit of a smart arse, my seven-year-old.

What do I know about friends? I know plenty about the TV show but I think modern life makes the definition of ‘friend’ all the more harder to understand. You can go on Facebook and have hundreds of the things...anyone from your neighbour five doors down to your aunt Betsy who ‘likes’ all your photos and only posts memes about cats.

It was a topic I, therefore, really wanted to examine in Second Helpings, the next instalment in the adventures of Jools Campbell, my Souper Mum. I wanted to get to know all the people in the periphery of Jools’ life, and chart how all these acquaintances whether old or new fit into her every day. Who are her friends? What is a friend? If Jools were to have a best friend, it would probably be Annie, the faithful university mate who steered her through difficult times and has stayed by the Campbells’ side ever since. But how else do friends come into your life? As Jools finds out, you meet people constantly; through the school gate, through work, and part of the adventure suddenly becomes working out how you define all these individuals, how you juggle all these relationships and realise their importance. In Second Helpings, Jools will get a second education about cliques, gossips, backstabbers and flakes but she will also find awesome people along the way: friends to keep, friends in the strangest of places...

She will also come to realise that friends come in many forms, shapes and guises. Siblings who’ve never let her down, spouses who know her inside out, parents who are just always there, sassy daughters (sound familiar?) – these relationships are built on love, blood, legal obligation but always a healthy sense of camaraderie too. They nourish, keep her afloat and make her the souper mum that she is...

Second Helpings is the sequel to Souper Mum and the concluding part of Jools’ adventures. It’s been a great joy to map her journey out, create all these characters, and pay tribute to the community of people who surround any one mother. As such, it feels I’m also bidding farewell to a good mate myself: Jools Campbell my fellow souper mum, writing companion, and the five years we’ve come to know each other, you’ve turned into a BFF of sorts. Just don’t tell my daughter I told you that...

Thank you Kristen for a fabulous guest post!

You can buy Kirsten's books here:

Souper Mum - Amazon, Waterstones

Second Helpings - Amazon, Waterstones

Publisher: Accent Press

About the author:

Mother-of-four, gin-drinker, binge-watcher, receipt hoarder, hapless dog owner, enthusiastic but terrible cook. Kristen lives in Fleet, Hampshire in a house overrun by Lego and odd socks. Her debut novel, Souper Mum was released by Accent Press in June and its sequel, Second Helpings was released on 17th November. 

Author links:

She writes a blog about being a modern mother. That and more can be found at:

You can also find her on Twitter/Instagram: @baileyforce6

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Blog Tour: Beneath the Ashes by Jane Isaac

The Blurb
The floor felt hard beneath her face. Nancy opened her eyes. Blinked several times. A pain seared through her head. She could feel fluid. No. She was lying in fluid.
When a body is discovered in a burnt-out barn in the Warwickshire countryside, DI Will Jackman is called to investigate.
Nancy Faraday wakes up on the kitchen floor. The house has been broken into and her boyfriend is missing. As the case unravels, DI Jackman realises that nothing is quite as it appears and everyone, it seems, has a secret.
Can he discover the truth behind the body in the fire, and track down the killer before Nancy becomes the next victim?
A gripping thriller perfect for fans of Gillian Flynn, S.J. Watson, B A Paris and Sophie Hannah.
My Review

Thank you to the author and Legend Press for the proof copy sent in exchange for an honest review.

This is the second in the DI Will Jackman Crime series. I haven't read the first, but this works well as a standalone novel as I think we're filled in with any details we need to know.

DI Jackman is called to deal with a double crime - a woman has been attacked and there is a corpse in a burnt-out barn. But nothing is what it seems.

Nancy, the victim of the attack, finds her world turned upside down. Her boyfriend turns out to be someone else, and she finds herself being followed and intimidated. But is her aggressor linked to the crime or is it something different?

Unfortunately I had to read this book over several days, and I found myself unable to follow the plot particularly easily, and I lost track of some of the numerous characters and the roles they played in the story.

However I very much liked the character of Will Jackman. For once, we have a detective who is not an alcoholic/screwed up/hasn't got a psychotic personality himself. Will is a very likeable character, well-adjusted despite his private life, which is difficult for reasons beyond his control. It is nice to see a policeman who has a great relationship with his daughter. All too often we see these characters as down-trodden, world-weary people who mess up in their personal lives in their bid to catch the bad guy.

It was also nice to learn more about the victim of the story, Nancy. It turns out she didn't know her boyfriend very well at all, and her relationship with her mother is strained to say the least. But she has good friends around her.

This book will appeal to many who enjoy crime novels, and in fact I should probably reread it so I get to know the other characters better.

Beneath the Ashes was published on 1st November by @LegendPress and is available from Amazon, Waterstones, and other retailers.

About the Author

Jane Isaac lives with her husband, daughter and dog, Bollo, in rural Northamptonshire.
Her first novel, An Unfamiliar Murder, was published in the US in 2012 and was nominated as best mystery in the ‘eFestival of Words Best of the Independent eBook awards 2013’. Jane is also the author of The Truth Will Out, Before It's Too Late and Beneath the Ashes, published in the UK by Legend Press. The Truth Will Out, was selected ‘Crime Thriller of the Month by and ‘Noveltunity Book Club Winning Selection’.

Jane’s next novel The Lies Within - the third in the DI Will Jackman series - will be published by Legend Press on 2nd May 2017.

Follow Jane on Twitter @JaneIsaacAuthor

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Book Review: A Year and a Day by Isabelle Broom

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the advanced reading copy.

The Blurb:
Welcome to a city where wishes are everywhere.
For Megan, a winter escape to Prague with her friend Ollie is a chance to find some inspiration for her upcoming photography exhibition. But she's determined to keep their friendship from becoming anything more. Because if Megan lets Ollie find out about her past, she risks losing everything - and she won't let that happen again . . .
For Hope, the trip is a surprise treat from Charlie, her new partner. But she's struggling to enjoy the beauty of the city when she knows how angry her daughter is back home. And that it's all her fault . . .
For Sophie, the city has always been a magical place. This time she can't stop counting down the moments until her boyfriend Robin joins her. But in historic Prague you can never escape the past . . .
Three different women.
Three intertwining love stories.
One unforgettable, timeless city.

My Review:

After the beautiful debut, My Map of You, Isabelle's second novel, A Year and a Day, is another delight to read.

It is a story full of vivid descriptions of the surrounding area, proof that the author has well-researched her destination, and her love of the city of Prague is evident on the pages. Often I find that too much descriptive language in a story can slow the pace right down, but Isabelle has it perfect here. It doesn't affect the pace at all, and is vital to the gentle narrative of our three heroines and their partners.

The three main relationships in the story are under the spotlight; vulnerable Sophie, waiting for her fiance Robin to join her in the city which means so much to them; Hope, whose new relationship with Charlie is threatened by Hope's feelings of guilt; and Megan and Ollie, who could be so much more than best friends if Megan would get over her own issues.

Despite the snow lying on the streets, there is lots of warmth and comfort in this book, and I found myself immersed in the story, smelling and almost tasting the goulash and strudel and hot mulled wine. Isabelle has not only written a lovely tale of romance, but she has sold Prague as a weekend break way better than any travel agent!

I'm off to book my ticket right now!

A Year and a Day is available from November 17th and can be pre-ordered here (other retailers are available!) 

About the 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 sub editor at heat magazine. Nowadays, when she’s not writing novels set in far-flung locations, Isabelle spends her time being the Book Reviews Editor at heat and walking her beloved dog Max round the parks of north London. Oh, and she does a lot of laughing, too. Her debut novel My Map Of You, published by Penguin Michael Joseph, is out now, and her second book, A Year And A Day, will follow in November.

If you like pictures of dogs, chatter about books and very bad jokes, you can follow her on Twitter @Isabelle_Broom or find her on Facebook under Isabelle Broom Author.

Friday, 11 November 2016

Blog Tour: It's Not You, It's Them by Portia MacIntosh

An irresistible, feel-good romance, perfect for fans of Rosie Blake, Sophie Kinsella and Lindsey Kelk.
First comes love. Then comes family…
After a lifetime of kissing frogs, Roxie Pratt has given up on finding her own fairytale romance. That is, until she meets her very own Prince Charming, Mark Wright, and he sweeps Roxie off her feet!
So when Mark finally gets down on one knee and pops the question, there’s only one thing left to do: meet the family! And when everything has been picture-perfect so far, what could possibly go wrong…?

It's Not You, It's Me starts off with a road trip. Here's Portia's advice for a successful journey!

Things you need consider before a road trip.
I have been on a lot of road trips this year, so when I was writing It’s Not You, It’s Them – a story which starts with a long car journey – I knew exactly what my characters were going through.

First up, you’ll need supplies. Not just food and water, but things like tissues too. I recently read a list of foods that you shouldn’t eat on car journeys, and it excluded everything awesome. I like to take sweets, water and make stops for warm drinks when I can… the only problem there is that with more drinks comes more bathroom breaks. If you think you need to pee when you see a sign for services in 2 miles, go, because I guarantee as soon as you pass it and see that the next services are 12 miles away; that is much longer to hold it.

You need to make sure you’re a good navigator, if that’s your job. Satnavs are great, but they can be just as stressful as maps. Whether you’re the driver or the passenger, make sure you know which way you’re supposed to be going.

Another thing to consider is that things are going to get pretty boring, pretty quickly. If you’re in charge of the music, play something that everyone likes – and make sure it suits the mood. If your driver is stressed, put soothing music on, but if your driver is feeling a little tired, lively music is best – although remember to take regular breaks.

One of the best ways to cure boredom is to play games. If I Spy is a little too childhood for you, then maybe you could play one of the games in It’s Not You, It’s Them. Would You Rather is a game where you give a player two choices, and they have to pick which one they would prefer, for example: would you rather live in a house decorated by a Star Wars fanatic for the rest of your life, or give your baby the middle name Yoda? Kiss, Marry, Kill and Truth or Dare are other great car games – although that latter can cause trouble, so play wisely.

Wherever you’re going, make sure you’re wrapped up warm if it’s cold, and dress in cool clothing if it’s warm. And wherever you end up, have an awesome time!

It's Not You, It's Them was published on 4th November by Harper Collins

Author Info:
Portia MacIntosh has been 'making stuff up' for as long as she can remember - or so she says. Whether it was blaming her siblings for that broken vase when she was growing up, blagging her way backstage during her rock chick phase or, most recently, whatever justification she can fabricate to explain away those lunchtime cocktails, Portia just loves telling tales. After years working as a music journalist, Portia decided it was time to use her powers for good and started writing novels. Taking inspiration from her experiences on tour with bands, the real struggle of dating in your twenties and just trying to survive as an adult human female generally, Portia writes about what it's really like for women who don't find this life stuff as easy as it seems.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Book Links: Amazon | Amazon UK | B&N | Google Play | Goodreads