The Unfinished Symphony of You and Me by Lucy Robinson

          Published by Penguin in June 2014

Sally is a woman of many (hidden) talents.

She’s been working as a wardrobe mistress at the Royal Opera House, not telling a soul she’s a damn good singer. But then, she’s only been able to sing if she’s shut inside her wardrobe, where she’s safe.

But she’s made a promise to her cousin Fiona that she would audition for Opera School and, for complicated reasons, she can’t get out of it – even though she’d rather claw her eyes out than sing in public.

Sally has a lot to learn, but will she figure out that stage fright is about more than forgetting the words?

And that perhaps her real problems lie very much closer to home?”

MY REVIEW

Firstly I’d like to thank the publishers for sending me this book to read and share my honest opinion. I’ve enjoyed other books by Lucy Robinson (reviews here) so I couldn’t wait to get started.

Right from the beginning I was hit by Lucy’s familiar humour and drawn in by some very vivid characters. I could tell that reading this book was going to be quite a ride! The comedy continued throughout the book and I must admit that it was my kind of humour. The writing style had a certain bluntness to it which simply made me laugh and I do love a book that makes me laugh out loud while I’m reading.

The opera side of the storyline was actually quite fascinating for me, I knew nothing about opera before reading this book and, while it certainly didn’t make me an expert, I do feel like I learned a few things about the world of opera.

There was an intense mystery surrounding Sally’s trip to New York and what had happened there. I came up with a few predictions as to what the big drama was (all of which were wrong) but in the end it all became too much for me and I found myself screaming (in my head of course because little one was asleep) WHAT HAPPENED IN NEW YORK??? There were snippets of information along the way but then just as I thought I was about to find out, I was whisked back to the present day – Lucy Robinson you certainly know how to tease your readers!

I mentioned that the characters were vivid – the most vivid of them all were Barry and Jan, let me tell you why…

  • Barry was just epic! I could picture him so clearly stood there talking to Sally and calling her ‘chicken’. His massive personality really jumped off the page and made me smile every time he spoke.
  • Jan was equally as epic (are we all picturing the epic strut right now? Because we should be)! I could almost hear his accented words whispering through the pages at me. He came out with the most entertaining sentences I think I’ve ever read in a book – “will you be dying in this moment” was one of my favourites.

That big mystery I told you about? Well, towards the end I started to get an inkling of what had happened because each piece of the puzzle had gradually begun to fit together. At that point I couldn’t help but think back to the story I’d just read and look at it with a completely different viewpoint, one that was far more emotional than I’d expected.

This was a cracking read, a laugh-out-loud sort of book that was sprinkled with some very emotional scenes.

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Book News – Quintessentially Yours by Linn B Halton

I am thrilled to be able to share with you today the fantastic cover that has just been released for Quintessentially Yours by Linn B Halton…

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Gorgeous isn’t it, I really love the colour combination!

Quintessentially Yours is the sequel to Under The Stars (my review of this can be found here) although it can also be read as a standalone novel. It’s due to be released next week on 5 August 2015, I already have it on my ‘to read’ list so keep an eye out for my review.

LINN

So, now you’ve seen the cover and you know when it’s going to be released, why not find out what it’s all about:

“Katherine Dale lives her life according to her daily horoscope forecast. Having recently hit forty, Katherine is living with her partner, James Kingman, and their delightful little six-month-old daughter, Leyla. James is an up-and-coming name in astrology and that’s how they met. At a party to celebrate the publication of Katherine’s first novel, James was about to propose when Katherine announced the news that she was expecting a baby. ‘Ask me later, when I can fit into my dream dress’ she’d told him.

Wind forward thirteen months and while there is an engagement ring on Katherine’s finger, James still can’t mention the ‘m’ word. Leyla suffers from colic and won’t settle into any semblance of a routine. The lack of sleep is taking its toll on them all. James is at his wits’ end trying to cope with his increasing workload, while handling a hormonal woman who feels like an abject failure. And then there’s his boss, who has designs – on him!

With feline help from No. 4, plus a little timely advice from old postman Tom and neighbour Ed, can James and Katherine’s love for each other survive all of the challenges that life is throwing at them? Will there ever be time to plan that dream wedding?”

And how about some information about the author:

Bristol-born Linn B. Halton lives in the small village of Lydbrook, which nestles on the edge of the Forest of Dean, in the UK. She resides there with her husband and feline with ‘catitude’- Mr Tiggs.

Linn began writing in March 2009 and her debut novel was published in February 2011. In a recent interview Linn was asked about genres:

“From a very young age I knew romantic fiction was always going to be my genre. I am, and will always be, madly in love with love! Whether that’s love of life, a partner, or the things I’m passionate about.

My stories are about love, life and real relationships – but romance is always the one thing that holds each story together. Often there’s a light, psychic touch and I never dreamed I would write drawing upon my personal psychic experiences. But as my interest and understanding in the subject has grown, it is now such a part of my life that it finds its way into my fictional tales. However, what is heartening is that most of my experiences have been uplifting and it’s wonderful to know loved ones are around me always. I hope it will make readers stop and wonder ‘What if?’

The result is that I get a lot of mail from readers who have had similar experiences and some are sharing theirs for the first time with me. I always feel that’s something rather special and for which I’m very grateful.”

Love, life and beyond… but it’s ALWAYS about the romance!

Linn is published by Choc Lit, HarperImpulse, Endeavour Press and Sapphire Star Publishing.

Linn is also the managing editor of Loveahappyending Lifestyle emagazine.

LINKS

Website/Blog | Twitter | FacebookLoveahappyending Lifestyle emagazineLinn’s Books on Amazon

Author Interview With Katrina Mountfort

Today I’m delighted to welcome Katrina Mountfort to Me, My Books and I.

PROFILE PHOTO 1

Katrina was born in Leeds. After a degree in Biochemistry and a PhD in Food Science, she started work as a civil service scientist. Since then, she’s had a varied career. Her philosophy of life is that we only regret the things we don’t try, and she’s been a homeopath, performed forensic science research and currently works as a freelance medical writer. She now lives in Saffron Walden, Essex, with her husband and two dogs, but is a Yorkshire girl at heart and hopes to return there one day. When she hit forty, she decided it was time to fulfil her childhood dream of writing a novel. Ten years later, Future Perfect, her first novel, was published by Elsewhen Press. Future Perfect is the first of a trilogy; part 2, Forbidden Alliance, is due for release on 4th September 2015. When she’s not writing, she enjoys music festivals, walking, travel, and curling up with a book and a glass of wine.

To find out more:

Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Elsewhen Press

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Hi Katrina,

Where did the idea for Future Perfect come from?

I had the idea around ten years ago when I first heard about men waxing off their body hair. At the same time, waif-like supermodels were plastered over every magazine and it occurred to me that if this trend continued, in a hundred year’s time, men and women would be almost indistinguishable.

Who designed the cover and why did you go for that particular design?

Alison Buck from Elsewhen Press, my publisher. I was delighted with the design, which portrays the Citidome and outdoor communities. I particularly love the representation of a dome meeting the branch of a tree. I would have never chosen a monochrome cover but it’s so striking and helps convey the stark, sterile nature of this future world.

Which of your characters would you like to meet in person and why?

Ooh, that’s an interesting question. I’d like to feast my eyes on Mac; to me he was a model of male perfection. But I’d like to meet Jem, give him a hug and say, ‘It’s okay not to be BodyPerfect.’

What do you hope readers will learn from Future Perfect?

That beauty is an artificial concept created by society. It’s upsetting to see young people become obsessed with body image from an early age. I grew up in the seventies, when everyone permed their hair and it was so unfashionable to be skinny that you could buy a supplement called Wate On. Also that it’s far more important to have a handful of genuine friends then hundreds of social media ‘friends’ or followers. But I’ll get off my soapbox now as this is a subject I could talk about all day.

What makes it stand out from the crowd?

Because it doesn’t sit firmly within one genre; in fact my husband says I’ve created a new genre: chi-fi. It follows in the tradition of novels like Nineteen Eighty Four and Brave New World but has at its heart themes that young women can relate to. It’s a story of love and self discovery in a society where both are forbidden.

Do you follow a plan when you are writing or do you let the story guide you?

There’s a loose plan and usually at about 30,000 words in, I draft a more detailed chapter plan. If you introduce a plot twist at a late stage you run into all sorts of problems with continuity. But when I’m in the flow it’s as if the characters have a life of their own and they sometimes end up doing something I wasn’t expecting!

Do you have any writing quirks?

Not quirks as such but I like to have a dog in the room – I have two black Labradors and the bigger one likes to sit under the desk, which is comforting but makes my writing space very cramped.

Who are your favourite authors and do you think they have influenced your own writing in any way?

I love David Nichols and Jojo Moyes as they create characters that immediately engage the reader. But my strongest early influence was Emily Bronte. Even though I now see Wuthering Heights as flawed, there was something magical about that forbidden love that’s influenced most things I’ve written since.

If you could travel anywhere in the world to do research for a book where would it be?

I’ve started to write a novel based on a road trip in the US and would love to spend 6 months out there to research it properly.

FUN QUESTIONS

Paperback or eBook? 

eBooks for convenience, but if I love a book, I have to own a paperback copy.

Snow or sun? 

Snow – there’s something magical about the fact that every snowflake is unique. One of the most joyous scenes to write in Future Perfect was when Caia encounters snow for the first time.

Sweet or savoury?

Savoury. I could live without cake but not cheese.

Listener or talker? 

Listener mostly, but after a few drinks I talk too much.

Dogs or cats?

Always dogs

Any last words for your readers?

One of the most rewarding aspects of becoming a writer has been engaging with my readers, so please feel free to contact me via my website. And stop trying to fit in when you were born to stand out.

Thank you so much for being here today, it was a pleasure to have you on my blog. I particularly enjoyed reading about where you got the idea for Future Perfect!

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Now check out the book:

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“In Future Perfect, the population live comfortable lives within Citidomes.

The BodyPerfect cult encourages a tall thin androgynous appearance, and looks are everything. But this is a culture of ‘look but don’t touch.’ Attraction and relationships are forbidden. Caia, a young Ministry scientist, is shocked to find herself becoming attracted to her co-worker, Mac, a rebel whose questioning of their so-called utopian society encourages her own questioning of the status quo.

As Mac introduces her to illegal and subversive information she is drawn into a forbidden, dangerous world. In a society where every thought and action are controlled, informers are everywhere; whom can she trust?

When she and Mac are sent on an outdoor research mission, Caia’s life changes irreversibly.”

Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.com

 

Savage Drift by Emmy Laybourne

8F290BF2-0AA1-4B22-81CB-D63592464E46

Dean, Alex, and the other survivors of the Monument 14 have escaped the disaster zone and made it to the safety of a Canadian refugee camp. Some of the kids have even been reunited with their families and are making tentative plans for the future. Then, Niko learns that his lost love, Josie, has survived …
For Josie, separated from the group and presumed dead, life has gone from bad to worse. Trapped in a terrible prison camp with other exposed O blood types and traumatized by her experiences,she has given up all hope of rescue.
Meanwhile, scared by the government’s unusual interest in her pregnancy, Astrid – along with her two protectors, Dean and Jake – flees the camp to join Niko on his desperate quest to be reunited with Josie.
In a stunningly fierce conclusion to the Monument 14 trilogy, author Emmy Laybourne ups the stakes even more for a group of kids who have already survived the unthinkable. Can they do so one last time?”

MY REVIEW

Firstly I’d like to thank the publishers for sending me this book to read and share my honest opinion. This is the final book in the Monument 14 trilogy (you can read my previous reviews here). I was looking forward to immersing myself in this dangerous and damaged world once more but I was also looking forward to finding out if the characters would find happiness – I do like a happy ending!

This author always seems to have a clever way of reminding you what happened previously, this time it was in the form of a letter to the editor of a newspaper.

Once again, desperation and hopelessness were the initial feelings I got from the storyline. I couldn’t even begin to figure out what was in store for these characters who I had taken to heart throughout the trilogy. Each of them attempted to survive in a world that was in utter turmoil and the atmosphere as they did this was extremely tense. Their survival instincts were amazing and as I thought back to what each of them were like in the first book I could see just how far they’d come.

The storyline got my heart pounding on more than one occasion, especially during some of the more unpleasant moments, and as it all came together towards the end there was still time for some unexpected twists – I was surprised to find myself crying as I read the final pages!

The final book in this gritty trilogy was compelling and emotional, a truly thought-provoking read.

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR

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BUY THE BOOK

Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.com

Author Interview with Katie Kirby

Today I’m delighted to welcome Katie Kirby to Me, My Books and I:

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Katie Kirby is an actress who resides in Dublin with her husband and two children. She has been fortunate enough to have worked in theatre, television and film for the past several years. Could It Be You? is her debut novel.

To find out more:

Website | Twitter

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Hi Katie,

Where did the idea for Could It Be You? come from?

The book began following the lives of all thee main characters, Rachel, Saranna and Kara. I was about a hundred pages in when I changed my mind and realised I wanted to develop Rachel’s character further and deal with her struggles post separation from her husband.

Who was your favourite character to write and why?

Rachel and Nick were very enjoyable especially writing the banter that they share with each other. They are definitely a lot more sarcastic than the other characters.

What do you hope readers will learn from Could It Be You?

That no matter what circumstances you are presented with, separations, looming divorces, stalling careers, your luck can change so quickly. It’s all about hanging in there.

What makes Could It Be You? stand out from the crowd?

I think it has real heart, real dilemmas and very real, sometimes very unappealing characters.

How long did it take you to write?

Between writing and editing and tweaking, I would say about nine months.

Is any part of Could It Be You? based on your own personal experiences?

I set Rachel’s character in and around the world of selling at markets. My sister Jenn had her own cupcake business in London called Mulberry Teacup and she started selling at markets so I got to experience firsthand how tough it can be.

Why did you choose to write in your particular genre?

I wanted to write something that I was in the humour to read right now at this moment in my life and this book would definitely tick that box.

Do you follow a plan when you are writing or do you let the story guide you?

I usually like to have some type of outline but then I allow for a lot of flexibility within the chapters. I don’t like to overthink it because it can very quickly stop becoming fun and what I love most about this book genre is that it is fun.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I’m an actor by profession so I love to work in theatre when I’m not writing. I also love to read, stay active and spend as much time with my two children as possible.

Paperback or eBook?

I’m a ebook convert over the past few years, I especially love it when I travel as I prefer to travel light but nothing compares to the fresh pages of a book.

I agree! Listener or talker?

Listener

Pen or pencil?

Pen when I’m decisive, pencil when I’m not.

Any last words for your readers?

As a listener I would love to hear any of your reader’s thoughts on the book.

Thank you so much for being here today, it was a pleasure to have you on my blog. I particularly enjoyed reading about where you got the idea for Could It Be You? from!

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Now check out the book:

Could It Be You

“Could It Be You centres around Rachel Kane, a woman in her late twenties.She is an entrepreneur who owns her own beauty range business and is desperately trying to navigate her way through life since the very sudden split from her husband.

The novel begins the day before her first holiday as a singleton where she is the maid of honour at her best friend’s wedding in the South of France and from there takes Rachel on a journey where she has to face who and what is most important to her.”

Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.com

The Definition of Icing by Aven Ellis

The Definition of Icing

Published in May 2015.

“Kenley Hunter finally has everything sorted out. Fresh from studying chocolate making in Europe, she’s gambling everything on her new business, Confection Consultations.
All Kenley wants in life is people to take her seriously, to see the person on the inside rather than the blond beauty on the outside. While pursuing her passion of chocolate, Kenley discovered people seek her knowledge. They see past the exterior and fall for the chocolate delights in front of them.
So with work as her focus, Kenley is ready to start her career in Dallas. Men are out of her recipe, because she fears that once they get past her looks, they’ll be disappointed in what they find. Kenley decides she’s all about the chocolate now.
Or is she?
Because a chance meeting with new Dallas Demon hockey star Nate Johansson might change everything. Sent to Dallas in a blockbuster trade, Nate is somewhere he doesn’t want to be, for reasons that have caused him heartbreak on multiple levels. Nate knows he will never trust a woman again after what happened to him in Minnesota.
But when he meets a woman with an intriguing name and a passion for chocolate, Nate isn’t so sure about his theory. And he might just learn a definition of icing other than the one used in hockey with Kenley as his guide…”

MY REVIEW

Firstly I’d like to thank the author for sending me this eBook to read and give an honest review. I’ve always enjoyed Aven’s books (reviews here) so I was keen to get started, especially as this one contained a sexy ice hockey player!

I wasn’t too sure about Kenley to begin with, I guess I found the whole ‘I’m too pretty to be taken seriously’ thing slightly annoying. Nate on the other hand was an instant hit and not just because he was hot but because he had a heart as well. He arrived on the scene at a crucial moment and pretty much saved the day like a true hero.

Kenley ended up being a character who I grew to care about as the story progressed. When she made an embarrassing messaging mistake I couldn’t help but cringe on her behalf – the first sign that I was beginning to warm to her.

Sometimes I felt Nate was a little too perfect and I found myself waiting for something bad to happen, something that would throw everything up in the air and cause some chaos. Both Kenley and Nate were on a journey, they needed to learn to trust again and take a risk with love. The author captured their feelings and hesitance beautifully, creating a story which was as emotional as it was sexy.

CiCi (Kenley’s mum) was actually my favourite character and made me laugh in every scene she was involved with, she definitely added the comedy factor to this book!

WARNING: The Definition of Icing contains talk of delicious chocolate. Being on a diet whilst reading this book meant that I was practically dribbling all over my Kindle as I read the descriptions of all the wonderful chocolates and goodies – yes, even the curry flavour! My name is Kate and I’m a chocoholic.

A lovely ending finished the story off nicely, it wasn’t my favourite from this author but still a great read.

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR

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BUY THE BOOK

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A Cottage In The Country by Linn B Halton | Cover Reveal And Review

I am absolutely delighted and honoured to be the very first book blogger to reveal the gorgeous covers (a summer and winter version) for Linn B Halton’s latest book – A Cottage in the Country, which is due to be published by Harper Impulse on 16 July 2015.

I think they’re both stunning and capture the atmosphere of the book perfectly!

ACITC rose med

“What do you do when your best friend has an affair with your husband of twenty-five years? The father of your two children and the person you trusted with your heart?

Well, you pack your bags, grab half of the equity in the house you’ve both lovingly restored and run away to an idyllic little cottage in the country.

Only, it’s not quite so idyllic when

1) the survey comes back to reveal ‘rustic charm’ actually means rundown.

2) The heavens decide to open on moving day and the rain just keeps on coming.

Maddie Brooks grits her teeth and hires the highly recommended ‘man who can’, ex-soldier, Lewis Hart. As he rips out the very shabby, and decidedly not-so-chic kitchen, reality sets in. Not only is he the most abrupt person she’s ever met, but the man is a Neanderthal!

As the flood waters rise, and the village is cut off, everything that could possibly go wrong, does.

Hitting the big five-o is the final straw. No presents, family or friends—just infuriating Lewis, who can’t leave because the flood has now cut off his exit. How on earth is she going to get through this and put her life back together?

Can Maddie Brooks become that ‘fifty-and-fabulous’ woman of her dreams?”

MY REVIEW

Firstly I’d like to thank the author for sending me this eBook to read and share my honest review. You should know by now that I’m a big fan of Linn’s writing so it’s fairly obvious that I couldn’t wait to get my hands on her latest book.

Once again I was hit by the personal touch that this author always seems to express in her writing. It made me feel like I already knew Maddie and, as she yelled at her sat nav in the opening chapter (something I’ve done many times), I knew she would be a character I took to heart. As each disaster happened, Maddie’s exasperation was palpable. I really felt for her as, one by one, her plans went all wrong.

Lewis was certainly a feisty character, he was a bit of a grump at times but for me that just made him more interesting because I wanted to know why he behaved like that. His moodiness around Maddie created such a tense atmosphere, so much so that I could almost feel the awkwardness sparking off the page at me.

The military element was fascinating, it gave some parts of the storyline a gritty, edgy feel – I liked the combination of a beautiful country cottage with images of war and all the suffering that goes alongside it. The cottage itself sounded wonderful to me, as I was reading I found myself picturing the views so vividly thanks to the clear descriptions. This book has a strong visual side – you just can’t help but see everything playing out in your mind.

Towards the end the storyline took an unexpected direction and this totally threw all my predictions out of the window. I found myself frowning at my Kindle because what was happening in front of me just wasn’t what I had hoped for! Then came another twist that I hadn’t seen coming so at that point I decided to give up trying to guess the ending.

This was a picturesque read with an edgy twist and plenty of surprises to keep you on your toes!

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR

Website | Twitter: @LinnBHalton | Facebook:  Linn B Halton and Author Linn B Halton | Pinterest | HarperImpulse author page | Romantic Novelists’ Association page | Editor of Loveahappyending Lifestyle emagazine

BUY THE BOOK

Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.com