Friday, 20 October 2017

Guest Post - Why I Write Psychological Thrillers by Gillian McAllister - Blog Tour

I started out my literary career writing women's fiction. I was signed by my agent for a women's fiction novel and I wrote another before that, which had a few near misses with agents. One was about a woman who leaves her boyfriend for another man and the second was about a woman who is childless by choice.

It took my novel getting rejected by publishers for me to take a step back and consider what it was I really wanted to write. Because, actually, since starting that novel, my reading habits had changed, and that's what got me thinking. I - along with lots of other readers! - had read Gone Girl, and The Girl on the Train, and had had my appetite whetted. The rise of the female psychological thriller has been a really interesting trend to observe, and it doesn't show any signs of dying down yet, both in books and on television. There's something eerily compelling about the 'it could happen to you' element of them, together with the grounded domesticity of the setting and the chilling but often understated crimes at their centre. I still can't get enough of them.

For some reason, I had never really thought about writing psychological thrillers even though they were what I had exclusively started reading. I thought they involved plotting that was beyond me (and they are difficult to plot) and I also still wanted to write primarily about relationships. 

So that's what got me thinking about what I could write that might combine my interests. What if I could write a book with the structure and pace of a thriller, but one that is still ultimately about people's relationships? I could think of a few authors who did such things - Liane Moriarty, Louise Doughty - but not many. But - sometimes - that's an indication that you should, not that you shouldn't. 

So I set about plotting my debut, Everything But The Truth, about a woman who catches sight of evidence on her boyfriend's iPad that he has committed a crime. And then, after that, I had the idea for my second: what if you were followed home by a man who wouldn't leave you alone in a bar? What if you pushed him, without thinking, and seriously injured him? And what - then - if the narrative split, showing both the path where you call 999 and confess, and the one where you walk away, and go on the run? 

It was with that book that I really found my groove. Sure, they're psychological thrillers, but they're also examinations of dubious legal/moral situations, explorations of relationships under stress, and character studies. My third is no different - about a woman accusing of harming her sister's baby - and my fourth won't be, either. I guess the lesson is: write what you really do want to read, even if it doesn't yet exist on the shelf. Especially if it doesn't yet exist on the shelf. 

Thank you so much for this great post Gillian. I am looking forward to reading Anything You Do Say. 

Gone Girl meets Sliding Doors in this edge-of-your-seat thriller
Joanna is an avoider. So far she has spent her adult life hiding bank statements and changing career aspirations weekly.
But then one night Joanna hears footsteps on the way home. Is she being followed? She is sure it's him; the man from the bar who wouldn't leave her alone. Hearing the steps speed up Joanna turns and pushes with all of her might, sending her pursuer tumbling down the steps and lying motionless on the floor.
Now Joanna has to do the thing she hates most - make a decision. Fight or flight? Truth or lie? Right or wrong?

Book Review - Covent Garden in the Snow by Jules Wake

Amazon UK
Title: Covent Garden in the Snow
Author: Jules Wake
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Harper Impulse
Publication Date: 20th October 2017
Rating: 5 Stars

Tilly Hunter has fabulous friends, her dream job as a make-up artist with a prestigious opera company and Felix, her kind and caring husband to be. It looks set to be the most perfect Christmas yet!

But when a monumental blunder forces her to work closely with new IT director Marcus Walker, it's not only the roast chestnut stalls on the cobbles of her beloved Covent Garden that cause sparks to fly…

Super serious and brooding, Marcus hasn’t got a creative bone in his sharp-suited body. For technophobe Tilly, it's a match made in hell.

And yet, when Tilly discovers her fiancé isn’t at all what he seems, it's Marcus who's there for her with a hot chocolate and a surprisingly strong shoulder to cry on … He might just be the best Christmas present she’s ever had.

Had me laughing from the first page! 

There was something about Tilly's utter uselessness with computers that had me interested in her character almost instantly. It may have had something to do with her clicking on an attachment called "Santa Baby" or that yanking a plug out is her way of rebooting a computer, but she endeared herself to me very fast. 

The other thing that struck me very quickly in this story is just obviously it was set in Covent Garden and how well either the author knows the area or researched it at around Christmas time.  There were mentions of details or events that I just wouldn't have expected to see such as the Christmas lego display and the Christmas pudding race (which my family is involved with somehow, and I've never met anyone else that has heard of it!). 

It was the attention to detail throughout that impressed me, the behind the scenes at an opera company, as just how the wigs are created and some of the costume changes that aren't seen were so impressive. I'm a fan of the theatre so seeing this level of detail really interested me, and added a lot to the overall picture for me. 

Then there was Marcus, who is the IT Guru come to show Tilly the error of her technophobic ways! He grew on me as the book progressed. There is far more to him than first meets the eye, and I only 100% put two things together perhaps a chapter or so before Tilly.  

I enjoyed seeing how Tilly's relationship with her sister changed over the course of the book, and in fact with her parents too. 

Covent Garden in the Snow hits all the right notes for an entertaining and highly enjoyable story this Christmas, I loved it. 

Thank you so much to Netgalley and Harper Impulse for this copy which I reviewed honestly and voluntarily. 

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Extract - Christmas at Hope Cottage by Lily Graham - Blog Blitz

They say that bad things happen in threes.
Emma Halloway, who made a point of not believing this sort of thing, found herself, nonetheless, wondering if there wasn’t a grain of truth to the superstition after all, on that particular, soggy, Tuesday afternoon, while she lay in a pool of her own blood on the ice-cold concrete, the ambulance sirens getting steadily closer.
She supposed, looking back, that the break-up Post-it left on her morning cup of tea had been the first.
[note start]
I just can’t do this any more.
P.S. Might not be the best time to mention it, but just so you know, you’re out of washing powder. [note ends]
The postscript was typical Pete. He was breaking up with you, yes, but heaven forbid you might run out of clean underwear.
It’s what had attracted her to him in the first place. His practicality, his evenness, the fact that he was the polar opposite of everything she’d ever known growing up in Whistling, Yorkshire, where time stood still, families passed down centuries-old feuds like genetic maladies and people believed that the food the women in her family made could heal anything, even broken hearts.
Pete had been her ticket up the rabbit hole, away from all those Mad Hatters and March Hares. Her ticket away from Jack Allen most of all. The boy she’d given her heart away to at the age of six, who she’d spent the past four years trying to forget.
For a long time after she found Pete’s message, while she sat on the kitchen floor surrounded by the shards of the mug she’d thrown onto the linoleum, her eyes filled with hot, unshed tears, she’d tried to work up some blame that didn’t point inward. Some anger towards Pete. Breaking up with someone on a Post-it note was a fairly shitty way to end a four-year relationship, after all.
When she tried to phone him, it went straight to voicemail. Ten minutes later he texted back a response.
[TEXT START]You know I love you. But the only one who seems oblivious to the fact that you don’t feel the same way – is you. I can’t do this any more. Please, Em, don’t reply.[TEXT ENDS]
But, of course, she did. Letting sleeping dogs lie wasn’t part of her make-up. [TEXT START] Pete! I do love you, don’t be silly.[TEXT ENDS]
He didn’t respond, so she sent another.
[TEXT START]I’ll try harder, okay? I’ll do anything, please don’t do this. We can work this out, can’t we?[TEXT ENDS]
But he didn’t reply. Not even then. Which was when the tears really came.
Emma supposed – lying on the concrete, the pain starting to build, the flashing lights approaching – that the second bad thing was really a result of the first.
She’d decided, once she got up from the kitchen floor, her eyes puffy and swollen, a painful, barbed knot in the space where her heart used to be, that her weekly food column for the Mail & Ledger, and this week’s topic a cheery look into the history of Christmas food, could wait until the urge to throw herself off her building passed. To help it along, she’d decided to get some fresh air, and some vodka. She took her bicycle, the one Pete had bought her as a surprise in a rare display of spontaneity when she’d mentioned a longing for an old-fashioned bike, complete with wicker basket and floral-print panniers. It was a painful, sunlit memory that she tried to ignore. As she pedalled for the off-licence a few blocks away, she couldn’t help noting, somewhat wryly, that the basket, which had enjoyed an innocent life till then, filled with baguettes and flowers and Emma’s overflowing research bag, was now about to experience a significant fall from grace as a large bucket for an obscene amount of booze.
Which just goes to show that someone upstairs was having a bit of a laugh, because instead of getting a respite from her awful day, she’d just cycled into the little street round the corner when she was hit by the postal van.
With the bicycle wheels whirring above her head, her blood blooming on the concrete and the sharp, searing pain burgeoning in her skull, Emma might have expected that the day couldn’t possibly get any worse, but when the driver asked for her name, Emma realised, suddenly, that actually it could.
The driver, whose hands were shaking, looked dismayed when she told him who she was. Eyes wide with horror, he explained, ‘I had this package on the passenger seat and it fell off. I took me eye off the road for just a second to put it right, it was just a second mind, but then I hit you. It was like you came out of nowhere. But what’s really bizarre,’ he said, his large, grey eyes almost popping, ‘was – I was on my way to drop this off at your house! Crazy, innit?’ he asked, hefting a monstrous package from the car and bringing it down to where she could see. ‘Huge fing too,’ he muttered.
Which was when Emma started to laugh, the type of laugh when, really, you’re about to cry; when you realise how cruel fate can be. A type of laugh she was all too familiar with, being born a Halloway. Emma realised, judging from the size and shape of the package, that her grandmother had sent her the stupid family recipe book. The one she believed would change Emma’s life, and get her to admit that her life in London had been nothing but pain and heartache, and now as a result of The Book, everything would get better. Only it had done the opposite, as usual.
Sometime after that she must have passed out.
She woke up in hospital, feeling as if she were being buried alive beneath a slab of cement, and gave a cry of pain and fear. Close to the bed, a nurse with large brown eyes blinked in surprise, backing away from the bed in shock. The next thing she knew, there were a half dozen people in the room, though she couldn’t make any of them out clearly. Behind them were strange glittering colours, seeming to flash before her eyes. She blinked, trying to make sense of any of it, but couldn’t.
Everyone began speaking at once, creating a cacophony of voices, painful and overwhelming, as if fishhooks were repeatedly pricking her ears. Emma clapped a hand over an ear, and felt another jolting stab of pain, noting through her strained vision that the other hand looked as if it had been pieced together like something for Frankenstein’s monster. Protruding from it were scary-looking pins, surrounded by a heavy white cast.
Her throat turned dry in fear. Something had gone horribly wrong. The noises were coming from the people around her and the sounds were unfathomable. At last, she saw a pair of lips move and registered the word ‘blanket’. It was the nurse from earlier. She looked down and could see, rather hazily, what looked like a thin blue covering over her legs.
‘Take it off!’ she hissed. With hesitant, shaking fingers, the nurse lifted it off, and just like that the pain stopped and so did her screams. She blinked back her tears. Struggling to understand. What had they put on her? Why had it hurt so much?
People crowded closer, and her head began to spin, her heart to race. Were they speaking another language?
No. It wasn’t that. The sounds were simply incomprehensible, the objects around her a blur; only when she focused hard on their lips did the babble change, miraculously, into words.
Then someone in a white lab coat mouthed three of the scariest words imaginable: possible brain damage.
It took a few days before they knew for sure, though Emma didn’t need the tests, or the scans, or the people who came into the room with clipboards who kept asking questions, to know it was true; she could feel it. Everything felt wrong.
It had taken some time before her vision registered that the flashing lights weren’t coming from her own head but a somewhat garish display of Christmas lights, despite the fact it was only October.
‘We start Christmas early here,’ explained a brown-haired nurse with gold tinsel threaded in her ponytail, with a small, slightly embarrassed giggle. Emma felt lost, disorientated. In another life she would have shared a grin, understood, as a fellow Christmas lover, appreciated the sentiment and the need for some cheer in a place such as this. Now, all she felt was gratitude when the nurse switched off the lights, providing immediate relief to Emma’s overwhelmed senses.
Sounds didn’t make sense: she could confuse the sound of the television with the telephone, and the click-clack of heels with the opening of a drawer. She couldn’t taste any of the food they brought and it didn’t seem to have a scent. When the giggly nurse told her that she’d be taking the flowers some thoughtful friend had sent into the nurses’ station due to their powerful perfume, she realised she hadn’t been able to smell them either; or anything else, for that matter.
She saw everything in double, which caused splitting headaches and nausea as she felt off balance too. Perhaps worst of all was the way that nothing felt the way it should: a breeze could feel like a flame, while someone’s touch might feel like ice, or nothing at all.
After a few days, a doctor explained, sitting on the edge of her bed and making sure that she could read his lips. He’d brought along a small whiteboard with a black marker just in case she couldn’t understand him, though she found that impossible to read, as the letters scrambled so much when she tried to focus on them. Luckily, if she concentrated on his mouth the words made sense, though they were hard to face nonetheless: ‘As well as your left leg and arm, which were broken, it appears your accident has caused some damage to your olfactory nerve – which has affected your senses. From what we’ve gathered, the best way to explain it is to picture your senses as if they were sets of wires, and some of these have moved slightly out of place, while others appear to have crossed or been cut off for the moment.’
She nodded. The word she would have used was scrambled, like an egg. The definition wasn’t her real interest though, not at this stage; what she wanted was a prognosis, if she could only find the right words. But speech was tricky; she had to think hard those first few days, choose words carefully, hunt for them.
She swallowed, tried to focus on the doctor’s face, saw, as if through a fog, blue eyes and a stubbled jaw, several times over like a row of negatives. ‘How long will I be like this?’ she asked, finally.
‘It’s hard to say. It may well be temporary; we have every reason to hope that is the case. However…’
Emma looked away. It was funny how just one word could undermine all the ones before it. Yet. But. Nonetheless. However.
With difficulty, she tuned in to the rest of his words, focusing on his lips to match the sounds, but she found little comfort in them.
‘I have personally never encountered an injury like this before, and from the literature available, it’s unclear – it could be months or…’ His voice trailed off and she realised that it was possible she could be like this for a long time, perhaps even permanently.
‘Our main concern, however, was that with an injury of this kind you would need care. Or that you may need to be moved to a treatment centre. But luckily, that isn’t something you need to worry about.’ He permitted himself a small chuckle. ‘I dare say you are in rather good – if a little eccentric – hands.’
While Emma was still wearing a puzzled frown, the door opened and an attractive, older woman paused before the entrance. She was tall, slim and wiry. She had wide blue Halloway eyes, the blue of lobelias and Cape starlings and secret springs. Her wild hair perched on her shoulders like a living thing, in a salt and pepper mix that was tending more to salt nowadays. She wore faded blue denim dungarees, a collared shirt printed with springing hares and an expression that always made those around her sit up just that little straighter, like she could tell just by looking at you what you were thinking.
‘Don’t worry our lass,’ said her grandmother, with a wry smile, taking a seat next to her, and patting her hand. ‘I’ll be taking you to Hope Cottage in the morning. The girls and me are working on a recipe, you’ll see, you’ll be right as rain soon enough,’ she went on with a wink.
Other people had nans, or grans; Emma had Evie. It had never occurred to Emma that it might be strange to call her grandmother by her first name, till it was too late and the habit had stuck. It suited her though. Evie had always been something of an original.
‘That’s the spirit,’ said the doctor, giving her grandmother the look people often gave Evie Halloway, which was part admiration, part bewilderment.
Emma closed her eyes, stifling a groan. This was the third thing, she realised. It wasn’t bad exactly, she did love Evie – and her crazy aunts, even if she was sure the whole lot of them needed medication – but in its own way this was the worst of the three, as it was everything she’d being trying to avoid: going back to Whistling, back to her ex Jack Allen and back to Hope Cottage.

In the little village of Whistling, with its butterscotch cottages and rolling green hills, snow is beginning to fall. Christmas is coming, and Emma Halloway is on her way home.

When twenty-eight-year-old food writer Emma Halloway gets dumped then knocked off her bike, she’s broken in more ways than one, and returns to her family’s cosy cottage in the Yorkshire Dales. Emma hasn’t been back in some time, running from her crazy relatives and her childhood sweetheart, Jack Allen.

Emma’s grandmother is determined to bake her back to health and happiness, as the Halloways have done for generations. Surrounded by old friends and warm cinnamon buns, Emma starts to believe in her family’s special talents for healing again. But then in walks Jack with his sparkling hazel eyes, stirring up the family feud between them. 

As the twinkly lights are strung between the streetlamps, Emma remembers just why she fell for Jack in the first place... and why a Halloway should never date an Allen.

The infuriating new lodger, Sandro, doesn’t believe anyone should have to choose between love and family. With a little bit of Christmas magic, can Emma and Jack find a way to be together, or will Emma find herself heartbroken once more?

An utterly gorgeous Christmas romance about the importance of family, freshly baked biscuits, and learning to trust your heart. Perfect for fans of Phillipa Ashley, Debbie Johnson and Debbie Macomber.

About the author:

Lily grew up in dusty Johannesburg, which gave her a longing for the sea that has never quite gone away; so much so that sometimes she'll find sand grouting the teaspoons, and an ocean in a teacup. She lives now in the English countryside with her husband and her sweet, slobbering bulldog Fudge, and brings her love for the sea and country-living to her fiction.

Book Review - The Treatment by C.L. Taylor

Amazon UK
Title:  The Treatment
Author: C.L. Taylor
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: HQ Young Adult
Publication Date: 19th October 2017
Rating: 5 Stars

“You have to help me. We’re not being reformed. We’re being brainwashed.”

All sixteen year old Drew Finch wants is to be left alone. She's not interested in spending time with her mum and stepdad and when her disruptive fifteen year old brother Mason is expelled from school for the third time and sent to a residential reform academy she's almost relieved.

Everything changes when she's followed home from school by the mysterious Dr Cobey, who claims to have a message from Mason. There is something sinister about the ‘treatment’ he is undergoing. The school is changing people.

Determined to help her brother, Drew must infiltrate the Academy and unearth its deepest, darkest secrets.

Before it’s too late.

I feel a bit dazed, I'm not completely sure what happened in real life for the past couple of hours, as I was completely absorbed in The Treatment. I suspect there is a chance I may have nightmares tonight, as a result of what Drew and Mason had to go through in this book. 

I'll admit I was a bit worried whether an author I absolutely love was able to write a Young Adult book that I would also enjoy, being quite a bit older than the YA audience, however other than the characters being a bit younger, the situations were gripping, the writing draws you in and hopefully my breathing my return to normal. 

I was hooked on The Treatment, absolutely none of it played out how I expected and I absolutely could not put this book down once I started reading it. You are warned - clear time in your busy day to sit and just read this book. 

It is so different to almost everything I have ever read, the only thing I can think of is I felt some similarities to The Demon Headmaster series, but given its been perhaps over 20 years since I read those I don't recall the specifics other than the same general feeling I had reading those.  The book is terrifying but not in a horror sort of way, just that its chilling what can happen to the human mind. 

I really can't say much about the plot, as it moves as a quick enough pace that I may accidentally give away spoilers. Suffice to say Drew is one special young woman, and I really liked her, whereas most of the other characters I wasn't sure on. It is the sort of book where you really aren't sure who you can trust. 

The Treatment is C.L. Taylor at her best, its been ages since I was this hooked on a book to the extent that I didn't even think about doing the many other things I should have been doing! i was only interested in the story and didn't even notice the time going past which is a good indication of how absorbed I was. 

Thank you to Netgalley and HQ Young Adult for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily. 

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Guest Post - Darcie's Christmas Playlist by Darcie Boleyn - Blog Tour

There’s nothing quite like a good Christmas song to get me feeling festive! Here are some of the ones I listened to while writing Christmas at Conwenna Cove and that I enjoy every year.

1. Maria Carey – All I want for Christmas is You  - Ah a classic song, not my favourite, but I can see why you picked it! 

2. Frank Sinatra – White Christmas  - Who doesn't like a crooner at Christmas, but is this really the best version? 

3. Wham – Last Christmas - My absolute favourite Christmas song, so glad you included it

4. Whitney Houston – The Christmas Song - Oh the Chestnuts song, sorry Darcie, much prefer my Christmas songs more upbeat! 

5. Michael Buble – Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas - I'll freely admit that I do love the Michael Buble Christmas specials! 

6. Brenda Lee – Rockin Around the Christmas Tree - Upbeat, a classic Christmas song, I always enjoy listening to this

7. John Williams – Somewhere in My Memory – Home Alone Soundtrack - Never heard of this one, I'm sorry Darcie, you will need to convince me its a worthy addition to a Christmas playlist! 

8. Bon Jovi - Please Come Home for Christmas

9. Chris Rea – Driving Home for Christmas 

10. Elvis Presley – I’ll Be Home For Christmas 

Looking at those last 3 choices, I can't help but think people should spend time at home over Christmas! Sorry to disappoint I'm off to the sun this year!

Thank you Darcie for this selection of Christmas music. My favourite is on the list, is yours? 

A heartwarming, romantic and Christmassy novel set in the gorgeous Cornish village of Conwenna Cove.

When Grace Phillips travels to Conwenna Cove to help her parents move there 30 years after their honeymoon in the village, she sees why they fell in love with the place. The festive decorations, carols in the air and constant supply of delicious mince pies certainly make it hard to leave. Grace soon meets local vet Oli Davenport and initially finds him rude, but learning about his passion for animals and how much he cares for his two kids helps Grace to see a softer side to Oli.

It’s been two years since Oli lost his wife to cancer. Though he loves eleven-year-old Amy and five-year-old Tom more than anything it’s hard to be mum and dad. He has no interest in romance until he crosses paths with beautiful and kind-hearted Grace. The sparks fly but both Oli and Grace are holding onto fear about letting someone into their heart.

As the snow falls and Christmas wishes come true can Conwenna Cove work its magic and help Grace and Oli find the happiness they both deserve?

Purchase from Amazon UK

Follow along with the rest of the blog tour

Book Review - Coming Home to the Comfort Food Cafe by Debbie Johnson

Amazon UK
Title: Coming Home to the Comfort Food Cafe
Author: Debbie Johnson
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Harper Impulse
Publication Date: 8th October 2017
Rating: 5 Stars

Welcome to the cosy Comfort Food Café, where there's kindness in every cup of hot chocolate and the menu is sprinkled with love and happiness…

Moving to the little village of Budbury, Zoe hopes the crisp Dorset sea breeze and gentle pace of life will be a fresh start for her and her goddaughter, Martha.

Luckily for them both, the friendly community at the café provide listening ears, sage advice, shoulders to cry on, and some truly excellent carrot cake. And when Martha's enigmatic, absent father suddenly turns up, confusing not only Martha but Zoe too, the love and support of their new-found friends is the best present they could ask for.

Have Zoe and Martha truly found their home at the Comfort Food Café?

Just how good was it to be back in Budbury, Dorset and the Comfort Food Cafe? Well let met tell you it was fantastic, just to be able to catch up with all the cafe regulars in this all new standalone story. 

Before we even get to Budbury we meet Zoe and Martha. The opening of the book is fairly emotional, and there is a fair amount of emotion present throughout the story.  Martha is 16 and is grieving for her mother, and has never known her father. She is living with Zoe who was Kate (Martha's mum)'s best friend and is now her legal guardian. 

Martha is pushing every boundary, and Zoe makes the tough decision to move them to Budbury even just for a few months so they aren't showered with memories everywhere they look.  

There are all manner of secrets and plot turns in this book which is split into four parts, to help with the passing of time.  I really enjoyed seeing the affect that The Comfort Food Cafe has on Zoe and Martha over time, and seeing how they interacted with everyone . 

Fans of the previous two books will love getting the latest from Laura, Becca, Cheri, Willow and Edie, in this small town of lost souls who become like your family. If you are new to the comfort food cafe, then it can easily be read as a standalone, and I urge you to pull up a chair, grab a bowl of your own comfort food and sit back and relax with a wonderful story. 

Although Zoe and Martha are going through a tough time, there are plenty of light hearted moments too, the talent show on Christmas Day has some interesting acts, there is a moment of high drama in the cafe quite early in the book, and Martha has the biggest surprise of all. There are so many threads and bits of story that mesh really well culminating in ok an ending I may have been predicting but only from about half way through the book, and even then wasn't completely sure of! 

I am already eager to return to The Comfort Food Cafe and hope this is a series that can run and run, as more characters get added to the rather quirky Budbury cafe family! 

Thank you so much to Netgalley and Harper Impulse for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily. 

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Cover Reveal - Christmas Secrets at Snowflake Cove by Emily Harvale

Regulars to Rachel's Random Reads may have noticed that I am a huge fan of Emily Harvale, so imagine my excitement when I was asked if I could be a part of the cover reveal for her latest book. 

I am delighted to reveal this stunning cover to you all...

Christmas is a time for family and friends, miracles and magic, falling snow and roaring fires, fun, laughter and festive feasts. In Snowflake Cove, it’s also a time for secrets to be revealed…

Evie Starr is hoping for more than a sprinkling of magic this Christmas. The family-run Snowflake Inn is virtually empty and the Starr’s financial future isn’t looking bright. But Evie’s gran, Jessie has a secret that might help.

Enigmatic, Zachary Thorn is every woman’s dream. He’s also ex-SAS, so his secrets are classified. The Christmas Special of his feel-good, TV show is set in Michaelmas Bay – until a phone call means he’s spending Christmas in nearby Snowflake Cove.

Evie’s best friend, Juniper thinks boyfriend Darren has a secret. Evie knows he does. And Evie’s niece, Raven is hiding feelings for Juniper’s brother – who has a secret crush of his own.
But the biggest secret in Snowflake Cove is the identity of Raven’s dad.

With snow falling thick and fast and secrets being revealed one after another, will everyone be snuggling up by the fire on Christmas Eve, or are some secrets best kept hidden…?

Publication Date - 1st November 2017
Pre-order on Amazon UK

Author Bio –

Having lived and worked in London for several years, Emily returned to her home town of Hastings where she now spends her days writing... and chatting on social media. Emily is a Member of the SoA, a PAN member of the RWA and a Pro Member of ALLi. She's an Amazon bestseller and a Kindle All Star. Emily loves writing and her stories are sure to bring a smile to your face and a warmth to your heart.

Emily says, "I write about friendship, family and falling in love. I believe in happing endings." When she isn't writing, she can be found enjoying the stunning East Sussex coast and countryside, or in a wine bar with friends, discussing life, love and the latest TV shows. Chocolate cake is often eaten. She dislikes housework almost as much as she dislikes anchovies - and will do anything to avoid both.

Social Media Links –  Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

So what do you think? I am loving the look of this one and really looking forward to reading a copy myself. 

Q&A with Peter Jones

1) Who are your literary influences?

Influences? Well now. What a question.

I was quite a late starter when it came to reading. Other than my mother nobody else in my family used to read. My parent’s book case was (and still is) pretty uninspiring.

School wasn’t much better. Until I was in my mid teens the ‘reading list’ was dire! But, I remember one teacher recommending The Hitch Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams, and for the first time ever I’d been given a book that I didn’t want to stop reading. It wasn’t a chore, it was a delight. And my painfully slow reading ability was suddenly a good thing. I read everything Douglas Adams ever wrote after that.

As I got older there were a handful of other books that had a similar effect. John Wyndham’s Day Of The Triffids, sticks out as another book that had a profound effect on me.

2) Where do you come up with the ideas for your characters?

Quite often they’re based on, or inspired by, real people. I often sit on the train, sneak a peek at my fellow passengers, and guess what their story might be.

For instance, I met my partner three years ago. She had just come out of a long term relationship. Her split had been quite amicable so it wasn't uncommon for her to mention... well, let's call him Steve. 

I'd say things like, "I've made some fresh bread this weekend," and she'd say, "oh, Steve used to do that." Only bloody Steve would have made the bread from flour that he'd milled himself. From a stone that he dug out of the ground. Whilst building his house. Single handedly. 

One day I got so cheesed off hearing how fantastic Steve was I said, "if you don't shut up about Steve I'm going to put him in a novel and then kill him off!" To which my partner laughed and said, "what would you call the book? My Girlfriend's Perfect Ex-Boyfriend?" 

Well. It was a such a good title, how could I resist? "No!" Said my girlfriend, seeing the light bulb hovering above my head. "You can't! Absolutely not!" But this was Friday. And you know how this works Rachel - by the end of the weekend we had renamed Steve, morphed him into this completely unbearable character called Sebastian. We'd also decided that the protagonist would be a down on his luck school teacher called Adrian, and that his girlfriend would be a sassy American PR executive called Paige, and a plot was beginning to emerge that was just too fun not to write! 

Obviously it's all made up. But that said, I really hope Steve doesn't recognise himself in it.

3) Tell us about your covers, whose ideas are they? Who designs them?

Ugh! Covers! I genuinely wish that people would listen to that old advice about not judging a book by the cover but they don’t! People judge books, and virtually everything else in life, by the packaging. It’s infuriating.

For the most recent books I’ve been luck enough to work with a local designer. I tell him what the book’s about and suggest a few themes or ideas, and then he comes back with a few sketches. Usually I really like what he’s come up with, and then I show someone – maybe several someone elses – at which point we discover we’re in the minority. And so starts the long and painful process of zeroing in on a cover. I’m pretty pleased with the cover for My Girlfriend’s Perfect Ex-Boyfriend. It’s not the one I would have picked. Or my designer. Or my male pals. But in tests, 8 out of 10, female romantic novelists and readers preferred it to any other design they were offered.

4) Which of your books has been the easiest to write? 

Fortunately, with every book I write the process appears to get easier and easier. I’m hoping that eventually I’ll reach that point where I’m able to knock out two a year without breaking a sweat.

5) If you could change anything about any of your characters, in any of your novels, what would you change?

I sometimes with I’d given Jason (from The Good Guy’s Guide To Getting The Girl) a different name. Maybe, Matt, or something.

6) And finally.. Can you tell us anything about your current work in progress?

I’m going back in time for my next book. Back to the 1980s. Big hair. Big music. Big ideas. Still romance (technically), and still comedy (definitely!), but a little darker, a little less frivolous, and a little more inspired by true events. And that’s all I’m saying for now!

Thank you so much Peter for answering all my questions. It has been a pleasure having you my blog I am really looking forward to starting your new book.

My Girlfriend’s Perfect Ex-Boyfriend by Peter Jones
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Publication Date: 10th October 2017

Adrian Turner, Mountaineer, Secret Agent, Fireman… Ade would dearly like to be any of these things, though he’d trade them all to win the heart of feisty Public Relations Executive, Paige.
Instead, he’s a disillusioned school teacher, on suspension, after an unfortunate incident with a heavy piece of computer equipment. And somebody’s foot. And Paige? Despite being his girlfriend for the past eighteen months, she still seems to have one foot out of the door and hasn’t quite committed to leaving a toothbrush in the bathroom.
Of course, it doesn’t help that she’s working with her ex-boyfriend, Sebastian. A man who in almost every way imaginable is better, taller, wealthier, hairier, and infinitely more successful than Ade.
Is Paige still in love with Sebastian? Why then did she suggest they get away for a few days? Some place romantic…
But when Adrian finds himself in Slovenia - with Sebastian in the room down the hall - he realises there’s serious possibility that he’s in danger of losing his job, his mind, and the woman he loves…
From best-selling author Peter Jones comes this hilarious romp about love, and the things people do to keep it from getting away.

Purchase from Amazon UK

About Peter Jones
Peter Jones started professional life as a particularly rubbish graphic designer, followed by a stint as a mediocre petrol pump attendant. After that he got embroiled in the murky world of credit card banking. Fun times.
Nowadays, Peter spends his days writing, or talking about writing. He’s written three novels; a Rom-Com (Romantic Comedy), A Crim-Com (Crime Comedy), and a Rom-Com-Ding-Dong (a sort-of Romantic-ish Comedy, with attitude). He’s currently working on his fourth novel, which - if it’s a musical - he’ll no doubt describe as a Rom-Com-Sing-Song. (Spoiler: It isn’t).
He is also the author of three and a half popular self-help books on the subjects of happiness, staying slim and dating. If you’re overweight, lonely, or unhappy – he’s your guy.
Peter doesn’t own a large departmental store and probably isn’t the same guy you’ve seen on the TV show Dragons’ Den.
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