Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Review - Secrets and Rain by Cally Taylor

 I’m not a massive fan of short stories.  For no other reason than there’s not enough for me to get my teeth into and just as I’m getting into the story, it's over.  

Have to say that fab author Cally Taylor has completely changed my view with her collection of twelve amazing short stories about life, love and loss called 'Secrets and Rain' which shot straight to #2 in Amazon.co.uk's Women Writers & Fiction Short Story Chart on the day of release.

I actually emailed Cally after I'd read the first story telling her how it touched my heart and how I sat sobbing for ages.  I was stunned that this was the effect this author had on me after just one of her stories and I had another 11 to go! I knew that by the end I would be an emotional wreck!  I was a big brave girl though and built up to starting Story Number 2 and then reading more and each and every story was completely amazing in it's own right looking at life from various perspectives and how different people deal with the situations in their lives.  More sobbing followed! Perhaps I'm just a bit emotional right now! 

If you decide that you would like to buy this book, and I highly recommend that you do, please do be prepared to have at least one box of tissues at the ready.  There will be tears!  I can however also promise lots of love, laughter and hope!

An absolutely brilliant collection of short stories.  And maybe even one that I'll go back to from time to time, just to remind myself of all the wonderful gut-wrenching and heart-lifting stories.  

Cally Taylor is an author who has two writing hats.  Her Cally Taylor hat writes romantic comedies and women’s fiction and when she wears her CL Taylor hat, she writes dark psychological thrillers.

Her international best-selling romantic comedies, Heaven Can Wait and Home For Christmas were published by Orion in the UK and have been translated into 14 different languages.  

Her debut was voted ‘Debut Novel of the Year’ by chicklitreviews and chicklit.com.  Cally’s latest novel The Accident (as CL Taylor) will be published by Avon HarperCollins in June 2014.  

Blog 1: http://writing-about-writing.blogspot.com (for all Cally Taylor news)

Buy 'Secrets and Rain' as an ebook from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com   

Review - Great, Now I Can Hear Dead People by Deborah Durbin

This book was right up my street and I loved it! Can't wait to read the next one!

Samantha Ball is not only single, but is over £20,000 in debt and is struggling to find a job and pay her rent when she is offered a job on a psychic helpline which answers calls to people who want to know their future.  She decides to take the job on board as there's not much chance of doing the job she is trained to do (which is counselling people who have a fear of vegetables - I think my son may have that actually) but she finds that she is very lucky each time she talks to a caller and is extremely accurate.  

When she starts to actually hear real voices in her head, and spirits really are contacting her, she can't believe that she can actually do this for real while paying off her debts and make a career for herself.  Her future is looking rosy, when it is turned upside down but who has double crossed her?

Samantha is a fab lead character and Jack, her "best friend" is just adorable and you so want them to become a couple. Sam is in the early days of grieving for her father and the more you find out about her mother, who is also grieving, you realise that she is an absolute hoot!  Other best friend Amy is a real character too. 

Being a real believer in the world of spirit, I could totally "get" this book.  The fact that so many people look to mediums and clairvoyants (and I'm counting me as one of these people) to help them through grief was totally understandable and they felt completely helped by the messages that they were receiving. For those of you who are regular readers of my blog,you may know that I lost my dear Mom nearly 7 years ago now and I really do feel that going to see a medium at certain times has helped me massively.  After losing my lovely dad just a few months ago, will mean that I will again go to see this amazing medium who has helped me to see if I can gain the same comfort to help me through the grief and pain that I am currently experiencing. I think that these are the very reasons which meant that I could throw myself into this book whole-heartedly and devour every page.

I loved the relationship that Sam and Jack have.  Best friends but not boyfriend and girlfriend and you almost will them to get together.  They are both lovely, warm, genuinely likeable and believable characters that Deborah Durbin has created and I really did have to make myself pick up my computer tonight instead of getting stuck immediately after I'd finished this book into the follow-up - Great, Now I Can See Dead People.

Deborah's words flow easily and it was written so well and descriptively that you can easily conjure up the images in your mind and picture the story taking place.  I found the end, quite surprising to be honest although very fitting and wonderful but it was just not what I was expecting so the surprise was a good one! 

Deborah Durbin is not only a mom to three daughters and a wife, she is also a freelance writer, author and journalist writing for many publications. Deborah specialises in health, family, lifestyle, general interest, women's issues, mind, body and spirit features and print and digital publishing. 

She is also a columnist for two national magazines.  She has worked as an undercover journalist and a court reporter and is a qualified proofreader and copy editor.  Deborah isn't on Facebook or Twitter as yet. 

You can find out more about Deborah at her website http://www.deborahdurbin.com/

You can buy this book via Amazon UK by clicking here

Monday, 26 August 2013

Help Rowan Coleman raise £10,000 for Refuge

On September 10th Rowan is publishing her novella Woman Walks into a Bar as an ebook for the first time. And 100% of her proceeds will be donated to Refuge. 
Her goal is to raise £10,000 and you can help. All you have to do is buy a book, or two, and get your friends to buy one too. You’ll get a funny, romantic and touching summer read and you’ll be helping women you’ve never even met at the same time and all for the price of £1.59!

The story behind the story

Every book Rowan have ever written has meant a lot to her, but with her latest book ‘Dearest Rose,’ something really special happened when the real world and the fiction she loves to write collided.  It changed her as a person and a writer, forever.
She was getting ready to research her tenth novel, which with the help of her Facebook readers she decided should pivot around the theme of domestic abuse. It was a subject she’d touched on briefly once before, when she wrote a short novella as one of the first Quick Reads called Woman Walks into a Bar, which to this day remains one of the pieces of work of which she is most proud.
 So she posted on her Facebook page asking if anyone had any personal experiences of domestic abuse, and any stories they might share with her in confidence.
She was shocked and amazed by the response; there were more than 200 emails waiting in her inbox the next day. Each story she read was horrific and frightening in its own way, giving her an insight into the secret lives of many women; lives that all too often remain hidden. Domestic abuse can happen to anyone - well educated wealthy women are just as likely to suffer as women from a working class background - but the one thing all those women had in common was that they were survivors. After years of being mentally and physically beaten down, they had managed to find the emotional strength, somehow, to break free and start again. 
Now Rowan wants to do something that will help other women find that inner courage, and change their lives.

 ‘Woman Walks into a Bar’ is the story of 28-year-old single mother Sam spends her days working in the local supermarket and her Friday nights out with her friends letting her hair down at the White Horse. Life hasn’t been easy for Sam and her daughter, Beth (who always looks on the bright side) but she’s always hoped that one day she’ll break free from her past and meet The One.
But after a series of terrible dates with men she’s met through an internet dating site, that have all been as awful as her daughter’s terrible jokes, she’s starting to lose heart - until her friends tell her they’ve set her up on a blind date. Sam’s horrified but finally she agrees to go. After all you never know when you might meet the man of your dreams; maybe Sam’s happy ending is just about to begin….

So, come on and join Rowan, and help to #supportafriend on September 10th. Every time you buy or pre-order ‘Woman Walks into a Bar’ you’ll be entered into a prize draw for fabulous prizes every week, while the #supportafriend #womanwalks campaign is running. On 10th September, tweet Rowan photos of you and your friends, tell her your ideas to support a friend, and why your friends mean so much to you.
You can be a best friend to someone you have never even met. You can help someone out there find the support they need to change their lives.
If you are a blogger or tweeter, spread the word using #supportafriend #womawalks. If you are a company who could offer a prize to drive book sales and thereby money for Refuge, please get in touch. If you are a woman in an abusive relationship, or if you have a friend about whom you are worried, please get in touch with Refuge and ask for help today. 
About Rowan

Rowan Coleman grew up in Hertfordshire secretly longing to be a writer despite battling with dyslexia.  After graduating from university she worked in bookselling and publishing for seven years before winning Company Magazine Young Writer of the Year in 2001.  Her first novel ‘Growing Up Twice’ was published in 2002.

Rowan has gone on to write eight novels for women including the bestseller ‘The Accidental Mother, The Baby Group’ and ‘The Accidental Wife‘ and eight novels for children and teens including the paranormal adventure novels Nearly Departed and Immortal Remains under the name Rook Hasting. Her books are published around the world. She now lives in Hertfordshire with her family.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Review – The First Time I Said Goodbye by Claire Allan

OMG! Where has this amazing author been all my life?

1959 sees Stella falling madly and deeply in love with Ray, an American marine who is posted to her home town of Derry.  In a head over heels romance, and with her father’s blessing, Stella plans to leave her family and home and travel to America to be with the man she loves until tragedy strikes and her life takes a most unexpected turn.

Meanwhile in 2010, Stella’s daughter Annabel Jackson, who is dealing with the loss of her father just days before, reluctantly agrees to visit Derry with her newly widowed mother and meet a side of her family she has never met before leaving behind her a rocky relationship with boyfriend Craig.  Spending time in Derry makes them both wake up and see the future how it could be, rather than as it is.

The book is written in two time periods which swap back and forth.  Sounds complicated, but it actually flows incredibly well and I’m not normally a fan of books that aren’t set in the last couple of decades but I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the trials and toughness of the days that Stella grew up in and learning about their family values some of which are very different to those we experience today.  

This was one of the most scrumptious books I think I’ve ever read.  A fantastically brilliant story-line made this such a wonderfully delightful book. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to sing it’s praises high enough.  You’ll have to read it to believe me.  It is a real old-fashioned love story with a most perfect ending!

I do have to confess that I shed a tear or two. OK then – I admit it! There was lots of snivelling to start with before I turned into a complete blubbering wreck!  Claire knows that this book was very close to by heart as I lost my dear and much loved Dad at the beginning of May and had lost my darling Mom nearly 7 years ago.  This book brought back some awfully familiar memories and last night I found myself sobbing my heart out, feeling that it was my own heart that was breaking!

I am gobsmacked that I’ve never discovered or read anything by Claire Allan before. She is an exceptional author, who just picks you up and transports you full blast into her marvellous story feeling every single emotion possible and becoming at one with the characters. 

This is an outstanding book and I’d love to spend a whole weekend, at the start of a pile of Claire Allan books working my way through them all and not moving until I have! If someone could pop round and make me the odd cup of coffee, but not expecting any more than a grunt of thanks from me, that would be the mark of a real friend!

Unfortunately, this book is not available to buy until 28th August although you can pre-order it right here.  

You can however, buy Claire’s other books and the link to her Amazon page can be found here 

You can find out more about Claire at her website www.claireallan.com.

Claire grew up and still lives in Derry, with her husband and two children and two cats.  She still writes very proudly for the Derry Journal and has a weekly column called Skirting The Issue.  The highlights of her career with the Journal are being part of the award winning team that covered the Saville Inquiry into the events of Bloody Sunday and being appointed the paper’s first female columnist in 2002.  She wrote her first book in 2004 following the birth of her first child loosely based upon her experience of post natal depression. 

When she’s not writing books, she loves social media, baking, reading and has also discovered a love of exercise, and enjoys spending time enjoying her family.  

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Review - The Doll's House by Louise Phillips

Wow! Louise Phillips strikes again.

Psychologist Dr Kate Pearson receives a call to say that the police have found
a middle aged male, with multiple stab wounds, drowned in the canal. She is 
invited by Detective Inspector O'Connor to join him in trying to solve the case.

Clodagh is not coping well with the recent death of her mother. She has begun 
to look into her past and try to find lost memories of her father who died years 
ago and a tragedy that happened when she was a child that she knows she 
knows something about but she cannot retrieve the finer details.  She visits a 
hypnotherapist and finds some of these memories returning to her. 

While Kate helps the investigation, the killer has already chosen his next victim 
and Kate and O'Connor have to put the pieces together along with Clodagh's lost 
memories to solve the puzzle.

Another action packed crime thriller from this bestselling author. It certainly gave 
me a really fascinating insight into how hypnosis can assist you in retrieving lost 

I had my suspicions as to who the killer might be, but with each paragraph I read, I kept changing my mind and didn't 
know for sure until the last few pages who it actually was. I was wrong too! 
I love the way that Louise writes with such suspense and intrigue.  There were some tense moments when I found 
myself actually holding my breath not knowing what was coming next.   
This book was a brilliant reading experience for me.  I couldn't put it down whilst at the same time, being a little wary 
about what was going to happen. It was the first crime/thriller novel I've read for a while and it's got me wanting to read 
more (obviously in broad daylight!).
I really wanted to protect Clodagh and loved reading more about Kate Pearson and her life outside of work.  O'Connor 
is a really interesting character too and I do love a sequel so that even though a book ends the story and the 
characters live on
Once again I'm sure this will be a roaring success and very much deserved for this terrific award-winning author who 
should be found on the shelves between the likes of MandaSue Heller, Patricia Cornwall and James Patterson. 

Born in Dublin author Louise Phillips returned to writing in 2006 after rising her family. Her best selling debut novel Red Ribbons was shortlisted for Best Irish Crime Novel of the Year 2012 in the Irish 
book awards. The Dolls House is her second novel.  She has won many awards for her short stories.  

Find out more about Louise via her website www.Louise-Phillips.com 
Follow Louise on Twitter 
Like Louise on Facebook 
Buy the book via Amazon UK