debut novel, Netgalley, Review, Uncategorized

Book Review: Our Little Secret By Darren O’Sullivan

Published 28th July 2017 by HQ Digital 

Blurb: A deserted train station: A man waits. A woman watches.

Chris is ready to join his wife. He’s planned this moment for nearly a year. The date. The time. The train. But he hadn’t factored in Sarah.

So when Sarah walks on to the platform and sees a man swaying at the edge she assumes he’s just had too much to drink. What she doesn’t expect is to stop a suicide.
As Sarah becomes obsessed with discovering the secrets that Chris is clearly hiding, he becomes obsessed with stopping her, protecting her.
But there are some secrets that are meant to stay buried…

Review: Firstly wow!!!! I honestly don’t know how to do this beauty of a debut justice. Darren O’Sullivan I’m literally such a fan and I’m ready and waiting for what’s next from you. So much so I will drop everything, sorry to whatever book I am reading at that moment. To read whatever you bring out next. That’s how much faith I have in you after devouring this creepy treat. 

When the cover for Our Little Secret was shared by HQ Digital on Twitter I instantly wanted to know more. In reading the blurb my interest was hightened, I then went on to request on Netgalley and yay I was accepted. This was my initial post when I knew I had to read this book Cover Reveal: Our Little Secret

I wanted to read it as close to publication day as I could as I had always said my review would be up on that day. As much as I’m writing this earlier I’m sticking to that rule. Wow! What a rollercoaster of emotions but the thrilling ride is chilling and oh so worth it. For someone who never used to read thrillers let alone psychological ones I can safely say this is one of my ultimate favourites and another book that chills me to the core as I cannot pass it on to my Grandad Sam – I would have loved to have had a convo with him about this one.

The story is told by Chris the man on the brink of suicide – you also have Sarah’s points of view and background on her- who is on the platform on the day he decided it was time. Then there are diary entries from Julia, and then there is Steve – the best friend. I don’t want to delve into it too much as I want you as readers to discover everything that happens just as I did but I must say until very late on I hadn’t seen it coming. 

It’s funny as in some aspects of the story it made me think of the film psycho ( I am not spoiling) you knew that the situation was messed up but part of you was routing for him anyway there are parts of that with Chris.

I enjoyed that the story was in sections by date and time although with the occasional flashbacks showing how this had come about. As I got nearer and nearer to the end I felt like my heart was pounding too just like when the action comes to head in a dramatic film. 

Darren touches on loss, betrayal, friendship, love, loneliness and mental health all in one novel. I felt drawn to all of the characters even though I didn’t always like them they were easy to relate to and in some ways easy to read.

A heart pounding, rollercoaster ride that would make an epic film or TV show. I was right to be excited by Darren’s debut and wow what a way to begin I cannot wait to see what chilling story comes next I’m going to have to read something light next as I’m still in awe of Our Little Secret so much so I’m a little lost at where to go.

If you adore thrillers do not hesitate but download this beauty today it’s 99p well spent. Darren enjoy today everything that started with March train station has led to today publication day. What a read…..

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Guest Post, New Author to me, Uncategorized

Guest Post: Rachel Dove visits Hayley Reviews with a snippet from The Flower Shop on Foxley Street…

Today on Hayley Reviews I welcome Rachel Dove whose latest novel The Flower Shop on Foxley Street was released yesterday. It can be downloaded Here I must admit I haven’t read Rachel’s work but I look forward to discovering her colourful world. Isn’t the cover gorgeous it makes me think of a holiday village and a vintage coffee shop…..anyway this won’t be the only time I mention Rachel on here as I will be reading and reviewing this. I must admit since I finished my last read I have just been addicted to Netflix anyway without further ado I give you Rachel Dove and an extract from this beauty…..
My writing career started for real when I won the Prima and Mills & Boon competition in 2015. I was amazed, and it set the path for me to write other books. I am currently writing my fifth book, and have 4 more planned out. I can’t write fast enough at the moment, and it’s pretty full on, but I love every minute.

I have read books and written stories since I was old enough to hold a pen, but in my early twenties I started to really research things and look into publishing and writing as a business. I set up a rejection and submissions file, bought some books, read anything and everything I could get my hands on and…nothing happened.

I entered a few competitions, submitted some pieces to magazines, and the only thing I really got published were readers letters, which produced a buzz and a bit of welcome cash, but I really wanted to write fiction.

Life got in the way, and before I knew it I was in my thirties, married with children. I had self published a novel, and had some short stories published with small independent publishing houses, but nothing else. Till I entered the Prima Competition.

After that, it was like a snowball effect, and I had other books accepted, short stories published in magazines, won further awards…

The competition win was amazing, and a real confidence boost. It’s still hard of course, and I still get many rejections (my file is now massive!) but I keep going, and I urge any writers out there to do the same, because it only takes one yes!

extract of The Flower Shop on Foxley Street.

Roger snipped a stem, thrusting it into the green oasis mount.
“Honey,” he said, flicking out a hip. “You are 30 this year. You have your own business, and you have talents. Stop waiting for people to get a grip of their lives, take charge of your own. Trust me. I waited years to come out to my family, lived a lonely life of lies, and when I came out, my mother laughed as though I was telling her the sky was blue!”

Lily looked across at her friend, who was arranging flowers in a clothing combo of floral shirt, cardigan, fitted skinny jeans and blue glittery brogues. He lived in the village with his husband James, who was a businessman and property developer, and their dog, a great sloppy Great Dane called Bruno. She couldn’t imagine him dulling his light to make others feel comfortable.

“It’s a bit different, Roger, I don’t have some big part of myself hidden, like you had to.”

“Don’t you?” he asked, pointing a length of Baby’s breath at her in accusation. “You have plans, my dear, things you want to do. I follow your Pinterest boards, I see your sketches.”

Lily darted a look at him. “Stalk much?”

“Yes, I do,” he said rather proudly, causing her to giggle.

The trill of the bell announced the arrival of a customer, and as Lily walked to the front shop floor area, she heard him calling after her.

“There you go, don’t ask who the bell tolls for, it tolls for you! Opportunity knocking!”

“Ssshh,” she batted her hand behind her as she walked away.

When she saw who it was, she blushed furiously.

“Sorry about that, good morning! Would you like the usual?”

“Good morning, yes please.” She smiled briefly at the man before her, before turning away to get to work on the bouquet he ordered twice a week. Monday and Friday morning, regular as clockwork.

“So,” the deep male voice said, “good weekend?”

Lily almost snipped off her finger instead of the stem of a gerbera daisy as she had flashbacks of her weekend.

“Er…not bad, a little boring really. You?”

The voice hesitated. “Er, same really. Dinner with friends on Saturday evening. I had a bit of work to get done, so I wouldn’t call it a weekend, really.”

Lily nodded, wrapping the blooms in tissue paper and cellophane. She took them over to the counter.

“Okay for you, before I ribbon them up?” She allowed herself then to look at him fully. He looked back at her momentarily, before looking at the bouquet with a nod.

“Perfect, thanks.” She smiled at him. He was dressed in his usual work gear, and with it being January, he had a beanie hat on. Dark brown tendrils of hair licked around the edges, and she knew from memory that under his hat was a crop of thick curly locks. Down from the hat, he had a beautiful pair of deep chocolate brown eyes, hooded with thick lashes the average girl would kill for. She noticed he looked tired, with a day or two of stubble on his chiselled chin. She forced herself to look away before she peeked a glance at his adorable lips. She could already feel her cheeks burning with heat.

She concentrated on wrapped the bouquet with ribbon, taking care not to curl her fingers instead whilst using her scissors with shaky hands.

“All done,” she said, relieved and she passed them over the counter. He was looking at her, not moving, and Lily frowned. “You okay?”

He started, reaching for the bouquet clumsily. His fingers brushed hers, and Lily felt the roughness of them against her own. She shivered a little, and from the look on his face, he saw it. Damn.

“Sorry,” he said, rubbing the back of his hand across his mouth, “half asleep today. How much?”

“£20 as normal, please,” she replied, looking intently at the bouquet in his hands, rather than at him. “You need coffee. There’s a little cafe next door, with some seating, it’s nice and quiet.”

He raised his eyebrows a little as he handed over the notes. “Really?” Something tugged at the side of his mouth, like a smile trying to escape.

“Yes, it’s nice. I love their caramel latte. Do you like coffee? Or tea? They have tea?”

“Do you mean now? I just, I have to go to work-“

“Oh no! I didn’t mean with me, oh god no, I just mean you could have a rest before work, wake up a bit.” She was panicking now, and she knew it. She had just accidentally kind of asked the man out! He looked at her open mouthed, as though he was struggling to think of something to say. No doubt trying to make a swift exit from the crazy florist. Damn, a regular customer she couldn’t afford to lose either.

She looked behind her frantically, to see Roger staring at her, a ridiculously large grin on his face. She motioned behind her back for him to come and rescue her, but he just shook his head as if to say nope, you dug this hole, you dig yourself out.

He spoke again, his deep voice cutting through the high pitched squeaking in her head. Here it comes, she thought. The embarrassing it’s not me, it’s you, crazy loony woman I have no wish to spend time with. She had to will her own eyes to stay open. She almost wished her parents were here. A good bicker would defuse the tension.

“I could do tomorrow, same time, I have a late start but I would like to chat with you, actually.”

Lily’s mouth would have dropped to the wood floor if her lower face wasn’t frozen in a terrified lock jaw grimace. She willed herself to speak. The first attempt came out as a whisper, so she cleared her throat and tried again. This time she sounded like Joe Pasquale, but she ran with it. “I, I don’t think-“

He looked straight at her probably seeing a slight sense of panic crossing her features as she fumbled her refusal. The look on his face was so confusing that she couldn’t finish her sentence.

“Go on,” Roger said into her ear, his body suddenly so close she could feel his cardigan buttons digging into her spine. “For once in your life, take a chance.” Lily was still staring, stuttering at the man before her, but Roger’s words stopped her dead.

“Yes, tomorrow’s great,” she said in a flourish of bravado.

“Lovely! She will see you then!” Roger stepped even further forward, giving her a sneaky poke in the back with his finger. She managed to smile at the customer, or at least that’s what she thought it was. She might have looked constipated, at best. He smiled and nodded.  

“Great,” he said easily, as though he made coffee dates all the time (he probably did, to be fair – the man was sex on a stick) and giving her a little wave and a smile that melted her heart, he left. Turning at the door, he looked at her again, a deep look that nearly knocked the feet from beneath her. For a second she thought he was going to come back, change his mind, but he just looked at her as though he was asking her a question she didn’t know the answer to. She looked right back at him, wondering what he was thinking, and why she asked herself this question every time she saw him. He smiled again, a tiny twitch on his lips, and then he strode away. It seemed that no answers would come today.

Lily stood at the counter, frozen solid, his cash still clenched tight in her hand. Her face felt as though it was on fire, and her whole body tingled. Roger had gone in the back and came through with the finished wreath, heading to the van. He gave her a tap on the arm that threatened to topple her mannequin challenge pose off balance.

“Wow, girl, I should give you a pep talk every morning! That, my dear, took balls. Not tiny balls either!” He tittered at his own joke as he set off on his delivery.

I don’t know about you but I cannot wait to read this and Roger sounds like the kind of mate I need….if you are already reading or if it’s on your TBR, or you are one of these super fast readers and have finished do let me know your thoughts….

 

Guest Post, New Author to me, Uncategorized, Wandering Wednesday

Wandering Wednesday: Guest Post Isabella May takes over Hayley Reviews

Happy hump day – here at Hayley Reviews Wednesday’s are for wandering. Last week for the first time since I started this little beauty there was no time for wandering. I didn’t want it to just be me hashing up any old posts on travel so it made sense to take a break.

Today I have a guest post from a wonderful author who I’m super jealous of as she currently resides in Spain like helloooo anyway without further ado I welcome Isabella May….

The Novel with Twenty-Two Travel Destinations…

…Or the Book That’s Trying to do too much?

I’m a debut author with a passion for travel. Actually, ‘Itchy Feet’ could have been my middle name. So naturally, when I began to write (or more accurately, play) with the idea of a novel about domestic violence, cake, publishing and spirituality, I just had to add travel to my brainstorming sessions.

Which is probably how my book’s title, ‘Oh! What a Pavlova’ was born. I mean, what else could I have called it?

Kate Clothier is a jet-setting businesswoman.

At least that’s the successful image she portrays to the outside world. But behind closed doors, life with Daniel and his volcanic temper is anything but rosy. If it wasn’t for cake… and a more than regular dose of travel… she’s not sure how she would have the strength to get out of bed in the morning.

Kate works in Foreign Rights…

A special area of publishing which sees her on a plane at least every six weeks to visit clients or attend book fairs; add to that her spontaneous booking of holidays and city breaks, and it’s not hard to see how the book racked up a grand total of twenty-two totally unique destinations! Everywhere from the picturesque and mystical Glastonbury – where Kate lives, very much against her will – to Bologna, Singapore to Oslo, Frankfurt to Lisbon, New York to Venice, Bruges to Krakow, and a whole host of other diverse spots in-between.

For a travel enthusiast, ‘Oh! What a Pavlova’ is a bit like taking a cruise.

But not in the fuddy-duddy, elbowing-one-another-off-coach-seats kind of a way, nor the sequin-attired-blue-rinse-perm kind of a way besides, I promise! Rather, ‘Pavlova’ will offer you a flavour of each of these cities (and its one token town): 

You will be transported to Bologna’s Piazza Maggiore where you will soak up not just the Campari and Blood Orange, but also the sights, sounds and smells – as well as the males who are somehow able to carry off fetching daffodil-yellow slacks.

‘We quickened our pace, only to slow it right back down to catch the scent on the air. Pretty little Amaretti morsels capped with snowy icing sugar peaks, and Torta di Riso di Bologna – the city’s take on rice cake, selling out by midday the eve of Good Friday – streamed out the doorway of a bakery.  

“Mmm,” I said, fluttering my eyelids. “How can Daisy pass this lot by without as much as a drool?”

“She’s a boring twig who exists on green tea and goji berries, Kate; that’s how.”

Steph tossed her hair over her shoulder like a scarf and we reluctantly carried on.’

Excerpt taken from ‘Oh! What a Pavlova’


You will actually be able to feel the sweat that is Singapore’s Club Street on a humid August night, trickling from your brow. You will adopt a sudden and insatiable hankering for Pasteis de Nata after my words have whisked you off to Oporto’s petrol-blue tiled streets. You will make a mental note to try out Bristolian Seed Cake next time you are in the southern city. You will never again make the mistake of missing another Glastonbury Festival – mud, noodles, hash cakes and all. And you will remain ever curious as to what really goes on at an international book fair!

Travel, culture and international cuisine will always be a backdrop to my novels…

I just love them too much to leave them to one side. In fact, as I type, I await my publisher’s verdict on my second novel: a book choc-full of cocktails, Glastonbury (again… well, it is totally under-represented in the literary world, after all), Mexico and Prague! 

And when we write about what we love, somehow everything magically weaves together to form a tale that’s pretty unique. In an industry awash with the predictable and commercial, I’m always in awe of the paths and spinoffs travel opens up to us, when we let it have its way with our words…

But make no bones about it: this is a story (in spite of its gorgeous landscapes and delectable patisseries) with the potential for Marmite Divide. You see, ‘Pavlova’ debunks the misconception that an abusive relationship is abusive all the time: sometimes it is quite the opposite. Not only that, but ‘Pavlova’ offsets the violence with a much-needed injection of humour. Not for controversy’s sake, but because from experience, seeing the comedic side of a serious situation, living a second ‘external life’, can be an effective and much-needed coping mechanism.

Kate is one of the lucky ones.

Firstly, she is ‘allowed’ to travel. Believe it or not, in many an abusive relationship, the goalposts are frequently narrowed to the point that the perpetrator (female, as well as male), will not even let the victim leave the house. Of course, if Daniel had the slightest inkling that each of Kate’s trips away were also to collate proof in a ‘scientific experiment’ that she can attract another man, he’d make it his business not to let her go.

Male interest aside though, it’s really the characteristics of each of the cities she visits which really fuel her attempt at liberation… not before a continuum of procrastination can be overcome though.

The only question is: Will she escape for good, and will she escape for good before it’s too late?

 Isabella May lives in (mostly) sunny Andalucia, Spain with her husband, daughter and son, creatively inspired by the sea and the mountains. When she isn’t having her cake and eating it, sampling a new cocktail on the beach, or ferrying her children to and from after school activities, she can usually be found writing.

As a Co-founder and a former contributing writer for the popular online women’s magazine, The Glass House Girls – www.theglasshousegirls.com – she has also been lucky enough to subject the digital world to her other favourite pastimes, travel, the Law of Attraction, and Prince (The Purple One).
She has recently become a Book Fairy, and is having lots of fun with her imaginative ‘drops’!
Oh! What a Pavlova is her debut novel… you can find out more and purchase it here – http://mybook.to/pavlova and her second novel has already been submitted to her publishers: watch this space…

You can follow Isabella May on her website and social media here:

www.isabellamayauthor.com

Twitter – @IsabellaMayBks

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/IsabellaMayAuthor/

Instagram – @isabella_may_author

Thank you Isabella for taking the time to stop by at Hayley Reviews I look forward to reading your debut…

debut novel, Netgalley, New Author to me, Publication Day

Your average Tuesday….Book Hangover and Netflix 

Today I finished reading what is by far the most thrilling book I have read this year.

Our Little Secret – Is out on Friday and my review will be up on publication day. I was tempted to cave and upload it almost instantly after reading the last sentences. 

I have mostly written it bar a few tweeks. Download it here You honestly won’t regret it it’s a rollercoaster ride worth travelling. 

I wasn’t sure what to say today here on the blog, originally I had an idea until I finished reading Our Little Secret I was left dumbstruck and completely overwhelmed – and as I said I want to honour putting my review up on publication day. Wow the book hangover is unreal right now – I have some other thrillers to read but now I need something different as I am still in awe of this debut novel. So for me it will be something light – it also meant I couldn’t finish a review of something else when this book had overtaken me.

Being at home resting my wayward ankle I then decided to catch up on last weeks Nashville UK time before deciding to try something new on Netflix. So I decided to start with 13 Reasons Why – apt after the book I finished this morning. I had seen this advertised loads on Netflix and people saying they had watched it but I always take reviews with a pinch of salt as I don’t always agree with others.


For those of you who haven’t heard of it here is a brief overview….

Newcomer Katherine Langford plays the role of Hannah, a young woman who takes her own life. Two weeks after her tragic death, a classmate named Clay finds a mysterious box on his porch. Inside the box are recordings made by Hannah — on whom Clay had a crush — in which she explains the 13 reasons why she chose to commit suicide. If Clay decides to listen to the recordings, he will find out if and how he made the list. This intricate and heart-wrenching tale is told through Clay and Hannah’s dual narratives.

I have watched the first episode and a little of the second episode and my oh my it’s gripping and it does make you wonder why people make the choices that they do in life.  Another Netflix original that I’m going to relish watching. 

Have you watched it? What are your thoughts? I’m looking forward to getting back to it, my beautiful niece took over the Netflix when she got home but in some ways it longs out my viewing. 

Quote

Taking time for you…

Today I have been in a contemplative mood. 

If you follow my Twitter – HayleyTOfficial you will know that the doctors have finally signed me off, I’m loving the reading time and TV catch up but I must admit I’m a little stir crazy. Anyone who knows me knows I work through being ill but my body has now told me I need to rest – although it has given me time to sit and think. 

In amongst chilling, reading and watching When The Boat Comes In – which was one of my Grandads favourite shows with one of my favourite actors on what would have been his 87th birthday. He was my favourite bookworm and the best Grandad ever – hands down. Every so often I read a book that chills me to the core as I cannot pass it on to him and my current read has done just that. 
I haven’t posted any reviews really and I will as I have finished some gorgeous books – on audio How Not To Fall In Love Actually and ebook of The One We Fell In Love With to name a few. I’m currently reading Our Little Secret and I’m totally engrossed with it. My review of that will come on release day later this week and if you like thrillers then it’s a must for your TBR pile. 

If I’m honest I wasn’t going to post again today, but as much as I didn’t have any reviews ready I was compelled to post – having posted the below quote on Twitter which sparked a reaction I thought I would share it with my lovely readers too. 

Sometimes taking time out for you is exactly what you need to realise what you truly want from life. 

Taking time out – what are your goals? And what are you doing to make them happen?

I have lots planned for the blog for the coming week. Although I am still open to more guest posts….thank you to the gorgeous authors who have already featured and to the beauties who will feature this week.

Netgalley, New Author to me, TBR

Netgalley: Hygge and Kisses By Clara Christensen first few chapters.


Blurb: The perfect feel-good novel to curl up with – light some candles, wrap yourself in a blanket and relax …

Bo, 26, has always been careful, cautious. However, she’s just been made redundant and her life plan is beginning to unravel. Before she starts immediately applying for other jobs in a panic, her friend Kirsten persuades her to take a holiday, to visit Kirsten’s mother’s house in Aslbrog, North Jutland, a part of Denmark Bo is ashamed to admit she has never heard of.
‘What’s the weather going to be like?’ she asks Kirsten hopefully, scrolling her cursor over the budget airlines webpage. ‘Terrible,’ Kirsten replies, ‘London is positively Mediterranean by comparison, and of course it’s November so it’ll be dark seventeen hours a day. But no one goes to Denmark to get a tan. You need a change of scene and to blow away the cobwebs, and trust me, Skagen will do that. Besides, the summerhouse is cosy whatever the weather, and you never know who else will be around.’
A few clicks later and there is no going back. And Bo’s life plan is about to be entirely rewritten.

My thoughts so far: Wednesday is usually wandering Wednesday’s here at Hayley Reviews, and since I started it this is the first Wednesday I haven’t written a wandering post although I feel that when I read this full novel it will have a wandering aspect in Denmark. A place I have never visited but I’m hoping this book transports me there. So far I have met Bo who is so easy to love- she’s likeable and kind but I feel sad to how she’s being made to feel by Ben. As it stands she still very much has a job so I haven’t got to the main part of the plot just yet. 

So far I like her and I feel she deserves more I also like her friend Kirsten she doesn’t tell Bo what she wants to hear she tells her what she needs to hear, whether Bo agrees or not is irrelevant. I can’t say too much as I have only had the pleasure of reading the first few chapters but what I will say is I’m unsure of Ben – I’m not sure if he has been burned by an office romance before or whether he’s not the man Bo first thought. 

Based on these few chapters I would love to read the full novel and I look forward to its September release. You can pre- order it Here for £1.99 it’s release day is 21st September.

Author Q&A, Guest Post, Uncategorized

Author Guest post: The Summer of Serendipity by Ali McNamara

Today here at Hayley Reviews I welcome the wonderful Ali McNamara. Ali is a genius for writing books that pull you in and leave you wanting more. It’s been a while since I have devoured an Ali classic and I’m pretty sure the last one I read whilst on holiday….her latest novel The Summer of Serendipity is out now. 

In the lead up to publication day I asked Ali to answer some of my questions and here they are.

1.What’s your usual publication day? Are you excited for it?

All my publication days have been different. Sometimes I’ve had book launches, sometimes quiet meals with family and friends. My favourite launch was for my first book – From Notting Hill with Love… Actually. We held it at the Travel Bookshop from the Notting Hill movie. That was very special.

2 & 3 Tell us about your inspiration for The summer of serendipity? You spent some time in Ireland as research where did you go and what can you tell us about it?

The Summer of Serendipity is set in the fictional town of Ballykiltara which is based on the town of Killarney on the west coast of Ireland. We stayed there for a few days and I was inspired by the lakes, the beautiful scenery, and the Celtic history of the area.

4. I had a guest post from you when I was part of Dark Readers and that was a while ago now. You have accomplished so much how can you put that into words? And what advice would you give to budding writers?

Being a writer is a wonderful job to have. Creating stories and sending them out into the world, then having people tell me how much they enjoy them is amazing. It can also be tough too. There are days when motivating yourself to head into your office and write 2000 words (my usual daily word count.) can feel terribly hard, and days when you think what you’re writing is complete rubbish! But luckily those days don’t happen too often, and for the most part, I love my job!
My advice is always the same: Write something you would like to read yourself, don’t try to follow trends, and most of all just get on and do it! Books won’t write themselves!

5. Tell us about the main characters from the new book and are they real people or all fictional?

All fictional. But a couple of them were inspired by people I met while in Ireland…

6. Lastly what’s the scariest thing about sending your book out into the world?

Will my readers like this one!

You can download a ebook or purchase a paperback via https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/aw/d/B01MQJVNBC/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1500407629&sr=8-1&pi=AC_SX236_SY340_QL65&keywords=ali+mcnamara and just so you know there is also a special copy via Sainsbury’s with a short linked to Breakfast At Darcy’s.

Ali featured on Dark Readers for me and here it is. Ali McNamara speaks to Dark Readers

My review of The little flower shop by the sea.

My review of From Notting Hill with Love Actually

Links:

www.alimcnamara.co.uk
Twitter: https://twitter.com/alimcnamara?lang=en

Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/AliMcNamara.official/?locale2=en_GB

Thank you Ali for taking the time to answer my questions I look forward to reading and reviewing your latest novel. 

Cover Reveal

Christmas Cover Reveal: Sleigh Rides and Silver Bells at The Christmas Fair By Heidi Swain…

heidi xmas book

Blurb: When Anna takes on the role of companion to the owner of Wynthorpe Hall, on the outskirts of Wynbridge, she has no idea that her life is set to change beyond all recognition.

A confirmed ‘bah humbug’ when it comes to Christmas, Anna is amazed to find herself quickly immersed in the eccentric household, and when youngest son Jamie unexpectedly arrives home it soon becomes obvious that her personal feelings are going all out to compromise her professional persona.

Jamie, struggling to come to terms with life back in the Fens, makes a pact with Anna – she has to teach him to fall back in love with Wynthorpe Hall, while he helps her fall back in love with Christmas. But will it all prove too much for Anna, or can the family of Wynthorpe Hall warm her heart once and for all…?

Join Anna for a festive journey that is festooned with sleigh rides and silver bells and help her discover her happy ever after.

I am sorry for my few days of silence….I had a post planned for today and then on my way home before reading I had a little nosey through Twitter and Instagram, and I had seen Heidi had posted this and I couldn’t resist a post. Ever since I met Heidi I have been even more eager to visit her gorgeous books and I am determined to get caught up in time for Christmas.

You can pre order this beauty here.

First Line Friday

#2 First Line Friday…

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book worms hosted by Wandering Words.

What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its hype, we judged it by its opening lines? 
Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
Finally… reveal the book!

Maya has done it. She has delivered three sentences and a friendly sign-off. Black Stabilo OHPen ink in Fine 0.7mm width whispered nervously across white paper that was once crisp, and now it is out of her hands. She struggles to walk the incline of the seemingly uphill carriage because her legs are shaking, her mouth is dry, and putting one foot in front of the other takes effort and focus her racing heart isn’t capable of at the moment. Freckles pulsate, legs buckle and Maya slumps into a seat on the other side of a grubby internal door. 

Which is just as well because she wanted to linger with the last straggles of bedraggled Train People disembarking reluctantly, to make herself invisible to all the commuters she just embarrassed herself in front of. So Maya lies low with the sleepy people. The people who can’t stand their jobs. The people who are lost in someone else’s life, frantically turning or swiping pages to find out if the girl got the guy, the adventurer made it back to London or the heretic was burned at the stake. Train Man isn’t a straggler. Every day Maya sees him stand confidently at the same point on the track, somewhere between the football stadium and the tunnel, as the train snakes towards a new day and a new terminus.


This is released on October 1st.

Blurb: The Note changed everything….

One very ordinary day, Maya Flowers sees a new commuter board her train to London, and suddenly the day isn’t ordinary at all. Maya knows immediately and irrevocably, that he is The One.

But the beautiful man on the train always has his head in a book and never seems to notice Maya sitting just down the carriage from him every day. Eventually, though, inspired by a very wise friend, Maya plucks up the courage to give the stranger a note asking him out for a drink. Afterall, what’s the worst that can happen?
And so begins a story of sliding doors, missed opportunities and finding happiness where you least expect it.
Based on the author’s true story, The Note is an uplifting, life-affirming reminder that taking a chance can change everything…

This came up via Aria Fiction on Twitter I saw the gorgeous cover and read the blurb and as much as I said no more Netgalley until I have read some more I caved. This little beauty isn’t out until October but I can’t wait to get stuck in….keep an eye on here…

Author Q&A, Publication Day

Author Guest Post: Happy Publication day Heidi Swain for Coming Home to Cuckoo Cottage

Today here at Hayley Reviews I welcome to you Heidi Swain, an author I have had on my TBR list for a while I am ashamed to say. I was lucky enough to meet Heidi at the Simon & Schuster Digital Originals evening in June. (I will be posting a blog post on that it is on my list.)

Happy Publication day Heidi….I cannot wait to start delving into your world…

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Before I start are you all excited and set for publication day.
Hello my lovely and thank you so much for inviting me to feature on your blog. Yes, I think I’m ready – the fizz is in the fridge and every device in the house is fully charged.
• How will you spend publication day?
Publication day itself is mostly spent on social media thanking everyone for their fabulous likes, posts, shares, tweets, shelfies and kind wishes. It’s always fabulous but very busy and this time around I have to be even more organised than usual as I’m heading off to the RNA Conference early the next day!
This is book number four and you are now a full time author that must feel like a dream come true?
The last two years have been an absolute whirlwind and I consider myself very lucky, not only to have had 4 books published so quickly, but also to be doing the job I love every single day. It’s been a lot of hard work to get to this point but I wouldn’t change a single thing and am looking forward to writing dozens more books for decades to come.
• Have you always known what you wanted to do?
Yes. For as long as I can remember I always wanted to be an author but it took me years to pluck up the courage to do anything about it. A school friend of mine says she can remember me talking about wanting to write when we were in our early teens but it wasn’t until I was actually in my 30’s that I began to seriously get some words down.
• Tell us something about you that no one would know?
My first job was working Saturdays in a ‘record’ shop. Yep, we’re talking before CD’s here. Who would have guessed I’m that old?
• As its publication day we have to talk about your latest book, where did you get your inspiration for Coming Home to Cuckoo Cottage?
The initial idea for Cuckoo Cottage popped into my head when I was writing my first Christmas book, Mince Pies and Mistletoe at The Christmas Market. Gwen, the owner of Cuckoo Cottage is a wonderfully eccentric character in that book and I just knew, having discovered what she did with all the battered Christmas trees, that her home had a story of its own to tell. A research trip to Happy Days Retro Vacations to stay in a refurbished Airstream van sealed the plot and Coming Home to Cuckoo Cottage was born!
•Tell us about the main characters from Coming Home to Cuckoo Cottage and your inspiration for them?
Lottie Foster is the main character. She hasn’t had the easiest of starts in life and I wanted to tell her story and show that just because life has rubbish moments, it doesn’t have to be that way forever. You have to look out for the opportunities that come your way and grab them, even if they might not be what you are expecting.
Lottie has two guys to keep her company at Cuckoo Cottage – Will and Matt. I’m not going to say anything about either of these characters. I’ll let you make up your own minds!
• It must be a nice feeling to see two of your novels in the Kindle sale ahead of your fourth coming out?
Yes, this is really exciting and perfectly timed. I would love as many people as possible to fall in love with Wynbridge and to have both The Cherry Tree Café and Summer at Skylark Farm in the sale offers the best chance of that happening!
• Now you are a full time author what is your average day like?
I’m an early bird – always up around 5 or not long after. Weather permitting, I’ll start the day with a 20 minute walk and then settle down to work on the WIP until lunchtime. Afternoons are generally reserved for writing blog posts, answering emails, fiddling on Insta and occasionally flinging the vacuum cleaner around of course! I do like to write longhand sometimes so if I can’t get to the keyboard for any reason I’ll be working away in pencil.
• What would you say to aspiring authors?
Don’t put off getting those words down. Even if all you have are a collection of ideas – character names, bits and pieces of dialogue, settings – get them all recorded and let your creativity grow. If you have a story in you, let it out! Once you have committed your thoughts to paper, you’ll be amazed by how quickly they begin to take on a life of their own.
• What sort of books do you like reading and what are you reading right now?
I love reading commercial romantic fiction but I’m not adverse to the odd thriller. I’ve also started to read more historical fiction – Georgette Heyer has been a revelation. My current read is The Once in a Blue Moon Guesthouse by lovely Cressida McLaughlin, which I am absolutely loving.

Heidi – Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions ahead of a busy day.

 

 

 

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 Heidi Swain Author Bio

Although passionate about writing from an early age, Heidi Swain gained a degree in Literature, flirted briefly with a newspaper career, married and had two children before she plucked up the courage to join a creative writing class and take her literary ambitions seriously.

A lover of Galaxy bars, vintage paraphernalia and the odd bottle of fizz, she now writes feel good fiction with heart for Simon and Schuster.

Her debut novel, The Chery Tree Café was published in July 2015 (paperback June 2017) and Summer at Skylark Farm hit the shelves the following June. Mince Pies and Mistletoe at the Christmas Market was a hugely successful Christmas 2016 release and her fourth book, Coming Home to Cuckoo Cottage was published in July 2017. She is currently preparing for her October 2017 Christmas release, Sleigh Rides and Silver Bells at The Christmas Fair.

Heidi lives in Norfolk with her wonderful family and a mischievous cat called Storm.

 Links

Website: http://www.heidiswain.co.uk/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Heidi_Swain

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WriterHeidiJoSwain?ref=hl

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Heidi-Swain/e/B00YNN3LDI/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1483439180&sr=8-2-ent

 Cuckoo Cottage: https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_1_16?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=coming+home+to+cuckoo+cottage&sprefix=coming+home+to+c%2Caps%2C240&crid=M3CL71BR7MXM