Guest Post: Fiona Gibson

ALL WORK AND NO PLAY? HERE’S HOW I SWITCH OFF By FIONA GIBSON

I love what I do for a living. As long as I can remember I have wanted to write stories. All the same, it’s good not to do it sometimes, to get away from the laptop and take some proper time off, otherwise I have have a tendency to start acting oddly, muttering to myself and acting a bit MOL (Mental Old Lady) in oddly put-together outfits with my hair all askew.

Here’s what I do to restore some semblance of normality…

1. Go for a run. I loathed sport at school. Netball, hockey and all that terrible gym equipment brought only pain and the mortification of flashing of one’s knickers in front of sniggering boys. However, when I reached my late-thirties – by which time I was mum to twin boys and a daughter – it had become clear that my body needed a certain amount of maintenance, if it was to carry on functioning properly. I never want to go for a run – but always feel less deranged afterwards. I also participate in…

2. Yoga. Which also counts as exercise, although it doesn’t involve the same degree of sweating or facial redness. I started a year ago, and found all those poses baffling. If you’ve had a go and find it equally muddling, I’d suggest sticking with it for a while, as it takes ages to grasp where your various bodily parts should go (if you’re anything like me, and don’t pick up these things quickly). Now I’m at the stage where – although I still have masses to learn – I love all the deep stretches and am actually starting to feel quite bendy.

3. Have my hair done… superficial, I know – but come on. Coffee, glossy magazines, a head massage during the shampooing part, and a chat with my lovely hairdresser, James – plus, I come out looking less ‘crazed author who’s been trapped in a small room for weeks.’ It’s one of the great joys of life.

4. Draw. As an only child, I spent a vast proportion of my young years huddled over a pile of paper with my beloved felt tips. Then along came my teenage years, and life got in the way. I barely picked up a pencil for years. Now, with my three children almost all grownup, it feels like I have the time to do things purely for fun. And so I started to draw and paint again. Unlike during my 70s childhood, we now have social media so – tentatively at first – I posted the odd picture on Facebook and Instagram. Friends were incredibly kind about them, and I’ve since taken art courses and draw almost every day. It brings me great joy and is a wonderful visual antidote to my day job, which is all about words.

5. Loll about in cafes. Sometimes I read, draw or make notes and other times I just sit. There are tons of great cafes in Glasgow’s Southside, where we live. Current faves: Tapa and The Glad Cafe, both on Pollokshaws Road. Sitting there watching life going on all around me is one of life’s greatest pleasures.

6. Soak in the bath. I think this goes back to those early days of parenting when I could lock the door and be alone for a while, marinating in bubbles, while my sons poked their plastic swords through the gap under the door.

7. Read magazines. Mags have fallen from favour in the past decade or so, but when I’m feeling a bit frazzled there’s nothing quite like curling up one. I still read glossy fashion magazines occasionally, but it does niggle me that they are mostly filled with crazily expensive clothes (‘Nice dress. Oh, it’s £3,200!’). I’m now more drawn to artsy crafty magazines – Flow and Uppercase are favourites – which cost a packet, but are the kind you keep forever and leaf through over and over again. They are beautiful, full of inspiration and my treat to myself – and everyone is allowed one of those once in a while.

Fiona’s new novel, The Woman Who Met Her Match, is out now (Avon). Click to buy.

What if your first love came back on the scene . . . 30 years later?

After yet another disaster, Lorrie is calling time on online dating. She might be single in her forties, but she’s got a good job, wonderful children and she’s happy. This, Lorrie decides, is going to have to be enough.

That is, until she receives a very unexpected request from France. Antoine Rousseau, who had once turned a lonely French exchange trip into a summer of romance, wants to see her – after thirty years.

But Lorrie is a responsible woman. She can’t exactly run off to Nice with the man who broke her teenage heart . . . can she?

Free eBooks

It’s nearing the end of the month…and if you’re anything like me you will have blown your monthly book budget and some by now. But never fear! There are a LOAD of fabulous FREE eBooks up for grabs over on Amazon at the moment…You’re welcome.

These Days of Ours by [Ashton, Juliet]These Days of Ours by Juliet Ashton

Kate and Becca are cousins and best friends. They have grown up together and shared all the most important milestones in their lives: childhood birthday parties, eighteenth birthdays, and now a wedding day as they each marry their childhood sweethearts, Charlie and Julian.

Kate has always loved Charlie – they were meant to be. Then she discovers that life never turns out quite how you expect it to. And love doesn’t always follow the journey it should. But best friends are forever, and true love will find a way, won’t it…?
Click to buy.

 

The Apple Orchard: A heart-warming short story to curl up with by [Henry, Veronica]The Apple Orchard by Veronica Henry

In the charming town of Peasebrook, there’s a place for everyone. War vet Joe has made new friends and a new home for himself here, overlooking a beautiful apple orchard. But when tragedy strikes and Joe is left out in the cold, it will bring them all together in entirely unexpected ways . . .

Click to buy.

 

 

 

 

 

Good Girl Gone (a Charlie Easton Thriller): A gripping psychological thriller with a twist by [Finch, KT]KT Finch – Good Girl Gone

One morning, everything changes…

A gripping novella with an awesome twist.

Tom Cheever is an IT specialist, a recovering alcoholic, and a single dad. Molly, his ten-year-old daughter is his whole life. But one ordinary morning, Tom discovers that Molly’s not in her room.

Gone. Vanished.

Police are called, a search party goes out, and Tom, already struggling with staying sober, finds himself coming undone. As hours become days without any sign of Molly, everyone she knows is called into question, including Tom himself.

As he tries to desperately piece together what could’ve happened, Tom realizes that nothing is quite as it seems. Will Molly be found in time? Or will Tom have to face the rest of his life not knowing what happened to little girl?

Swept Away by [Parkes, Penny]Swept Away by Penny Parkes

Swept Away is a short story based around a large country medical practice in Larkford that also features in Penny Parkes’ novels Out of Practice and the forthcoming Practice Makes Perfect (June 2017). The Surgery at Larkford proves to be a hotbed of rivalry, resentment and romance – and that’s just the doctors. Think James Herriot meets House.

Married mum of two and successful GP Holly Graham moved to Larkford hoping to find the peaceful life she craved. Instead she found chaos and intrigue, but also a tight-knit community full of wonderful characters who helped her through difficult times.

Click to buy.

 

 

 

An Affair to Dismember (Matchmaker Mysteries Book 1) by [Sax, Elise]An Affair to Dismember by Elise Sax

Three months has been Gladie Burger’s limit when it comes to staying in one place. That’s why Gladie is more than a little skeptical when her Grandma Zelda—who is more than a little psychic– recruits her into the family’s matchmaking business in the quaint small town of Cannes, California. What’s more, Gladie is also highly unqualified, having a terrible track record with romance. Still, Zelda is convinced that her granddaughter has her clairvoyant “gift.” But when the going gets tough, Gladie wonders if this gift has a return policy.
*
When Zelda’s neighbor drops dead in his kitchen, Gladie is swept into his bizarre family’s drama. Despite warnings from the (distractingly gorgeous) chief of police to steer clear of his investigation, Gladie is out to prove that her neighbor’s death was murder. It’s not too long before she’s in way over her head—with the hunky police chief, a dysfunctional family full of possible killers, and yet another mysterious and handsome man, whose attentions she’s unable to ignore. Gladie is clearly being pursued—either by true love or by a murderer.

Click to buy.

 

The Hate U Give: The Book Everyone's Talking About by [Thomas, Angie]The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (Six chapter sample)

Read an exclusive six-chapter sample of the No. 1 New York Times bestseller The Hate U Give – the book everyone’s talking about.

Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed.

Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this is a powerful and gripping YA novel about one girl’s struggle for justice.

Click to buy.

Guest Post: Sarah Long

Women giving up their job when they have a baby by Sarah Long

It is terribly tempting to give up your job when you have a baby. Just do the maths: by the time you’ve paid for childcare and factored in transport, half-decent office clothes, and a sandwich at your desk, you’re only just breaking even. Instead of which you could be dandling your little darling on your knee in front of Loose Women and Countdown. Wearing pyjamas all day, singing to baby while you plant tomatoes on the window sill and knock up nourishing home made soup. It’s a no-brainer, really, if you’ve got an obliging partner who doesn’t mind being the one to go out and bring home the bacon.

Except. In the rather fierce debate about whether women ‘should’ go back to work or stay at home after, the focus is all on the immediate circumstances. It’s lovely for baby to have mummy for a few years, and lovely for mummy to take some time out. A fug of family warmth, play dates, mother and baby groups, and the occasional blind moment of panic as you wonder if this is what it has come to.

In my novel INVISIBLE WOMEN, I fast forward twenty years to take a look at how this decision can impact down the line, when the children have become adults and you are confronted by the reality of an empty nest. A ‘few years out to raise a family’ has become a habit it is hard to break. They no longer need you, but neither does the workforce. Ask any fifty-year-old woman with a twenty-year gap in her CV.

My three heroines are what used to be called ‘housewives’ and are now referred to as ‘stay-at-home mothers,’ or ‘full-time mothers’ which rather shifts the emphasis. Where once they were in service to their husbands, it implies, they are now in service to their children. It’s not all bad, not at all. Think of those horrible boring jobs they could be doing. And now the kids are off their hands, they have time to think about themselves, at last. But don’t they say the devil finds work for idle hands? Especially when the house is so empty and your husband’s always working and you’ve come such a long way from singing along to ‘The Wheels On The Bus.’ If they’re not careful, the wheels could be coming off their own buses. But maybe a little disruption at this interesting point of their lives is exactly what they need. Especially when disruption arrives in the form of your first ever boyfriend whose ardour is entirely undimmed by the intervening decades …

It is terribly tempting to give up your job when you have a baby. Just do the maths: by the time you’ve paid for childcare and factored in transport, half-decent office clothes, and a sandwich at your desk, you’re only just breaking even. Instead of which you could be dandling your little darling on your knee in front of Loose Women and Countdown. Wearing pyjamas all day, singing to baby while you plant tomatoes on the window sill and knock up nourishing home made soup. It’s a no-brainer, really, if you’ve got an obliging partner who doesn’t mind being the one to go out and bring home the bacon.

Except. In the rather fierce debate about whether women ‘should’ go back to work or stay at home after, the focus is all on the immediate circumstances. It’s lovely for baby to have mummy for a few years, and lovely for mummy to take some time out. A fug of family warmth, play dates, mother and baby groups, and the occasional blind moment of panic as you wonder if this is what it has come to.

In my novel INVISIBLE WOMEN, I fast forward twenty years to take a look at how this decision can impact down the line, when the children have become adults and you are confronted by the reality of an empty nest. A ‘few years out to raise a family’ has become a habit it is hard to break. They no longer need you, but neither does the workforce. Ask any fifty-year-old woman with a twenty-year gap in her CV.

My three heroines are what used to be called ‘housewives’ and are now referred to as ‘stay-at-home mothers,’ or ‘full-time mothers’ which rather shifts the emphasis. Where once they were in service to their husbands, it implies, they are now in service to their children. It’s not all bad, not at all. Think of those horrible boring jobs they could be doing. And now the kids are off their hands, they have time to think about themselves, at last. But don’t they say the devil finds work for idle hands? Especially when the house is so empty and your husband’s always working and you’ve come such a long way from singing along to ‘The Wheels On The Bus.’ If they’re not careful, the wheels could be coming off their own buses. But maybe a little disruption at this interesting point of their lives is exactly what they need. Especially when disruption arrives in the form of your first ever boyfriend whose ardour is entirely undimmed by the intervening decades …

Click here to get hold of your copy of Invisible Woman.

 

Five Reasons Why I Love Robert Bryndza

Bad book blogger alert. I did a really stupid thing… The second I got a copy of Robert Bryndza’s HIGHLY anticipated new Erika Foster novel, Last Breath, I gobbled it up in one greedy sitting (similar to how I will consume my chocolate eggs today…Don’t judge me.) Whilst there is nothing wrong with this in itself (and OHMYGOSH I loved the book in case you were wondering…) I didn’t write my review straight away. Now I have this thing with reviews. I have to write them as soon as is humanly possible after reading the book, otherwise I feel I can’t do the book justice and I will forget things. And believe me, Last Breath is one book I want to do justice because it was blow-your-pants-off amazing. Therefore, my plan is to re-read Last Breath (Any excuse…) and write a dazzling review, worthy of this heart-stopping, page-turner of a novel. Which brings me on to today and my stop for Robert’s blog tour…

I’ve been a fan of Robert’s books since I read my first Coco Pinchard novel back in 2014. I love every single thing he has written and he is, undoubtedly, one of my favourite authors ever. So I thought it would be fitting, instead of sharing my review, to share five reasons as to exactly why I love Robert so much… I hope that is ok and I am forgiven for being such a terrible book blogger

  1. His writing is PROPERLY laugh-out-loud.
    You hear books being described as being ‘laugh out loud’ a lot, but I personally think it’s a phrase which is used too freely. Did you REALLY laugh out loud? Are you actually a miserable sow-and-sow like me and it takes a helluva’ lot to even make you raise a smile when you’re reading a book? Don’t get me wrong – I’m one of those people who can acknowledge when something is funny, but for a novel to ACTUALLY make me laugh out loud is something that not many authors achieve. However, Robert cracks this every single time. He is just so naturally funny. His Coco Pinchard books have me howling with laughter, so much so that there’s no risk of me reading them in public any more because I just make an idiot of myself (even more so than on your average day…) His comic timing is perfect, his characters one-liners superb; and he even manages to throw in plenty of darker humour in his wonderful Erika Foster novels. LOL’s alongside a crime scene investigation? Robert has it covered…
  2. His ability to write mutli-genres.
    It’s no secret that I love Coco Pichard. She is my absolute favourite and she will forever have a place in my heart. If Robert agreed to just write a new Coco novel every six months or so for the rest of my life I would be pretty content.
    Naturally I was massively and also a little scared when I heard he was turning his hand to writing crime. How would this work? I had no doubts that Robert would nail it – let’s be honest, he’s pretty fabulous, but I was dying to see how his writing would differ when writing a thriller. Needless to say he DID nail it – and some (you know all the accolades he’s received for The Girl in the Ice and what a ginormous success it’s been…) He is a natural born thriller writer. He creates tension, his writing is so atmospheric and he has that skill of drip-feeding the reader just enough information to intrigue yet not give the story away.
    I would imagine it must be so difficult to switch from writing one genre to another – and to do it so fantastically really is something that needs to be applauded. Robert Bryndza is clearly an author or many, many talents.
  3. His Characters.
    Robert has a skill for creating energetic, fascinating, bold, larger-than-life characters who jump off the page.
    Ethel is one of my all time favourite characters in Robert’s Coco books. Not only do I love her no-nonsense personality, but I also love her accent. A true cockney; Ethel never, EVER fails to make me smile. She is also as mad as a box of frogs. I am also a massive fan of Hungarian Anouska in Miss Wrong and Mr Right (I like the way she says ‘vooman’.) and it goes without saying that I am in total awe of the wonderful DCI Erika Foster. She is such a relatable, complex and intriguing character. I admire this woman, so, so much. I like her bravery, I like her honesty, I like her sassiness, I like her kick-ass attitude, and I like how she never, ever gives up, no matter what the consequences might be.
  4. He never, EVER disappoints.
    All book-lovers have that worry when their favourite author releases a new novel. Whilst 99% of their bookish brain is filled with joy, there’s that tiny niggling 1% that worries – what if it doesn’t live up to my ridiculously high expectations? Scary stuff.
    However, the thing I have discovered with Robert’s books is that this never, ever, EVER happens. He is consistently good; up to the point where I swear his books keep getting better and better (despite this not seeming humanly possible) He somehow always pulls it out of the bag and his stories continue to amaze me, his writing continues to draw me in, and his brilliantly executed stories continue to keep me up reading way past my bedtime.
  5. He is a fantastic storyteller.
    Whether it’s crime, humour, chick lit, thriller- whatever Robert writes the way he crafts a story is phenomenal. His writing is so well executed and his plot lines are always so well thought out. I love the amount of twists and turns that his stories take, sometimes leaving you in complete awe thinking -did that really just happen!?’ He also has a knack for not giving anything away. Y’know how some stories have conclusions that you can see a mile off? Robert’s books are never like that. Always unpredictable, full of excitement and with twists and turns aplenty. Despite the unpredictability of the storylines there is one thing that you can always bank on…Once you pick up a Robert Bryndza book up, you won’t be putting it down any time soon…

 

He’s your perfect date. You’re his next victim.

When the tortured body of a young woman is found in a dumpster, her eyes swollen shut and her clothes soaked with blood, Detective Erika Foster is one of the first at the crime scene. The trouble is, this time, it’s not her case.

While she fights to secure her place on the investigation team, Erika can’t help but get involved and quickly finds a link to the unsolved murder of a woman four months earlier. Dumped in a similar location, both women have identical wounds – a fatal incision to their femoral artery.

Stalking his victims online, the killer is preying on young pretty women using a fake identity. How will Erika catch a murderer who doesn’t seem to exist?

Then another girl is abducted while waiting for a date. Erika and her team must get to her before she becomes another dead victim, and, come face to face with a terrifyingly sadistic individual.

Gripping, tense and impossible to put down, Last Breath will have you on the edge of your seat, racing to the final dramatic page.

Click to buy in paperback or ebook.

 

Book Review: The Cows by Dawn O’Porter

The Cows by Dawn O’Porter

Release Date: 6th April 2017

Publisher: HarperCollins

Pages: 464

Genre: Women’s fiction, humour

Buy: Hardback  Kindle

Rating: Image result for pink heartsImage result for pink heartsImage result for pink heartsImage result for pink heartsImage result for pink hearts

 

 

What’s the Story?

COW [n.]
/kaʊ/

A piece of meat; born to breed; past its sell-by-date; one of the herd.

Women don’t have to fall into a stereotype.

Tara, Cam and Stella are strangers living their own lives as best they can – though when society’s screaming you should live life one way, it can be hard to like what you see in the mirror.

When an extraordinary event ties invisible bonds of friendship between them, one woman’s catastrophe becomes another’s inspiration, and a life lesson to all.

Sometimes it’s ok not to follow the herd.

My Thoughts

The Cows brings us into the lives of three very different women. Cam is a hugely successful blogger who is unafraid to speak her mind, Stella is working as a PA whilst struggling to come to terms with her past, and Tara, a single mum who works within the male-dominated media industry.
It quickly becomes apparent that these women have more in common than you might think…They are each trying to find their way in the world, trying to find their own ‘voice’ and live up to the pressures that modern-day women are forced to face in such a challenging society.
When Cam’s blog changes direction, Stella’s personal life begins to unravel, and Tara finds herself at the centre of a viral-internet storm the three women’s stories become intertwined in a compelling and unforgettable way…

I am a massive fan of Dawn O’ Porter. I love her writing (I adore her column in Glamour magazine) and I also loved her YA novels. She is one of those women who I see as an inspiration, she talks a lot of sense and I love pretty much everything about her.

Naturally I was MEGA excited when I learnt she had dipped her toe into the world of adult fiction – and what a cracker of a story The Cows turned out to be. Relevant, bang-on-the-money and a huge power-house of a novel; this was one book that I simply could not get enough of. I gobbled my way through this story faster than I plan on demolishing a king-size bag of mini-eggs this weekend. It was smart, frightening, kick-ass, realistic, moving, funny and surprising. Perhaps a weird range of words to use when describing one book but those were the first ones that came to mind…and perhaps another reason as to why this book is so very special.

It’s a bold statement to make but The Cows is completely unlike any other book out there at the moment. It has that something special, as cheesy as it would be to say it has the ‘X-Factor’ I’m going to put it out there and say it, regardless…) There’s no denying that this book is pretty damn unique.

Dawn is such a superb storyteller. She has crafted these three brave, bold and relatable females and turned them into characters that will stay with you long after you’ve finished reading the book. They are complex and they felt so very real. Their stories felt real, their problems felt real and the issues they faced felt frighteningly real. You might not always agree with the decisions they make, but you will undoubtedly grow to care about these three women.
The issues tackled in this book are incredible and really couldn’t be more relevant. One of the main topics that Dawn tackled which stood out for me was the power of the internet, especially as a blogger myself. With the rise of YouTube and social media, it’s frightening how 140 characters can literally make or break a person. The way this is incorporated into the story is hugely thought-provoking and unsettling.
The other overriding theme is the problems faced by everyday women in todays modern world. Friendship, motherhood, trolling, relationships and most predominantly, will we, as women, ever be enough?

I predict really big things for this novel, and rightly so. It is definitely deserving of all the praise it’s been receiving and I cannot recommend it enough. It should be required reading for females everywhere – not only does it convey a hugely important message, but it has a brilliantly executed story at its centre. A must-read.

A huge thank you to Emilie at HarperCollins.