First Time in Forever by Sarah Morgan

"It's time you went to bed with something other than a good book."


Title - First Time in Forever
Author - Sarah Morgan
Publication Date - 24th February 2015
Format - Paperback (Provided via publisher)
Pages - 416

The blurb

Happily-Ever-After isn't on Emily Donovan's agenda...

Emily's been too swept up in a challenging year of firsts, from becoming a stand-in mum to her niece Lizzy to moving to remote but beautiful Puffin Island, to think about love. 

But that's before charismatic local yacht club owner Ryan Cooper kisses her...

Ryan knows Emily has a complicated past that she's struggling to face. So he makes it his mission to help her unwind and enjoy the chemistry they share. 

Can the welcoming community of Puffin Island work their magic on Emily and get her to take her biggest leap of trust yet - putting her heart in someone else's hands? 

Becca's thoughts

Woweeeeeeeee!

Firstly, I'd like to say a HUGE thank you to the fabulous Cara Frances for getting touch with me regarding a review copy of First Time in Forever by Sarah Morgan. I couldn't believe it when I opened the email, and I don't think I've ever replied to one as quick as I did on this occasion either. I honestly couldn't wait to get my hands on a gorgeous copy, and when it came through the post I squealed and squealed and squealed. I'd also like to say thank you to Sarah Morgan. I love this author. Absolutely adore her. Her books, particularly the Snow Crystal Trilogy, do something to me. I'm addicted, well and truly. There is no other author who writes romance so perfectly and affects me in such a profound way. I applaud Sarah Morgan. She is, quite simply, legendary in the romance writing world, and First Time in Forever just emphasises that fact a million times over. 

In First Time in Forever, we're introduced to Emily Donovan. Emily is escaping to Puffin Island with her niece Lizzy. She needs to be somewhere where people won't notice the little girl who is practically famous, and Puffin Island's sandy beaches and harbours isn't the sort of place to home paparazzi. It is the perfect getaway. The plan is to keep away from the friendly, welcoming locals. To keep Lizzy away from prying, curious eyes. And to the keep herself to herself, too. Because the very last thing that Emily wants is to make friends, or to draw attention to herself. 

Puffin Island was stunning. Honestly readers, if the title of the island wasn't enough to make you think of holidays and beaches, then Sarah's descriptions were absolutely gorgeous. She managed to tease each and every one of my senses; I could smell the sea salt, the fresh air, the smell from the nearby eateries. I could see the beaches, the boats bobbing up and down in the harbour. Everything about the setting provided this story with a relaxed, sea-breeze atmosphere, which contrasted beautifully against the whirlwind of emotions and anxiety that Emily was feeling. 

As always, with Sarah Morgan's novels, her romance is off the scale! When Emily meets Ryan Cooper, their chemistry is absolutely insane. Every fleeting glance, every accidental touch, it all amounted to something that remained between them right the way through. Ryan was a confident, laid-back guy, who seemed to guess right away that Emily was hiding something. It was difficult not to fall for this guy completely. Despite his macho-man bravado, deep down, he was effortlessly loyal and caring, and damn protective of anything or anyone that he loved. Emily, despite wanting to keep her secrets to herself and wanting to protect Lizzy, couldn't help but to warm to Ryan and confide in him. Their relationship, putting the sexual chemistry aside, was beautiful. Ryan was there for Emily and Lizzy, providing them with a bit of social interaction, which was just what they both needed. 

First Time in Forever by Sarah Morgan was a gorgeous way to begin the brand new Puffin Island series. Emily and Ryan were of that special Sarah Morgan brand and I just couldn't get enough of them. The setting of Puffin Island was perfect, the surrounding characters engaging and instantly likeable. First Time in Forever needs to be taken on holiday and read in the sand! Becca's Books is rating First Time in Forever by Sarah Morgan with FOUR GORGEOUS CUPCAKES! I cannot wait to read the next book in this series! 






  




Author Interview with Kierney Scott

Today on Becca's Books, I'm welcoming the fabulous Kierney Scott onto the blog, and we're talking all things bookish & writing. Author with Carina UK, Kierney has agreed to answering my questions and sharing them with you all, to give readers and bloggers alike an insight into her books. Kierney, it's brilliant to have you, so without further ado, let's get this interview started!


So, for those readers who haven't yet heard of you or your books, can you provide us with an introduction? 

K ~ I write super hot contemporary romance. I specialize in alpha males and slightly unlikable heroines. I love my heroines but they might be a tad abrasive for gentle readers. 

Tell us a little about yourself!

K ~ I am your run of the mill, carpool driving, Brownie Troop leading, housewife... who writes naughty books in between school runs. 

Which books of yours are currently published, and can you tell us about any upcoming releases? 

K ~ Dirty Little Secrets - Ben McCoy is the Vice-Presidential candidate with the backing of the entire nation. His wife, Megan, is as close as she'll ever be to living the American-Dream, from inside The White House. 
Until investigative reporter, James Emerson, comes looking for a story - and it seems the barricade masking ambition, sex and power-struggle rife in Washington D.C. isn't impenetrable after all... No matter how careful you are, secrets always leak out. Now, Megan has a choice, she can do as many First Lady's have done before her, and stand by her man. Or she can opt for full disclosure. With a scandal so sensational it will whip the press into a humiliating political frenzy Megan, for the first time, holds all the cards. 
They say all that glitters isn't gold - but what happens when you realise everything you've ever dreamed of isn't enough...

Twice in a Lifetime - A second chance at redemption...
A lifetime ago, Sarah and Liam were childhood sweethearts in a dingy Edinburgh block, dreaming of making it in the big wide world. But reality called. Sarah stayed to make a difference in her community, while Liam forged a career in international finance and never looked back. 
Ten years on, a friend in crisis brings Sarah and Liam together in Dubai. There's no trace of the boy she once loved - the man Liam has become is hard, mercenary, infuriating... and arousing. In an opulent desert city far away from everything she knows, can Sarah take the heat?

Blurring the Line (The Firing Line - Book 1) - When DEA Agent Beth Thomson recruits ex-soldier Armando Torres as an undercover agent, she knows she has hit the jackpot. 
He will infiltrate 'Los Zetas', one of Mexico's deadliest cartels, and expose their drug-running into the USA. In turn, she promises to turn a blind eye to him finding and killing the rival cartel member who shot his best friend. Beth is good at overlooking the gruesome details of her job; her focus is the bigger picture - nailing 'El Escorpion', the mysterious and most-wanted leader of the 'Los Treintas' gang. Torres soon climbs the cartel ladder, and has the tattoo markings to prove his loyalty. So when a secret meet with Beth goes wrong, his cover is strong enough for him to save her from his fellow gang members. His silence hints at the horrors he has performed to get him where he is, and his brutality and strength both scare and arouse Beth simultaneously. The between them is unprofessional and yet undeniable. But has he gone rogue? Can Beth trust him to put her mission before his own revenge? And can she trust herself with him? 

Holding the Line (The Firing Line - Book 2) comes out March 9th.

What major themes do you generally focus on when writing? 

K ~ All of my books are very different. When I finish a book I always pick a project very different than the last thing I did. It keeps things fresh for me and it keeps my characters distinct. But I would have to say one continuing thing in my work is: people are complicated and relationships are messy but everyone deserves love and respect.

When genre do your works fall into? 

K ~ All of my book are romance but sometimes they cross over into suspense, but the relationship is always at the heart of the story. 

How would you describe your writing style? 

K ~ Technically speaking it would be classified as deep third person point of view. I don't ever write in first person because I can't stand it, just one of my pet peeves. It makes me feel too much like a voyeur. I like the emotional distance of third person. In a strange way it actually lets you get deeper into the person's psyche. It is all about the psychology for me. My background is developmental psychology so I love writing people's motivations. 

What does your ultimate fictional hero look like in your mind? 

K ~ Physically I have no idea what he would look like because I am very fickle. My favourite everything changes on a regular basis. Also I am not the person to ask if you want to know if someone is objectively attractive. There is an ongoing joke amongst my friends to never ask me if someone is good looking because I think every woman is beautiful and every man is handsome. 

What can readers expect from the heroines in your books? 

K ~ My heroines are very strong  and very flawed. Sometimes they make bad choices but they are kind. Kindness is paramount; I don't have time for mean people in books or real life. 

How would you describe your writing process? Do you plan? If so, how? 

K ~ I am a die-hard plotter! Everything is mapped out right down to the number of chapters. All the characters quirks are written down and filed in my trusty purple binder. Once I start, my characters will often fight me and I have to tweak things. Bizarrely I struggle with changing the outline. I always have to remind myself that I am the author; I have permission to change the story. 

Would you say that any of your personal experiences in life have affected your writing in some way? 

K ~ I never write about myself directly but everything gets filtered through, I think it would be difficult to completely divorce yourself from your work.
When things happen in my life, there is often a wee voice telling me that it will be going in a book. I think that is how I process painful things. 

Where do your ideas come from? 

K ~ I wish I knew. And I wish I could plan it. Ideas come out of nowhere. Music is the most reliable source of inspiration. I adore music, all types. I have so many guilty pleasure tracks on my ipod.

What, in your opinion, is the perfect writing accompaniment?

K ~ Cinnamon tea is a must for writing. 

Do you have any bizarre writing habits?

K ~ I have a whole long involved process. It starts with checking email and social media. Then I read the newspaper. Next I put on youtube videos. I listen to the same song on repeat for hours. I think it would drive a normal person crazy; thankfully I'm not even a wee bit normal. With Blurring the Line I wrote 12,000 words in one day listening to Go Your Own Way, by Fleetwood Mac, on repeat. Every book has a soundtrack. When I hear the songs, it brings everything back. 

At what point did you realise that you wanted to share your writing with the world? 

K ~ Shortly after birth...

How do you cope with bad reviews? How do you celebrate the good ones? 

K ~ That is a great question. I am very respectful of people and their individuality. I know my books will not be to everyone's taste and that is OK. I love diversity. Find what makes you happy and read that. If you don't enjoy my books, don't waste your time on them. Life is too short! The only time I mind bad reviews is when they are personal or mean spirited. I strongly believe that as humans we don't have the right to intentionally inflict pain on one another. 
As for good reviews: I love them. It makes my heart happy when a reader takes the time to leave a review or send me an email. I love creating characters that resonate with people. I am so honoured that people spent their time and money on my books. I am so very grateful.

If a reader was to ask you why they should buy your book, what would you say? 

K ~ I would start by asking what kind of books they enjoy. There is no one size fits all for books. 

Where would we normally find you on an average day? 

K ~ You will always find me with my family or friends. I adore the people in my life. I am so blessed to have them all. My typical day involves a school run, trip to gym, writing sessions, coffee date with friends, homework and board games, and then a good snuggle before bed. Oh and there is always a hot bath in there somewhere. 

Are you due a holiday any time soon? 

K ~ I am going on a Mediterranean cruise this Summer with my extended family. We always take my parents and one of my nieces or nephews on holiday with us. This year my eldest niece is coming. She is off to University next year so I am so excited to get to spend a bit of time with her before she sets off into the great big world. I can't believe how quickly time has gone. 

If you could swap places with another author, who would you choose and why? 

K ~ I would not want to swap places with anyone. I am so grateful for everything in my life. I'm not a jealous person. I admire achievements but I don't covet them. I love when people are successful and happy. I wish it for everyone. 

What would you say you find most difficult when writing a novel? And what do you find easiest? 

K ~ There are so many hard parts, but I suppose that is what I like, I like a bit of hard work. Love scenes are difficult to write. My pace slows right down; it is a battle to get every word on the paper. The easiest thing to write is dialogue. I love writing dialogue. Love, love, love it.

What's the best advice you ever received?

K ~ Do unto others as you would have done to you. 

What advice would you give to any aspiring authors out there? 

K ~ Don't give up. Commit to getting better: don't be precious about your work. You created it, but it isn't you. If you are lucky enough to get your work in front of an editor, take their advice. 

What's your favourite meal? 

K ~ Kung Po Tofu. I love spicy food. I like my food so spicy that my eyes water and my nose runs. I'm vegan so give me anything with tofu and chilli and I will be happy. 

Favourite colour?

K ~ Purple and pink. Can I have two? 

Favourite smell? 

K ~ Freshly baked chocolate chip cookies.

Who are your biggest supporters? 

K ~ My family. 

What spurs you on the most when writing? 

K ~ My OCD certainly helps. I give myself a set number of words I need to get done in a day and I don't stop until I'm done. I will keep going all night, even after my eyes are cross and my wrists hurt. My husband says I am like a dog with a bone: I never give up. 

Where do you write most often? 

K ~ Lately I have been writing in bed. I am getting a treadmill desk but the model I want is not available in the UK until the end of the year. I can't wait! My bottom really needs it. Sadly I have developed a bad case of Writer's Bum. But I shall sort it! 

In regards to your next book, when can we expect to see it released into the big wide world? 

K ~ Holding the Line is out March 9th! We get to catch up with Beth and Torres. I love spending time with them. So much angst!

  Any parting comments?

K ~ If you made it this far, you deserve a cookie! Thanks for reading! And thanks for having me Becca!

Thanks so much for being here with me on Becca's Books, Kierney Scott, it has been a pleasure! Good luck with everything!

You can find Kierney Scott on Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter | Pink Ink

You can find Twice in a Lifetime on Goodreads | Amazon UK | Amazon US
   You can find Dirty Little Secrets on Goodreads | Amazon UK | Amazon US
You can find Blurring the Line on Goodreads | Amazon UK | Amazon US





A Street Cafe Named Desire by R J Gould

'I think people are like onions. We have a multitude of layers, in our case layers of personality. You think you know someone inside out, then they strip off a layer or two and you don't know the new person at all.'


Title - A Street Cafe Named Desire
Author - R J Gould
Publication Date - 17th December 2014 
Publisher - Accent Press
Format - Paperback (Provided via publisher)
Pages - 294 

The blurb

When David meets Bridget at a school reunion, he unexpectedly finds himself falling for her. With problems at work and a failing marriage, David feels he's going nowhere, and mysterious, enigmatic Bridget draws him out of his shell. He's overjoyed when, against all odds, she returns his interest - but what is it in her past that makes her reluctant to reveal her true feelings? 

As their relationship progresses, David starts to think he may realise his dreams - but will he get everything he's ever wanted, or is it all too good to be true? 

Becca's thoughts 

Firstly, I'd like to thank the author R J Gould for getting in touch with me regarding a review, and I'd also like to thank the publishers Accent Press for kindly providing me with a paperback review copy. I was very intrigued after reading the blurb of this title, so I couldn't wait to get started. 

In A Street Cafe Named Desire, the reader is introduced to David Willoughby, newly-single parent and now preparing for a divorce, and whose wife has recently left him for David's best-friend Jim. When the story begins, David is at a school reunion, and until Bridget comes along, he has no desire whatsoever to even be there. Bridget, mysterious, alluring and positively beautiful, catches David's attention right away, and from there, a strange, gentle-paced relationship begins to evolve. Both characters have entirely different reasons for being at the reunion, but I felt that it was fate that their paths crossed. Beginning with a school reunion was the perfect way to draw the reader in, peppering the text and dialogue with witty, funny comments and a hint of sarcasm here and there, too. I took to David's character remarkably well, feeling a little angry on his behalf in regards to his wife's hasty departure. I really enjoyed seeing David step up and take control of the new situation. Despite being confused about the circumstances that he finds himself in, David manages to remain clear-headed and swiftly sorts himself out. He makes a list, including things such as partaking in a cookery course and sorting out the divorce proceedings. It was incredibly refreshing to read from a man's perspective and to try to put myself in his shoes (even though I'm a female). 

As the book progressed, it provided a gently, easy read that I looked forward to going back to at each given opportunity. I did find a few lulls when reading, but this wasn't very often, and it didn't affect my reading of the book so much that I didn't enjoy it. When focusing on the family aspects of the book, David and his two children were a humorous, engaging group of people, with the comings and goings of his ex-wife which kept me entertained whenever she appeared. The musings of David had me giggling to myself, but despite the light-heartedness of it all, there was still the underlying seriousness of a family no longer what it once was. 

Bridget was a bit unreadable to me, even during later parts of the book when her past had finally be revealed. Right from the very beginning, there was something a little mysterious about her, something that didn't seem to quite fit right. I couldn't put my finger on exactly what it was, but still, it was definitely there... With children of her own, and widowed, Bridget did seem to come along at the perfect time, exactly when David was in need of some excitement and someone new to confide in. 

R J Gould did a fantastic job of exploring the dynamics of family life, the different roles within the family structure, and of how people cope when certain situations arise. From work to home-life, I think the author pretty much covered it all, including a drunk teenage daughter and a lingering ex-wife who didn't seem to want to give up her family and home completely. 

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It was a very interesting peek into fatherhood, and how a newly-separated man would move forward with his life, after being with the same woman for such a long amount of time. Becca's Books is rating A Street Cafe Named Desire by R J Gould with FOUR YUMMY CUPCAKES!      






HAPPY PUBLICATION DAY ANGELA MARSONS!

Today on Becca's Books, I'm wishing the wonderful Angela Marsons a very happy publication day! Silent Scream is published today by the fabulous Bookouture, and despite this not being my usual choice of genre, I have heard SO MANY good things about this book, & it's now on my to-read pile!


Even the darkest secrets can't stay buried forever...

Five figures gather round a shallow grave. They had all taken turns to dig. An adult-sized hole would have taken longer. An innocent life had been taken but the pact had been made. Their secrets would be buried, bound in blood...

Years later, a headmistress is found brutally strangled, the first in a spate of gruesome murders which shock the Black Country. 

But when human remains are discovered at a former children's home, disturbing secrets are also unearthed. D.I. Kim Stone fast realises she's on the hunt for a twisted individual whose killing spree spans decades.

As the body count rises, Kim needs to stop the murderer before they strike again. But to catch the killer, can Kim confront the demons of her own past before it's too late?

***

Now, I'm not normally one for thrillers, but I have to admit that this sounds like the sort of book that will keep me prisoner until I turn the very last page! After all of the fabulous comments that I've heard from fellow bloggers, I just don't think it would be acceptable for me to miss out on Angela Marsons' Silent Scream.

HAPPY PUBLICATION DAY, ANGELA! I HOPE IT'S WONDERFUL!








A Memory of Violets by Hazel Gaynor

A person can never be truly lost, as long as someone is looking for them.


Title - A Memory of Violets
Author - Hazel Gaynor
Publication Date - 12th March 2015 (Paperback)
Publisher - Harper360
Format - Paperback (Provided via publisher)
Pages - 400

The blurb

In 1912, twenty-year-old Tilly Harper leaves the peace and beauty of her native Lake District for London, to become assistant housemother at Mr. Shaw's Home for Watercress and Flower Girls. For years, the home has cared for London's flower girls - orphaned and crippled children living on the grimy streets and selling posies of violets and watercress to survive. 

Soon after she arrives, Tilly discovers a diary written by an orphan named Florrie - a young Irish flower girl who died of a broken heart after she and her sister, Rosie, were separated. Moved by Florrie's pain and all she endured in her brief life, Tilly sets out to discover what happened to Rosie. But the search will not be easy. Full of twists and surprises, it leads the caring and determined young woman into unexpected places, including the depths of her own heart. 

Becca's thoughts

Just one word springs to mind when I think about my reading of A Memory of Violets by Hazel Gaynor. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. But, despite beautiful being such a strong word, I don't think it even comes close to describing the sheer breathtaking beauty of this story. In fact, I don't think that there is even a word in the English dictionary that would be capable of describing the precious elegance within the pages of this book. In fact (excuse the repetition here), I don't think that there's any point at all in me attempting to voice my thoughts and feelings because as of right now, it's almost as if my once tidy thoughts have been stampeded through by Hazel Gaynor and her brilliance. Despite this stampede, I can't hold it against Hazel. All I can do is profusely thank the author for providing me with something that I'm going to treasure, and for something that proves to me, once more, how absolutely bewitching the art of story-telling can be. I can't begin my review of this book until I've also thanked the marvellous Helena from Harper360. Without the kindness of Helena, I'm ashamed to say that this magnificent book probably would have never fallen into my hands, and that thought terrifies me. So, Helena, from the bottom of my heart, thank you. 

I won't waste time with re-wording the blurb and giving you an idea of what the book's about. In all fairness, if you scroll up the page just a little, the blurb is right there, and I'm afraid of taking too much time with fanciness, just in case these thoughts on A Memory of Violets escape. Therefore, I'm just going to get straight to it, I hope you don't mind. 

When looking back over my reading of this book, my thoughts turn to my younger sisters, and of how lucky they are to have the life that they do. In A Memory of Violets, Hazel introduces us to two little girls, Florrie and Rosie Flynn. Living, or merely existing, in a poverty and disease-ridden London, these girls touched my heart and wrung it dry of emotion before I'd even reached the middle of the book. Of course, this wouldn't have even been possible if hadn't of been for Hazel's vivid, incredibly bleak descriptions of the world that the Flynn girls inhabited. From the rats scurrying along the narrow, dark streets to the waste pooling around their bare feet, I wanted nothing more than to reach into this story and bundle Florrie and Rosie into blankets and bring them into the warmth of a home. The sheer disgust at what these girls had to endure will remain with me for a very long time, and as I first mentioned, I really couldn't help but to feel immeasurably grateful for my own siblings who have never known hardship in such a heartbreaking degree. Selling bundles of flowers together on the streets, Florrie and Rosie were inseparable, and the bond between the two girls moved me on so many levels. From a young age, Florrie had wanted a little sister, and as soon as Rosie had arrived, it had been love at first sight. The way Florrie protected and cared for Rosie had me choking back sobs that were desperate to escape. Florrie's worst nightmare, as it is mine, is that she'd lose Rosie and, with a painful twist to my gut as I continued to read, that's exactly what happened. Florrie had always made a point of keeping the tightest hold of Rosie's tiny hand when they sold their flowers amid the busy, filthy streets, and the one time that Rosie did let go, not by choice might I add, both girls' lives changed forever. At this point, I considered closing the book and not finishing. I know, it sounds terrible, but just the thought of this tiny girl, lost in such a terrible, rotten, disease-ridden setting, had my mind reeling. I could not bear to read of Florrie's thoughts at the separation of her younger sister, the little girl who she had loved so dearly since birth and protected so fiercely, but I soon found myself incapable of turning away from what was turning out to be a gripping, un-putdownable story, if ever I'd read one. Not only did Hazel describe the dismal settings of the Flynn girls' lives, but due to the disease and poverty, most of the young children who walked the streets had been physically affected in one or another. Rosie, the youngest Flynn girl, was near blind, and Florrie used the aid of a crutch to walk. Together, these two girls, in my mind, were such a bitter contrast, one immobile and one almost blind, it near tore my heart in two. This is where the sheer love that the girls had for each other undoubtedly made itself known to the reader. Despite the things that made their lives almost unbearable to live, the Flynn girls clung to each other, as if they provided each other with the air that they needed to live. I have no idea of how they managed to survive at all. To me, it seems such a magnificent achievement when I take into consideration the terrifying world that surrounded them, and it absolutely astounded me, more than words can say. This dreadful place, infected and miserable, never once dulled the glow of love that held the girls together. Hazel's descriptions shocked and appalled me, had me gulping in disbelief, and it truly opened my mind to the horrors of a time gone by, and to what the two girls who I have grown to love endured as they clutched each other's hand. 

The progression of A Memory of Violets held me captive the entire way through, and even once I'd closed the book, I still felt completely enveloped in the world that Hazel had given me. Through the form of letters, diary entries, and third person narrative from a number of the main characters, I was completely in awe of Hazel's storytelling abilities. Every page turned was a step closer to a secret being revealed. Every new part of the story was depicted by a flower which held some sort of special meaning. Every word, I devoured in one fell swoop. There were so many charming and meaningful aspects to this book. It made me smell flowers where there were none, which is amazing in itself, and I cannot applaud the author enough for awakening my sense and teasing each of them. As the title probably hints to you, flowers play such an intrinsic role within this book, from their smells to their meanings, to their beauty. Not only this, but they represent the flower girls and flower homes that you'll meet if you decide to read the book. I was introduced to a world that I previously knew not a single thing about, and it amazed me. To be completely truthful, it was a lesson in itself. 

When the story truly began to weave and wrap around the characters, across the different times, the notion of putting this book down and saving the page for later seemed absolutely ridiculous. There was no way on this earth that I was going to willingly pause the story. I wanted to be with the characters constantly, desperate to see where Hazel would take me on such a magnificent journey, regardless of whether it was fictional. Her words had a complete hold of me, and quite frankly, I didn't want them to let me go. I could have stayed reading this book for the rest of my life, and I mean that. The language was beautiful, really emphasising the girls' Irish background, and it just brought them to life in my mind as I read their gorgeous dialogue. I could almost hear their voices in my head. Of course, it wasn't only Florrie & Rosie's story that I was able to read and love, but Tilly's also, the young woman whose life is forever linked with the Flynn girls. What truly took my breath away was how much time had passed between these characters, yet they seemed so close and just a breath away from each other. They also, after thinking back over my reading of the book, were quite similar and dissimilar in a few ways. Tilly, who ends up working in the flower homes, also has a sister, who sadly, suffered a tragic accident as a young girl. There's a huge divide between Tilly and her sister, and you find out why as the story progresses and more facts about Tilly's life back home are revealed to you. It's clear, from the haunting flashbacks that Tilly experiences, that something life-changing took place between her during her past, and I was incredibly eager to find out what that something was, which, I think, fuelled my urge to finish the book and know everything about everyone.

This book will forever hold a special place within my heart, I'm certain of it. As the eldest of my siblings, I've always felt that I was, in some way smaller than my mother's, responsible for them. In turn, I think I was able to understand and feel Florrie's emotions on the day that Rosie went missing, as if they were my own. Hope, forgiveness, love, strength, are but a few of the numerous themes within this masterpiece of a novel, discovery and family being another two. It struck every single chord within me, and by the time I turned the final page, I was crying for the characters whose lives had been altered by the circumstances of their class and just a brief moment of chaos and confusion. Gah, Hazel Gaynor! I have no words to describe your obvious ability to capture and wrap up and envelope a reader within such a gorgeous, vivid world, and is it ridiculous of me to say that your own Irish roots gloriously shined through? You, Hazel Gaynor, deserve some sort of prestigious award for this, you truly do.  Unfortunately, I don't have the means to award you with anything expensive or glamorous, but I can award your treasure of a book with five of my cupcakes, and hope that you continue to write and weave the magic that has wrapped itself around me during my reading of your book. This was absolutely amazing, and Florrie and Rosie, despite being fictional, will live on in my heart and memory. 




             



My So-Called (Love) Life by A.L. Michael ~ BLOG TOUR!

'Sometimes it falls apart because you need to start again...'


Title - My So-Called (Love) Life
Author - A.L. Michael
Publication Date - 9th February 2015
Publisher - Carina UK
Format - eBook (Provided via author)

The blurb

Meet Tigerlily James: romance cynic, North Londoner and die-hard margarita fan. 

Tigerlily James has been a member of the Young and Bitter Club ever since she was dumped on Valentine's day. By her fiancé

Surviving on a diet of cynicism and margrarita-fuelled 'Misery Dinners' with her best friends, she's become a romance free zone... and that's the way she likes it. Until an invitation for the Ex's wedding arrives. Suddenly in need of a plus one, Tig has little choice but to bin the takeaways, ditch the greying underwear collection... and start pretending to view the opposite sex as something other than target practice. 

Then, she meets Ollie - ie. the perfect solution. No sex. No strings. Fake boyfriend. The only catch is that she has to pretend to be his girlfriend for three whole months. 

Dating without the heartbreak: the best idea Tig's ever had, right? Wrong!

Becca's thoughts

Firstly, I'd like to say a massive thank you to the fabulous A.L. Michael, for providing me with a copy of My So-Called (Love) Life in exchange for a fair and honest review, and for also inviting me along for the blog tour ride, to spread the bookish love! Thanks so much, A.L Michael! I'v read and loved each of your books, so I really could not bloody wait to get started on this one, and I'm incredibly happy to announce that I LOVED IT!

In My So-Called (Love) Life by A.L Michael, we're introduced to Tigerlily James. I'd like to begin by saying that never before have I met a character called Tigerlily, and I now have quite a bit of an obsession with it. It fits A.L.'s heroine so perfectly, though, in every way possible. Tigerlily is a little feisty, not quick to trust, and just a little bit bitter. With good reason, mind you! Tigerlily was dumped on Valentine's day by her fiancé, and ever since, she's been unable to even glance in a male's direction without emitting a growl. Alongside her friends, Tigerlily attends their 'Misery Dinners' and together, they moan about their jobs, about men, and just about the unfairness of life in general. Now, me being me, I love a bloody good moan. Not all of the time, obviously, cos' that would get a tad tiresome after a while, but I think being able to get together with your friends and let off some steam is one of the best feelings in the world, so each time Tigs and her pals got together, there was a real sense of friendship and feminine banter which added so much depth to the bonds between the girls. A.L.did a wonderful job of opening up her book to the reader and giving them the perfect amount of background info on her characters before the plot truly began to run away. At just a couple of chapters in, I felt like I'd known Tigerlily and her friends for ages. I knew all of the ins and outs of the girls, the ups and downs, what pissed them off and what made them happy, so before A.L. began to make tracks with her plot, the characters had already been perfectly created and moulded, ready to take the stage that is My So-Called (Love) Life

Written in third person, and entirely in Tigs' narrative, My So-Called (Love) Life resonates perfectly with every lost, uninspired twenty-something girl out there in the big wide world. When the plot really begins to get going, A.L. Michael twists things up a bit by having Tigs be invited to her Ex's wedding, which kinda' sets up the framework for the book itself. From this moment on, Tigs decides that the misery business needs to stop if she's to show Darren that she's a strong, independent woman who has obviously happily moved on, just like he as. I loved how A.L. didn't linger on anything for too long within the book. There was always something new and exciting to look forward to on behalf of the characters, and when Ollie entered the picture, it got even better. The contrast between these two characters was just brilliant in every way possible. Tigs: bitter, angry, hates males. Ollie: flirty, confident, drop-dead gorgeous and downright irresistible. I suppose in a way, you could say that Ollie appears at just the right time, and saves Tilly from herself, just when she needs it most. The pair of them, together, were just fabulous, and I loved each and every moment that they spent in each other's company. Tigs plan is to have Ollie escort her to her Ex's wedding, but Ollie has other ideas, and he is the cutest male EVER! And the perfect hero, trust me. 

During my reading of My So-Called (Love) Life by A.L. Michael, I was kept constantly entertained and enjoyed this book endlessly. The characters, A.L.'s language and writing style that worked so effortlessly with my twenty-something mind, how brilliantly structured the plot was... It was just spot on. All of it. My final thoughts on this book are that it's a modern day love story, that left me grinning from ear to ear when I turned the final page. I loved everything about this book, EVERYTHING, and I cannot wait for A.L.'s next release already. 

Becca's Books is rating My So-Called (Love) Life by A.L. Michael with FIVE GORGEOUS CUPCAKES! This was a truly feel-good, humorous book that will have you swooning and smiling in equal measure. Thanks so much for inviting to be part of your blog tour, A.L. Michael, and I wish you every success!




    





Author Interview with Terri Nixon

Today on Becca's Books, I'm delighted to be welcoming the wonderful Terri Nixon to the blog. What could perk you up more on a Monday morning than an interview with one fabulous author, huh? 


Terri, for those who haven't yet heard of you or your books, could you tell us a little bit about yourself and the kind of books that you write?

T ~ Thanks for having me on your lovely blog, thrilled to be here! Okay, well, about me, in brief: ex-biker; single parent; cancer survivor; annoyingly chirpy (most of the time); horrible at karaoke but that doesn't stop me. Compulsive talker-to-self. And I'm a Marmite fan. 

I write sagas based around WW1 era, and I also self-publish Mythic Fiction; work that's contemporary in tone, but draws heavily on folklore and myth. A sub-genre of fantasy, really. I also write horror, but those tend to be short stories. And pretty graphic, actually! So I publish those under the name T Nixon. 

Your latest release Daughter of Dark River Farm is set way back in 1917. Are all of your books set in the past? What is it you enjoy about writing during these times?

T ~ I didn't know I was going to enjoy this era so much until I started researching the first in the Oaklands Manor series, Maid of Oaklands Manor. Once I began though, I became a bit (!) obsessed and realised I wanted to write more, exploring different aspects of the time. So in these three books we have the domestic service, then the WW1 ambulance service, and finally the land army. It's a time of staggering change, and with different parts of society evolving at different rates... fascinating and full of possibilities. 

Does a lot of research go into your books? Do you ever find yourself struggling to get to grips with how circumstances would have been different back then? What about language, characteristics, etc.?

T ~ The amount of research required for this is mind-bending! Everything gets checked, from clothing, to speech-patterns, to weaponry and politics... travel, too. Right down to the weather during any given certain month in different parts of the country: for instance I had a fight on New Year's Eve (well, not me personally!) on the lawn of Oaklands Manor, and I had to make sure Cheshire wasn't buried in snow on that night. The fact that most people will not realise it's true when I say it had been a drizzly month, so the grass was soft, doesn't matter. I know, so it helps me write with more confidence and authority. As for difficulty getting to grips with it, I was stunned at how naturally my first pre-war heroine came to me. Stunned and grateful!

Besides Daughter of Dark River Farm, could you tell us a little bit about your previous books? Are they all quite similar in their style? 

T ~The previous two books in this series have very different styles, to each other as well as to this one. I suppose, of the three books, the first and the last are the most similar. But because they feature three different young women, from three different backgrounds, and three different lifestyles, I have tried to find each unique voice and let her tell it her way. So book one begins as a domestic drama (think below-stairs Downton Abbey when it first started) and gradually becomes more of a mystery thriller as the story unfolds; book two is action-packed from the word 'go', and places the heroine in almost constant danger; and book three is a combination of the two! 

Terri, as an author, what would you say you find most difficult about bringing together a plot?

T ~ That's a tough one! Well, I suppose - especially with a trilogy - it would have to be ensuring all loose ends are tied up, and sowing enough clues throughout to make it all make perfect sense by the end. With each book coming out as it's completed, there's no chance to go back and drop bits in to fit with your current plot. So you have to go with what's gone before, and make your new plan fit. Just like life, really!

When creating your characters, what do you normally focus on most? Appearance? Mind-set? Do you ever find it difficult to really nail a character's personality?

T ~  Appearance is usually the last thing I consider. The first thing I wonder about is who they are, where they're going, and what they want to achieve. Then I think about their situation, family, and romantic needs. Eventually I'll start to wonder what they look like! The Oaklands books are told in first-person, and the second two heroines were introduced as secondary characters in the previous book, so I already knew what they looked like. But it was interesting to get inside their head and see what makes them tick. 

Which was your very first book? Looking back on it now, do you think you've come a long way? Have you changed regarding your writing at all? 

T ~ My very first book was actually a contemporary thriller set in Scotland. It's recently been re-vamped because, basically, it was complete rubbish! But the process was an amazing one and I can still remember the feeling of typing 'the end,' and the taste of the Strongbow cider I'd put by to celebrate! My writing has changed a great deal since those days, and that's because I have slavishly tried to stick to every 'rule' I ever found. I no longer do this, as it didn't really work, and I think it can make your writing a bit soul-less, but hopefully I've found a middle-ground that works. That book is currently with my agent and we're considering our options. Watch this space! 

As an author, what are your thoughts on bloggers and reviewers? How do you handle any negative reviews?

T ~I live in constant awe of the commitment bloggers and reviewers dedicate to their craft. The time, the friendliness (for the most part!) and the willingness to share news and links are invaluable. I've been amazingly lucky with my reviews so far, so when I do get a dodgy one I still want to hide myself away and cry, but I'm getting better! I've learned you'll never please everyone; someone gave my first Lynher Mill book, The Dust of Ancients, a 1* because she didn't like it as much as she liked the Oaklands series. Ho hum!

What audience do you hope to reach with your books? 

T ~ The Oaklands series is probably aimed at the kind of readers who enjoy Catherine Cookson- style sagas and historicals, but nowadays the reach has widened, thanks to Julian Fellowes very kindly releasing Downton Abbey to coincide with the start of my submission process for Maid of Oaklands Manor! Period drama is popular again, for which I'm incredibly thankful! The mythic fiction series is proving popular with a wide range of readers, and a lot of them say they have never read anything like it before. That had no target audience except anyone who liked a bit of adventure, romance, mystery, and a glimpse at something that might or might not be right under their nose when they're walking on the Cornish moors! ;)

Are there any specific themes that you like to regularly include, and focus on, when writing?

T ~ Action and drama hang together really well, and I like to include both when I'm writing. There's nearly always romance involved, but it tends to be secondary to the focus of the main character, and if too many pages go by without some kind of physical conflict I get twitchy!

What can readers expect from your characters?

T ~ I like to think anyone who picks up my work will find characters with the same sort of depth that I enjoy in my own reading choices. Lizzy Parker (the heroine in Maid of Oaklands Manor) seemed to strike a surprisingly deep and comfortable chord with a lot of people. She begins as a scullery maid trying to fit in at a new job, any by the end of the story she has been through some real tests, emotionally and physically, and her attitude, and the way she reacts to others, reflects these. Likewise Evie in book two; a cheerful, privileged girl, with a love of practical jokes and fast cars, who becomes an independent ambulance driver up near the lines in 1914. Discovering how much you can cope with, and how little, happens fast in that situation. 

Where does your inspiration for your stories come from? Have you travelled to any of the places where your books have been set?

T ~ I have never been to Cheshire, nor Flanders, but the third book is set on Dartmoor, in Devon, which is my stomping ground. I took the town in Oaklands Manor from Tattenhall, as it fit beautifully, but then I changed the name to Breckenhall, so I had a bit more licence with descriptions! Everything I wrote about in Flanders was taken from first-hand accounts of the war, and I would love to go there but I would want to be completely alone, and I don't think that's an option these days. Dark River Farm is set near Princetown, and I know the area very well and love it. Lots of nice pubs!

On a more personal note, at what point did you realise that you wanted to share your stories with others?

T ~ I've always wanted to, and I can't remember when it started. I don't think it was from any kind of 'ooh, read this, aren't I clever?' kind of place, but I do love to tell a story and watch people react. I think it's just that I'd found a way to affect people, at a young age, and being a middle child might have had something to do with it, but anything that got me noticed was great! There's something very special about introducing people you've only had in your own head to someone else, and seeing them accepted as 'real.'

How long would you say you spend writing on average, per week? 

T ~ Not nearly enough! I have a full-time job, which takes me out of the house between 7.30am and almost 6pm, so I tend to go overboard at the weekends, and let everything else go by the board. On a day off, though, I'll work the entire day, with short stops for lunch, comfort breaks, and... what was the other thing? Oh yeah, laundry! I really know how to rock the lifestyle!

Could you describe your planning process to us?

T ~ I usually have the story floating around in some shape or form before I start; it's often something that began during whatever I was writing previously. So I'll let it solidify a bit, write a few notes, get some research under my belt (mostly to get my mind in the right place) and then start writing the first thing that comes into my head. It can always be changed later, and always is! I do have massive notes documents though, that evolve during the writing process; they can run to well over 20K, mostly rambling, but quite fun to look over when the book's finished!

If you had to choose, out of your published novels, which would you say you enjoyed writing the most? Or could you not choose between them? 

T ~ Hands down and without question, The Dust of Ancients. It's been my 'baby' for over ten years now. I really enjoyed writing the second in that series too, (The Lightning and the Blade) and people seem to enjoy reading them almost as much, so that's a good sign!

How do you feel about choosing titles and writing blurbs?

T ~ I'm rubbish at titles, it takes me ages to come up with one I like, and then I have to fight to keep it! I've lost two out of three battles, but, of course, with my self-published ones I get to choose! Maid of Oaklands Manor was originally called Saturday's Child, and A Rose in Flanders Field was called Lady of No Man's Land. I was allowed to keep Daughter of Dark River Farm though! Blurbs I'm fine with, I quite enjoy those. I supplied the ones for Oaklands and Dark River, but the publisher created their own for Flanders. I'm glad you didn't ask about synopses... deep joy.

Have you ever had to overcome writer's block?

T ~ Not serious, crippling, despairing writer's block, no, thank goodness. I've been stuck at times, I think it's rare that anyone's managed to avoid that, but it's usually worked itself through in the end. This is where my rambling notes documents earn their way!

What's the best advice that you've ever received regarding writing?

T ~ At the risk of name-dropping, I would like to thank Dean Koontz for writing to me. "Good luck in your own writing; do it always for the love of doing it, and in my experience, success will follow. Although also in my experience, perhaps slowly!" The bloke's a good 'un!

Who are some of your literary inspirations? Any authors who have inspired you in the past?

T ~ Diana Gabaldon, Stephen King and Helen Zenna, all for different reasons. No-one writes conflicted, yet sizzlingly passionate relationships like Diana; Stephen King's characterisation is superb, and his dialogue is to die for. Helen Zenna Smith's raw WW1 book: Not So Quiet, should be compulsory reading for every school. 

If asked to write a book in a genre that you've never experimented with before, which genre would you choose and why?

T ~ I was recently asked this question, and decided I'd probably quite like to give steampunk a try. I also mentioned that I'd have to read a lot more in the genre in order to do it justice, but I love the idea of it - the freedom to explore an alternative history has a real appeal after the constraints of the past few years!

Do you have an all-time favourite book? 

T ~ It has been Stephen King's The Stand ever since the first version of that book came out, but Not So Quiet sits alongside it now. The Stand is just... well, it's got everything I adore about King. Not So Quiet grabs hold of your emotions and won't let go ever after you've finished it. Utterly, utterly heart-breaking. Leaves you helpless and wrung out, awed, and very much changed. 

What's the one piece of advice that you would give to any aspiring writers out there? 

T ~ I usually say: just do it, and don't get bogged down trying to make it perfect. The time for sentence-tweaking will come, and but the first draft is not that time. 

Do you ever dedicate your books to people? Who are your main supporters? 

T ~ Most of them have been dedicated to my family, but the second Lynher Mill book came out shortly after the death of my first editor, mentor, and good friend Neil Marr. I dedicated that one to his memory. I'm so lucky to have such amazing support from friends and family, I always want to include everyone, every time!

Lastly, when can readers expect to see your next book? Are you working on anything at the moment? 

T ~ I'm currently working on the third Lynher Mill book, The Battle of Lynher Mill, which will finish that series. It's due out in June. After that I'm starting on a new saga, set in a Cornish fishing village, beginning 1910 and (probably) going through to the 1920s - another fascinating era of change. I can't wait to get started on that; working title for the series is Penhaligon's Attic. *cracks knuckles*  

Terri, thank you so much for taking the time to answer my probing questions, and it has been fabulous having you here! Me and my readers wish you the best of luck with everything that's still to come!

You can find Terri Nixon on Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter | terrinixon.com

(The Oaklands Manor Trilogy)
You can find Maid of Oaklands Manor on Goodreads | Amazon UK | Amazon US
You can find A Rose in Flanders Field on Goodreads | Amazon UK | Amazon US
You can find Daughter of Dark River Farm on Goodreads | Amazon UK | Amazon US

(The Lynher Mill Chronicles)
You can find The Dust of Ancients on Goodreads | Amazon UK | Amazon US
You can find The Lightning and the Blade on Goodreads | Amazon UK | Amazon US