BLOG TOUR! ~ Character profiles for A.L. Michael's If You Don't Know Me By Now

Happy Monday, beautiful book folk! 

On July 2nd 2015, we'll see the publication of the wonderful A.L. Michael's latest novel If You Don't Know Me By Now, and I'm thrilled that today, it's my stop on the blog tour! No review or author interview, but something a little different. Today, I'll be sharing with you the profiles of the fabulous cast of characters in If You Don't Know Me By Now, allowing you to feel a little bit closer to them before you dive into what will no doubt be a cracking story!

Take it away, A.L. Michael!


When you write a novel, you've got to know every detail about your main characters, so I'm going to give you an insight into my main character, Imogen Cypriani, her cousin Demi and the lovely love interest, Declan!

Name: Imogen
Age: 27
Occupation: Barista at Bean Town Coffee in West London, and undercover blog writer (Twisted Barista) for The Type.
Favourite drink: Local cider
Favourite food: Something veggie (her dad is a butcher, there's just too much meat!)
Bad habit: Talking herself out of being angry - she can be a bit of a pushover.
Talents: Writing, ranting, a cheeky one-liner. She's great at supporting other people - she looks after her little cousin when she has her tantrums. She cared for her dad after her mum died, staying local to go to uni part time so that she could work, and help support him. She's a little bitter that he seems to have forgotten that now he's got a new girlfriend. 
Fears: Love makes people vulnerable, and Imogen hates being vulnerable. She saw how destroyed her dad was when her mum died. She doesn't even want to be able to be broken. 
Dream: To live in London, be a 'real' writer and maybe take a chance on that pretty barista boy who makes her nervous...

-

Name: Demi
Age: 23
Occupation: Insurance call centre worker and proud owner of an Etsy jewellery shop. 
Favourite drink: Vodka redbull.
Favourite food: Donuts
Bad habit: Running away when things get too much, instead of talking to people. She'll just disappear for a couple of days until she's cooled off, because she doesn't want to have a big row.
Talents: Being upfront (with anything that doesn't matter) finding the fun and pulling people into it, very artistic and great at giving advice. Good at fixing other people's lives.
Fears: That she's never going to be able to leave home, that she'll be constantly stuck in this limbo between leaving uni and entering the real world. 
Dream: To do exactly what her cousin did - get out, start a life and not feel guilty about it.

-

Name: Declan
Age: 29
Occupation: Barista, occasional artist, bass guitarist for Chocolate Biscuit.
Favourite drink: Coffee
Favourite food: Pizza with as many different types of meat as possible.
Bad habit: Closing off, not letting people in. Lashing out when embarrassed or feels guilty. Not able to see the worst in people. 
Talents: His perspective on life is to have fun and make the most of it. He's pretty good at that!
Fears: Being responsible for someone, and not having the power to walk away when he knows he should. 
Dream: To be doing exactly what he's doing. Independent, free and happy. What else does he need?

The Blurb

What's the worst job you ever had?

Imogen has come to London to make it as a writer. At least, that was the plan. Finding herself in a dead-end job serving coffee to hipsters was not on her to-do list. And even if gorgeous colleague Declan does give her more of a buzz than a triple-shot cappuccino, Imogen can feel her dreams evaporating faster than the steam from an extra-hot latte.

Until her anonymous tell-all blog about London's rudest customers goes viral - and suddenly, Imogen realises that landing the worst job in the world might just be the best thing that's ever happened to her! As long as she can keep her identity to herself...


Well, I don't know about you but I seriously cannot wait to read If You Don't Know Me By Now by the FAB A.L. Michael, nor can I reign in my excitement about meeting her brilliant characters!

You can find A.L. Michael on Facebook | Twitter | almichael.com
You can find 'If You Don't Know Me By Now' on Goodreads | Amazon UK | Amazon US

Thank you so much for stopping by!

  







Summer at Shell Cottage by Lucy Diamond

Summer would never be the same again.


Title - Summer at Shell Cottage
Author - Lucy Diamond
Publication Date - June 4th 2015 
Publisher - Pan
Format - Paperback (Provided via publisher)
Pages - 462

The blurb

A seaside holiday at Shell Cottage in Devon has always been the perfect escape for the Tarrant family. Beach fun, barbecues and warm summer evenings with a cocktail or two - who could ask for more?

But this year, everything has changed. Following her husband's recent death, Olivia is struggling to pick up the pieces. Then she makes a shocking discovery that turns her world upside down. 

As a busy mum and GP, Freya's used to having her hands full, but a bad day at work has put her career in jeopardy and now she's really feeling the pressure.

Harriet's looking forward to a break with her lovely husband Robert and teenage daughter Molly. But unknown to Harriet, Robert is hiding a secret - and so, for that matter, is Molly...

Becca's thoughts

Nobody does it quite like Lucy Diamond!

Before I begin my review of Summer at Shell Cottage by Lucy Diamond, I'd like to thank the wonderful Pan for providing me with a beautiful paperback proof copy of Lucy's latest novel. There really is nothing more delightful than holding an actual, physical book in your hands, especially when that book has been written by an author whose work you adore, and even more so when the cover is as beautiful as this one. So, thank you Pan!

 I haven't read many of Diamond's novels, referring specifically to Lucy's earlier titles but I have, in fact, lapped up the delights of One Night in Italy and The Year of Taking Chances, both of which I thoroughly enjoyed, so when I became aware of Summer at Shell Cottage, I really couldn't wait to disappear within the pages. I suppose, in a way, it's a slightly bad habit to automatically assume that you're going to love a new novel by an author that you have previously enjoyed. After all, how can you be certain that their new instalment will have the same effect on you as did the last? Well, that's one of the many reasons why I enjoy Diamond's novels so much. Lucy's uniquely warm, engaging and wholly satisfying way of storytelling reels me in each and every time, and I'm thrilled to say that, out of the three that I have read, Summer at Shell Cottage has just got to be my ultimate favourite. So far...

In a nutshell, Summer at Shell Cottage focuses on the Tarrant family as they embark upon yet another glorious summer holiday down in Devon. After having previously created many happy family memories during time spent there in summers gone by, the family are looking forward to another sun-drenched holiday in their much-loved Shell Cottage, as was I! Until of course, Lucy begins to reveal snippets of detail from each family members' life, and it suddenly dawns on the reader that, actually, things are never as perfect as they first appear to be (besides Shell Cottage itself, that place was pretty perfect, to be fair). Throughout this sparkling summer read that whisked me right away to the Tarrant family's side, Lucy takes us on a riveting, heart-warming journey, dipping in and out of the intricacies of the Tarrant family's life and all of the spaces in-between, including the messy, unpredictable, bumpy tracks that family life usually ends up veering down when we least expect it.

I adore Lucy's writing style, there's something so very charming, welcoming and utterly magical about it even when, as she does many times throughout this gorgeous novel, serious issues are raised and dealt with. I find it incredibly easy to lose myself in Lucy's stories, so easy to become wrapped up within her characters' lives and troubles, ultimately leaving me worrying about them too, which is always a good sign. After all, if you don't care about these characters, then what's compelling you to continue reading, right? Thankfully, this wasn't a problem at any point throughout this book. 

Lucy's characters within Summer at Shell Cottage were absolutely brilliant, working fantastically as a collection but even more so in their singular circumstances which were what truly hooked me in, allowing me a sneaky insight into each of their lives, before even their own family members were aware, which was strangely satisfying. Not only did I enjoy the Tarrant family as a whole, but spending time with each of characters on their own made me feel just that much closer to them as a character in the book. This family was dissected and opened up to me in its truest form and Lucy didn't hold back when it came to the imperfections, which only made me love the Tarrants even more, because Lucy is right. No family is perfect and even if they appear to be on the surface, there is usually more going on underneath that we have absolutely no idea about. From Olivia, the eldest of the Tarrant women, to young Libby, who I absolutely adored and wanted to squish in a hug, these characters were flawed and cracked and stained. There was just so much going on within the perfect image of Shell Cottage, I could imagine a bystander looking upon the place and thinking how pretty it looked on the surface yet having no idea whatsoever of the chaos taking place within. It's amazing how appearances can be so deceiving, and Lucy explores that so beautifully within this novel, as well as alcohol dependency, dangerous teenage love and deceiving tales. Again, as I mentioned, you wouldn't think, when looking upon Lucy's cover, that anything so serious would be included, yet many topics are dealt with as the story progresses, topics that you wouldn't quite imagine to crop up, which make this novel all the more intriguing. In the end, each character learns a very important and valuable lesson, which makes for a deliciously satisfying ending.

Of course, I don't think this novel would be quite the same without the setting of Devon, full of hidden beaches, lobster burgers and sand-castles. It truly is a summery read that escapism completely defines. I had an overwhelming urge to run off to Devon, to set up camp in Shell Cottage and spend a summer there, dozing and strolling the hours away. It was charming in every aspect and had that lazy quality about it that I so love when reading a summer story. There was this distinct feeling of getting away from everyday life and the usual worries, but at the same time, it appeared that the Tarrant family's worries followed them there. Still, it was dreamlike and a little bit like paradise, and definitely had an effect over the characters, myself included. Lucy's descriptions of Shell Cottage and the Devon scenery were spot-on and the image in my mind swiftly built a whole new world for me to escape into and explore alongside the family.

All in all, Summer at Shell Cottage by the magnificent Lucy Diamond was a pure joy to lose myself within. I loved every single tiny aspect of this story and felt compelled to pick it up at every spare moment. This is definitely one of my favourite summer reads of 2015, perhaps even number one. Family life, lessons learnt and sun, sea and sand all rolled into one make for an absolutely gorgeous read beneath the sun, I can promise you that.

Becca's Books is awarding Summer at Shell Cottage by Lucy Diamond with FIVE SCRUMMY CUPCAKES. I'm so grateful that Lucy's books are out there in the world. I'd even go as far as saying I feel comforted just to know that we still have lots more to come from this author, and previous books that I can still catch up on. Just sensational!





        







BLOG TOUR ~ The Other Child by Lucy Atkins ~ REVIEW & UK GIVEAWAY!

'If a story is outrageous enough, complete enough, we just assume it's true.'


Title - The Other Child
Author - Lucy Atkins
Publication Date - June 4th 2015
Publisher - Quercus
Format - Paperback (Provided via publisher)
Pages - 400

The blurb

Sometimes a lie seems kinder than the truth... but what happens when that lie destroys everything you love?

When Tess is sent to photograph Greg, a high profile paediatric heart surgeon, she sees something troubled in his face, and feels instantly drawn to him. Their relationship quickly deepens, but then Tess, single mother to nine-year-old Joe, falls pregnant, and Greg is offered the job of a lifetime back in his hometown of Boston. Before she knows it, Tess is married, and relocating to the States. But life in an affluent American suburb proves anything but straightforward.

Unsettling things keep happening in the large rented house. Joe is distressed, the next-door neighbours are in crisis, and Tess is sure that someone is watching her. Greg's work is all-consuming and, as the baby's birth looms, he grows more and more unreachable. Something is very wrong, Tess knows it, and then she makes a jaw-dropping discovery...

Becca's thoughts  

Firstly, I'd like to thank Quercus for providing me with a paperback copy of The Other Child by Lucy Atkins, in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was absolutely delighted to be invited onto Lucy's blog tour, especially after reading such a powerful blurb, and I couldn't help but to wonder what it was that I was going to discover between the pages. It promised intrigue, and my curiosity was immediately piqued. Lies are never good, and it certainly didn't sound like it in this case, so I couldn't wait to begin.

From beginning to end, Lucy Atkins had me hanging on the very precipice of her every word. The Other Child had an incredibly heavy, dark atmosphere that followed me throughout my progression of this novel like a suffocating fog, truly emphasising the oppressive onslaught of emotions felt by the protagonist, Tess. Despite not actually being able to pinpoint what it was that seemed so dark and dangerous, Lucy tugged me along as I turned the pages, and I couldn't dare to look away for fear of missing some crucial point or clue as to what exactly was amiss. 

Within The Other Child, the reader is placed alongside Tess as she begins to fall into routine in her new surroundings and home, alongside son, Joe, and husband, Greg, in Boston. It's away from her friends and the comforts which she is so used to, meaning she's still trying to get to grips with everything. As Lucy begins the story, Tess is taking her first glimpse around the house that she will now call 'home'. The novel quickly turns into a guessing-game when peculiar things begin happening to Tess, and husband Greg starts to become evasive. Just like Tess, I couldn't help but to wonder what, if anything, was going on, or whether it was just all in her imagination. Lucy kept me hanging, keeping all of the deepest, darkest secrets to herself until, as if by magic, she knew that I couldn't wait a moment longer for everything to unravel. At the precise moment that I felt I was going to BURST with anticipation, things finally began to slip out from between the cracks, and by the end, I felt completely satisfied from reading this novel.

The characters within The Other Child were in-depth, and I felt like I knew each of them to their very core, despite reading from only Tess's third person narrative. Their expressions, actions and dialogue held everything that I felt I needed to know as the reader. I was curious in regards to Greg almost as soon as Tess began to talk about her husband. Although things seemed normal on the surface, there was a strange undercurrent in regards to him that I just couldn't put my finger on, and this continued, holding me captive throughout the story. I found myself worrying for Tess and the growing child within her, once I was aware that she'd moved to Boston with Greg, away from her good friend Nell and everything that she'd known previously. But again, due to Lucy's fantastic descriptions and ability to hide secrets so well, I just couldn't fathom why! Greg, as mentioned before, just didn't sit right with me. There was something about his character that niggled away at my brain, and during Lucy's descriptions of Greg, I found myself studying everything about the man, trying to figure out exactly what it was that made me feel that way towards him. Together, Greg and Tess held such a massive force within this novel, constantly snatching my attention towards every interaction between them. Lucy's brilliant plot and hints towards mystery really did keep me guessing, and guessing again.

I think what also added to the shady tone of Tess's new life in Boston was the complete 'newness' of it all. I could tell that it was taking some time for Tess, and her son Joe, to get used to their new surroundings, and at certain parts throughout the novel, I did begin to wonder if perhaps the peculiar happenings that began to arise were, actually, born from paranoia and nerves at being alone in the new surroundings. There were neighbours who Tess watched carefully, strangers who took her by surprise and all sorts of intense, heart-racing moments that had me gripping the book extra-tightly. The Other Child was absolutely rammed with all manner of moments that had me holding my breath, letting my breath out hurriedly, or just forgetting to breathe altogether. It was so gripping, so thrilling and ultimately one hell of a haunted-maze novel that had me second-guessing everything and everyone.

Becca's Books is awarding 'The Other Child' by Lucy Atkins with FIVE DELICIOUS CUPCAKES! This novel had it all, everything that keeps your mind ticking over, wondering what's going to happen next. 



Giveaway!

Thanks to the fabulous people over at Quercus books, I'm also able to offer you lovely readers the chance to win a copy of The Other Child by Lucy Atkins. 
Please note - this giveaway is UK ONLY.


~ Author Bio ~


Lucy Atkins is an award-winning feature journalist and author, as well as a Sunday Times book critic. She has written for many newspapers, including The Guardian, The Times, The Sunday Times and The Telegraph, as well as magazines such as Psychologies, Red, Woman and Home and Grazia. She lives in Oxford.














  




Out of the Shadows, Pat Elliott

Happy Monday, beautiful book folk!

This afternoon, I have such a lovely treat for you all, because the superbly talented Pat Elliott is here on Becca's Books, debuting her newest painting titled 'Out of the Shadows'.  This painting is a very special one to me. I'm pretty sure we've all been the victim of bullying at one point or another in our lives. Mine was in primary school, and I'll always remember the bullies. Thankfully, our paths haven't crossed for years, and I haven't set eyes on any of them since, but seeing Pat's painting, and reading the story that came alongside it, definitely got me all teary. Pat, thank you so much for allowing me to share this painting and story with my readers. 

Without further ado, here is 'Out of the Shadows' painted by the wonderfully talented Pat Elliott, and the story that goes alongside it. Enjoy!


~ Out of the Shadows ~

They applaud. The noise is deafening.
I smile, inclining my head, known for my modesty. The glass trophy is handed to me and I hold it aloft. A short speech, thanking my Editor, my Publisher and the whole team of staff who help to make my professional novel, 'Out of the Shadows'. Forgetting no-one, because I value appreciating other human beings. Except for you. I never acknowledge you. You're there, always, but I never reference you. You have caused nothing but pain.
Back at my table, I place the trophy down, the bright lights coursing through it, throwing shadows. You're a shadow now. I try not to think of you. My life is brighter now, immeasurably happier, yet still in one dark corner of my mind, there is you. They say for every author, there is a dark stain on their heart, allowing them to draw on the pain necessary to garner sympathy for their characters. You are my dark stain. Do you even think of me? When you see me feted in newspapers, in magazines, do you think of me and remember the pain you caused? The pain I still feel.

*****
 The school bell rings. The class squeals excitedly for break. There will be games in the playground. I am not excited, I hate sport. I prefer reading, so I take my book and hide in the farthest corner, under the shadow of the tree. It isn't far enough away from you. As you and your little gang approach, fear encircles my heart. You grip my arm, squeezing so hard that tears are forced from my eyes. 'See the little bookworm cry!' you laugh. Your gang laugh too. For me, there is only terror.
'I made you a present,' you say. 'Try it on!' There in your hand, is a small ring of barbed wire. My eyes widen and I try to back away. One of your cronies is behind me in a flash, gripping my shoulders so I cannot move. 'Come on, bookworm, you know you're married to your books. Here's your wedding ring!'
As you force it on my finger, the wire tears into my flesh, causing such pain. You laugh louder. Taking the book from my hands, you tear two pages out, ripping them to shreds and throwing them over me, as if they were confetti. I have hated you ever since. Hated you as you ran back to your stupid games, hated you as you kicked the football around the quad. I dreamt of kicking your head the same way.
My teacher sees the blood, takes my hand gently in hers and leads me to the nurse. They cut the wire ring from my finger and tend to the wounds. Crying, I tell them that you did it because I love books. When they shake their heads, I realise that you are deficient, not me. The teacher gives me a free pass to the library, every breaktime. You bother me no more. And yet, and yet, I do not escape from out of your shadow. You are the popular one, I the bookworm. You the team player, I the nerd. In my dreams, I see myself surrounded by people who want to know me. In reality, that is saved for you.

*****

Until today. As we leave the awards, with all the fans queuing for my autograph, I spot you. There you are, in the queue, holding hands with a beautiful lady. When did you become a book lover? Did love make a reader of you? Anger is displaced by a humorous disbelief. As you reach the front of the queue, I show no sign that I remember you. 'Name?' I enquire. You give it, searching my face for a flicker of remembrance you will never find. I wonder if you've told your lady friend we went to the same school, claiming a cameraderie that never existed. Taking your copy of my book, I sign, 'Out of the Shadows, an author emerges'.
I can guarantee you'll never understand why – but I know. Oh yes, I know... and a certain little souvenir reminds me, to this day. A little barbed wire ring, snipped in the centre – but the shadow it casts when it rests on a book? That's a perfect heart. Today, seeing you, I have stepped from out of your shadow. You are nothing but the memory of a dark stain, for me to use at will. I am an author, beloved of many. 


Beautiful, right? What I love most about the painting is that Pat has added in some gorgeous personal touches, and if you look closely at the left side of the painting, you'll see the words 'bluebell' and 'hill', which of course make up the title of my debut novel 'Return to Bluebell Hill'. The story, the image of the thorns casting a perfect heart-shaped shadow across the book, it is just magical, and yes, one that I think many will be able to understand perfectly. 

Pat, thank you so much for sharing 'Out of the Shadows' here on Becca's Books. You truly are an incredibly talented painter, I don't I'll ever tire of seeing the images that you create!

You can find Pat Elliott on Twitter | patelliott.co.uk






Interview with Kim Nash, Bookouture Publicity Manager

Today on Becca's Books, I have a fabulous Friday treat for you all! It's an interview not with an author, but with one fantastic woman, Kim Nash, who works with a number of different authors herself. Bookouture's publicity manager, Kim, is here today chatting with me, and I'm absolutely delighted to be welcome this lady onto Becca's Books! She'll be giving us a little insight into her line of work (with books, of course!) and having a general chit-chat on the blog. 

Kim, welcome to Becca's Books!


Kim, for those who aren't aware of your position within the fabulous Bookouture group, could you please tell us what it is that you do?
Hi Becca, Thanks so much for inviting me. It's very exciting to be here! My job is to tell the world about the fabulous books that Bookouture publish through traditional media like newspapers and magazines, social media, word of mouth etc. I update the Bookouture website and am in charge of looking after NetGalley. I help our authors in any way that I can to establish and maintain a presence and promote their work. I've also been known to grab people in the book department at my local Tesco and say "oooh if you like that, you'll love..." 

How would you describe the relationship between Bookouture and readers?
I think we have an amazing relationship with readers. Most of our authors use social media and this is a great way for them to interact and connect with their readers. We get a fantastic response to our cover reveals and announcements which is just awesome as it's really important that we're giving the readers what they want and often get messages from our audience asking when their favourite author's next book is coming out.

Do you think it's important for any publishing company to build a connection with their readers? If so, why?
I do, as a blogger and avid reader myself, there's nothing better than reading an amazing book and being able to tell that author just how much you've enjoyed it. So much hard work goes into a book, from the writing, to the editing, to the marketing and people sometimes forget that even though it can take a few hours to read a book, the hard work behind the scenes often gets forgotten. It's great that our readers feel that they can talk to us about the characters, the plots and it all helps the authors and publisher to deliver the books that the readers want to read.

In regards to the superb books that Bookouture publish, how does it feel to work alongside the authors and get those books noticed?
I'm hugely privileged to work alongside such an amazing group of authors. Each of them within their own genres are incredible and they are authors and books that I would read and love anyway. Added to that, they are a sensational bunch of people, we don't call it a team, we call it a family and that's exactly how it is. One big happy family!

Are there any titles which you're particularly fond of at the moment?
Ah! This is a very difficult question for me to answer and I could spend ages talking about how special and every one of our books are!

Recipes for Melissa by Teresa Driscoll is particularly special to me as I lost my mom 8 years ago so this really resonated with me. I read Fairytale Beginnings by Holly Martin recently and it has fallen into the category of one of my most favourite books EVER. I LOVE Sue Watson and her writing as there's always lots of laughs and an inspirational message in her books and I can't wait to share Summer Flings and Dancing Dreams with the world. And we have some really strong women's fiction writers such as Renita D'Silva and Kelly Rimmer, Sharon Maas, Laura Elliot who are telling some amazing stories.

But I can honestly say that I love all our books as we have some incredibly talented writers on our team and are introducing crime and psychological thrillers into our offering too, another area which I love. Great to be launching authors like Angela Marsons and Caroline Mitchell out into the world. I'd like to name them all but this would be a very long answer.

How long have you been with Bookouture for? What made you want to become a part of the wonderful team?
I started working with Bookouture last April on a couple of small projects. As our team of authors has grown so has the amount of work I am doing for them. I've tried to make myself indispensable so they couldn't possibly be without me! I've worked in marketing and PR for a number of years and have always loved books so when the opportunity arose to do those these two things together, I leapt at it.

Olly Rhodes has a wealth of knowledge gained in the publishing industry and I'm incredibly lucky to be working alongside him and I learn from him ALL the time. He is extremely patient with me too when I ask him stupid questions time and time again! And his technical skills are awesome!

Claire Bord and Keshini Naidoo, are two incredibly talented ladies that I am delighted to be working with. They recognise sensational writing talent and work on polishing manuscripts to be the best they can possibly be and they are both completely brilliant at what they do. I am truly blessed to be working with these three super people and thank my lucky stars on a daily basis.

How much work goes on behind closed doors?
Tons! It's not unusual to be having very early morning or very late night conversations and we all work as and when we're needed to. There's more to bringing out a book that I ever thought there was! There's work with Amazon that goes on, there's work on our website and NetGalley and making connections with other authors and industry professionals as well as keeping up to date with what other people are doing too. And there's still loads that Ollie, Claire and Keshini do that I don't get involved in.

Do you think bloggers play a crucial part in a book's success?
Definitely! As a blogger myself, I never realised just how much of a part they do play. There are a lot of influential bloggers out there and people trust their opinion. They are massively important in the publishing world.

Have you met many of Bookouture's authors in person? If so, who?
Sue Watson, Angela Marsons & Christie Barlow don't live too far from me and I regularly meet them when we can find an excuse. I met Nigel May last year at an event I went to and was delighted when we were able to bring him into the team and it gave us an opportunity to meet up again. I could talk to Nigel all day! And I met Holly at the same event last year so again, wonderful to see her join our team. We're planning a big get together though when we get chance because we all want to meet each other. I think we'll just spend the whole day being over excited to finally meet up. We just need to try to draft in all the international authors or have a big screen set up so we can Skype them!

Do you have any particular views on the whole digital/physical argument? Do you think the digital trend is overtaking physical copies?
An interesting question and one that will be debated for a while by the industry and one that only time will tell. For me, it's all about the story. To be honest if I read a really strong story, I don't even remember whether I've read it digitally or in book format. In this digital era, there are so many more opportunities now for talented writers to get 'in front' of publishers - particularly digital publishers who can be nimble in terms of not only publishing terrific books but nurturing raw talent and building author profiles.

It's certainly far easier to go on holiday these days without having to lug 10 books with you so for convenience, my iPad is my best friend. But there's still something about holding a book and having that book on your bedside table and seeing a gorgeous cover enticing you to read it every time you walk into the room!

For anyone who would perhaps submit their writing to Bookouture in the future, are you able to tell us what it is that they look for?
We're looking for great writing. We're looking for a story that completely hooks you in with characters you can connect with and don't want to say goodbye to. Once those boxes are ticked it doesn't matter whether it's chick lit, historical, saga, commercial crime and thriller, from conspiracy/blockbuster fiction to police procedurals and psychological chillers etc... We're essentially open to all genres through books with a great story to tell, and an interesting, original voice.

  
In terms of books covers, who is behind the beauties that Bookouture create? I can honestly say, hand on heart, that Bookouture's covers are gorgeous and always eye-catching!
Oliver, Claire and Keshini put a brief out to the various designers that we work with and then we all take a look and say what we like or dislike about them. Sometimes we agree, sometimes we don't. I normally say it needs more sparkle! I get very excited when I get asked my opinion. I feel extremely privileged to be in this position to have a say in what the book will look like! Then I just have to keep quiet about it until the author sees it! I find that quite hard!

What would you say your favourite part of being a publicity manager?
Definitely the fact that I get to read incredible books, get to tell people about them and share them with other people that I know will love them as much as I do.

Does your position with Bookouture take up a lot of time?
Yep! It sure does! Especially as I work on the social media side of things for Bookouture. And I absolutely love every minute. People often say to me, "how do you have time to do that?" but it's all about priorities for me. You can find time to do the things you want to do. Some people choose to watch the soaps on TV in the evenings. I can't do that as I have too many other things to do. I'm not very good at sitting still so I like to be busy!

Are you planning on staying with Bookouture for the foreseeable future? Can you imagine yourself working anywhere else?
I have never been happier in my work! Sorry to sound smug, but if I could picture my dream job, this would be it! One day I think I might wake up from this incredible dream but I really hope not!

We know that you're a complete lover of books, Kim, but when not reading (or working), where else would we find you? Any other hobbies that you're passionate about?
I have a seven and a half year old son Ollie who is my best friend and I LOVE being his mom and we're always off to different places and enjoying life.

You know I love reading already, but not just novels. I love self-help, self-development books and spiritual books. I work privately with a mind, body, spirit author called Theresa Cheung and I love reading that genre of book too.

I don't watch much TV but when I do it's normally stuff I can record and binge watch like Hawaii 50, Devious Maids, Cougar Town and Greys Anatomy. I love things that make me laugh and are quite light-hearted!

I have an amazing network of friends and I love catching up with them. I like to go out for nice meals and I like cooking. I don't have a particularly exciting life I'm afraid. I also have a Swiss skincare, health and well-being business so I'm often out doing workshops and showing people how amazing our products are. I'm a home bird really though and I love being a mom so am happy as long as I'm doing stuff with my boy!

Kim, have you ever thought about writing yourself? What genre do you think you'd enjoy most?
I'd love to write a book one day and I know everyone says I should just get on with it but there is so much to keep me busy right now, I don't feel like I have enough room in my head to even think about a plot. I have written a short story and I started writing a novel at Christmas but I'm just not sure where it's going. Maybe one day when I feel inspired, I'll pick it up and write again. I think I'd like to write humorous, women's fiction with a message. In fact, if I could be the type of writer that Sue Watson is, I'd be delighted.

Are there any cons to your job, Kim? (I'm sure there aren't but I have to ask!) 
Absolutely none whatsoever! Sorry! That's why I'm so smug and happy all the time!

Which books will you be reading this summer?
I did a little happy dance last week when Milly Johnson's latest book landed on my doormat! I love her. There are still so many books that I'm ploughing my way through and of course, Bookouture have an amazing selection of summer books out this year. And of course, I'm looking forward to reading Return to Bluebell Hill by Rebecca Pugh! I've heard it's going to be a cracker!

Any parting comments, lovely Kim?
Just delighted to be taking part in an interview with the famous Becca from Becca's Books who will very soon be a published author herself! Good luck with that, Becca, I know it's a dream come true for you. And just thanks for all the support that I get personally from my author and bloggers friends and contacts. I couldn't do it without you and I absolutely thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Kim, thank you so much for joining me on Becca's Books! You're absolutely wonderful and I'm so excited for everything that's to come from Bookouture in the future!

You can find Bookouture on Facebook | Twitter | Bookouture.com
You can find the lovely Kim Nash on Facebook & Twitter





The Secret Daughter by Kelly Rimmer

It's by bringing the ghosts to light that we lay them to rest.


Title - The Secret Daughter
Author - Kelly Rimmer
Publication Date - June 18th 2015
Publisher - Bookouture
Format - Kindle Edition (Provided via NetGalley)
Pages - 273

The blurb

As I saw my new-born baby's face for the first time I tried desperately to capture her face in my mind - to stamp it into my eyelids. As she was taken from me I knew I might never see my daughter again.

37 years later...
'You were adopted'. Three short words and Sabina's life fractures. 
There would forever be a Before those words, and an After.

Pregnant with her own child, Sabina can't understand how a mother could abandon her daughter, or why her parents have kept the past a secret.

Determined to find the woman who gave her away, what she discovers will change everything, not just for Sabina, but for the women who have loved her all these years.

Becca's thoughts 

First of all, I'd like to say a massive thank you to the fabulous team over at Bookouture for providing me with a digital copy of The Secret Daughter by Kelly Rimmer in exchange for a fair and honest review. I have to admit, this isn't the usual type of read that I go for, but I cannot even begin to tell you how glad I am that I went and read it anyway because, bookish beauts, this was absolutely, beautifully heartbreaking...

The Secret Daughter is Kelly Rimmer's second novel with publishers Bookouture. Kelly's first novel with Bookouture, Me Without You, was published back in June 2014, and is one that I haven't yet had the chance to read, but I'm certain that after my experience with The Secret Daughter, I will definitely be treating myself! There is no doubt in my mind that Me Without You will be absolutely saturated with the same effortlessly real emotion that Kelly's second novel is.

In The Secret Daughter, Kelly Rimmer masterfully handles a truly tender and moving plot that had the floodgates bursting open. One of the things that I adored most within this book was how it was structured. Rather than taking the reader right the way through Sabina's story of self-discovery in the present day, the reader is swept into the past during a time of great sadness and grief. Not only do we watch this emotional novel unfold from Sabina's first-person narrative, which was completely overwhelming, but we're also invited to watch the past reveal itself first through Lily's letters, and then through Megan's first person perspective, too. I've probably made it sound complicated in my review but I can assure you that this is most definitely not the case. Kelly handles these different times and narratives with excellent ease, and I cannot applaud the author enough on the effect that this had on me as a reader. I believe that when an author takes a reader into the past, something magical happens. Not only are we involved in the story and the characters, but in this novel, we're finding things out before the characters themselves, life-changing things that I sort of felt a bit awful for knowing before the person who these things affected most. This graceful slipping between the past and the present left me breathless, with sadness and disbelief and utter, utter despair, because I knew that past events, no matter how awful, just couldn't be altered. I believe Kelly chose the most effective way to tell this story, the most impassioned, stirring way.

What unfolds in this novel is something that I've never experienced first-hand in my own life, but Kelly deals with the situations which arise beautifully. It's a very serious, very delicate subject, and even more so because the main character Sabina has absolutely no idea what it is that's about to unfold when she and husband Ted announce their pregnancy to her parents. It was a shock for me, as the reader, to watch Sabina's life suddenly be tugged from beneath her when just moments ago it had seemed so neat and orderly. Kelly's descriptions of Sabina's emotions captured the sheer distraught and confusion perfectly. Despite having never been in such a situation myself, I did feel as if I were experiencing Sabina's emotions right alongside her. It was a captivating read, filled with a very raw and devastating account of a time gone by, and the consequences from past actions. 

As I mentioned above, this isn't the type of book that I'd usually go for, but I am so very happy that I did. This tugged my heart in so many directions I'm surprised it didn't tear completely apart in my chest. This novel was over-flowing with realness and selfishness that arises only from love. Kelly really does know how to drag her reader into the story and ensure that they stay there. I couldn't have been more involved if I'd tried. I was desperate to see where the discovery of Sabina's circumstances would take her. Whilst reading in the present day, I was eager to get back to the past to see what happened next and whether it would affect Sabina in the here and now. It did, of course, because every action has a consequence, and these consequences echoed through time, so many years down the line.

I adored this novel. Absolutely, 100% adored it. Kelly Rimmer is a beautiful writer and I will definitely be visiting her books again sometime in the near future. The Secret Daughter packed such an emotional, powerful punch, one that I don't think I've felt before that I'll always associate with her novels from now on.

Becca's Books is awarding The Secret Daughter by Kelly Rimmer with five of my cupcakes! I believe this stunning story will curl around the hearts of many, and squeeze ever so tightly.





  








The Surprise Party by Sue Welfare

'The thing is we're all the same, the whole family - all of us with our little secrets.'


Title - The Surprise Party
Author - Sue Welfare
Publication Date - March 30th 2011
Publisher - Avon
Format - Kindle Edition (Self-purchased)
Pages - 384

The blurb

One idyllic family, or so it seemed...

The party was supposed to be the ultimate surprise, but instead it turned out to be the most ordinary event of the day...

When warring sisters Suzie and Liz come together to organise a 40th anniversary party for their parents, they struggle to keep their personal dramas in check and make it a magical day.

Suzie is struggling to keep her marriage afloat and Liz is keen to retain her Queen Bee status. Their aunt and mother are much the same, with Lilly and Fleur at loggerheads over their very different lives.

Meanwhile Suzie's daughters Hannah and Megan are learning that growing up isn't as easy as their parents profess.

As the champagne flows and the drama unfolds, it quickly becomes clear that this is a party that no-one will ever forget - but will there be a happy family left at the end?

Becca's thoughts

When I first spotted the cover for Sue Welfare's The Surprise Party, and the blurb, I couldn't wait to get started. I adore stories surrounding families and the issues within, hidden just beneath surface, so I purchased this for my Kindle and really looked forward to getting stuck in. 

This is the first book that I've read by Sue. She is a completely new author, and since The Surprise Party was published back in 2011, it comforts me to know that I have a couple more of Sue's books to read when I fancy it! There are quite a few others out there so when I next have chance, I think I'm going to go and have a snoopy, because I thoroughly enjoyed The Surprise Party.

What I loved most about The Surprise Party was that, somehow, Sue managed to revolve the entirety of her novel around just one day, the day of the surprise party for the 40th anniversary of Rose and Jack. What I mean by this is that from the first page to the last, the surprise party stretches right the way between the pages, lasting right the way through, from the morning full of preparation to the evening full of madness! What surprised me was that, despite the entire novel being based around the anniversary party, not once did I find myself becoming disinterested. The party may have been the main focus of this novel, but breaking off from that were smaller branches, these being the separate issues of each member of the family. Gah, it was brilliantly thought-out and put together, well-plotted and very entertaining.

What made The Surprise Party truly come to life were Sue's fabulous characters. There was a tradition in the family where two girls were born to each woman. Rose and Fleur (mother and aunty), Suzie and Liz (sister's), Hannah and Megan (Suzie's daughters). Each generation of woman had bred two daughters and I found this so endearing, and loved that Sue had included it. The differences between the women were made very clear to me as soon as I began reading, from the youngest generation of women, right up to Rose and Fleur. Scenes between the sisters reminded me of me and my own and I felt so comforted by the bickering and the squabbles, as ridiculous as it sounds. Sue really achieved such an excellent job when it came to the family-like tone of the story. I loved being wrapped up in this world, with the excitement of the party and, later on, the unveiling of some pretty tricky secrets. Not only does the reader spend time with the older generations of the family as Sue switches between the characters' narratives, but we also get to see the world from Hannah's eyes too, who is in the throes of teenage-life, including booze, boyfriends and bad-influences. It was such a gorgeous mixture of ages and views, and made the novel all that more enjoyable.

Amongst the differences in the family fold, each member had something in common, and that was that they were hiding secrets from each other. As the novel progressed, these slowly began to seep out into the party atmosphere, and what was supposed to be a happy, joyous occasion soon turned into something else entirely, although the excitement on my part was still palpable. As a reader, I was watching the fall-out eagerly, wanting to see what would happen next. Each family member reacted to the revealing of these secrets in their own unique ways and this only made the family feel so much more real to me. Between the pages of The Surprise Party by Sue Welfare lay an intriguing tale, one that I thoroughly enjoyed reading.

Becca's Books is awarding The Surprise Party by Sue Welfare with FOUR GORGEOUS CUPCAKES! If you're looking for a fun, heart-warming but excitable read, then The Surprise Party is most definitely for you!



  







Frank Derrick's Holiday of a Lifetime by J.B. Morrison

Frank said goodbye to the woman, picked up his hand luggage and started walking towards passport control, the departure lounge and America.


Title - Frank Derrick's Holiday of a Lifetime
Author - J.B. Morrison
Publication Date - June 4th 2015
Publisher - Pan
Format - Kindle Edition (Provided via NetGalley)
Pages - 352

The blurb

Frank Derrick is eighty-two. And apparently that makes him old. But he just doesn't feel old. Sure, his limbs ache, he can't sleep more than a few hours a night and it takes him a while to get going in the morning. But he's still Frank. A dad, granddad, a friend to Bill the cat.

So when he receives a call from Los Angeles with news that his grown-up daughter's life is falling apart, his natural instinct is to drop everything to be with her. Unfortunately for Frank, that means using his life savings and putting himself in danger of losing his home. But then, Frank's never been one for long-term plans. He can sort out where he and Bill the cat will live when he's back.

And so Frank gets on a plane for the first time in his life. He was never much good at helping his daughter through crises when she was growing up. He left all that to his wife Sheila, who died nearly ten years ago. Now it's time to step up to his role of father to Beth. Joining forces with his determined granddaughter Laura, they begin The Reunion Project in an attempt to bring some happiness back into Beth's life and to bring the family back together again for one happy family holiday.

Becca's thoughts 

First of all, I'd like to say a MASSIVE thank you to the author J.B. Morrison and his publishers Pan, for providing me with a digital copy of Frank Derrick's Holiday of a Lifetime via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

I've been dying to revisit Frank Derrick, ever since reading The Extra Ordinary Life of Frank Derrick, Age 81 back in 2014 (you can find my review here). Despite thoroughly enjoying being introduced to Frank Derrick in his first novel, I found that Frank Derrick's Holiday of a Lifetime had me laughing and snorting just that little bit more, so much so that my partner had to tell me to 'be quiet' because he was trying to get to sleep and I was crying tears of laughter into my pillow. The more I tried to contain my amusement, the worse it became. 

As you can probably guess from the title Frank Derrick's Holiday of a Lifetime follows Frank as he takes his first ever flight to America, more specifically to Los Angeles, to spend time with his troubled daughter Beth and his clever granddaughter Laura. After having loved Frank's first story, along with his hilariously funny antics and matter-of-fact yet amusing way of speech, I couldn't wait to see what scenarios Frank would be faced with next. Frank's views on the world, on cold-callers and window cleaners, as well as his neighbours and the local charity shop's staff, had me absolutely roaring with laughter. I believe that what Frank says is what a lot of people think but wouldn't actually say out loud. Along with his passive-faced cat, Bill, Frank really was the most genuine, side-splitting, and completely down-to-earth character that I immensely enjoyed spending time with. I loved travelling with Frank, being beside him when he stepped onto American soil, hearing his reactions when seeing everything that Los Angeles had to offer for the very first time. It was just such a pleasing, delightful way for me to be reintroduced to Frank since leaving him the last time, and I had a feeling, almost as soon as I began reading, that what lay ahead would most definitely leave me smiling.

Despite the constant laughs, there was a serious undertone to Frank's adventures in Frank Derrick's Holiday of a Lifetime. This time round, Frank's daughter Beth is recovering from cancer, as well as dealing with a break-up, and all in all, she's going through a hell of a lot and could quite clearly do with some support. We're also told more about Frank's wife Sheila who passed away, and the memories Frank thinks about are incredibly touching, also emphasising how alone he really is. I found it difficult not to find Frank endearing, despite his outspoken thoughts. It moved me to think of the time before Frank became alone, when he was surrounded by his family and had a companion in his wife. I was thrilled when the thought of going to Los Angeles hit Frank, and cheered him on towards making his final decision in doing so. Beth needed him, his granddaughter Laura had a plan, and I didn't want Frank to be alone any longer. 

I absolutely loved Frank's time spent in Los Angeles. It added such a fantastically upbeat and exciting tone to the book, and I adored how much he wanted to stay when it came to flying back home. It was a completely different world in Frank's eyes, and his opinions on everything that he saw had me giggling constantly. Frank's dress sense and long, white hair only added to my love for him, and I wanted desperately for him to experience everything that he possibly could, all with his family beside him. It wasn't only an adventure for Frank, it was an adventure for me to, and one of my favourites, come to think of it.

 All in all, Frank's Holiday of a Lifetime was fantastic! Full of new and exciting places for Frank to visit, and moments that had my eyes brimming with tears, this was a true delight to lose myself within. Keep an eye out for the woman who works in the charity shop, by the way, with the south-west eyes! 

Becca's Books is awarding Frank Derrick's Holiday of a Lifetime with FIVE OF MY SCRUMMY CUPCAKES! I really cannot tell you how good it felt to be reunited with one of my favourite characters, and to jet off to Los Angeles with him as my companion, and Bill the passive-faced cat, of course!






   

You, Me and Other People by Fionnuala Kearney

She's right. Hidden things are so much neater.


Title - You, Me and Other People
Author - Fionnuala Kearney
Publication Date - June 18th 2015
Publisher - HarperCollins
Format - Kindle Edition (Provided via NetGalley)
Pages - 432

The blurb

They say every family has skeletons in their closet...

But what happens when you open the door and they won't stop tumbling out?

For Adam and Beth the first secret wasn't the last, it was just the beginning.

You think you can imagine the worst thing that could happen to your family, but there are some secrets that change everything.

And then the question is, how can you piece together a future when your past is being rewritten?

Becca's thoughts

First of all, I'd like to thank Fionnuala Kearney and her publishers HarperCollins for providing me with a digital copy of You, Me and Other People via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. I have to admit, this isn't my "usual" type of read, but I am absolutely thrilled that I didn't scroll on by and miss out on a chance to delve into such an incredibly well-plotted and intricate story. The title was what caught my attention first, swiftly followed by the thought-provoking cover, and then finally, I cast my eyes across the blurb and thought, "Wait, this actually sounds pretty interesting. I'm going to give it a go."

Well, it turns out that "pretty interesting" doesn't even begin to cover how completely brilliant this novel was, nor does it cover how I'd now choose to describe it. I noticed the repetitive mention of secrets when I first read the blurb and I wondered what exactly was hidden between the pages, but I wasn't prepared for the emotional fallout that would follow. It was incredibly powerful, intensely gripping and everything that I look for in a fantastic novel. I honestly cannot believe that You, Me and Other People is Fionnuala's debut. I mean wow. Just wow.

You, Me and Other People is split into three parts, each of which I thoroughly enjoyed and provided me with stepping-stones towards the shocking moment of truth. I think what truly did it for me though, what really reeled me in, was the prologue. Right away, the reader is paired with Adam's first person narrative and it immediately becomes clear that something fishy is going on, something sneaky, that Adam is doing something that he shouldn't be doing, which he's hiding from Beth, his wife. Well, I'm a nosy little bugger, so of course once I'd reached the conclusion that Adam was up to something, I refused to put this novel down until I'd found out exactly what that something was. The mystery, Adam's internal dialogue, his actions... It was all very suspicious, and in a completely intriguing, enticing, and incredibly delicious way. Fionnuala had my mind running wild with all sorts of explanations as to where Adam was and his reasoning behind being there. This captivation ensured that I continued with heightened interest, and my interest only continued to grow as I progressed through the novel. I can honestly say that it didn't wane once.

From beginning to end, You, Me, and Other People held me tight within its grasp. As I delved deeper and deeper into the characters' world of deceit and secrets, I felt myself becoming tangled within the web. I was questioning everything, everyone and in all honestly, this is one of those novels that makes you wonder how easily someone you think you know could keep secrets from you. The realisation of how vulnerable we really are, with our emotions and dependency slowly crept up on me and it was unsettling to say the least. What I also adored about this novel was the raw focus on family and the bonds that can be so easily broken despite having existed for so long. It was a real, in-depth look into a family who were anything but perfect. A family who, without even being aware of it, were already crumbling, crumb by tiny crumb.

It's not only Adam's narrative which we read from in You, Me and Other People, but we also get to see things from Beth's side, too, Adam's wife. I absolutely loved this switching of the narrative because it provided me with a look at the plot from the two affected sides. Adam and Beth's daughter, Meg, gave me with a real sense of what it would be like to be in her position. Despite the narrative never actually switching to Meg, I was able to read her character perfectly, via her dialogue and facial expressions. Fionnuala's characters within You, Me and Other People felt so real to me, they could have been any family living in the row of houses across from me in my own street. It's so incredibly difficult to realise that they are in fact fictional!

 By the time I reached the end of You, Me and Other People I felt emotionally drained! These characters had seriously been put through the mill during their story and I couldn't comprehend just how much they'd been through in the novel's 432 pages. The plot was tightly-strung together, the characters lives intrinsically linked and the revealing of this family's secrets enough to knock me over backwards. It had twists, it had turns, it had shocking revelations and all in all, this was one hell of a debut novel that has ensured I will definitely show interest in Fionnuala's future work. 

Becca's Books is awarding You, Me and Other People by Fionnuala Kearney with FIVE DELICIOUS CUPCAKES! With such a riveting storyline and a striking premise, this novel really held it all for me.