Maya Galen’s oldest son, Jamie, left home eight years ago after a massive row with his parents and now Joe, her youngest child and apple of her eye, has cut off all contact with them too.
Called to Australia to identify the body of a young man, Maya is given her son’s journal. After a sleepless night, she decides that the only thing she can do is follow in Joe’s footsteps and try to discover her most basic human self. Eschewing a monetary lifestyle, from now on she must rely on her physical and emotional strength to survive.
Following Joe’s hand-drawn maps and journal entries, she travels from Australia to Denmark and beyond, meeting many other travellers along the way and learning valuable lessons.
Eventually, a crisis forces her to return home and confront the end of her marriage, but also a new understanding of what family, in the widest sense, really means.
Exploring the big questions at the heart of human existence, The Vagabond Mother shares territory with books and films such as Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer, The Way, starring Martin Sheen, Wild:A Journey from Lost to Found by Cheryl Strayed and Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.
‘Writing Fiction is a little
pot of gold… Screenplay by Syd
Field for film, Writing Fiction
by James Essinger for fiction. It’s that simple.’
novelist and screenwriter
Fiction – a user-friendly guide is a must-read if you want to write stories to a professional standard.
It draws on the author’s more
than thirty years of experience as a professional writer, and on the work and
ideas of writers including:
Martin Cruz Smith
The twenty-four chapters cover every important matter you need to know about, including devising a compelling story, creating and developing characters, plotting, ‘plants’, backstory, suspense, dialogue, ‘show’ and ‘tell’, and how to make your novel more real than reality.
Also featuring special guest advice from legendary screenwriter Bob Gale, who wrote the three immortal Back to the Future movies (1985, 1989 and 1990), and novelist and screenwriter William Osborne, whose many screen credits include the co-writing of the blockbuster Twins (1988), this highly entertaining book gives you all the advice and practical guidance you need to make your dream of becoming a published fiction writer come true.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
What I like about this non-fiction guide, to writing fiction is that is presented in a logical easy to use way. Beginning, with what the author considers fiction to be. Moving through a chapter by chapter guide to the fundamentals of fiction writing, with examples of why they are important, with input from industry professionals.
It covers a wide spectrum of fiction, and includes interesting analogies with screenwriting. This isn’t a workbook. There are examples, but no specific exercises for new writers to judge their content by. However, as an overall guide, and a useful reference book, for fiction writers, learning, or perfecting their craft it works.
The tone of the book is motivational, and the author’s experience and knowledge of the publishing industry are evident.
James Essinger has been a professional writer since 1988. His non-fiction books include Jacquard’s Web (2004), Ada’s Algorithm (2013), which is to be filmed by Monumental Pictures, and Charles and Ada: the computer’s most passionate partnership (2019). His novels include The Mating Game (2016) and The Ada Lovelace Project (2019).
Family means everything to Lily and Zinnia Cortez and, growing up in their non-conventional family unit, they and their two mums couldn’t have been closer.
So it’s a bolt out of the blue when Lily finds her father wasn’t the anonymous one-night stand she’s always believed. She is, in fact, the result of her mum’s reckless affair with a married man.
Confused, but determined to discover her true roots, Lily sets out to find the family she’s never known – an adventure that takes her from the frosted, thatched cottages of Middledip to the snow-capped mountains of Switzerland, via a Christmas market or two along the way…
I received a copy of this book from Avon Books UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
I’m starting to get in the festive vibe now, well it is the last day of September, and this story is a festive gem. The conflicted romance between two likeable protagonists, Lily and Issac, is at the heart of this story. Rather like a festive ‘pass the parcel’, it has so many layers, with a surprise every time you peel one-off.
There is a family drama, as Lily’s search for the other half of her family, raises hidden secrets in the other half. There tumultuous consequences. for Lily, Zinnia and their mothers. This story is wonderfully contemporary, internet dating and same-sex relationships are interwoven into the complex plot, which adds to the story’s authenticity.
A significant part of the story takes place in Switzerland, where Lily and some of the villagers, take their choir to deliver some quintessentially British Christmas cheer. This is where the title really comes into its own, The ambience, food and scenery are beautifully vivid.
The darker themes explored in this story are a good contrast to the festive frivolity and fun, It reads perfectly as a standalone, even though it features characters from the Middledip series.
The perfect book to get you in the festive mood. With family, friends and sparkling romance wrapped beautifully in a snow covered world.
Award-winning author Sue Moorcroft writes contemporary women’s fiction with occasionally unexpected themes. She’s won a Readers’ Best Romantic Read Award and been nominated for others, including a ‘RoNA’ (Romantic Novel Award). Sue’s a Katie Fforde Bursary Award winner, a past vice-chair of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and editor of its two anthologies.
She also writes short stories, serials, articles, writing ‘how to’ and is a creative writing tutor.
The daughter of two soldiers, Sue was born in Germany and went on to spend much of her childhood in Malta and Cyprus. She likes reading, Zumba, FitStep, yoga, and watching Formula 1.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
The blurb for this book attracted me, even though I don’t usually read new adult romance, anymore. I need to think back thirty-nine years, to recognise how I would react in these circumstances, and whether I would risk everything for love, on the strength of an internet acquaintance.
There wasn’t internet in the 1980s, but I still changed the course of my life for love, after a short acquaintance, and so, the main character Lisa’s motivations are something I can relate to.
This contemporary romance is well-written, with an easy to read, style. The youth of the characters and the initial decisions they make are often immature, reading this now, but perfectly in keeping with their age group and intended audience.
Honest and relatable, this story does present our internet lovers with plenty of conflicts, which test their feelings and motivations. The twisty plot tells an engaging story, and the characters are authentic.
The first in the Lisa Millar series, it will be interesting to see what happens next.
Lasairiona McMaster grew up dreaming of an exciting life abroad, and, after graduating from Queens University, Belfast, that is exactly what she did – with her then-boyfriend, now husband of almost ten years. Having recently repatriated to Northern Ireland after a decade abroad spanned over two countries (seven and a half years in America and eighteen months in India), she now finds herself ‘home’, with itchy feet and dreams of her next expatriation. With a penchant for both travelling, and writing, she started a blog during her first relocation to Houston, Texas and, since repatriating to Northern Ireland, has decided to do as everyone has been telling her to do for years, and finally pen a book (or two) and get published while she tries to adjust to the people and place she left ten years ago, where nothing looks the same as it did when she left.
Emily Parker is set to have
the worst Christmas ever!
Her flatmate’s moved out, she’s closed her heart to love and
she’s been put in charge of the school original Christmas show – with zero
Disgraced superstar, Ray Stone is in desperate need of a quick
PR turnaround. Waking up from a drunken stupor to a class of ten-year-olds
snapping pics and Emily looking at him was not what he had in mind.
Ray needs Emily’s help to delete the photos, and she needs his with the show. As they learn to work together they may just open their hearts to more than a second chance…
I received a copy of this book from Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Children at Christmas are what make it special, and this lovely feelgood, festive romance has thirty-three children in its cast of characters. Don’t panic you haven’t got to remember all their names, only a few are introduced in-depth, but their enthusiasm, sense of wonder, and innocence as they embark on their festive show gives this story authenticity and a lovely Christmassy ethos.
Another positive theme in this story is its diversity. Many cultures and family groupings and beliefs are in evidence, reflecting contemporary life well.
Then, there’s the romance, which starts to grow between school teacher Emily and famous musician Ray, they meet serendipitously, at a low point in both their lives. They find something in each other that helps them to accept, heal, and move on from their emotional baggage, some of which is severe.
This is gently paced and detailed. You find out a lot about the characters, main and subsidiary. Whilst this doesn’t necessarily move the story forward, it does build the world, and make the reader believe in the characters, their stories and their motivations.
Music is an important element in this story and this celebrated throughout.
If you enjoy a book that absorbs you, and takes you on a journey, with a positive hopeful conclusion, this one is perfect.
Guest Post- Mandy Baggot – One Christmas Star
Never work with
children or animals…
Animals will poop everywhere! Children will say the most embarrassing things! In One Christmas Star, I have children and animals, all being brought together in one festive extravaganza!
So, how do you go about writing children in novels? How do you make your ten-year-olds authentic and leap off the page? Well, I have to say, it does help if you have children yourself.
I am the mum of two daughters (12 and 14 now) and they absolutely provide me with inspiration for my books every single day. We can be talking randomly on the school run and then when I’m sat at my desk ready to start writing, this conversation will come back to me and end up slap-bang in the middle of my novel. And those chapters are always much richer for it.
One Christmas Star stars thirty-three Year Six’s under the care of teacher, Emily Parker. Here’s how I handled them as a writer and some top tips for making your characters authentic: –
The first thing I would say is, if you’re writing about a group of children, you are not going to make characters out of all thirty-three of them and nor should you. A) The reader is never going to remember all their names, B) neither are you and C) you aren’t going to be able to make thirty-three characters stand out. If you have children yourself, listen up! Take in what they talk about, what’s important to them and how they express this. What are their quirks and their individualism? If you don’t have children yourself, talk to people who do. Facebook is a great place to ask questions like this and you will find you will get loads of interaction and friends eager to give you their thoughts on this kind of topic.
Mix it up. You need girls and boys and you need to reflect society as it is today. Emily works at a Church of England funded school, but she has pupils from all faiths, of all colours and with many different home-life situations – working parents, unemployed parents, two dads, guardians, step-parents. Not just with children, make all your characters real, bring modern-day living to life. We don’t all speak the same. We don’t all look the same. Embrace all those qualities in your writing. Diversity is so exciting!
Keep it real. Make sure your child characters are absolutely true to their age range. Make their dialogue fit. They are not always going to talk in full, grammatically correct sentences. For me, dialogue always has to be true to the character, not to the grammar. I’ve altered many things after a proofreader has said it isn’t grammatically correct. It has to read the way your character would actually say it if he/she was standing in front of you. Read it aloud! How does it sound then? Like the child, it’s supposed to reflect? Or not?
I hope these tips have been useful and I really hope you love meeting the children from Stretton Park Primary School because they are ready to give you a Christmas to remember!
Mandy Baggot is an internationally bestselling and award-winning romance writer. The winner of the Innovation in Romantic Fiction award at the UK’s Festival of Romance, her romantic comedy novel, One Wish in Manhattan, was also shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association Romantic Comedy Novel of the Year award in 2016. Mandy’s books have so far been translated into German, Italian, Czech and Hungarian. Mandy loves the Greek island of Corfu, white wine, country music and handbags. Also a singer, she has taken part in ITV1’s Who Dares Sings and The X-Factor. Mandy is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Society of Authors and lives near Salisbury, Wiltshire, UK with her husband and two daughters.
Except for Daisy Christmas means another of Uncle
T’s dreaded Christmas parties, complete with Christmas jumper and flashing
antlers. And Oliver Cartwright. Gorgeous Oliver Cartwright. Who she
Every year Daisy has to face insufferable Ollie and
hear all about how BRILLIANT he is. Whereas Daisy has no job, no man and
no idea how to fix things.
This Christmas however Daisy is determined things will be different. There will be no snogging Ollie under the mistletoe like when they were teenagers. No, this year she’ll show Ollie that she’s a Responsible Adult too.
But as the champagne corks pop, and the tinsel sparkles, Uncle T has news of his own to share…and it could change Daisy’s life forever…
I received a copy of this book from One More Chapter in return for an honest review.
A lovely emotional life journey with amusing and heartwarming family interaction, romance, laugh out loud moments and some life-altering poignant events and secrets. Christmas is the time when families and friends come together, not always successfully. Everything is intensified during the festive period,
Daisy’s story, as the title suggests, is told over four Christmases, focusing on an annual Christmas Eve party, at her honorary uncle’s bookshop and her interactions with Ollie. her friend since childhood.
The plot is well-paced. and the secrets are successfully interwoven into the story for dramatic impact, but it’s the characters who make this special.
Daisy is lovely, self-effacing. and easy to like. She is comparable to the ‘Bridget Jones’ character, as she draws you into her life, and lets you experience the lows, high and outrageousness of it. The cast of characters are also believable and vital, they are so well -written, it is easy to visual them.
The beauty of this book is its vivid imagery, as I read, I can see the scene playing out and the characters within it, and this makes it addictive, easy reading. Whilst, Christmas is an important element in the book, it is not just a festive read.
This is a journey of self-realisation for Daisy, significant events turn her into someone who lets things happen because she doesn’t feel worthy enough to stop them. As the story progresses. through the four Christmases, so does her self-development and character maturity. It’s this that makes this a heartwarming, satisfying read, with the bonus of romance, friendship, laughter and tears.
Zara Stoneley is the USA Today bestselling author of ‘The Wedding Date’.
She lives in a Cheshire village with her family, a lively cockapoo called Harry, and a very bossy (and slightly evil) cat called Saffron.
Born in a small village in the UK, Zara wanted to be a female James Herriot, a spy, or an author when she grew up. After many (many) years and many different jobs, her dream of writing a bestseller came true. She now writes about friendship, dreams, love, and happy ever afters, and hopes that her tales make you laugh a lot, cry a little, and occasionally say ‘ahhh’.
Zara’s bestselling novels include ‘Bridesmaids’, ‘No One Cancels Christmas’, ‘The Wedding Date’, ‘The Holiday Swap’, ‘Summer with the Country Village Vet’, ‘Blackberry Picking at Jasmine Cottage’ and the popular Tippermere series – ‘Stable Mates’, ‘Country Affairs’ and ‘Country Rivals’.
Parr doesn’t believe her ability to see auras is a gift. It hasn’t exactly done
her any favours. Quite the opposite, in fact. Having become something of a
loner, she tries to avoid people and the glow surrounding them, preferring to
view life through the lens of a camera, where she can’t see those telltale
when a rare visit to a theatre ends in death and bloodshed, Olivia’s life is
about to become considerably more complicated.
the mayhem, one man stands out, and not just because he seems oblivious to the
terrible carnage. The reason? He has no aura.
everyone has an aura, right?
for the dead.
Not only is she fascinated and intrigued by this strange, compelling man, in the aftermath of the tragedy she gains a protector; a man whose aura is deep, dark red – the colour of blood.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
A lovely mix of paranormal, mystery, suspense and passion, with a historical connection that gives the story authenticity and depth. The use of a well known infamous historical character as the antagonist is clever, his documented personality traits fit well with this story, and give it a believable menace.
The action scenes are well-written. and vividly described, they convey the sense of danger and mayhem perfectly and make the paranormal world the author has created within normality believable.
Olivia is a fighter, she’s had to be. suffering appalling bullying since childhood, and lack of family support since they discovered her gift or curse, as she believes it to be. She is likeable, and you want her to succeed, and find happiness.
Olivia apparent unawareness of the paranormal, is ironic, considering her paranormal skill. This may in part, be due to being told by her family, and the numerous medics she has seen that she has a neurological condition.
The interaction with Crow is intriguing, he is on a mission, but finds the time to offer his protection to Olivia, even though she doesn’t want it. Their relationship is a slow burn, barely friends, but there is something there, that may grow.
This is a dark story and the menace increases with the story’s progression. There is an element of noir humour, which people often use to make sense of something that is not quantifiable in human terms, this works well.
Paranormal stories have dipped in popularity, but this is not a lighthearted story of vampires, but one grounded in history and legend, and it paves the way for an exciting series.
Elizabeth Davies is a paranormal author, whose books have a romantic flavour with more than a hint of suspense. And death. There’s usually death…
In 1919, in the wake of the First World War, a group of extraordinary women came together to create the Women s Engineering Society. They were trailblazers, pioneers and boundary breakers, but many of their stories have been lost to history. To mark the centenary of the society’s creation, Magnificent Women and Their Revolutionary Machines brings them back to life.
Their leaders were Katharine and Rachel Parsons, wife and daughter of the engineering genius Charles Parsons, and Caroline Haslett, a self-taught electrical engineer who campaigned to free women from domestic drudgery and became the most powerful professional woman of her age. Also featured are Eleanor Shelley-Rolls, sister of car magnate Charles Rolls; Viscountess Rhondda, a director of thirty-three companies who founded and edited the revolutionary Time and Tide magazine; and Laura Willson, a suffragette and labour rights activist from Halifax, who was twice imprisoned for her political activities.
This is not just the story of the women themselves, but also the era in which they lived. Beginning at the moment when women in Britain were allowed to vote for the first time, and to stand for Parliament and when several professions were opened up to them Magnificent Women charts the changing attitudes towards women in society and in the workplace.
I received a copy of this book from Unbounders in return for an honest review.
2019 marks the centenary for the Women’s Engineering Society, which was created by seven women in 1919. Partly created, in response to a reactionary parliamentary bill, and to reinforce the employment inroads women achieved during WW1. The Women’s Engineering Society wanted the women who had kept Britain working during the WW1, to continue in their chosen engineering and manufacturing roles. They also encouraged more women to enter engineering as a career. Given the small proportion of women enjoying a university or technical education, this was an ambitious aim. Women’s rights and choice were also at the forefront of the Women’s Engineering Society’s aims. Many of the founders came from prominent engineering families, but their social class was diverse.
The book follows the accomplishments and life events of the two most active women in the organisation; Rachel Parsons, daughter of a famous engineer, and Caroline Haslett, a dedicated suffragette. This personal element in the book draws the reader in and makes the achievements and sacrifices relatable.
The book is written in an engaging easy to read style, which makes the events, people and social ethos of the twentieth century come to life. Divided into chapters which explore significant individuals, their achievements and inventions, it is easy to dip in and out of and use for reference. However, the potential and vibrancy of this period in history for women, make this addictive reading.
The cover and images contained within the book, support the narrative well. The reader is given a good sense of the time period, social ethos and economic climate and the uphill struggle women faced in their battle for economic equality.
The final chapter lists notable events and inventions for women in the twentieth- century and is the perfect hopeful conclusion to inspire women engineers in the twenty-first-century.
Henrietta Heald is the author of William Armstrong, Magician of the No rt h which was shortlisted for the H. W. Fisher Best First Biography Prize and the Portico Prize for non-fiction. She was chief editor of Chronicle of Britain and Irela n d and Reader’s Digest Illustrated Guide to Britain’s Coast. Her other books include Coastal Living, La Vie est Belle, and a National Trust guide.
Even if she’s lost most of her friends because of
spending all her time at work, and can’t remember when she last had fun, it’s
Until she’s suddenly made redundant. Now she’s 37,
jobless, and after the breakup with the former love of her life, unhappily
Enter Maddy’s childhood friend, Beth, the owner of
Growlers, the doggy daycare centre at Giddywell Grange, on a mission to make
Maddy see there’s more to life than work.
Soon, Maddy is swapping spreadsheets for volunteer
duty at the library, daily Starbucks for cups of tea with elderly neighbours,
and her Prada handbag for doggy poo bags… And with Beth’s gorgeous brother,
Alex, back from the States, Maddy starts to think that Giddywell Grange might
just be her happy place.
But when her old life – and her old boyfriend –
comes calling, will Maddy go back to the job she loved so much? Or will she
discover that the key to happiness lies in making others happy?
An uplifting romantic comedy that will warm your heart.
I received a copy of this book from Hera Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
‘Escape to Giddywell Grange is an amusing, poignant, romantic and uplifting story.
Maddy thinks she’s living the dream until her world crumbles when she loses her glamorous job. In shock, she returns home to the mother who has always put her first, and the best friend who she has sadly neglected and seeks the emotional comfort she needs. The opportunity to help her friend, when she needs her, is too good to resist, and after a while, Maddy realises that it may be the best choice she’s ever made.
This story leaves you with a lovely warm feeling. It celebrates everything that is good about humanity and shows that money and glamour and material things are worth nothing if they are not shared with someone special. The characters are well-written and believable, they have flaws, but in all but one case they are easy to like.
Maddy is at a crossroads in her life, and you want her to find something more worthwhile. Some of her decisions towards the end of the story had me shaking my head and telling her to think again, so she’s someone you can relate to and care about.Thankfully, the story comes to a convincing and hopeful conclusion.
If you’re looking for a lovely escapist read, this heartwarming, humorous journey of friendship, self-discovery and gentle romance is the answer.
Kim Nash lives in Staffordshire with son Ollie and English Setter Roni, is PR & Social Media Manager for Bookouture and is a book blogger at www.kimthebookworm.co.uk.
Kim won the Romantic Novelists Association’s Media Star of the Year in 2016, which she still can’t quite believe. She is now quite delighted to be a member of the RNA.
When she’s not working or writing, Kim can be found walking her dog, reading, standing on the sidelines of a football pitch cheering on Ollie and binge-watching box sets on the TV. She’s also quite partial to a spa day and a gin and tonic (not at the same time!) Kim also runs a book club in Cannock, Staffs.
Amazing Grace was her debut novel with Hera Books and came out in April 2019.
Escape to Giddywell Grange is Kim’s second novel and will be published on September 18th 2019.
As the new co-owner of Tundish Montana’s stationery shop WANTED, Delta Douglas knows how to organize a killer crafting event. Creativity and cardstock are all she needs to move one step closer to her ultimate dream: developing her own line of crafting products. But on the night of the workshop, at the swanky hotel venue, glitter isn’t the only thing found sprawled on the floor. A hotel guest is discovered dead in the bar, and amid the confusion, Delta’s best friend is suspected of the crime.
Enlisting the help of her Paper Posse and Spud, her canine sidekick, Delta dives into the investigation. But with many high-powered suspects on the line, Delta soon realizes her sleuthing may come with deadly consequences
I received a copy of this book from Poisoned Pen Press via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This promises to be a truly unique cozy mystery series. Beautiful stationery, lovely animal companions and a clever, courageous amateur sleuth in Delta, what more can you ask?
The setting is vivid and easy to visualise from the descriptions in the story. There are many personalities to meet, some of which will feature hopefully in future stories, The plot has lots of twists and all the clues and false leads that this genre demands.
Friendship, mystery, and a hint of romance make this a lovely escape, to the hills of Montana, but be careful, not all the residents are as harmless as they appear.