Melissa Baldwin states that it’s ‘Not Quite Sheer Happiness’, but what does TWG think? Book review time!

It has been 24 hours since Melissa Baldwin’s latest novel ‘Not Quite Sheer Happiness’ was released to the adoring public! I had the deadline of reading the book by the end of the month (thank you to Karan for giving me the ARC!), however, I didn’t do that, obviously, seeing as it’s only the 9th! I read 12 chapters of the book in under an hour and thought it would be rude to not finish it! (I finished it within a couple of hours.) -hands head in shame- I hadn’t read any of Melissa’s books until this one -sniff- and it is safe to say that I trawled goodreads last night and put her other books on my ‘want to read’ shelf. You’re probably wondering why I’m rambling still, don’t worry though, I always do this because I know you’re probably laughing   (ego boost 😉 ).
Let’s get back to the book, want to know a teaser aka the blurb? Of course you do!

‘Sienna Harris is back and appears to be on top of the world! Her company, Sheer Happiness Events, is booming, but personally she’s a mess. She never imagined that with amazing success would come tremendous pressure. Although her professional life seems in disarray at times, her relationship with the dashing Ace Eckelund is finally progressing.
Friendships are tested and so is her relationship when—once again—the past collides with the present. Sienna begins to question everything in her life and wonders if she should throw out her desire for constant certainty and live life on the edge for once. But, will she be able to change the person she has always been for who she wants to become?
Find out in this captivating third instalment of The Event to Remember series.’

‘Not Quite Sheer Happiness’ can be read as a standalone so you don’t have to read the previous two books in the series. However, I would recommend that you do so, unless you’re going to go buy them after you have a book hangover with the third book….like I did.
Sienna is such a lost soul. She wants to be happy but she can’t quite let her guard down enough to be able to give herself the happiness she deserves. But why? What has caused Sienna to question her life and other people’s motives? One word – past. Who has ever been in a situation in their life where their past begins to ruin the present and possibly the future? Some might say it only gets ruined if you let it. Or, some might say that if you’ve been hurt rather badly in the past, it can take time to rebuild yourself ready for the future.
When I started to get to know Sienna’s personality and her little quirks, I found myself nodding along to everything she said, like worrying that something is going to stuff things up for her if she’s happy. Or that she’s paranoid about her new relationship because of the old one. I’ve been there multiple times, I can relate to Sienna. To be honest, Sienna is pretty much me. I would say Melissa did that on purpose but I didn’t know her, wahhhhhhh. I love the way Melissa has written Sienna’s character because she has the likeability factor and she goes out of her way to please everyone else even if that means it makes her slightly naïve. Most of the characters I warmed to quite quickly, except one. I didn’t like her, pompous so and so! (I’m not going to tell you which one, spoilers and all that 😉 ). It’s not anything against Melissa’s writing because the character was on point in general, I just took an instant dislike to her as if she were a real person haha.
This novel is full of drama from start to finish, and it is brilliant! There is always something going on, arguments, mishaps, tears, everything! Now add all the drama to hilarity and romance. What do you think you might end up with? That’s right, a book that make you feel like you’ve lost a friend when its finished. As you read at the beginning of the blog, I couldn’t put the book down. Everything flowed, there was never a dull moment within the story and quite a few laugh out loud moments.
Amongst all the giggles and tantrums over decorations, I did read between the lines a little bit and came across a little hidden message. If you’ve read my other blogs, you’ll be well aware that I like to find hidden messages in books that I read, and this book was certainly no different. Not Quite Sheer Happiness taught me that every once in a while you need to follow your heart and do something YOU want to do without concerning yourself with other people’s opinions on the matter. Just go for it, let your hair down and make yourself happy instead of every other person in your life.
I absolutely loved the book from start to finish and I was extremely gutted that it ended because of its sheer brilliance. Melissa Baldwin is a truly talented writer and I regret not finding her books sooner. Not Quite Sheer Happiness is a hug in a book. A feel good, relatable and loving story that will make you want more, because I definitely do. Amazing book, definitely sheer happiness.

‘Not Quite Sheer Happiness’ can be bought from: Amazon UK/Amazon US

TWG speaks to Natalie Page before her next ‘Zak & Jen’ adventure!

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Before Natalie decided to use Zak’s umbrella to go on her own adventure, I nabbed her for a chat to find out why she chose to write a children’s book! Here’s what she said:

TWG: What made you decide to write a children’s book instead of an adults?
I love reading to my daughter, which is probably what inspired me most to write children’s
literature. I also have a niece, nephew and two godsons so there are a lot of wonderful children in my life! I love the freedom of writing for children, you can allow your
imagination to wander completely off the grid and it doesn’t matter. I remember how I
used to feel reading when I was growing up, that sense of awe and excitement. Being so
eager to see what happened next that I didn’t want to go to bed until the book was
finished. I would love to inspire that feeling in others.
TWG: Did you have any inspiration behind your debut book?
The debut book was the result of fantastic source material. Chris had been an artist for
some time and often painted these slightly unique characters against beautiful night sky
backdrops. One day I called him and asked if I could write a story about them. I talked him
through some of my ideas and then sent him a first draft, thankfully he was completely on
board! The paintings already had quite an art following and so many people seemed to
love the idea of them being a children’s series.
TWG: Did you set out for the book to have a hidden message in it, or is that just me finding one?
Depends on what you think the message was! What has been so nice is watching how
other people and their children interpret the book. There is an obvious message about
appreciating what you have, and also the fact that you have the power to change things if
you are unhappy. However those that have read it so far have found strong messages
about preserving the environment, and accepting people for who they are and not what
they look like. The characters don’t have a traditional children’s literature look and feel
and I think that is one of the key things that makes this book unique.
TWG: Is your plan to continue writing children’s books or do you think you will write an adult’s book later on?
Interestingly the first book I finished was a Young Adult novel which I am still trying to edit (amidst everything else!). Because it is YA, the subject matter is much darker and grittier, and I was keen to have a very strong female lead character. However, I love writing books for young children, it is so wonderful to see the enjoyment they get from them. As for adult fiction, I am not against writing for adults at all! Although, I tend to follow my
inspiration when it comes to writing, if I come up with a great idea for an adult book I will
definitely do what I can to write it!
TWG: What was your favourite book when you were a child?
I was an avid reader as a child so I had lots of favourite books. However, when I was very
young my favourite, without question, was the Faraway Tree series by Enid Blyton. I loved
being able to escape into a world of pure magic. Generally that is what I love most about
reading and writing, the escapism.
TWG: Did your experiences of reading as a child, influence your book writing now?
Absolutely. If I hadn’t been such a bookworm as a child, I would never have enjoyed
writing so much as a child and I doubt I would enjoy it as much now. Being able to write
stories takes me back to when I was a young and the way writing made me feel then.
TWG: If you had your own planet like Jen and Zak, what would you have on it, or what would your view be?
That is a tough one! I would want so many things! One of my greatest loves (and places of
inspiration) is sitting and looking at the ocean. It is one of the few places that I feel totally
at peace. I once saw a picture of a beach somewhere in the world where the water had
florescent plankton in it, so at night the water glowed and sparkled. I imagine my ocean
would look a bit like that. I also adore flowers and trees. Cherry blossom is one of my
favourites, which is why it appears in the book. However, I also love peonies and magnolia
trees (especially the purple ones). Overall, I think I would have a sparkling ocean with a
white sandy beach and then hundreds of flowers and blossom trees – maybe some with
unusually coloured flowers, like gold!
TWG: If you could choose any fantasy land or world from another children’s book, to disappear into yourself, which one would it be, and why?
Again, another great question – especially for a lover of fantasy fiction like me. I think it
would probably be Narnia (although Fantasia from the Neverending Story would be a
close second). I grew up reading the Narnia series and quite honestly, I always thought it
would be amazing to live at castle Cair Paravel! Oh, and who wouldn’t want to hang out
with Aslan?
TWG: I know you have plans for a second book, but what’s in store for you after that? What can we look forward to?
We have lots of exciting things that we are exploring for this first book, as well as working
on plans for a second and third book! I can’t reveal too much right now, but it seems that
people are very anxious to see more of these characters so we are looking at innovative
ways we can do that!

How exciting! That’s another person that enjoyed The Magic Faraway tree as a child, although I am yet to find someone that still reads it as an adult…except me of course! Big thank you to Natalie for stopping by for a chat, and a huge congratulations to Natalie & Chris for such a wonderful book.

I was lucky enough to get a copy of the book before it was released, here’s what I thought about it: TWG is going on an adventure to ‘The Petal Planet’ with Zak & Jen!

If you wish to buy your own copy of this magical book, follow this link right here: Buy Zak & Jen from Amazon

I cannot wait to see more from Zak & Jen and what they get up to next!

Book Tour of ‘I Wish I Could Remember You’ by L.J.Epps.

Today it is my turn on the one month book tour for ‘I wish I could remember you’ courtesy of The Books and The Bear. Thank you for giving me opportunity to be involved with this book!

I wish I could remember you by L.J.Epps.
Available to buy now from: Amazon US/Amazon UK/
Apple iBook/Kobo

‘Emily wants romance in her life—the kind of romance that leads to a perfect marriage. She dreams of having a husband who loves her and treats her with respect, someone she can spend the rest of her life with. She meets—and marries—Steven Montgomery, hoping he will make all of those things come true.
Finally, after so much devastation, Emily leaves Steven, files for divorce, and moves on with her life. Her sister, Monica, introduces her to a wonderful man named Robert. Emily falls in love with him. He is kind, gentle and sweet—all things now missing from her marriage. She is happy, in love again, and well on her way to divorcing Steven.
But, Steven doesn’t want the divorce; and, since he is a savvy lawyer, he tries everything to prevent it. Although Emily still has residual feelings for Steven, she knows that it could never work between them. She wants to move on with the new love of her life, Robert.
After a horrific accident, Emily can no longer remember Robert and all the things he has meant to her, and she can no longer remember all the horrific things Steven has done to her.’

Who would say no to romance or a happily-ever-after type relationship? Not many people I would imagine. When two people get married, they don’t except abuse after abuse, disaster after disaster or the dreaded control, do they? I can only assume no, I’ve never been married. That wasn’t the sort of relationship that Emily thought she would get when she married Steven. A ‘perfect romance’ to begin with, the ‘perfect man’, everything just slotting into place, that was Emily’s dream. But did Emily’s dream come true? Or did she find herself in an unbearable situation?
Emily and Steven’s relationship spiralled into a cloud of negativity, so bad that Emily filed for a divorce and tried to move on with her life with a wonderful man named Robert. But Steven wasn’t daft. He wasn’t going to leave her alone, and he had people he could call on for ‘favours’. Steven wanted Robert out of the picture, and there was only one way he was going to be able to make that happen, illegally.
Unfortunately, he got more than he bargained for. Emily suffers an horrific car accident which leaves her with the inability to remember the recent and happy moments with Robert, but it’s left her remembering the ‘wonderful’ things about her and Steven’s relationship. Pretty much a case of ‘rose tinted glasses’. She refused to believe her past, what Steven was capable of and he knew that, but he also used that to HIS advantage and not hers.
‘I wish I could remember you’ covers really tragic and unfortunately circumstances, some of which many women and men suffer on a daily basis. L.J.Epps, in my opinion, has written about those situations in a realistic way to show exactly how damaging it is and that it isn’t a laughing matter. It’s a very serious matter and should not be ignored. However, when you’re living that life, you don’t see it, so the rose tinted glasses stay on. I enjoyed the book because of how it was written and how ‘normal’ the characters were. Obviously the topic within the novel wasn’t enjoyable but because it was a subject that happens, I still found it to be part of a good story. One thing I would say is though, L.J.Epps delves into the situations and circumstance with great detail throughout, however, the last part of the book I found that it halted far too quickly without much of an explanation. The basis of the explanation was there, but that was it. Now, that is nothing against the writing or the book because it just shows that I wanted more of the book and didn’t want it to end.
The storyline was incredibly gripping and quite unpredictable which, for me, made it even more enjoyable. I like feeling that I’m reading a book which leaves me sitting on the edge of my seat in anticipation. ‘I wish I could remember you’ was one of those books. Full of emotion, raw reality and very unfortunate circumstances. Those things MADE the story. There were times within the story that I gasped, cried, got angry and thought ‘what the’…the makings of a mind blowing story.

An insight into Maya Berger’s ‘Luna Tree – The Baby Project’.

I had seen the cover of ‘Luna Tree’ before whilst browsing Amazon, and it’s one that definitely caught my eye. How could it not? Then one day, I stumbled across the lady herself, Maya Berger on Twitter, where I won myself a copy of the beautiful book. The cover intrigued me, the author intrigued me, I just knew I had to get her onto my blog and find out more, which leads us to now. Maya has kindly written a guest post about why she wrote her book ‘Luna Tree – The Baby Project’. I read the post, and I cried. I cried because it hit home in more ways than one, and I am sure a lot of you will be able to relate to parts of it as well.
Now, I will hand you over to Maya and her heartfelt words…

‘THE STORY BEHIND LUNA TREE

‘Firstly Kaisha, thank you for the chance to tell your readers about my book!

Luna tree is the first book I’ve written. It is about my desire to become a better version of myself, and my dream to have a baby. I was motivated to write a book because I had very big obstacles to overcome to get to where I am today. I start the book with a peek into my childhood and adolescence. Then I describe my early relationships and finally the period of my life when I met my husband. It was important to me that a reader gets to know my background, where I am coming from. Then I got sick with autoimmune illness that almost made me handicapped. It lasted for almost three years and in that period I visited numerous Western and Eastern medicine practitioners and travelled the world to find a cure. The worst part was not knowing what was wrong with me because you don’t know if there is a medicine for it. Not knowing how will I live for the rest of my life without the ability to sit, or walk, or even lie down without the special mattress was something that I was living with every day and it was hard to accept it.

Finally, I got better and conceived a baby. It was an incredible experience, and I felt a need to share it with everyone, especially with people who feel they are in a dead-end street. Today I am healthy and the proud mother of my baby girl Luna.

I don’t think I am the strongest person living. I cried so many times I can’t even count them. The solution is not to give up. I would cry and then find another doctor, then I would cry again and seek another one until I realized that the doctors might not ever diagnose me properly – that’s when I turned to alternative practitioners. There is a solution for every problem, we just have to find it. The worst is to just accept the situation and feel sorry for yourself. It doesn’t really mean you accepted the situation, it just means you gave up.

Through my whole life I had to care for someone: My Mom, my sister, my boyfriend… and finally there was a person who took care of me and I could relax. But then things went downward. You know, like when you work hard and have no time to be ill, and then you finally get some time, and what happens? You get sick, because you spent the last atom of your strength and now you have no energy for anything. My “time off” started on our skiing trip when I suddenly expected my husband to solve all my little problems that never even existed before (because I was to busy solving other people’s problems ).

I started to write Luna Tree when I got my baby girl. I would write when she was asleep. I always had time for writing, because I felt the need to share my story and maybe help someone in a similar situation feel better. Nowadays, I write an hour or two daily in the morning or evening when I don’t have other responsibilities like my work as a presenter, housework or playing with my girl. If you love doing something, you will always make the time to do it.

Today, I am finishing my second book, also a chick-lit memoir, so to say. It is a funny story about two girls invited to a Belgian wedding. There is a twist, too, and I think readers will love it!

As far as the books I like go – I love psychological dramas, chick-lit, sometimes thrillers. I read all books by Lianne Moriarty, Carlos Ruiz Zafon, and Rainbow Rowell. Those are my favorite writers, but I’ll read anything if I have the time.

Very honest post, don’t you agree? Many of us battle with life long illnesses, or come up against brick walls when it comes to things in our lives. Everyone us different, everyone’s battle is different. But to see an author put it into one of their books for the world to see, and to make the reality of chronic illnesses/autoimmune diseases widely known, it is empowering. Why? Because we need awareness, we need support, and we need people to understand in their own special way. Just like Maya.

How many of you have read the book? If you haven’t read it yet (I haven’t but it’s bumped up my list so expect a review this week), then I will pop the links below of where you can buy it. It’s currently available in both paperback and e-book format. I don’t think this book is one that you should miss:

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Where to buy:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

About the author – Maya Berger:
Maya Berger is a 41-year-old woman from Croatia. Born in Zagreb where she lives, Maya studied in Dubrovnik and life was rosy until something stopped her – Ankylosing Spondylitis. Maya battled chronic pain for years, and was misdiagnosed for quite some time, so when AS was finally defined, she felt relief. She also found a way to get rid of chronic pain for some 85%, following some alternative medicine options.  As Maya personally dislikes depressing books, she did everything to avoid writing one… regardless of a somewhat heavier topic. Most of the people who read it say it’s an uplifting read. She calls it a humorous guide to recovery and healing.

Maya’s Twitter
Maya’s Facebook
Luna Tree Website.

Big thank you to Maya Berger for taking the time to be with us here today, I really do appreciate it!

A chat with the #LifeSwap lady herself – Carol Wyer!

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Edit: included in #TalkOfTheTown Talk of the town with help from Carol!

First of all I would like to say a MASSIVE congratulations to the truly wonderful Carol Wyer, as today (22nd April 2016) is the publication date for her newest novel – Life Swap! A few weeks ago, if you remember, I posted a review of the novel as I was lucky enough to read it before the release date! Thank you again to Carol and Bookouture for allowing me to do so. If you can’t remember the review (I’ll be insulted if you can’t!!!), then please click the following link to have a nose: Life Swap by Carol Wyer.

Ever since that review was posted, I have had the honour and privilege to be included in Carol’s circle, an honour I do not take lightly. It does mean the world to me. However, I do have ONE small moan….I mean….I know newsletters are the thing with authors and so on, but honestly…where the fried eggs are my marshmallows?!? Marshmallows do seem to be the topic of conversation lately, and I am sure you’re wondering why.

Well, if you hop along to Amazon UK/Amazon US/Amazon Worldwide to buy your copy! Go on! You will regret it if you don’t. But, before you do, I managed to nab the busy lady herself for a natter. Sit back and relax. It is with great pleasure that I welcome Carol to The Writing Garnet. Here’s what we had a chat about:

Kaisha: Where did you get the inspiration from for the ‘Life Swap’?

Carol: As is the case with most of my books it started when I was eavesdropping a conversation. To be fair I was included in the conversation but was only half-paying attention at the time. A friend was leafing through a magazine while simultaneously complaining about her lot in life. My ears pricked up when she announced she would like to swap lives with Kim Kardashian. When pressed on the matter, she was adamant that she would give up everything and everyone she knew if someone could magically get her to exchange lives. It lead to a discussion about who we would swap with and why and would we really give up it all to swap lives.

Kaisha: Several of the events were hilariously farfetched; did you find those parts hard to write?

Carol: No. I have a truly bizarre sense of humour. Sorry folks but I do. I rarely sleep so maybe its a product of a hyper-active, completely over-tired brain. I lie awake most nights just thinking about stuff and plotting for my books. My mind often relays events of the day to me as if they were in a cartoon and people are little cartoon figures. Don’t ask me why that happens but a recent conversation with my mother revealed she does the same. I think it’s some sort of coping mechanism so when things are tough my brain makes them easier to digest. When I write some of the more far-fetched scenes in my books, I imagine them first like they’re employing out in a comedy film acted by someone like Ben Stiller or Rowan Atkinson. My mind rolls my books as films throughout the night and I stop the scene, replay, change sequences or characters, re-roll the scene in my head and when I am happy with it, convert it to writing.

Kaisha: Every chapter in the book had a turn of events or a cliff-hanger, how did you decide to do that?

Carol: It’s deliberate. I’m afraid I am a manipulator of emotions. I learned the technique of leaving cliffhangers when i studied Literature years ago. I always encourage the reader to be urged on. i want them to be reluctant to put the book down. It’s pretty much how I read too. I am a speed reader and I gallop through books at a rate of knots.

Kaisha: Do you think it warrants a sequel, ‘The life after the demonised life swap’?

Carol: Tempting as it is to pick up these characters again, I think it’s run its course. The surprise element would be difficult to replicate in a sequel.

Kaisha: I must ask this, do you have an obsession with marshmallows? You manage to describe them on an impressive level!

Carol: I have an obsession with sweets in general and I adore marshmallows. I get through bags and bags of sweets when I am typing. I have had to cut down dramatically as the last three times I have broken teeth on chewy jelly sweets and had to get new crowns. This next book I am going to abstain…really…well, maybe only a few marshmallows.

Kaisha: If you were able to life swap with anyone, who would it be and why? Doesn’t have to be someone you’ve met!

Carol: I’d swap with the businesswoman Celia Sawyer. She’s one of the most influential businesswomen in the UK, runs a hugely successful interior design company and property company, is a dealer on Channel Four’s Four Rooms, flies about in a beautiful jet, has homes in London and Barbados, hangs out with celebrities, is very intelligent, stunning, looks incredibly glamorous and owns the most amazing collection of footwear including some Christian Louboutin boots I covert. Sadly, I’m pretty certain she wouldn’t want to swap lives with me and drive on a windy hill with Mr Grumpy.

Kaisha: You have a wild sense of humour, have you always been like that?

Carol: It’s a very long story but the shortened version is I developed a sense of humour really early on in my life as a way to combat bullies. I was one of those kids that got picked on thanks to looking weird, wearing specs and then smashing out my front teeth and having false teeth that kept falling out!

At one point when I was pretty low, my mum took me to see Ken Dodd who I loved and that changed my life. He made everyone laugh so much and didn’t care about his sticky out hair or sticky out teeth. He sang a song at the end of the show called, happiness and in my 11-year-old mind I fused happiness and laughter. From that day, I started to laugh at myself and made others laugh. They laughed with me rather than at me and I discovered the power of humour.

Kaisha: What has been your proudest writing achievement to date?

Carol: There have been a few but when I got interviewed on BBC Breakfast about my book Grumpy Old Menopause I was elated and when I won the People’s Book Prize Award for the same book last year and accepted my prize at a glitzy award ceremony that was televised by Sky News, I felt over the moon.

Kaisha: Are there any authors you have found to be a type of role model?

Carol: When I first started writing I wrote to Janet Evanovich who I admire hugely. She answered my email and encouraged me to “go for it”. I loved her for taking time to email me even though she was so busy. I would love to be as successful as her and write such hugely entertaining books.

Kaisha: What did you aspire to when you were a child? Has it always been to write?

Carol: Actually, I wanted to be a vet but I failed Biology at school and ended up doing languages instead. I was always good at English and one teacher in particular pointed out to the class that I was extremely good at writing comedy (even way back then). I have been writing since I was twenty. I started when I was bed bound in hospital for many weeks, then wrote stories for children when I lived in Morocco. I didn’t try and get them published because I didn’t believe I was good enough.

It took me until my thirties to send some children’s stories away to a publisher. They were illustrated stories about animals in France and taught basic French to children. We were in talks to sign to a big publishing house when my best friend and illustrator died suddenly and I pulled the books. I didn’t try to get published again until I started writing full-time in 2009.

Kaisha: If you could have written any book that has already been published, which one would you choose and why?

Carol: I wish I’d written Fifty Shades of Grey. Ha! Seriously, I can’t write sex scenes for love nor money. During a conversation with my 82-year-old mother while I was writing Just Add Spice, I made some comment about writing a sex scene and she laughed. The next day I got a letter from her containing a photo of a handsome naked man and the note, “To jog your memory.”. It’s not so much the content of the book that I wish I’d written but I would love to see my books being hauled off the shelves in supermarkets as if there was going to be a shortage f them. Oh to have that success!


Kaisha: What writing habits do you despise?

Carol: Shoddy editing. I cannot read a book that is full of typos and poor grammar. I’ll accept a few mistakes but some authors (especially self-published ones) are too keen to publish their books as soon as they complete them and ignore how important it is to edit.


Thank you Carol for such a wonderful chat. It has to be the most funniest interview I have ever had. So, you have heard it here first, she wishes she had written ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’. You never know, Carol’s next novel might be an erotic one, possibly involving melted marshmallows….or not!

Life swap is available to buy RIGHT NOW from Amazon UK, Amazon US and Amazon Worldwide. Also, if you want to keep up to date with Carol’s humour and updates of new novels, then you can follow her blog right here: Carol Wyer’s Blog. If you are in need of a pick me up and feel you need to lose yourself for a little while, then I suggest you go and buy this. You will not be disappointed, I certainly wasn’t. Bizarrely hilarious from the onset. Carol Wyer, it has been a pleasure having you on the blog today, and congratulations on your latest release!

 

An Autumn Affair by Alice Ross. Book Review.

An Autumn Affair by Alice Ross. (Book one of Countryside Dreams series).
Published: 21st April 2015 by Carina UK.
Available on Amazon in Kindle format.

‘Autumn is coming. Anything could happen…
Julia is contemplating an affair with ex-boyfriend Max after a chance meeting in the cereal aisle of the supermarket…and finding that he’s just as gorgeous as ever.
Miranda has got it all: expensive clothes, a huge house and her enormously wealthy husband, Doug. So why does she feel as if something is missing?
Faye is fed up of being treated like a child – she’s a teenager, and knows what she wants! She’s determined to escape her sleepy life at Primrose Cottage…
Three women, each with two options, needing to make one choice. When it comes to affairs of the heart, nothing is ever simple.’

An Autumn Affair follows the lives of two grown women and a teenager on the verge of becoming an adult. All three ladies have their own story to tell, and as it is known, everyone’s story is different. These ladies are no exception. At first you’re introduced to Julia; a woman who has spent over twenty years trying to get over her first love…by getting married to a man called Paul and having twins. Sounds pretty straight forward doesn’t it? But, during her typical Friday food shopping, Julia found herself re-evaluating her life by a box of Frosties. Thanks to her daughter Faye getting herself into a ‘minor’ pickle, Julia’s eyes become fully open to what has been the obvious decision all along. But is it an easy one?
Now Faye. The teenager. Julia’s daughter. The teenager that wants to be treated like an adult and act like an adult, but doesn’t seem to want to think about consequences. Which results in her wanting her mum…but at what cost?
The third lady you come across in the story is Miranda. She is married to a very wealthy man and has one daughter. She has the lifestyle most women would dream of. But can money really buy happiness? Is everything in Miranda’s life as rosy as people think?
What can I say about ‘An Autumn Affair’? Quite a lot actually! This was another book that I picked to read purely based on the cover, and the title, so everything I read was going to be a surprise. I felt the switching between the three ladies was ever so slightly confusing to begin with, but once I got into the story it flowed so well and I became grateful it was split because my attention could be on each lady and their individual stories. I was hooked after the second chapter and it get me gripped throughout. Every time I read what one lady got up to, I was itching to find out what happened to the next one! Each lady had their own problems to deal with and it did keep me guessing because just when I thought I could predict the next situation, I was totally wrong. I love books that do that! For me personally, the whole point of reading a book is to be surprised and to feel like you’re on an emotional rollercoaster. Did this book live to that? 100% yes. I was shocked at some of the characters stupidity, humbled by how one person can forgive a betrayal, and yes, I welled up. Shock!
Most importantly though I felt that the story carried a very strong message about identity, life and choosing the path that is right for you. Whilst all three ladies seem to be good at putting on a front and making themselves think that they’re happy, deep down they aren’t. But in the end, who gets hurt the most? Whilst the book had humour and light-hearted moments, it also had some very real moments which were written with a great deal of compassion. Reading ‘An Autumn Affair’ has been an eye-opener, and a  wonderful thought-provoking read. I loved it. If I could sum up this book in one sentence I would say that it is a hug in a book and definitely my go to book of the year so far. I cannot wait to read the second one.

An interview with…..Portia Macintosh!

Good evening! It is double whammy night here at The Writing Garnet to celebrate Portia Macintosh’s publication day of ‘Truth or date?’. It is available to buy right now over on Amazon —> Truth or date?. Portia has written several other novels such as ‘Drive me crazy’ and ‘Bad Bridesmaid’. All of her books can be found right….HERE!

If you’re just joining us tonight, this is the second blog of our double whammy, so if you haven’t already taken a look at the book review of this novel, go looksee before reading this interview! It’ll make more sense that way. Our book review can be found here: Book Review – Truth or Date?

You know the saying ‘if you don’t ask, you don’t get’, yes? Well, that applies right here. I was convinced that Portia wouldn’t be able to spare any time today for a chat, so I was very pleased she said yes! It is with great pleasure I welcome to The Writing Garnet….Portia Macintosh!

Kaisha – Hi Portia, thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to talk to me! I want to start off by saying congratulations to you today as it is the publication day for your new book ‘Truth or Date?’! How nervous are you for this book to be released compared to your other releases?

Thank you so much! It’s my pleasure to talk to you – all about myself haha. I feel daft admitting it, but I’m kind of nervous this time. This is my fifth book, you’d think I’d be used to it, but there’s something about this one… It’s possibly the most influenced by my real life, so there’s a degree of: ‘if people think this is dumb, do people think I’m dumb? Am I dumb? I’m probably dumb…’ I have to admit, when I got my first few reviews and they were all good, I breathed the ultimate sigh of relief. Like: ‘as you were, Portia.’ 

Kaisha – For those that aren’t aware of your work (yet), could you tell us about yourself and how you came to be a writer?

In some ways my journey was pretty typical – another journalist turned author – but I started out writing books as a way to anonymously tell my stories from my time touring with bands. I fast realised that I loved writing fiction, even more than I loved writing about music. Since I signed with Carina UK, I’ve never looked back. 

Kaisha – You have had several books published before ‘Truth or Date?’ what makes this novel different from your previous ones?

Well, like I said before, I think this one is the most influenced by my real life. I spent last year playing the dating game, being set up by friends, using every app I could feasibly download considering I eternally have the ‘storage almost full’ message on my iPhone – and I gathered enough information to fill fifty books. From the good, to the bad, to the just plain ugly, it’s nice to take real stuff and put it to good use. 

Kaisha – The main character in your book, Ruby, seems the type of person that a lot of readers may relate to in terms of unlucky in love, and her attitude towards dating. Is Ruby based on anyone that you know? If not, how did you come about creating such a ‘totally me’ personality in her?

I’m Ruby. My friends are Ruby. Everyone who has ever been messed around by a man is Ruby. The poor girl has been through a lot – an absolute barrage of rubbish men – but I wanted to show people what we girls go through in our quest to find true love. I want my readers to follow Ruby’s story and think: ‘thank God, it’s not just me!’ – because at some point we’re all in the same sinking boat, waiting for a sexy lifeguard to save us from a sea of dating misery haha. 

Kaisha – Millsy, Ruby’s best friend, is such an immature player which you have written brilliantly. However, he seems the ‘annoying best friend’, did you find yourself wanting to tell him to grow up when you were writing him?

Millsy is a blatant swipe at all of my immature male friends who think they are LADs. Not a bad person, but with his priorities all wrong. I have lots of friends like Millsy, I’ve been on dates with guys like Millsy – and they’re charming, funny, and an absolute blast to be around, but at the end of the day, you can’t change them. So as much as I’d love the Millsys of the world to grow up, I know better than to try and change a guy like that – in and out of fiction. 

Kaisha – You have written such a hilarious book, definitely not for a prude! Were those one-liners easy for you to write? Or did they come to you naturally?

Aww, thank you. Much to my family’s annoyance, I have quiet a vulgar sense of humour, and I’m very sarcastic, so one-liners make up a good 80% of my day-to-day dialogue. It was nice to have an outlet for them that didn’t see an elderly relative roll their eyes at me haha. 

Kaisha – ‘Truth or Date?’ is very cleverly written, did you know straight away you were going to create characters that weren’t so clever? Naming no names!

Yes, definitely. One thing I wanted to make very clear is that, when it comes to love, we’re all idiots. We all make wrong choices, we all do stuff we’re not proud of. I think everyone has had a crush on someone they couldn’t have, or they’ve done something stupid to try and win someone over – sometimes absolutely crazy things we wouldn’t do if we were thinking straight. People are silly when it comes to love, so I knew my characters needed to be just as clueless. 

Kaisha – Are there any characters in your book that you dislike? Be honest!

Yes – Heather. She’s so annoying, isn’t she? Now, don’t get me wrong, I have so much respect for people who chose to live a vegan lifestyle. I absolutely love animals, and I hate to think of anyone harming them in any way, but to commit to vegan life is a big deal and that needs commending. That said, I cannot stand anyone who preaches about anything, and I have this one vegan friend who saw me eating meat in a café, and proceeded to tell me exactly how animals are slaughtered – literally while the food is in my mouth. We all have our beliefs and that’s awesome, but we should all be allowed to ‘do us’ without criticism or being made to feel guilty, right? 

Kaisha – If you could choose a book that has been written by another author to be one of the books written by you, which one would it be and why?

Ooh, that’s a good question. I absolutely love Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. It made me wish I wrote thrillers. 

Kaisha – Do you find that the more novels you write, the more pressure there is for each one to be more successful than the last?

I do, actually. Because the second you write a book that people don’t love, you’re going to think you’ve lost your touch, get the fear and never write again. OK, maybe that’s extreme, but it’s in the back of your mind, for sure. 

Kaisha – Lastly, what are your plans for the future in terms of writing? What else can we look forward to seeing from you?

I have started book six already, which should be out at the end of year. I can’t say much at this stage – not because I’m being a tease, because I’m still trying to figure a lot of it out haha. What I will say…it might be a Christmas book. Maybe. I’m still trying to work out if that’s a brilliant idea, or just my way of justifying eating too much and listening to carols while I write it…

Such an honest interview! Thank you Portia for giving such a wonderful interview. You are right, people shouldn’t feel guilty for being themselves or doing what they feel is right, especially if someone else does something different.

Hope you all enjoyed reading the interview and the book review tonight, thank you for stopping by!

From Scotland to England With Ali Mcnamara….Actually.

I am squealing as I type this. If you’re currently hearing a high pitched noise, or your dog has its ears pricked up listening for something, don’t panic, only me!

It is with great pleasure and honour to welcome Ali McNamara to The Writing Garnet! Ali McNamara is well known for the ‘Notting Hill’ series (my book review of book 1 can be found HERE, and currently has six novels to her name, with her seventh being published this July.

Ali agreed to an interview with me for the blog, so here is what we had a chat about, enjoy!

Kaisha: – You already know I’m a massive fan of yours, but who inspires you in terms of other authors, if any?

Ali – Thank you! From my own genre I’ve always loved Cecelia Ahern, as her stories are always a little bit different. At the moment I also love reading J.K. Rowling writing as Robert Galbraith, and Mitch Albom’s books – a bit like Cecelia, something a little different…

Kaisha – You went into a great amount of detail with the Notting Hill series, bringing movies to life. Did you find that hard to do, or are you a movie buff just like Scarlett is?

Ali – I love the types of movies Scarlett does – feel good films that make you smile! :).  I spent a long time re watching all my favourites, and some I hadn’t seen before, as research for the first Notting Hill book. And I got to call it work!

Kaisha – I have to ask. Bridget Jones’s diary turned 15 this month and she is having a baby in the new film! Do you have any plans to bring Scarlett and co back for a fourth book?

Ali – I would LOVE to write about Scarlett again! I always planned another book where children were definitely on the horizon for her and Sean. However things change quite quickly in publishing, and at the moment my own publishers aren’t so keen for another Notting Hill book. But never say never! I miss those characters; they may be back one day….

Kaisha – Your book ‘Step back in time’ had quite a lot of celebrity references too in terms of music, how long did it take you to research that particular book?

Ali – A long time! Step Back in Time is one of my personal favourites, but because its set in five different decades, it was one of the hardest to write in terms of research, everything had to be checked and double-checked!

Kaisha –  If you could pick just one of your books as your favourite, which would it be and why?

Ali – Whoops, I think I answered that above! But the Notting Hill characters will always be special to me.

Kaisha – Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Ali – No, definitely not.  However, because I’m an only child I’ve always had a very active imagination!

Kaisha – If you hadn’t become a writer, what would career path would you see yourself in right now?

Ali – Law. I love fighting for what’s right!

For those that are fans of the ‘Notting Hill’ series, cross your fingers for a fourth book! Thank you again to Ali for taking the time out to have a chat with me and answering my questions. It has been an absolute pleasure. You have also put my inquisitiveness to rest for a little while! Ali’s new novel ‘Letters from Lighthouse Cottage’ is out 14th July 2016, and is available to pre-order on Amazon right now, so make sure you get your copy snapped up ready for publication date!

 

 

 

 

An interview with…..

Several readers over on the Facebook page might remember me dropping hints about an interview, yes? Okay, this author is extremely well known and has written many books about food, and a puffin. Any ideas?

The Writing Garnet is absolutely thrilled to welcome Jenny Colgan! You might be familiar with some of her books, for example, Little Beach Street Bakery. (Amazon) and more recently The Little Shop of Happy-Ever-After. (Amazon). I have admired her work for a while so I was extremely honoured to be able to have a chat with her about her work. Enjoy!

First of all, I would like to thank you for taking the time for this interview!

Garnet:  Could you tell us a bit about you and your background before you began writing?
Jenny: I worked in the NHS for a few years, not very successfully! I always wanted to be doing something else. 

Garnet: Have you always wanted to become a published writer?
Jenny: Well yes, but I didn’t really think it would ever actually happen. I just kept plugging away at it, but I was quite surprised when it actually came true.

Garnet: Several of your books are about working in food retailers, how were you able to create such realistic situations? Have you worked in a bakery or chocolate shop before?
Jenny: I’ve worked in bars and restaurants of course, but never things like bakeries. My father ran a small business so I know how hard people have to work to do it. I don’t know how realistic it is really, I rarely show people struggling with VAT!

Garnet: How hard was it to find the inspiration for each of your books?
Jenny: Not really difficult, I think of stories I’d like to tell and settings I personally like. We moved as a family to Scotland last year so I know I wanted to write about that experience.

 Garnet: If you could pick one character from any of your books, who would it be and why?
Jenny: Well, that depends what for! I’m very fond of Rosie & Stephen in the Rosie Hopkins series, I like them a lot.

Garnet: Have you ever disliked any of the characters in your stories?
Jenny: Of course, I always have baddies. Most recently Mrs Manse in the Bakery books was a fairly implacable enemy.

Garnet:  I see that you have written children’s books too, did you find those easier to write than the ones you write for adults?
Jenny: No, they’re far harder, because you have to practice them so often and they have to stand up to being able to be read aloud over and over again. Children’s books are far harder to get right I feel.

Garnet:  You are a very well known author, do you find that gives you added pressure when writing books, because of how well your other books have done?
Jenny: I don’t feel well-known at all! I think it’s perspective though. It doesn’t really add pressure; you just have to write the book you want to read and hope other people feel the same way.

Garnet: Time for a tough one, if you could choose any book that has already been published to be the author of, which one would you choose and why?
Jenny: Oh lord, loads of course. I suppose Harry Potter, because not only did they sell millions, they’re also brilliantly good.

Garnet:  One final question. What advice would you give to a writer that wants to be published? Any words of wisdom?
Jenny: Yes: do your research! There are so many useful sites out there that tell you what agents do, where to find them, how to market your work, etc. it’s much easier now than when I was starting out. And check for typos. Then check again. You’d be amazed how many slip through the net… and good luck!

Thank you again to Jenny Colgan for stopping by for the chat, much appreciated! To keep up to date with her latest information, follow her on twitter: @jennycolgan

What would Mary Berry do?

What would Mary Berry do? by Claire Sandy.
Published: 31st July 2014 by Panmacmillan.
ISBN: 978-1-4472-5349-5.
Available on Amazon in paperback and kindle formats.

‘Marie Dunwoody doesn’t want for much in life. She has a lovely husband, three wonderful children, and a business of her own. But her cupcakes are crap. Her meringues are runny and her biscuits are rock-hard. She cannot bake for toffee. Or, for that matter, make toffee.
Marie can’t ignore the disappointed looks anymore, or continue to be shamed by neighbour and nemesis, Lucy Gray. Lucy whips up profiteroles with one hand, while ironing her bed sheets with the other. Marie’s had enough: this is the year it all changes. She vows to follow – to the letter – recipes from the Queen of Baking, and at all times ask, ‘What would Mary Berry do?’
Husband Robert has noticed that his boss takes crumb structure as seriously as budget cuts and with redundancies on the horizon, he too puts on a pinny. Twins Rose and Iris are happy to eat all the half-baked mistakes that come their way, but big brother Angus is more distant than usual, as if something is troubling him. And there is no one as nosey as a matching pair of nine-year old girls…
Marie starts to realise that the wise words of Mary Berry can help her with more than just a Victoria sponge. But can Robert save the wobbling soufflé that is his career? And is Lucy’s sweet demeanour hiding something secretly sour?’

I must admit, I have asked the question ‘what would Mary Berry do?’ in my head multiple times, and not just for baking! What would she do? Maybe she is the sort of person that would go rock climbing! No, not rock cake climbing, actual rock walls. Oh never mind! Maybe I should tweet her and ask? Probably not a good idea. Don’t want Maz Bez to think I’m taking the mickey out of her buns…
Several readers over on my Facebook page: The Writing Garnet – Facebook Page. were curious about this book because of the cover. It’s cake, how can you NOT be curious about it. So I said that I would do them a humongous favour and read it for them! I’m nice like that.

Claire Sandy begins the book by introducing you to Marie’s fail-stopper….sorry, show-stopper. You got a rough idea from the blurb that Marie’s buns weren’t all that squishy, so she proves it in public, at the children’s school. Oh dear. Throughout the story you will meet characters from all walks of life in their cosy little neighbourhood. As always, not all neighbours get along with each other. Some things don’t sit quite right with a couple of the neighbours, they seem to be hiding something, but what is it?
Marie decides that it is time to actually use her kitchen and invites Mary Berry to join her. No, not the real Mary Berry; her cook book! Due to Marie’s nose being buried in copious amounts of flour and icing, she doesn’t notice that her husband and her son have their own personal anguish. Robert faces problems at his work and realises that it’s going to be make or bake…sorry, break, and he could face losing his job. Angus, her son, has his own trouble with the ‘clones’.  So out comes Mary Berry’s pal in book form, and fighting for the kitchen begins.  As you read more of the novel, you will find out the troubles that are under Marie’s nose. But is it too late for her to fix them all? Or should she just focus on fixing her buns?
Like my Facebook readers, this book had me curious straight away because of the cover and title. Everyone loves Mary Berry! Claire Sandy writes about a ‘typical’ mum in the kitchen, and I mean ‘typical’ in a good way because many of us have been standing cursing at our failed attempts in the kitchen. Just like Marie. Because she does curse, and so does Aileen. You will meet Aileen when you visit Marie’s work, you will love her. Just don’t have a drink in your hand when you read about her. She is probably one of my favourite characters in the book because she doesn’t give a donut! ‘What would Mary Berry do?’ is such a laugh out loud and warm book which tells the story of ‘friends’ coming together, and maybe soul mates being found. On more than one occasion I was laughing so hard (high pitched squealing sort of laughter), that I thought my house was surrounded by dogs. They respond to high pitched noises don’t they? Hilarious and modern (because of the swearing) it was an absolute treat to read. High praise for Claire Sandy because it’s BRILLIANT! From start to finish it had me hooked and I would definitely recommend this book to anyone that loves Maz Bez and the GBBO. You will not be disappointed. I cannot wait to read it again!