Saturday, 31 March 2012

'The Golden Hat' by Kate Winslet

Release date: 12th April 2012
Published by: Simon & Schuster
ISBN No: 978 1451645439

Doctors told Margret Dagmar that her son Keli, who lives with a severe form of non-verbal autism, would never be able to communicate; she was told that he would be best off locked in an institution for the rest of his life. Driven by a love for her child, Margret embarked on a mission to find a way to connect with him. Oscar Award-winning actress Kate Winslet paired up with Margret and Keli to produce a documentary film about their journey. The team found an organization called Helping Autism Learning Outreach (HALO), where specialists taught Keli other ways to communicate. He now composes beautiful and deeply moving poetry; one poem Keli wrote is called "The Golden Hat," which describes a magical hat that enables an autistic boy to communicate. Inspired by Keli's poem, Winslet developed a way to raise awareness and funds to support autism outreach. Her project asks friends to pass a hat-chosen from Kate's closet-from one to another, after they've each taken a self-portrait wearing it. The list of those photographs includes Angelina Jolie, Steven Spielberg, Oprah, Sting, Daniel Craig, and many more.

Copyright: Amazon Synopsis

Friday, 30 March 2012

'A World Apart' by Camelia Miron Skiba

I was not too sure in relation to what I was about to discover when I started to read ‘A World Apart’ by Camelia Miron Skiba. As I gradually worked my way through this book, it quickly turned into a ‘page turner’ that was difficult to put down once started and it definitely did not disappoint!

This is Camelia’s second novel and is written in a style that displays very clearly, the author’s marvellous writing ability and the skills of a true story teller. The reader very quickly becomes embroiled within this particular story which moves from the United States of America to Romania and then to Iraq.

‘A World Apart’ is set during the period of the Iraq war in 2007. The two main characters within this story, Cassandra Toma a doctor serving with the Romanian military and Major David Hunt an American doctor, grab your attention right from the start of this book. As their relationship develops or falters as the case may be, you do have to keep reading to see how things actually turn out for them in the end.

This though, is not your usual type of romance novel. Richly written, cultural and historical issues are interwoven throughout the story. There are also military action scenes that take place during a period of active service in Iraq. These scenes are written so vividly, that the reader will not find it very difficult to imagine themselves standing beside the main characters within this story as the military action scenes are played out. There is some adult content within this book, but it is tastefully written and is written in context with the tale that is being told.

This is a five star story in my opinion that is well worth taking a look at if you get the chance. I am also looking forward to reading any further books that Camelia Miron Skiba may publish in the future.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Charity Hopping Around the World! (International Stop)

Welcome to the  'Charity Hopping Around the WorldGiveaway Hop which is hosted by 'I am a Reader, not a Writer' , 'Reading Away the Days' and ' Reading a Little Bit of Everything''. As usual my post is one of the first to go up as I am based in the UK and am governed by Greenwich Mean Time. As the majority of the other blogs that are taking part in  this hop are based in America and Canada, their posts will go up at 00.01 on the 30th March 2012, according to their specific time zones.

To gain entry to this draw you have to be a GFC Follower of my blog and leave a comment (also include your e-mail address with your comment so I can contact you if you are the winner!) . You can also gain an extra entry by 'liking' The Secret Writer' Facebook page. Just let me know what you have done in your comment. Once this has been completed, you will have  been entered into the draw. 

The charity that I have personally chosen to highlight within this wonderful blog hop is unicef.
UNICEF works with families, communities and governments in more than 190 countries worldwide to protect and promote the rights of all children.
This charity helps governments to build schools, train teachers and provide textbooks so that every child can get an education.
UNICEF supports families and communities to care for children and protect them against exploitation and abuse, fulfilling their right to a childhood. We work with partners to ensure that every child has the opportunity to take part in sport and play.
The charity supports governments to build and equip health systems, train health workers and provide food and clean water, so every child can be as healthy as possible. UNICEF is also the world’s largest distributer of vaccines to the developing world. In 2008, we supplied vaccines for 56 per cent of the world’s children, protecting them against death from preventable diseases.
UNICEF aims to involve children at every level of decision-making, from school councils to international summits, upholding their right to be heard. Working at the highest levels of government and through local staff and partners on the ground, we work to address poverty and discrimination so that every child is treated fairly.
UNICEF recognises that children are uniquely vulnerable to the impacts of HIV and AIDS and climate change. In 2005, we launched our global campaign, Unite for Children, Unite against AIDS, to bring about real and lasting change for children affected by HIV and AIDS. In 2010, we launched Carbon Positive, a tool that allows individuals and businesses to calculate their carbon footprint and support climate change adaptation programmes.

As there is such a selection of books available these days, I am offering the winner a choice of either a $20 (US) or £15 (sterling) Amazon Gift Voucher/Certificate, so the winner can choose their own  books! I will arrange that the prize is e-mailed to the winner on the completion of this draw! The winner can also ask me instead, to donate the cash value of their prize on their behalf to unicef, if they so wish.

One prize of either a $20 (US) or £15 (sterling) Amazon Gift Voucher/Certificate 

There will only be one winner from this draw. The gift Voucher/Certificate will only be offered in either US dollars or sterling. No other currencies can be catered for. Each entrant will be allocated a sequential number. After the closing date for this draw (4th April 2012 at 23.59GMT), the winning numbers entered for this draw will be chosen by This is an International Giveaway Draw! 

To visit the rest of the blogs that are taking part in this great hop, just click on the 'Click Here' link below, to be taken to a page of participating blog links. 

Good Luck Everyone!
This Draw is now Closed

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

'Glamour in Glass' by Mary Robinette Kowal

Release date: 14th May 2012
Published by: Tor
ISBN No: 978 0765325570

Mary Robinette Kowal stunned readers with her charming Nebula Award - nominated first novel, "Shades of Milk and Honey", a loving tribute to Jane Austen in a world where magic is an everyday occurrence. "Glamour" allows talented users to form any illusion they can imagine. After Napoleon abdicates, Jane and Vincent go to the Continent for their honeymoon. But the deposed emperor escapes his exile, throwing Europe into turmoil. When Vincent is captured as a British spy, Jane realizes that their honeymoon has been a ruse. Vincent has been capturing glamour folds in glass, sending vital information back to England. Left with no outward salvation, Jane must use the glamour at her disposal to rescue her husband from prison ...and - she hopes - prevent her newly built marriage from getting stranded on the shoals of another country's war.

Copyright: Amazon Synopsis

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

'The Immortal Rules' by Julie Kagawa

If you've ever read even one of her bestselling "Iron Fey" fantasy novels, you know that Julie Kagawa is one fantastic storyteller. And if you've been dying for an EXCLUSIVE sneak peek at the cover of "The Immortal Rules," the very first book in her brand-new "Blood of Eden" series, well, prepare to be surprised — because here it is!

"Allison, the heroine of 'The Immortal Rules,' is a much different character then Meghan Chase of the 'Iron Fey'," Julie said. "Her world is darker, more savage, which has turned her into a fighter and someone who doesn't trust easily. As a human, Allie was snarky and sarcastic. As a vampire, Allie is snarky and sarcastic, and carries a sharp sword."

Monday, 26 March 2012

'Whispers' by Rosie Goodwin

Release date: 26th April 2012
Published by: Headline
ISBN No: 978 0755353941

The old manor house has stood empty for years, left to rot since the last master of the Fenton family died. Until Jess Beddows steps inside, and feels she has come home. Against her family's wishes, she buys the house, promising to bring it back to life. Upstairs, in an attic room left untouched for a century or more, she finds a journal. It holds the heartbreaking tale of Martha, and of the cruel, entangled lives of the house's servants and masters nearly two hundred years before. As Jess is drawn into their tragedy, the whispers begin. Before long, everything she loves will be threatened by violent emotion and long-kept secrets. Can she survive the echoes from the past? 

Copyright: Amazon Synopsis

'Summer Daydreams' by Carole Matthews

Release date: 24th May 2012
Published by Sphere
ISBN No: 978 0751545432

What if you had always dreamed of something more . . . ? Nell McNamara has a happy life: her boyfriend Olly adores her, their four-year-old daughter Petal is the centre of their world and Nell has a steady job in the local chip shop. When the chippy needs a makeover, Nell jumps at the chance to unleash the creativity fizzing inside her. Inspired by what she can achieve - and encouraged by the best friends a girl can have - Nell is determined to try something new. Waving goodbye to the chip shop, she starts up a new business making her own line of must-have handbags, which are soon flying off the shelves! It seems Nell's dreams are finally coming true, but her success doesn't come without a price. Before too long, Nell has to ask herself if it's really possible to have it all . . . Full of fun, love and laughter, soak up the sunshine with Summer Daydreams. 

Copyright: Amazon Synopsis

Sunday, 25 March 2012

'Thomas Becket: Warrior, Priest, Rebel, Victim: A 900-Year-Old Story Retold' by John Guy

Release date: 5th April 2012
Published by: Viking
ISBN No: 978 0670918461

In 1120 the wife of a Norman draper's merchant gave birth to a baby boy in London's bustling Cheapside. Despite his sickly constitution, middle-class background and unremarkable abilities, he rose within the space of thirty-five years to become the most powerful man in the kingdom, second only to Henry II himself.

At his height, he led seven hundred knights into battle, brokered peace between nations, held the ear of the Pope and brought one of the strongest rulers in Christendom to his knees. And within three years of his bloody assassination, he was a saint whose cult had spread the length and breadth of Europe, and a legend who remains as controversial and compelling today as he was during his life.

The story of Thomas Becket is the story of an enigma, as well as of one of the most tumultuous periods in English history. Drawing on a vast array of contemporary records, personal letters and first-hand accounts, John Guy has reconstructed a psychologically compelling, stunningly nuanced and utterly convincing account of this most remarkable man, the dramatic times in which he lived and the pivotal role he played in his nation's history.

Copyright: Amazon Synopsis

'Blood Sugar: Inspiring Recipes for Anyone Facing the Challenge of Diabetes and Maintaining Good Health' by Michael Moore

Release date: 1st April 2012
Published by: New Holland Publishers
ISBN No: 978 1742571546

Chef Michael Moore was busy running his restaurant, appearing on television, climbing the ranks of top chefs in the world and travelling the globe. He was already living with diabetes. For a top chef surrounded by great food, he faced the ultimate challenge of healthy eating and living. One day out of the blue, he suffered a major stroke while out to dinner with his family, an event that changed his outlook on life and food forever. Being a diabetic doesn't mean you are stuck in a gastronomic wilderness. You can have great food that's unexpected and exciting. It's all about keeping your blood sugar under control and balancing the ingredients to help you maintain good health,' says Michael. Packed with inspiration "Blood Sugar" includes nutritional tips, food balance and ideas for a healthy life, and stunning recipes for home-cooking, entertaining and family life. It breaks the mould in diabetic cooking! It's for anyone who is inspired by great food. 

Copyright: Amazon Synopsis

'Spring Song' a poem by Paul Laurence Dunbar

    Spring Song

A BLUE-BELL springs upon the ledge,
A lark sits singing in the hedge;
Sweet perfumes scent the balmy air,
And life is brimming everywhere.
What lark and breeze and bluebird sing,
Is Spring, Spring, Spring!
No more the air is sharp and cold;
The planter wends across the wold,
And, glad, beneath the shining sky
We wander forth, my love and I.
And ever in our hearts doth ring
This song of Spring, Spring!
For life is life and love is love,
'Twixt maid and man or dove and dove.
Life may be short, life may be long,
But love will come, and to its song
Shall this refrain for ever cling
Of Spring, Spring, Spring!

Paul Laurence Dunbar

Saturday, 24 March 2012

'The Prisoner of Heaven' by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Release date: 21st June 2012
Published by: W and N
ISBN No: 978 0297868095

The third in the cycle of novels that began with THE SHADOW OF THE WIND and THE ANGEL'S GAME. THE PRISONER OF HEAVEN returns to the world of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books and the Sempere & Sons bookshop. It begins just before Christmas in Barcelona in 1957, one year after Daniel and Bea from THE SHADOW OF THE WIND have married. They now have a son, Julian, and are living with Daniel's father at Sempere & Sons. Fermin still works with them and is busy preparing for his wedding to Bernarda in the New Year. However something appears to be bothering him. Daniel is alone in the shop one morning when a mysterious figure with a pronounced limp enters. He spots one of their most precious volumes that is kept locked in a glass cabinet, a beautiful and unique illustrated edition of The Count of Monte Cristo. Despite the fact that the stranger seems to care little for books, he wants to buy this expensive edition. Then, to Daniel's surprise, the man inscribes the book with the words 'To Fermin Romero de Torres, who came back from the dead and who holds the key to the future'. This visit leads back to a story of imprisonment, betrayal and the return of a deadly rival. 

Copyright: Amazon Synopsis

Friday, 23 March 2012

What's all the buzz about?

There's only one week to go until WWF's Earth Hour on 31st March, 8.30pm and everyone needs to know about it!

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Debut Novelist, Andrea Cefalo, Writes Historical Fiction Page-Turner Based on Grimm's Fairytales

Today at ‘The Secret Writer’ I would like to introduce you to the debut novelist Andrea Cefalo. Andrea’s first novel ‘The Fairytale Keeper: Avenging the Queen’ is due for release on 1st June 2012.

Andrea graduated from Winthrop University in 2007 with a bachelor’s in elementary education and a minor in art history.  She taught for three years before deciding to pursue her writing career and finish The Fairytale Keeper series.  Andrea lives with her husband and two border collies in Greenville, South Carolina.

Andrea has very kindly called by here today, in order to tell us a bit about her new book, so without any more to do, I will hand you over to Andrea! 

Thank-you Calum! The Fairytale Keeper series chronicles the life of Adelaide, a cobbler’s spit-fire daughter, who is not only the real Snow White, she is also the origin of all Grimm’s fairy tales. 

The first book, The Fairytale Keeper Avenging the Queen takes place in 13th century Cologne, a booming commercial city plagued with a deadly illness which kills Adelaide’s saintly mother, Katrina. 

A city mandate states that victims of the fever are to be dumped in a large pit outside of the city walls to help keep the terrible fever at bay. But without a last confession, a funeral, or a Christian burial, Adelaide and her father, Ansel worry that Katrina might be damned for eternity.  So Ansel secures a funeral by bribing the parish priest, Father Soren to perform the right, but the funeral goes horrifically wrong.  Soren commits an unforgivable atrocity, defiling Katrina’s remains, driving Adelaide to “avenge the queen” of the Snow White story.

Father Soren’s act of barbarity turns disappointment into uproar.  And the word revolt is more than just a whisper on the lips of many in Cologne, but will civil disobedience be a catalyst for change or give reason for the newly appointed Archbishop of Cologne reason to flex his political muscles?

All the while, feisty Adelaide grapples with grief over her mother’s death and urges plots against the corrupt Church. Katrina’s sulking cousin, Galadriel, tries to care for Adelaide though she’s too self-indulgent to be helpful.  Ansel turns to drink and work to squelch his emotions while the protective boy-next-door, Ivo, tries to keep Adelaide safe from herself and her enemies.

Through the people Adelaide meets, the stories she’s told, and the events that take place throughout the series, Adelaide comes up with the characters and tales the Grimm brothers later record.  I’ve written the first two books in The Fairytale Keeper series and my readers can count on there being at least two more.

I always have a hard time summing up The Fairytale Keeper: Avenging the Queen.  Yes, it presumes that all fairy tales come from one girl, but that is just the back story.  The real story lies within a dynamic group of characters reacting to their home city being ripped apart by illness and government corruption.  

The Fairytale Keeper: Avenging the Queen is set for release 0n June 1, 2012. To follow Andrea and receive updates of upcoming events and projects, check out the following websites. You can also get a taster for this book by reading the first chapter of ‘The Fairytale Keeper: Avenging the Queen’ on Andrea’s website for free!

'Stories of Motherhood' by Diana Secker Tesdell

Release date: 3rd April 2012
Published by: Everyman's Library
ISBN No: 978 0307957795

Stories of Motherhood gathers more than a century of literary celebrations of mothers of all ages. These short stories by a wide range of great writers illuminate the many facets of our most elemental human relationship, from birth to death and everything in between.
Lydia Davis and Harold Brodkey explore dizzying encounters between young mothers and their newborn babies, while Colm Tóibín and Lorrie Moore portray adult children grieving for their lost mothers. Ron Carlson probes the forging of a bond with an adopted infant, Barbara Kingsolver gives us a sparring mother-and-daughter pair whose overlapping pregnancies lead them to common ground, and Aimee Bender offers a loopy fable of maternal connection in which a woman gives birth to her own mother. Willa Cather, Ernest Gaines, and Louise Erdrich dramatize the strength and sacrifices of mothers in very different walks of life, while Anita Desai and Amy Tan chart the gulf of misunderstanding and cultural change that can divide mothers and their offspring in any time or place—and the ways love can sometimes find to cross it.
These and such other masters of the short story as Sherwood Anderson, Hortense Calisher, and Alice Munro write memorably about mothers—having, losing, leaving, and loving them—in modes that range from lyrical to satirical, from heartbreaking to hilarious. 

Copyright: Amazon Synopsis

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

'Park Lane' by Frances Osborne

Release date: 7th June 2012
Published by: Virago Press Ltd
ISBN No: 978 1844084791

London, February 1914. Eighteen year-old Grace Campbell arrives in London from Carlisle, her family's hopes pinned on her becoming a secretary. The only job she can find is as a housemaid in the mansion that is Number 35, Park Lane, and soon she is entangling herself in an ever-thickening web of lies. Upstairs, a jilted and humiliated Beatrice Masters is determined not to return to the New York of her childhood before she has salvaged her pride. She secretly joins Emmeline Pankhurst's militant suffragettes and is steadily drawn into the violence rocking the city. But Grace and Beatrice's existences are not as parallel as they seem. Little do they realize that their hidden lives and emotions will soon be revolving around the same man - or that the coming war will change the boundaries of both their worlds for ever. 

Copyright: Waterstones Synopsis

'The Secret Life of William Shakespeare' by Jude Morgan

Release date: 12th April 2012
Published by: Headline Review
ISBN No: 978 0755358236

How well do you know the man you love? How much do you think you know about Shakespeare? What if they were one and the same? He is an ordinary man: unwilling craftsman, ambitious actor, resentful son, almost good-enough husband. And he is also a genius. The story of how a glove-maker from Warwickshire became the greatest writer of them all is vaguely known to most of us, but it would take an exceptional modern novelist to bring him to life. And now at last Jude Morgan, acclaimed author of Passion and The Taste of Sorrow, has taken Shakespeare's life, and created a masterpiece. 

Copyright: Amazon Synopsis

'Circle of Shadows' by Imogen Robertson

Release date: 26th April 2012
Published by: Headline Review
ISBN No: 978 0755372065

Shrove Tuesday, 1784. While the nobility dance at a masked ball, beautiful Lady Martesen is murdered. Daniel Clode is found by her body, his wrists slit and his memories nightmarish. What has he done? Harriet Westerman and Gabriel Crowther race to the Duchy of Maulberg to save Daniel from the executioner's axe. There they find a capricious Duke on the point of marriage, a court consumed by luxury and intrigue, and a bitter enemy from the past. After another cruel death, they must discover the truth, no matter how horrific it is. Does the answer lie with the alchemist seeking the elixir of life? With the automata makers in the Duke's fake rural idyll? Or in the poisonous lies oozing around the court as the elite strive for power? 

Copyright: Amazon Synopsis

Sunday, 18 March 2012

'The Pledge' by Kimberly Derting

Release date: 26th March 2012
Published by: Allison and Busby
ISBN No: 978 0749011857

In the violent country of Ludania, the classes are strictly divided by the language they speak. The smallest transgression results in immediate execution. 17-year old Charlaina has always been able to understand the languages of all classes, and she's spent her life trying to hide her secret. The only place she can really be free is in the underground clubs where people go to shake off the oppressive rules of the world they live in. It's there that she meets a beautiful and mysterious boy named Max who speaks a language she's never heard before ...and her secret is almost exposed. Charlie is intensely attracted to Max, even though she can't be sure where his real loyalties lie. As the emergency drills give way to real crisis and the violence escalates, it becomes clear that Charlie is the key to something much bigger: her country's only chance for freedom from the terrible power of a deadly regime. 

Copyright: Amazon Synopsis

'Break of Dawn' by Rita Bradshaw

Release date: 12th April 2012
Published by: Headline
ISBN No: 978 0755359394

Each day brings a new beginning...

Her mother's death in childbirth leaves Sophy Hutton at the mercy of her cruel aunt and uncle, and her childhood is brutal. At sixteen, Sophy learns the shocking truth behind her birth and escapes to London to pursue a career as an actress, determined to put the past behind her. But life for women at the turn of the century is fraught with danger and Sophy soon discovers the darker side to London's glamorous theatres. Young and innocent, she doesn't recognise the man who really loves her when he appears; instead she is charmed into marrying handsome actor Toby Shawe, a flawed and amoral individual. Then the heartache really begins... 

Copyright: Amazon Synopsis

Saturday, 17 March 2012

'Once Upon a River' by Bonnie Jo Campbell

Release date: 7th June 2012
Published by: Fourth Estate
ISBN No:  978 0 00 744336 9 

Meet Margo Crane – a female Huckleberry Finn, a teenage Scout Finch – as she single-handedly takes on a hostile world in this enthralling debut.

After the violent death of her father, in which she is complicit, Margo takes to the Stark River in her boat, with only a few supplies and a biography of Annie Oakley, in search of her vanished mother.

But the river, Margo’s childhood paradise, is a dangerous place for a young woman travelling alone, and she must be strong to survive, using her knowledge of the natural world and her ability to look unsparingly into the hearts of those around her. Her river odyssey through rural Michigan becomes a defining journey, one that leads her beyond self-preservation and to deciding what price she is willing to pay for her choices 

'Betrayal' by Kay Burley

Release date: 24th May 2012
Published by: Harper
ISBN No: 978 0 00 736462-6 

A scandalous page-turner from irrepressible Sky journalist, Kay Burley. Perfect for all fans of Tasmina Perry and Jilly Cooper.

A breaking story, a terrible legacy, and five days to discover the truth.

Lily Dunlop has it all – wealth, privilege and the perfect fiancé. Until, on the day of her 21st birthday, she receives a mysterious card which shatters everything she has ever known.

A deadly secret is held securely in a safety deposit box, and nothing is going to keep Lily from reaching it, even if she has to orchestrate a robbery to get to it. On Christmas Eve, armed with a replica gun, Lily takes her chance. Little does she realise however, that when the doors slam shut behind her, she and her accidental hostages will be locked in the vault for 5 long days.

Meanwhile, the story of the heiress turned robber transfixes the nation, the drama unfolding to a gripped TV audience 24 hours a day. What could possibly make this privileged young woman take such desperate actions? And what exactly is daddy’s little girl hiding? 

Friday, 16 March 2012

'Goddess Interrupted' by Aimee Carter

Release date: 27th March 2012
Published by: Harlequin Teen
ISBN No: 978 0373210459

Kate Winters has won immortality. But if she wants a life with Henry in the Underworld, she'll have to fight for it."Becoming immortal wasn't supposed to be the easy part. Though Kate is about to be crowned Queen of the Underworld, she's as isolated as ever. And despite her growing love for Henry, ruler of the Underworld, he's becoming ever more distant and secretive. Then, in the midst of Kate's coronation, Henry is abducted by the only being powerful enough to kill him: the King of the Titans.As the other gods prepare for a war that could end them all, it is up to Kate to save Henry from the depths of Tartarus. But in order to navigate the endless caverns of the Underworld, Kate must enlist the help of the one person who is the greatest threat to her future.Henry's first wife, Persephone. 

'Mortal Instruments 5: City of Lost Souls' by Cassandra Clare

Release date: 8th May 2012
Published by: Walker
ISBN No: 978 1406332940

Can the lost be reclaimed? What price is too high to pay for love? Who can be trusted when sin and salvation collide? Love. Blood. Betrayal. Revenge. Darkness threatens to claim the Shadowhunters in the harrowing fifth book of the Mortal Instruments series. 

Amazon Synopsis

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

'Crucible' by S.G. MacLean

Release date: 12th April 2012
Published by: Quercus Books
ISBN No: 978 1849163163

I have previously featured the books written by Shona MacLean on this blog. You can also read my author interview with Shona last year, by following this link: - (interview)

Quercus books have decided to re-release Shona MacLean’s very popular third book in the Alexander Seaton Series ‘Crucible of Secrets’, as a mass market paper-backed book, with a new cover, a new title ‘Crucible’ and the author Shona MacLean’s name displayed as S.G. MacLean on the cover. This new edition is exactly the same story and written by the same author, as the original book ‘Crucible of Secrets’.

For those who have not already read ‘Crucible of Secrets’, you do not know what you have been missing! I highly recommend this story and the other books that are in this series as a remarkable work of historical fiction. Here is a short synopsis about ‘Crucible’:

Aberdeen, 1631. University librarian Robert Sim takes receipt of a gift of books recently arrived from overseas, mysterious works on alchemy and hermetics - the pursuit of ancient knowledge. By nightfall he has been brutally murdered. 

His colleague and good friend Alexander Seaton is left with the task of hunting for clues as to his killer's motive, as well as locating the missing books. What did Sim discover in the package, and what makes these books so dangerous? 

Crucible is a fantastic historical thriller that imagines deep-rooted deceptions and a secret whose revelation spells danger for anyone who comes close.

A new fourth book in the Alexander Seaton Series by Shona MacLean, is due to be published by Quercus towards the end of this year. I for one, will be looking out for this book when it is released!

Meet the Author Camelia Miron Skiba!

Today it is a great privilege for me to be able to welcome the author Camelia Miron Skiba to my blog. When asked, Camelia describes herself as:

I'm a dreamer
I’m a sinner
I love my books
I conjure hooks
And heroes with good looks

Romance is my guilty pleasure
Taking me to places with new decor
Come join me if you dare
I promise not to bore

If you like to read my stories
Pray my husband continues snorin’
For he’s the one who keeps me up at night
When I give my heroes wings and flight.

Camelia is a wife, Patrick’s mom and Bella’s owner. During the day, she is the assistant to the Director in SESE at Arizona State University, and romance’s slave at night. Her debut novel "Hidden Heart" came out in March 2011 and Camelia’s  second novel, "A World Apart" has just been released.

Camelia moved to the U.S over eight years ago, following her heart and the man who stole it. English is not her native, not her second, but her third language!

She loves comedies, historical dramas and happily-ever-after stories. Each year Camelia participates in one big event that requires her to train. Her biggest sportive accomplishment was the 3-day 60 miles Susan Komen Walk.

 A very warm welcome to you Camelia, and can I thank-you for taking some time out of your very busy schedule to talk to us today.

Calum, I’m the one to thank you for hosting me on your site. Thank you for the opportunity and… the cup of tea :-)

Camelia, can I begin by first asking what do you like best about living in Arizona?

Sun (almost) 365 days a year. All around tolerant, easy-going people. Sun. Smiling faces everywhere I go. Sun. Wide roads and NO ONE honking. Did I mention sun?

You did not always live in America. Can you tell us a bit about your best memories from you childhood and about where you grew up?

I grew up in Bucharest, Romania in a family so poor I don’t recall having packed lunch going to school. My father was the disciplinarian, while Mama was the nurturing one. As soon as summer vacation began, our parents took the three of us to Mama's Aunt Floarea, in a small village about an hour and a half southeast of Bucharest. For ten weeks all we've done was to play in dirt, swim in murky water and shed a few layers of skin until the sun had nothing else to burn. We climbed trees and ate fruits plucked straight from the branches, used newspapers instead of toilet paper and ran barefoot, stopping only to pull another thorn from our heels.

We prayed before going to bed, but I have to make a confession—I prayed not for God’s forgiveness, but for the horde of mosquitoes to bite everyone else but me. We slept six in a bed, packed like sardines, giggling at Aunt Floarea's threat to kick us out to the chicken house if we continue misbehaving. We waited in line for a mug of steaming, sweet milk, as Aunt Floarea's skilled fingers wrapped around the cow's teats. We shared our milk with tick-filled kitties and stole blind puppies to be our pets.

We all drank from the same metal can hanging on the well's pole by a tattered rope. We frantically waited at the street corner for Uncle Dita to return from the lake with a bucket filled with fresh-caught fish—the more hunched he walked, the more fish he carried and dinners those nights seemed regal.

Do you think books that you read during your childhood may have influenced your current writing in any way?

No, not at all. From Tolstoy to Balzac, Dostoyevsky to Eminescu, almost all books were dramas. I write romance.

Did you always want to become a writer?

Writing was a childhood dream. Too many imaginary friends wanted to escape the small confinement of my brain. I honest don’t even think of myself as a writer—it’s a hobby more than anything.

Do you have a set writing routine when you are working on a novel?

I'm pretty flexible. Sometimes I write from the moment I return from work until I can no longer keep my eyes open. Other times I wake up in the middle of the night with a scene so vivid in my head I have to get up and put it on paper. I have days, maybe weeks when no words come to mind or times when I’m so inspired I can write several chapters at once. Either way, I just go with the flow. Writing is a passion therefore nothing is forced.

Where do you write best?

Complete silence, and always at my computer in my office (no laptop!).

Do you have any hobbies or other interests that you enjoy in order to give you a break from the demands of your professional life and writing?

Reading. If a book pulls me in I stay up all night and finish it. I also love comedies and historical dramas. I recently discovered a few on NetFlix and I stayed up all night to watch them. Pat Tilman’s Run is the annual sporting event I train for.

Can you tell us a bit about what inspired you to write your current book ‘A World Apart’?

The Iraq War. The story goes back to the end of 2002. It all started with some headlines in a Romanian newspaper announcing the Romanian government signed an agreement with the U.S. government to grant complete access to one of the airbases at the Black Sea. The base was strategic in the war against Iraq starting several months later, in March of 2003. The news kind of leaked into the media because at the time there was no official announcement that the U.S. prepared for an invasion, and so the Romanians were quite confused with the agreement.

Without knowing what was the real reason Americans were on our soil, I began making up stories... Enter Romanian Dr. Lt. Cassandra Toma deployed at the Black Sea to work with American Dr. Maj. David Hunt. She's too outspoken and rebellious to be in the army, or as David sees her, "the mother of all mules." She's in the army for all the wrong reasons, which eventually will determine her actions later on. David on the other hand is the quintessence of the American soldier, who takes pride in his rank and work. That and more is about to change the minute he lays eyes on Cassandra.

I've never lost anyone at war. I can't imagine how a family left behind goes on with their life after losing a loved one on the front line, be it in Afghanistan, Iraq or anywhere else our soldiers fight the enemy. Yet, they do it, and because of that I need to do my part and give back, keeping alive our soldiers' memory.

A World Apart is my dedication to all men and women in uniform serving in the army. I can't bring back the ones we lost, but I can give them life through my story. Their story. ‘A World Apart’.

Have you any other books in the making at the moment?

I'm working now on a novel I plan to release in December. It’s Chiara’s story, Tessa’s sister from my debut novel Hidden Heart. She's actually dark and distrustful, unlike any other characters I’ve dealt with before. She’s quiet, sitting in an obscure corner, knees pulled to her chest and NOT saying a damn word. Not going anywhere, not letting anyone come closer. Such a troubled heroine scares me since I thought I could handle whoever comes into my head (unless they are zombies, then I’d be screwed). Can't lure her with cookies or ice cream, can't make her talk, but I feel her with the same intensity I feel my breath.

Is it an impossible task, or can you give any advice to new writers, as they struggle to try to achieve a work life balance when working, bringing up a family, writing and also possibly trying to promote their books as well?

Giving up is easy. But not fulfilling. Before you know it, time passes by so fast, your children are out of the house, and you look back with regret for not doing what you loved most—write, crochet, paint, read, hike the Himalayas ... and before you know it, you wish time was some magical wand you wave to get back what you've lost—your dreams, your passions.

I don't have a formula for how to find time for your hobbies, but I hope you'll look inside yourself and see that little girl (boy) you once were, with dreams to become a famous painter, an acclaimed writer or just an amazing conductor, and find within yourself the will to follow that dream.

You will be sidetracked by the load of laundry or the batch of cookies your child needs for the fundraiser. You will feel guilty for not spending time with your husband watching his favourite show. You will be discouraged by the amount of time and energy it requires to follow that dream. All I can tell you is: Don't. Give. Up. On. Your. Dream!

What is your favourite book and why?

‘Gone With The Wind’ because “After all, tomorrow is another day.”

From what you have shared with us today, it can be clearly seen that you are kept very busy within your life but enjoy it to the full! To conclude our interview can you finally tell us what simple things in life make you smile?

My son’s hugs. My husband’s silly jokes. My dog’s tricks. Having my coffee on the swing in the backyard and watching life happening right before my eyes.

Camelia, it has been a great honour for me to work with you on this interview for my literary site. I would like to thank-you once again for taking the time to speak to us today.

Oh, Calum, my dear, the pleasure is all mine. Lovely chatting with you! Your tea was absolutely delightful (how did you know I like it with a splash of rum?)

 If anyone would like to discover more details about Camelia and her writing, Camelia’s website can be found by clicking on the book tour banner below: