Wednesday, 22 June 2016

'The Reader' by Traci Chee

Release date: 13th September 2016
Published by:G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
ISBN No:978 0399176777

Sefia knows what it means to survive. After her father is brutally murdered, she flees into the wilderness with her aunt Nin, who teaches her to hunt, track, and steal. But when Nin is kidnapped, leaving Sefia completely alone, none of her survival skills can help her discover where Nin's been taken, or if she's even alive. The only clue to both her aunt's disappearance and her father's murder is the odd rectangular object her father left behind, an object she comes to realize is a book a marvelous item unheard of in her otherwise illiterate society. With the help of this book, and the aid of a mysterious stranger with dark secrets of his own, Sefia sets out to rescue her aunt and find out what really happened the day her father was killed and punish the people responsible. 

With overlapping stories of swashbuckling pirates and merciless assassins, "The Reader" is a brilliantly told adventure from an extraordinary new talent."

Copyright: Amazon Synopsis

'A Promise Between Friends' by Carol Rivers

Release date: 28th July 2016
Published by: Simon and Schuster UK
ISBN No:978 1471153167

1953: Pretty, ambitious, 19-year-old Ruby Payne and her lifelong friend Kath Rigler are eager to enjoy their post-war independence. Moving away from home to a flat in the East End of London is a chance to break free for them both: Kath from her abusive family and Ruby to escape the unhappy memories of her brother's suicide two years before.

Ruby finds work immediately at a fashionable new dog grooming parlour close to the city. Even though animals aren't really Ruby's thing, she has high hopes of changing her fortunes. Kath isn't quite so lucky and has to make do with her tough factory job, leaning more and more on Ruby for emotional support. 

But then Ruby meets handsome, charming Nick Brandon - and ignores the warnings from those around her that he is trouble. Ruby wants a glamorous life - but it will come at a high cost.

Copyright: Amazon Synopsis

'The Prodigal Daughter' by Prue Leith

Release date:15th September 2016
Published by: Quercus
ISBN No:978 1784290672

Angelica Angelotti has grown up in the family restaurant business started by her Italian father, Giovanni, and his English wife, Laura. Surrounded by gorgeous Italian food, now she wants to strike out on her own. Defying her father's wishes, she moves to Paris to learn French cuisine. There, caught up in the excitement and emotion of the May '68 student riots, she falls in love with a charismatic but unreliable man.
Back in London with her husband, Angelica's future career blossoms at the Savoy Hotel and further develops when she becomes a food writer. What happens to her marriage is another matter and her parents' concerns are proved painfully right. 

Moving back to run the inn on her family's estate in Gloucestershire may feel like failure, but little does Angelica know that what awaits her there is the greatest challenge of her life - and a second chance at love.

Copyright: Amazon Synopsis

'The Charmers' by Elizabeth Adler

Release date: 28th June 2016
Published by: Minotaur Books
ISBN No:978 1250058195

When Mirabella Matthews Aunt Jolly dies unexpectedly and under mysterious circumstances Mirabella suddenly finds herself the new owner of a villa in the South of France. But with the inheritance come unexpected mysteries and dangers.
On her way to the villa, Mirabella is run off the road by a motorcycle, and that s only just the beginning. It turns out that Aunt Jolly had a past, and as the various men who were a part of it show up Mirabella must find out who can be trusted and who is using charm to mask the face of a murderer.
Told with Elizabeth Adler's signature attention to detail, strong female characters, and luxurious setting, "The Charmers" is a page-turner of a novel that will keep you riveted up until the very last page."

Copyright: Amazon Synopsis

'Rushing Waters' by Danielle Steel

Release date: 8th September 2016
Published by: Bantam Press
ISBN No: 978 0593069141

As Hurricane Ophelia bears down on New York City, millions are caught up in the horrific flooding it unleashes.

Successful interior designer Ellen Wharton flies into New York from London, heedless of the hurricane warnings. She is intent on seeing her mother, Grace. But when the storm hits, the women are forced to wade through freezing waters to the police boats outside.

British investment banker Charles Williams is travelling on business but is also eager to see his young daughters, who live with his beautiful, estranged ex-wife. As the hurricane rages, he desperately checks the shelters where thousands have taken refuge to find them, and runs into Ellen and her mother.

Meanwhile Juliette Dubois, a dedicated ER doctor, fights to save lives when the generators at the hospital fail.

The day of chaos takes its toll as New Yorkers struggle to face a natural disaster of epic proportions. But as lives are shattered, heroes are revealed – and then the real challenge begins, when the survivors face their futures . . . 

Copyright: Amazon Synopsis

'Scourge of Henry VIII: The Life of Marie de Guise' by Melanie Clegg

Release date: 30th August 2016
Published by: Pen and Sword History
ISBN No: 978 1473848382

Although Mary, Queen of Scots continues to fascinate both historians and the general public alike, the story of her mother, Marie de Guise, is much less well known. A political power in her own right, she was born into the powerful and ambitious Lorraine family, spending her formative years at the dazzling and licentious court of Francois I. Although briefly courted by Henry VIII, she instead married his nephew, James V of Scotland, in 1538. James' premature death four years later left their six day old daughter, Mary, as Queen and presented Marie with the formidable challenge of winning the support of the Scottish people and protecting her daughter's threatened birthright. Content until now to remain in the background and play the part of the obedient wife, Marie spent the next eighteen years effectively governing Scotland, devoting her considerable intellect, courage and energy to safeguarding her daughter's inheritance by using a deft mixture of cunning, charm, determination and tolerance.The last serious biography of Marie de Guise was published in 1977 and whereas plenty of attention has been paid to the mistakes of her daughter's eventful but brief reign, the time has come for a fresh assessment of this most fascinating and under appreciated of sixteenth century female rulers.

Copyright: Amazon Synopsis

Thursday, 9 June 2016

'The Flame Never Dies' by Rachel Vincent

Release date:16th August 2016
Published by: Delacorte Press
ISBN No:978 0385744195

ONE SPARK WILL RISE. Nina Kane was born to be an exorcist. And since uncovering the horrifying truth that the war against demons is far from over seventeen-year-old Nina and her pregnant younger sister, Mellie, have been on the run, incinerating the remains of the demon horde as they go. 

In the badlands, Nina, Mellie, and Finn, the fugitive and rogue exorcist who saved her life, find allies in a group of freedom fighters. They also face a new threat: Pandemonia, a city full of demons. But this fresh new hell is the least of Nina's worries. The well of souls ran dry more than a century ago, drained by the demons secretly living among humans, and without a donor soul, Mellie's child will die within hours of its birth. 
Nina isn't about to let that happen . . . even if it means she has to make the ultimate sacrifice. 

Copyright: Amazon Synopsis

'Falling' by Jane Green

Release date: 14th July 2016
Published by: Macmillan
ISBN No: 978 1447288510

Eight years ago, Emma Montague left behind the strict confines of her upper-crust English life - and rather dull boyfriend - and moved to New York City, where she immediately found success in the world of finance. But her soulless, cut-throat, all-consuming job has only led to another life she didn't want.
Answering an online ad, Emma finds a tiny beach cottage to rent in the small town of Westport, Connecticut. It needs work - lots of work. But it's the perfect project to satisfy Emma's passion for interior design and gardening, if her new landlord, Dominic, is agreeable to the small changes she yearns to make.
To Emma, Dominic is also something of a fixer-upper. A local handyman with a six-year-old son, he's a world away from the men she should be interested in, but he's comfortable in his own skin, confident, quiet and kind. Slowly, over a shared garden, time spent with his son and late-night conversations, Emma finds herself falling for Dominic.
From friends to lovers happens as naturally as the changing seasons. But laying down roots doesn't come easily when two lives as different as theirs merge into one. And Emma will realize that the seeds of happiness must be nurtured and cherished to grow into something strong enough to shelter all their hopes and dreams . . .

Copyright: Amazon Synopsis

'The Autumn Throne' by Elizabeth Chadwick

Release date:1st September 2016
Published by: Sphere
ISBN No:978 1847445438

England, 1176
Imprisoned by her husband, King Henry II, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Queen of England, refuses to let her powerful husband bully her into submission, even as he forces her away from her children and her birthright.
Freed only by Henry's death, Eleanor becomes dowager Queen of England. But the competition for land and power that Henry stirred up among his sons has intensified to a dangerous rivalry.
Eleanor will need every ounce of courage and fortitude as she crosses the Alps in winter to bring Richard his bride, and travels medieval Europe to ransom her beloved son. But even her indomitable spirit will be tested to its limits as she attempts to keep the peace between her warring sons, and find a place in the centres of power for her daughters.

Copyright: Amazon Synopsis

Winner Announcement: 'Splash into Summer' 2016 Giveaway Draw.

Just a quick post to announce the winner of my 'Splash into Summer' Giveaway Draw.

The winner selected by the Rafflecopter random draw selector for the $15 (US) or £10 (sterling) Amazon Gift Voucher/Certificate was:

Stephanie L.


I will be shortly be in contact with the winner in order to arrange delivery of their prize.

Thank you to everyone who visits my blog, follows my blog and enters my draws. It is very much appreciated. Please keep visiting regularly as I hold quite a few prize draws each year. You never know you might just be the next winner! As the number of my blog followers grow, better opportunities do seem to arise that I can then pass on directly to my blog followers. Thank you once again for all your continued support of 'The Secret Writer Blog' :-)

Saturday, 4 June 2016

'Chains of Sand' Blog Tour: An Interview with the Author Jemma Wayne

Jemma Wayne graduated from Cambridge University with an academic scholarship for her achievements in Social and Political Sciences, and went on to obtain her PGDIP in Broadcast Journalism from the University of Westminster before becoming a journalist and writer.

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

For the benefit of our International readers can you tell us a bit about the part of the world that you are currently resident in and why do you like living there?

I live in North West London, in a leafy suburb that is close enough to the countryside where I grew up to feel like puddle jumping will be a normal activity for my children, too, but near enough to Primrose Hill, where I spent my 20s, to pop into cafes and theatres and still relish a taste of urban culture.

Do you think the books that you read as a child have influenced your writing in any way? 

Hugely. The books you read as a child are so formative in developing your imagination. They stay with you in ways it is hard for anything else to do, and I am currently enjoying the rediscovery of some of my favourites with my daughter. I will always wish to be as simultaneously dark and fantastical and inventive as Roald Dahl. I will always wish to create the tense secrecy of Tom’s Midnight Garden, or the raw, unfussy emotion of Goodnight Mr Tom. I may not always but sometimes wish to channel Judy Blume.

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

Being a mum of two, for all my writing, I work a somewhat flexible three and a half days a week, attempting to cram as much into those child-care-sorted times as possible, but usually continuing into snatched evening hours when the children are in bed.

Where do you do your writing best? 

At my desk in my home office. My grandfather gave me his ancient wooden writing desk when I was a teenager. It is full of cubbyholes and drawers, and a vast surface perfect for spreading notebooks upon. And it reminds me of him.

What else apart from your obvious deep interest in journalistic writing helped you decide to write your novel ‘Chains of Sand’, which is described as dealing with identity, family, and clashes of culture?

Identity is always a fascinating idea to me because it’s this constantly shifting process of sifting between who you have been, who you perceive yourself to be, and the way in which others see you. We’re all made up of composite parts drawn from our backgrounds and our experiences. Sometimes these parts merge, sometimes they run in parallel, and sometimes they clash, and then we have to work out which of those parts is most salient. In 2014, seeing the chaos in Israel, the surge of anti-Semitism in London, and the way that this conflict pushes people to extremes of opinion, it was fascinating for me to create characters who are attempting to unpack their identities, their collection of parts, amidst these very raw and confronting moments.

Did you find this a difficult or complicated type of story to actually write?

It was confronting and difficult because although it is fiction it is rooted in reality, and challenges the way people on different ‘sides’ of this conflict feel. I was very aware that my portrayal may cause some anger or offence. It also forced me to examine how I personally feel about the war and about my own identity.

When you are writing a novel, how do you place yourself into the time period that you are actually writing about?

I love the research side of writing. Months before I lift the metaphorical pen, I immerse myself in reading and interviewing, and developing characters and constructing plot. Talking to real people who actually experienced a time or place or event is immensely useful for me, and I am very grateful to those who gifted me with insights I would have been hard placed to draw from books alone or from my imagination. During research for Chains of Sand, a number of IDF soldiers shared with me their stories and feelings about war and the terrain of it, and these conversations were particularly helpful.

How do you go about imagining, developing and give real lives and personalities to the characters that we read about within in your book?

My stage-writing partner Rachel Sternberg, who is also a wonderful actress, once shared with me a practice she learned at drama school. You pretend to be a specific character, and then you kind of go into free thought mode – you talk about what you like, what you don’t like, what you can see, what you can smell, you utilise your senses and your feelings. It’s been a very useful tool for me at those starting points of character development, especially in imagining quirks and personalities that help create a more realistic depth.

Did you encounter any difficulties in getting you book accepted and published?

This time around I was very lucky in that Legend Press, who also published my first novel After Before, are very supportive of my writing and wanted this one too. The first time round…yup!

Did you have to undertake any research for your novel?

Yes, and lots of it. I read a great number of texts about the history of the conflict. I poured through news articles. And I have reams of notebooks full of interviews with people from all sides and all walks of life who very generously shared their insights with me. I also happen to live in North West London, where much of the book is set, so I did steal a few locations and moments from real-life experiences.

What is your favourite book and why?

'In Between the Sheets' by Ian McEwan. It is dark, gripping, it pushes you to the places you didn't dare look, and McEwan writes with an effortless flick of the pen that ensnares you from beginning to end.

Are you currently reading a book at the moment, and if so what is it?

I am reading 'One Night, Markovitch' by Ayelet Gundar Goshen, who is a fantastic Israeli author I was lucky enough to do a panel event with this year.

Do you have any other hobbies or interests that you enjoy in order to give you a break from your normal routine and your writing?

Spending time with my family is always my number one interest. But I also love sport, in particular athletics. I used to compete fairly seriously. Now I go for the odd road-run, but it’s still my favourite way to clear my mind, and take a literal deep breath.

Can you give us a hint about any other books that you may have in the making at the moment?

Sorry, no! Very early ideas are only just emerging ;)

To conclude our interview can I ask what do you hope readers will get from your book?

Hopefully a good story, emotion, and food for thought.

Jemma, I have been absolutely delighted and very honoured that you agreed to be interviewed for my literary site. I would also like to thank-you again for taking the time to speak to us today.

Thank you for featuring me! It’s been a pleasure.

Book Synopsis
Chains of Sand is a novel about identity, family, and clashes of culture. 

He has always been good at tracking down things that are hidden, like cockroaches in his mother's kitchen cupboard, or tunnels in Gaza.

At 26, Udi is a veteran of the Israeli army and has killed five men. He wants a new life in a new place. He has a cousin in England. 

Daniel is 29, a Londoner, an investment banker and a Jew. He wants for nothing, yet he too is unable to escape an intangible yearning for something more. And for less. He looks to Israel for the answer.

But as the war with Hamas breaks out, Daniel cannot know that the star-crossed love of a Jewish girl and an Arabic man in Jerusalem a decade earlier, will soon complicate all that he thinks has become clear.

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

'The Lavender House' by Hilary Boyd

Release date: 4th August 2016
Published by: Quercus
ISBN No:978 1784294151

Nancy de Freitas is the glue that holds her family together. Caught between her ageing, ailing mother Frances, and her struggling daughter Louise, frequent user of Nancy's babysitting services, it seems Nancy's fate is to quietly go on shouldering the burden of responsibility for all four generations. Her divorce four years ago put paid to any thoughts of a partner to share her later years with. Now it looks like her family is all she has.
Then she meets Jim. Smoker, drinker, unsuccessful country singer and wearer of cowboy boots, he should be completely unsuited to the very together Nancy. And yet, there is a real spark.
But Nancy's family don't trust Jim one bit. They're convinced he'll break her heart, maybe run off with her money - he certainly distracts her from her family responsibilities.
Can she be brave enough to follow her heart? Or will she remain glued to her family's side and walk away from one last chance for love?

Copyright: Amazon Synopsis

'Nobody's Child' by Elizabeth Gill

Release date: 25th August 2016
Published by: Quercus
ISBN No: 978 1784298968

Kath walked for so long that she wanted to lie down in the snow and sleep but she thought of her sister and knew she must go on. Soon the snow was so deep that she couldn't move. She could feel her shoes disintegrating and her feet were numb. The sky cleared and a great big moon came out and there were so many stars. She remembered what her mother had said before she died, that each star was one of her people. She musn't give up now . . .'
When their mother dies and their father, in his grief, burns down their wagon and runs away, Kath and Ella - gypsy sisters - suddenly become orphans. With no one to turn to for help, they face hardship and hunger at every turn. Will their special sisters' bond be strong enough to see them to safety?

Copyright: Amazon Synopsis

'Daughters of Castle Deverill' by Santa Montefiore

Release date: 14th July 2016
Published by: Simon & Schuster UK
ISBN No: 978 1471135880

It is 1925 and the war is long over. But much has been lost and life will never truly be the same again.
Castle Deverill, cherished home to the Deverill family in the west of Ireland for hundreds of years, has burned to the ground. But young and flighty Celia Deverill is determined to restore the sad ruins to its former glory. Celia married well and has the wealth, after all, to keep it in the family and she cannot bear to see it stand neglected.

But dark shadows are gathering once more, as the financial markets start to shake. And everything that felt so certain is thrown once again into doubt.

Copyright: Amazon Synopsis

'Betrayals' by Kelley Armstrong

Release date: 4th August 2016
Published by: Sphere
ISBN No: 978 0751561234

Olivia Jones knows a lot about betrayal - most of her life has been a lie. On the eve of her wedding, she discovered she was adopted - and that her biological parents were convicted serial killers.
Liv has found sanctuary in her new home of Cainsville, but she's learned not to trust the town's mysterious elders. So when her biker boyfriend Ricky Gallagher is linked to a series of murders, she's reluctant to ask for their help. Meanwhile things have grown increasingly complicated with Gabriel Walsh, her boss and sometime friend. The fact that their fraught relationship is connected to an ancient myth in which they were passionate lovers doesn't help matters, either...
As Liv fights to clear Ricky's name, she discovers that her own life is at serious risk. Soon Ricky, Liv and Gabriel are tangled in a web of a betrayals. In order to survive, they will have to trust one another. But given their dark history, is that even possible? Or wise...?

Copyright: Amazon Synopsis

'The Silent Land' by Sally Spencer

Release date:29th July 2016
Published by: Severn House Publishers Ltd
ISBN No: 978 0727886453

Spanning 80 tumultuous years, the incredible story of a peasant girl who became the Red Princess of the Russian Revolution. Anna Mayakovsky is now a penniless old woman living in London, but no one can take away the vivid memories of her past: the Count who lifted her out of poverty; the Count's son, Misha, whose baby she bore; Paul, the ruthless factory owner who became her lover - and her deadliest enemy; Sasha, the tough but gentle peasant who converted her to revolution. And her aristocratic husband whom she adored, but could never love as completely as a woman should love her man. Now Anna finds she has one more battle ahead of her: her great-granddaughters Jennifer and Sonia wish to lock her away in an institution. Anna knows this would kill her. She will have to fight back...

Copyright: Amazon Synopsis

'Hypatia: Mathematician, Philosopher, Myth' by Charlotte Booth

Release date: 25th August 2016
Published by: Fonthill Media
ISBN No:978 1781555460

This biography of Hypatia the female philosopher and mathematician in Christian Egypt provides background on her work and her life as an elite woman at this time. There are many myths about Hypatia, including her research, inventions and the impact of her murder, all based on a handful of contemporary resources. Through presenting the different theories and myths alongside the available evidence, this book will enable the reader to make their own interpretations about her life. Whilst the evidence does leave many questions unanswered this book provides the evidence as it stands, separating the myth from reality. There is very little published on Hypatia and she forms quite a niche market in the history of ancient Egypt. However she is an interesting example of how multicultural Alexandria functioned at such an unstable political time, and provides anecdotal evidence of the atrocities that occurred. This book will appeal to scholars, lay people and political and religious researchers, and will show that the history of Egypt does not end at Cleopatra.

Copyright: Amazon Synopsis