Monday, 2 May 2016

Book Review: SUMMER NIGHTS AT THE MOONLIGHT HOTEL BY JANE COSTELLO (Fiction)



The Moonlight Hotel sits on the shore of England’s best-loved lake, Windermere, exuding vintage glamour. 
Lauren loves the hotel, for hidden inside its faded walls is the key to her most precious memories. So, along with her best friends, Cate and Emily, she signs up to a new dance class in its gorgeous ballroom. They aren’t going for the men, they’re going for a laugh – although a little romance wouldn’t hurt . . . 
But then a chain of events off the dance floor puts their friendship to the ultimate test, and makes Lauren question everything she holds dear. 
Put on your dancing shoes and escape to The Moonlight Hotel, for Jane’s funniest and most poignant novel yet… 


Published by Simon & Schuster

March 2016




First Paragraph .......


Some things just don't work together.  Chocolate and teapot.  Straw and houses. Lead and balloons.  Now I've discovered another combination to add to the list: high heels and the Lake District.




Lauren and her friend Cate have lived in the Lake District forever.  Lauren's a Primary School teacher, Cate owns a flower shop and their friend, Emily is a mountain leader ("basically Bear Grylls but with nicer hair!").

When they learn that the Moonlight Hotel is starting salsa classes they all decide to sign up to learn to dance, make new friends and have some fun.

Lauren's fond memories of the Moonlight Hotel go far back to her childhood when her father was the General Manager there and she loved how grand and romantic it was.  It's the backdrop to her most precious memories.

But when the new owners want to overhaul the hotel and bring it into the 21st century Lauren is devastated and even the handsome new owner can't persuade her that it's a good idea.  When her friend Emily becomes smitten with him Lauren is happy for her but she thinks he can't be trusted.  Then, to make her life even worse, her unrequited love, Edwin, is moving to Singapore in a few months.  How will she cope?

This is a light-hearted read in parts, I was chuckling at some of their efforts to salsa, I loved the descriptions of some of the dance moves "the cuddle left turn", "ladies' right turn, back-to-back and reverse wrap"!

There are some misunderstandings, some laughs, romance, friendships, holidays, twists, but the storyline also deals with a serious issue of today which I felt was handled sensitively and was very well-written.

Charming and full of drama, get ready to put on your dancing shoes and strut your stuff!  I think Jane Costello fans will love it!

Thank you to the publishers Simon & Schuster for sending me a copy of Summer Nights at The Moonlight Hotel in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Available to buy from

AmazonUK
AmazonUS
Book Depository



About the Author




Jane Costello is the author of nine novels, including Bridesmaids, The Wish List, The Time of Our Lives and her latest, Summer Nights at the Moonlight Hotel, which is published by Simon & Schuster in March 2016. Jane was a newspaper journalist before she became an author, working on the Liverpool Echo, the Daily Mail and the Liverpool Daily Post, where she was Editor. She continues to write for newspapers and magazines and has contributed articles to the Guardian, Marie Claire, Prima and The Times, among others. Jane has won several awards for her books, including the Romantic Novelists' Association Romantic Comedy Award, which she took home in 2010 for The Nearly Weds. She lives in Liverpool with her husband Mark and three young sons. Find out more at www.janecostello.com and follow her on Twitter @janecostello



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Friday, 29 April 2016

Blog Tour and Author Post: THE BODY ON THE DOORSTEP BY AJ MACKENZIE (Historical Murder Mystery)


I am delighted today to be the next stop on The Body on the Doorstep blog tour.  I have a fascinating post exclusively for Carole's Book Corner by AJ MacKenzie on 'Building Characters'.

Kent, 1796. Smugglers’ boats bring their illicit cargoes of brandy and tobacco from France to land on the beaches of the Channel coast.
Shocked to discover a dying man on his doorstep - and lucky to avoid a bullet himself – our alcoholic Reverend Hardcastle, with a colourful past, finds himself entrusted with the victim's cryptic last words.
Who is the young man? Where did he come from, and who killed him? Why, five minutes later, was a Customs officer shot and killed out on the Marsh? And who are the mysterious group of smugglers known as the Twelve Apostles and why is the leader of the local Customs service so reluctant to investigate?
Ably assisted by the ingenious Mrs Chaytor, Reverend Hardcastle sets out to solve the mystery for himself. But smugglers are not the only ones to lurk off the Kent coast, and the more he discovers, the more he realises he might have bitten off more than he can chew.
The Body on the Doorstep is the first Romney Marsh Mystery by A. J. MacKenzie.

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Building characters

Get the characters right, and people will follow them. Get them wrong, make them unsympathetic or uninteresting, and no amount of clever plotting or whizzy dialogue will save you. Creating good characters is a craft, and like all good craft work, it takes time.

Long before ever setting down to write about our characters, we get to know them, not just as two-dimensional cut-outs but as ‘real’ people. We think about them as real people, someone one might have met. We work on understanding their psychology, their motives, their quirks and irrationalities, their likes and dislikes. Once the characters become whole people, their actions and words – their reactions to finding a dead body, for example, or to being confronted with an armed intruder, or even to receiving an invitation to dinner – should become natural. Their behaviour should be consistent with their personality, because they behave as real people do.

The first question we ask when developing a new character is: what does he/she look like? Are they tall or short? What colour is their skin, hair and eyes? What structure does their face have? How do they dress and groom themselves? These things are important as visual cues for the reader, but they also speak to self-image. How do these characters view themselves? When they look in the mirror, what do they see?

The next question is, what do they sound like? Does a female character have a high soprano voice, or she more of a mezzo or even a tenor? Will a man have a light voice or a deep one? What patterns of speech do they use? In The Body on the Doorstep, Mrs Chaytor usually has a light voice with just a hint of a fashionable drawl; that tells us something about her background. But in times of stress her voice changes, becomes more firmer, and the drawl disappears. That suggests a strong character, one who will not crack under pressure, but also one who puts up somewhat of a facade in public.

We spend a lot of time building back stories for our characters. Where did they come from, who were their parents, where were they educated; we sometimes draw family trees to help us understand a character’s ancestry. All this feeds into their psychology and their motives. Most of this background work never appears in the stories, but it is there in our heads. It helps us understand who these people are: and if we understand, hopefully our readers will understand as well.

Of course, not every character works out. Some never complete the process of fleshing out; some just don’t work as people. But that’s not a problem for us. If our characters don’t work, we kill them. Yes, it’s brutal, but hey. This is crime.

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About the Authors



A.J. MacKenzie is the pseudonym of Marilyn Livingstone and Morgen Witzel, a collaborative Anglo-Canadian husband-and-wife duo. Between them they have written more than twenty non-fiction and academic titles, with specialisms including management, medieval economic history and medieval warfare.
THE BODY ON THE DOORSTEP is their first novel.
https://g.twimg.com/Twitter_logo_blue.png @AJMacKnovels http://www.ajmackenzienovels.com/

Check out the other stops on the tour




Friday, 22 April 2016

Spotlight and Giveaway: THE WINEMAKERS BY JAN MORAN: A Novel of Wine and Secrets


1956: When Caterina Rosetta inherits a cottage in the countryside of Italy from a grandmother she's never known, she discovers a long-buried family secret -- a secret so devastating, it threatens the future of everything her mother has worked for.


Many years before, her mother's hard-won dreams of staking her family's claim in the vineyards of California came to fruition; but as an old murder comes to light, and Caterina uncovers a tragic secret that may destroy the man she loves, she realizes her happiness will depend on revealing the truth of her mother's buried past.


From author Jan Moran comes The Winemakers, a sweeping, romantic novel that will hold you in its grasp until the last delicious sip.

​Buy the book:   Amazon  ~   Barnes & Noble  ~   Kobo  ~  Chapters  ~  Books-a-Million  ~   Book Depository   ~  iBooks





Author's Bio:


Jan Moran is a Rizzoli bestselling and award winning author. She writes historical women's fiction for St. Martin's Press (Scent of Triumph, The Winemakers), contemporary women's fiction (Flawless, Beauty Mark, Runway), and nonfiction books (Vintage Perfumes, Fabulous Fragrances). Her stories are smart and stylish, and written with emotional depth. Jan often draws on her international travel and business experiences, infusing her books with realistic details.


The Midwest Book Review and Kirkus have recommended her books, calling her heroines strong, complex, and resourceful. She likes to talk to readers at www.janmoran.com and on social media. She lives in southern California and loves lattes and iced coffee, anything chocolate, and Whole Foods Double Green smoothies to balance it all out.


Connect with the author:  Website   Twitter   Pinterest   Facebook   Instagram




Tour Schedule:

April 18 - Working Mommy Journal - author interview / giveaway
April 18 - Lavish Bookshelf - guestpost / giveaway
April 18 - Coffee books & Art - giveaway
April 18 - Brooke Blogs - guest post / giveaway
April 19 - Corinne Rodriges - guest post / giveaway
April 19 - JustOneMoreChapter - giveaway
April 19 - The Cheshire Cat's Looking Glass - giveaway
April 19 - Words And Peace - author interview / giveaway
April 19 - The Autistic Gamer - spotlight
April 20 - Paulette's Papers - giveaway
April 20 - Olio by Marilyn - author interview
April 20 - Discovering/Writing Life - author interview / giveaway
April 20 - Svetlana's Reads and Views - giveaway
April 20 - StoreyBook Reviews - guest post
April 20 - thoughts on this 'n that - giveaway
April 21 - Fantastic Feathers - author interview
April 21 - First Impressions Reviews - spotlight
April 21 - Cassidy Salem Reads & Writes - giveaway
April 22 - ABookGeek - spotlight
April 22 - Celticlady's Reviews - giveaway
April 22 - Carole's Book Corner - giveaway
April 22 - The Bookish & The Romantic - giveaway
April 25 - XoXo Book Blog - giveaway
April 25 - Il mio tesoro - author interview
April 25 - A Bit Bookish - giveaway
April 25 - Jayne's Books - spotlight
April 26 - Mystery Suspense Reviews - guest post
April 26 - The Booktrail - author interview
April 26 - #redhead.with.book - giveaway
April 26 - Library of Clean Reads - giveaway
April 27 - Studentessa Matta - guest post / giveaway
April 27 - Kritters Ramblings - spotlight
April 27 - A Bookaholic Blog - giveaway
April 28 - A Holland Reads - giveaway
April 28 - Rockin' Book Reviews - guest post / giveaway
April 28 - History from a Woman's Perspective - giveaway
April 29 - Amie's Book Reviews - giveaway
April 29 - Anglers Rest - spotlight
April 29 - FLY HIGH! - guest post / giveaway
April 29 - Italophilia - spotlight


GIVEAWAY

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Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Cover Reveal, Excerpt and Giveaway: MAGIC OF THE GARGOYLES BY REBECCA CHASTAIN (Fantasy)



I'm delighted to be involved today in the Cover Reveal for the fantasy novel Magic of the Gargoyles.  I think the new cover looks fabulous!  Also there are five copies to give away to five lucky winners - be sure to enter below for a chance to win.

I'm especially thrilled to take part because I reviewed Magic of the Gargoyles recently and really loved it.  You can read my review here.

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MAGIC OF THE GARGOYLES can be found at:
Amazon, everywhere else: http://smarturl.it/MagicGargoyles

Rebecca Chastain can be found at:
Twitter: @Author_Rebecca or https://twitter.com/Author_Rebecca


**********************

Synopsis:
Mika Stillwater is a mid-level earth elemental with ambitions of becoming a quartz artisan, and her hard work is starting to get noticed. But when a panicked baby gargoyle bursts into her studio, insisting Mika is the only person she’ll trust with her desperate mission, Mika’s carefully constructed five-year plan is shattered.

Swept into the gritty criminal underworld of Terra Haven, Mika must jeopardize everything she’s worked so hard for to save the baby gargoyle from the machinations of a monster—and to stay alive…


Excerpt

1

With one last twist of a filament of earth magic, I fused together the delicate seams of the quartz tube. Slumping forward, I braced my elbows on the table and rested my cheekbones on my palms, cupping my weary eyes in darkness. Six down, six finicky tubes to go. The specifications of this project taxed my substantial skills with quartz magic, which was the point. This project would launch my business and prove that even though I was only a midlevel earth elemental, my quartz skills were equal to or better than more powerful full-spectrum elementals. These fussy tubes would fund the down payment on the lease for the shop I coveted in the Pinnacle Pentagon Center. I could finally quit my demeaning job at Jones and Sons Quarry, be my own boss, and begin a career creating one-of-a-kind quartz masterpieces I could take pride in.
My entire future rested on these fragile vials, and they were due tomorrow at four.
Dull pain pounded my back muscles. Night had crept over the city while I worked, and my jerky movements as I stood and stretched were reflected in the semicircle of bay windows in front of my worktable. Purple smears of exhaustion beneath my green eyes were exaggerated in the dark windows, and my pale face floated above a dirt-smeared navy shirt. I checked the clock: almost midnight. Sixteen hours until my deadline, and eight of those would be taken up by my Jones and Sons workday. There was no time for a break. If anything, I needed to work faster.
Groaning, I redid my ponytail, tucking shorter wisps of strawberry-blond hair behind my ears before giving my hard wooden chair the stink eye. Mentally chanting, Pinnacle Pentagon, to motivate myself, I reached for another seed crystal.
Frantic tapping shook the glass in the balcony door. I pulled the door open, knowing it was Kylie, my best friend and the tenant who shared my second-floor apartment balcony. “I really can’t talk. I need to finish—”
“Help! Help! They’ve got—”
Something small and hard slammed into my stomach. I staggered backward into my chair and crashed to the floor. A small boulder skipped across the wooden floor and smashed into the wall.
“You’re a human!”
I shrieked. The voice came from inside my room. I twisted, scrambling onto my bed.
Against the wall, the rock moved.
Beautiful blue dumortierite quartz veined with green aventurine twisted into a winged panther no bigger than a house cat. A pissed-off, solid-stone, magical, winged house cat. A gargoyle—no, a baby gargoyle. A hatchling.
Her eyes glowed feverishly. Long polished blue claws gouged into the floor when she launched into the air. Her agile stone wings unfolded with a soft gritty sound.
I lurched backward across the bed until I was pressed against the wall. The mattress shook when the hatchling pounced on the space I’d just vacated. Sharp claws bunched in my yellow bedspread. She raised her muzzle, mouth open, and sniffed the air.
I eased toward the foot of the bed, readying my escape into the hallway.
“It’s you! Your magic smells so good. I thought—”
My magic has a smell?
The gargoyle’s eyes darted to the open door, then back to me. She arched her stone back and hissed at me, the sound dying to a hair-raising growl. The tip of her stone tail slashed back and forth, gouging my wooden headboard.
“I need help.”
“My help?” Gargoyles—even baby gargoyles—didn’t interact with midlevel elementals like me, and they certainly didn’t ask for our help. “There’s a full-spectrum elemental just—” I started to point up the street but froze when she snarled at me.
“No other humans! Before it’s too late.” The gargoyle’s words were smooth coming out of her rock throat, with just a hint of a lisp from her tongue working around enormous teeth.
I stared into her glowing blue eyes, seeing past the bared fangs and agitated movements, reading her fear for the first time. I reached for her, then pulled my hand back when she shied from me.
“Too late for what?”
“You can save him. Hurry!”
“Save him? Save who? If someone is hurt, I can send for a healer.” Where were this gargoyle’s parents?
“No. I need you.” Large blue eyes implored me. “Please!”
A thousand reasons I should find someone else to help the gargoyle crowded my mind, but the hatchling’s urgency was contagious. Someone was injured. I didn’t want to waste time arguing with her, but was I really the best choice? I could work earth, but healing usually took someone talented with all five elements.
“Are you sure you don’t want me to get—” someone stronger? I started to ask, but she cut me off with another sharp, “Please!”
Gargoyles were creatures without guile, and this baby was obviously terrified for someone’s life. If she thought I could help, I had to try. I took a deep breath. “Okay. Let’s go.”


About the Author


Rebecca Chastain is the international bestselling fantasy author of A FISTFUL OF EVIL, A FISTFUL OF FIRE, and MAGIC OF THEGARGOYLES. She has found seven four-leaf clovers to date, won a purebred Arabian horse in a drawing, and once tamed a blackbird for a day. Dreaming up the absurd and writing stories designed to amuse and entertain has been her passion since she was eleven years old. She lives in Northern California with her wonderful husband and three bossy cats.


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