#interview & #giveaway with #author Claire Huston @ClaraVal #ArtandSoul

I am delighted to welcome Claire Huston to Chat About Books today 🙂

Claire is a woman of many talents. She is a fellow book blogger, friend, and talented author of Art & Soul, which I can personally recommend highly. It is a pleasure to be able to share this interview with you all, and don’t forget to enter the amazing giveaway!

For those who don’t know already, could you tell us about yourself and your book please?

I live in Warwickshire, UK, with my husband and two sons. I’m a translator, book blogger, writer and keen amateur baker. I self-published my first contemporary romance, Art and Soul, in April 2020.

Art and Soul is a feel-good romantic story about Becky Watson, a stubborn and highly-resourceful single mother. She’s hired to fix the personal and career troubles of a struggling local artist, Charlie Handren. Becky is delighted to get the job but soon starts to realise that fixing all of Charlie’s problems may mean denying herself a happily ever after.

It’s an uplifting romance featuring wedding fiascos, beautiful art and delicious cake!

Where did/do you get your ideas from?

I find it hard to put my finger on any specific source. I think I just absorb films, books, TV shows, things I overhear and see day-to-day. That all percolates somewhere at the back of my mind and then ideas spring to the front.

Are any of your characters based (however loosely) on anyone you know?

I don’t think so. Not consciously, anyway. But then as I get my ideas from everywhere, they could well be!

How do you pick your characters’ names?

I put a lot of thought into character names. I’ve kept the “Name Your Baby” book I used when choosing names for my children and always check what names mean before deciding on one. And the name and surname need to work together and say something about the character. For example, Becky Watson in Art and Soul got her first name from one of the feistiest and most resourceful heroines in English literature – Becky Sharpe in Vanity Fair – and her surname from Sherlock Holmes’ greatest assistant and loyal friend.

Can you share your writing process with us, in a nutshell?

It mostly involves writing whenever I can around working part-time and looking after two children! I usually outline in a notebook and often scribble down ideas on paper, but when I sit down to write I type straight into Word. I always have a rough plan of the plot, but leave space for surprises.

Who are your top 5 favourite authors?

That is such a hard question. I’m going to cheat and choose 5 authors writing before I was born first: Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, Charles Dickens and PG Wodehouse. Then five after I was born: Terry Pratchett, Becky Chambers, Victoria Schwab, Madeline Miller and Diana Wynne Jones. Honestly, I could go on forever. I think it’s impossible for a bookworm to have an ultimate top 5 books or authors.

Were you a big reader as a child?

Definitely! My mum always told me off for reading after bedtime using the light from the landing. If I found a book I liked, I made it my mission to read all the books in the school and local library had by the same author.

When did you start to write?

Early: I still have stories I wrote at primary and secondary school. Studying English at university put me off writing for years, but I’ve always had stories buzzing away in my head and writing is the best way to get them out and persuade the characters to leave you alone.

Is there a book you wish you had written?

So many. All the books I’ve ever enjoyed, really. But I think it would be amazing to have accomplished something like Hilary Mantell’s Wolf Hall trilogy. The combination of meticulous historical research and boundless imagination that went into those books is remarkable.

If you wrote an autobiography, what would your title be?  

For the story of my life, I’d probably go with one of the phrases I find myself saying a million times a day to my kids and/or myself: “What did I come in here for?”, “Well, where did you leave it?” or “I don’t care who started it!”

Tell us a random fact about yourself.

If I’m allowed something that surprised me (rather than being strictly random), I counted up the recipes on my blog the other day and was shocked to find I’d reached 140! I never would have believed I’d make it to that number, but it is handy to have all the recipes I like to use online and in one place. It saves hunting through the cupboard for the right recipe book.

What are you working on right now?

I’ve recently started my third novel, which will be another contemporary romance. A happy story about a couple who meet under “interesting” conditions, don’t immediately hit it off, but learn to get along when they keep being thrown together. So the classic stuff of romance!

Do you have a new release due?

My second novel – a contemporary romance set in a beautiful little village in the Cotswolds – is currently out on submission to agents and publishers. But if it doesn’t get picked up, I hope to publish it in spring 2021. Watch this space!

What do you generally do to celebrate on publication day?

As we were in lockdown, publication day back in April wasn’t exactly what I’d planned. I made a cake decorated with my book cover and had a glass of fizz. I’m really hoping for the next book I’ll be allowed to celebrate with a few more people than my husband and children! It would be nice to have a small party and share the cake next time.

How can readers keep in touch with you?

I blog about books and baking on my website and they can sign up to follow my blog there. They can also sign up for my newsletter. I’m on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Goodreads as well. I think the better question is, “How can readers avoid me?!” I’ve put all the links together here:

https://linktr.ee/clairehuston_author

Is there anything else you would like us to know?

I’d like to take this opportunity to say thank you to everyone who has been so supportive of me and the release of Art and Soul. Self-publishing your debut novel is always tricky, but this year has been trickier than most because of the pandemic and I’ll always be grateful to all the lovely, dedicated book bloggers, keen readers and fellow authors who have helped me get the word out about my book. Thank you!

Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, Claire!

UK Giveaway details

Win a Yoshi Christmas bookworm purse and a signed paperback copy of Art and Soul!

It’s nearly Christmas and one lucky bookworm has the chance to win themselves an early gift of this lovely Yoshi Christmas bookworm purse and a signed paperback copy of Art and Soul.

This prize draw is open to UK residents only from Sunday 22nd November until midnight on Monday 30th November (GMT).

Enter the draw and check out the full terms and conditions at Rafflecopter.

Good luck!

ICYMI

https://chataboutbooks.blog/2020/04/23/art-and-soul-by-claire-huston-claraval-publicationday-bookreview/

Venus in pink marble by @gaynorkane

Bowen’s Book Publicity is proud to promote…. Venus in pink marble By Gaynor Kane Following the success of her thematically focused pamphlet Memory Forest, Gaynor Kane’s debut full collection of poems opens outwards as she explores her personal history. Venus in pink marble takes the reader on a narrative journey from heritage and place, through family and relationships, […]

Venus in pink marble by @gaynorkane

Torment by Mark ‘Twisted’ Tilbury @MTilburyAuthor #relaunch #bookreview

I’m absolutely over the moon to be re-sharing my review of Torment today as part of Mark Tilbury’s relaunch celebrations!

When someone wants you dead, is there anywhere to hide? Who can you really trust?  

Beth couldn’t be happier. She is eight weeks pregnant and married to the man of her dreams. But after returning home from a celebratory meal, she finds a wreath from her sister’s grave hanging above the bed and a kitchen knife embedded in her pillow. There are no signs of a forced entry. Nothing is stolen. And no one other than the cleaner has a key to the house.  

Then a campaign of terror begins. Beth becomes increasingly paranoid as it becomes clear that someone close to the family is behind these disturbing events.    

But who would want Beth dead?  

Does the past hold the clue?  

And can Beth find the answer before it’s too late?  

Torment is a story of misplaced loyalty, revenge and sacrifice.   

Mark Tilbury is the best-selling author of multiple thrillers including You Belong to MeThe Liar’s Promise and The Abattoir of DreamsTorment is a dark and compelling psychological thriller which will appeal to fans of authors like Mark Edwards, Charles Gallagher and John Nicholl.

My review

Originally published 8th August 2019

Well, what can I say!? Mark Tilbury has done it again! TORMENT is another outstanding read. I never doubted it would be though as Mark Tilbury is an outstanding writer.

What an opening chapter! I defy anyone not to be gripped as instantly as I was.

Beth and David seemingly have it all, with a happy marriage, a decent income, a lovely home, a baby on the way…. However, returning home to find a wreath hanging above your bed where there was once a dreamcatcher (which has been set alight and left to burn) and a kitchen knife in your pillow with R.I.P written in red lipstick, who wouldn’t be at least slightly freaked out!?

This is just the start of Beth and David’s nightmare. Someone seriously has it in for them, but who and why?

Beth isn’t the easiest of characters to like, if I’m honest, but I totally understood her mood swings and insecurities given what she is going through. David doesn’t really help matters, but then I think men often struggle to cope with things they have no control over and can come across as selfish and unfeeling when, really, they are just trying to ‘get on with things’ as best they can. Interfering friends will never help a struggling relationship either. I can understand why Beth confides in and leans on Kim though.

To say this book is full of suspense would be a seriously massive understatement. I had an inkling who might be involved but couldn’t for the life of me figure out why, and I knew I would be wrong one way or another. Once again, I was blown away when all became clear.

Just brilliant!

A chilling read which would make an excellent film in my opinion.

Many thanks to Mark Tilbury for my review copy.

BUY NOW!

Truth Games by Caroline England @CazEngland

Happy Publication Day, Caroline England!

Truth Games is OUT NOW!

Family is everything to Ellie Wilson.

She tries hard to be the perfect mother, the perfect partner, the perfect daughter – but she can’t always seem to get it right.

When an old friend from university re-enters their lives, dark memories from Ellie’s past begin to resurface. Memories that have been buried for a long time.

As Ellie starts to unravel some shocking and sinister realities, she realises that she must choose between keeping the family she loves – and facing the truth.

From the Top Ten ebook bestselling author, this twisty psychological thriller will have you hooked from the first page to the last jaw-dropping twist.

Praise for Caroline England:

A twist that I didn’t see coming!’ T. M. LOGAN

‘Kept me gripped’ B. A. PARIS

‘Incredibly twisty . . . deliciously satisfying‘ CLAIRE ALLAN

‘A taut, tantalising thriller’ SHERYL BROWNE

Truly terrific!’ MARTINA COLE

Stunning . . . dark undercurrents and sinister twists’ AMANDA ROBSON

Happy reading!

#PublicationDay #interview with #author Elizabeth Pantley @NoCrySolution

Happy Publication Day, Elizabeth!

OUT NOW!

Interview with Elizabeth Pantley

For those who don’t know already, could you tell us about yourself and your book(s) please?

This book opened a whole new chapter in my life. I’ve written 13 best-selling parenting books, and I’ve been writing and speaking about raising children – that’s been my life for the past twenty years. This novel has been simmering on my back burner for years, and with all the world changes in 2020 it was the perfect time for introspection, imagination and escape. I enjoyed being in Destiny Falls!

Where did/do you get your ideas from?

I’ve been a voracious reader since childhood, and good books, or great scenes stick in my head. They roll around for years and pop up as inspiration when needed. Life is filled with ideas for books, every day you meet people or see places that inspire fiction. I also began hiking with my adult children and we’ve visited some glorious places with awe-inspiring views – those shaped the location of my story. Once I had a plot line in my mind, this book took off with a life of its own! I just had to type fast enough to keep up.

Are any of your characters based (however loosely) on anyone you know?

I suspect that most writers base at least some traits of their characters on people they know or people they have met. While none of my humans are based on actual people, though, the pets are! The cat is based on my sister’s sweet Bobtail cat, Chaco, who always makes me laugh. The dog was inspired by my son’s sidekick, Shadow. My son trains protection and security dogs and I’ve seen Shadow at practice – and believe me he can do everything in real life that Hercules does in my book.

How do you pick your characters’ names?

My main character’s names came to me in moments of inspiration during writing. As a personality emerged a name followed. If I was stuck on a name, I’d head to the internet to find popular names from the character’s age group.

Can you share your writing process with us, in a nutshell?

Since this is my first work of fiction it differed dramatically from my previous thirteen books, which were research based. I had so much freedom with this one! I wrote out my main plot line, and then let the story and characters take the lead. I’d have a general idea for a chapter, but then followed the story as it emerged. If I chuckled or gasped out loud, I knew my readers would too!

Who are your top 5 favourite authors?

Wow! I have so many favourites! The list would be much longer than five, and I wouldn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, so I’d have to give you my entire book list from my Kindle!

If you could meet any author, who would it be and what would you ask them?

Ironically, it wouldn’t be a writer of any of my normal reading or writing genres. I’d love to meet Stephen King! I read his book On Writing and he’s got a sharp mind and a witty personality. And I’d say he understands his writing process better than any author I’ve ever met or read about.

Were you a big reader as a child?

I was in the Principal’s Special Reading Group in kindergarten! I’ve loved books since babyhood. The scenes where my character describes libraries and her feelings about them – it’s all me!

When did you start to write?

I write when I’m inspired, and my first parenting book came about when my children were very young. I was immersed in motherhood and learning by leaps and bounds every day. I wanted to share that knowledge with other parents trying to sort out the hardest job of their life.

If you could re-write the ending to any book what would it be and what would you change?

I love books with happy endings, so I’d have to re-do the end of any book that doesn’t end well for the main character!

Is there a book you wish you had written?

Harry Potter? Haha.  

If you wrote an autobiography, what would your title be?  

Happy, Healthy and Loving Life

If you could invite any fictional character for coffee who would it be and where would you take them?

Right now, I’d have to say Latifa from Destiny Falls. She would be the most fun I’ve ever had at coffee! I’d let her pick the place and we’d probably end up at the spinning restaurant at the top of the Space Needle in Seattle!

Tell us a random fact about yourself

This year I ran my first 5K; and climbed my first mountain with two of my kids! I went all the way to the top of the peak of Mount Pilchuck. I actually scrambled up huge boulders to look out from the fire lookout at the very top. It’s part of the Cascade Mountain range and was the most exhilarating experience. – Google it!

What are you working on right now?

I’m writing Book Two in the Destiny Falls Magic & Mystery series – The Disappearance of Emily. Our main character, Hayden’s mother disappeared when she was just two weeks old. Now we find out why she left and where she went. But it stirs up trouble in Hayden’s life – so we’ll see her investigative skills in action as she solves the mystery.

Tell us about your last release?

Falling into Magic is the story of how Hayden finds her way to Destiny Falls, and how she solves a frightening mystery to secure her place there.

It all began when Hayden was a child, and she lost her cat. Adults told her the cat had escaped the house and run away, but she knew the truth. The mirror had taken her. She knew because the mirror had given her a glimpse of an alternate world and had nearly pulled her in, so she was certain the cat had suffered that fate.

Twenty years later Hayden discovers the true secret of the mirror when she is thrust into it by a mysterious villain. She learns of a world she never knew existed, and a family she never knew she had. But danger brought her here, and it followed her. And now, Hayden is on a mission to see that the threat is removed, so that she can begin her meaningful new life in this magical world.

This is a magical cozy mystery novel with a touch of humour and a hint of romance. Falling into Magic is the first book in the Destiny Falls Mystery & Magic series, and I plan to have ten or more books in the story.


Do you have a new release due?

Emily’s story is taking shape and I expect the book to be complete within the next five or six months.

What do you generally do to celebrate on publication day?
I celebrate every step along the way! I have a plot line – yay! I finished the first chapter – yay! I have a cover design – yay! I have an ISBN – yay! I find that every step that gets me closer to a finished book is fun and exciting.

How can readers keep in touch with you?

I’m everywhere – though right now you’ll see mainly parenting topics! Cozy Mysteries are beginning to find their way in.

Website  – http://www.nocrysolution.com

Blog – http://elizabethpantley.com/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/ElizabethPantleyNoCryAuthor

Pinterest – http://www.pinterest.com/nocrysolution/   

Instagram – https://instagram.com/elizabethpantley/

Is there anything else you would like us to know?
I love to hear from my readers! Anyone who wants to ask questions, give me ideas for future books in the series, or tell me whose story you want to hear next. I’m all ears! You can email me at elizabeth@pantley.com.

Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, Elizabeth!

Falling into Magic

When Hayden was a child, she lost her cat. Adults told her the cat ran away, but she knew the truth. The mirror had taken her.

She knew because the mirror had given her a glimpse of an alternate world and had nearly pulled her in, so she was certain the cat had suffered that fate.

Twenty years later Hayden discovers the secret of the mirror when she is thrust into it. She learns of a world she never knew existed, and a family she never knew she had.

But danger brought her here, and it followed her. Now, Hayden is on a mission to remove the threat, so that she can begin her magical, meaningful new life in this enchanted world.

* * * * * Reviews * * * * *

“A magical, delightful tale that held my attention with a quirky cast of characters, engaging dialogue, a pleasantly appealing universe, and an intriguing plotline that I could not put down. I can’t wait to see where we go with Hayden’s next adventure.”  — Dru Ann, MWA Raven Award winner, www.drusbookmusing.com

“What a captivating read! . . . I couldn’t put it down. A great story, full of interesting people and places to get to know, with surprises around every corner.” — Linda C. Goodreads reviewer

“The world-building and magic system is fascinating. Destiny Falls is a wondrous place that seems to cater to citizens’ wants and needs. I love that it is almost a character in its own right, and I was intrigued by the constantly changing world. Vivid imagery paints a clear picture of Destiny falls and its inhabitants. Falling into Magic is a dynamic introduction to the Destiny Falls Mystery & Magic series.” — Julie Petitbon www.onebookmore.com/ 

Amazon Link:

happy reading!

The Girl in the Ice: Detective Erika Foster Crime Thriller, Book 1 (Audible edition) by Robert Bryndza @RobertBryndza #bookreview

The Girl in the Ice: Detective Erika Foster Crime Thriller, Book 1 (Audible edition)

Robert Bryndza

(review written on 13th November 2020)

I know I am VERY late to the Robert Bryndza party (sorry for taking so long, Steph Lawrence!), but I have thoroughly enjoyed listening to book one of the Detective Erika Foster series on Audible. It is really well narrated, which is essential when listening to an audio book. I can be really put off a story narrated by a voice that doesn’t seem to suit the story.

Erika is a likeable, and interesting character. I really felt for her having lost her husband so young. It must be hard returning to the job after such heart break, but I can understand her need to have something to focus on. She is certainly thrown back in at the deep end!

When a beautiful young socialite, with her whole life ahead of her, is discovered beneath ice in a London park an investigation begins. Little did they know how complicated and dangerous things would become as the investigation moves forward. There are so many twists and turns throughout this story. It’s so full of suspense. The short chapters add to the pace and increase the tension as the story progresses. Each leads us to a jaw dropping conclusion! I loved it!

This book is right up my street and I can’t wait to catch up with Erika, and the team, in book two!

If you haven’t listened to this book on Audible already, I highly recommend….

The Drop of Death (DCI Chris Timothy Book 8) By Alison Lingwood #OUTNOW

Bowen’s Book Publicity is proud to promote…. The Drop of Death (DCI Chris Timothy Book 8) By Alison Lingwood A new estate; a block of flats; a fourth-floor balcony, and a tragic fall. Or was it? How could someone fall over a metre-high railing? In the midst of the appointment of a new police Superintendent […]

The Drop of Death (DCI Chris Timothy Book 8) By Alison Lingwood #OUTNOW

The Awesome Adventures of Poppy and Amelia by Maddy Harrisis & Misha Herwin @MishaHerwin #OUTNOW @penkhullpress

The Awesome Adventures of Poppy and Amelia  by Maddy Harrisis & Misha Herwin Poppy and Amelia didn’t set out to be witches. That happened quite by accident, and it’s a secret they must keep from their family and friends. Then there is Mia, the new girl in class. Pale, strange and deadly serious, she’s in need of a […]

The Awesome Adventures of Poppy and Amelia by Maddy Harrisis & Misha Herwin @MishaHerwin #OUTNOW @penkhullpress

You Belong To Me by Mark ‘Twisted’ Tilbury @MTilburyAuthor #relaunch #bookreview

Following on from the double cover reveal I am thrilled to be joining in with Mark Tilbury’s You Belong To Me re-launch, along with these awesome book bloggers….

I read You Belong To Me back in July 2019 and I am delighted to be re-sharing my review as part of the re-launch celebrations!

Can two wrongs ever make a right?

The police never found fifteen-year-old Ellie Hutton. She vanished ten years ago after walking home from school along a disused railway track. But Danny Sheppard knows exactly what happened to her. She is dead and buried in a field near Lassiter’s Brook.

Now Cassie Rafferty has gone missing. Same age. Similar circumstances. And Danny also knows what has happened to her.

Can Danny fight his demons and tell the truth this time?

Or will history repeat itself and leave another innocent girl dead?

Here are my thoughts on this amazing book….

WOW! You Belong To Me is another awesome read from the amazing Mark Tilbury! I have loved everything he has written, and this was no exception. The only thing I regret is not having had the chance to read it until now.

I finished You Belong To Me very late last night. There was no way I was going to sleep until I knew how things were going to pan out. I don’t know how Mark Tilbury does it, but he still manages to shock me in one way or another, although I do naturally expect his stories to be dark (putting it mildly!). If you love a psychological crime thriller which has an excellent mix of likeable and not so likeable, but equally fascinating characters with a compelling story to tell then you will love this book (and all others written by Mark Tilbury).

In You Belong To Me we meet Danny, Josh, Kieran and Rob who were witness to a horrendous crime, almost ten years previously, involving the disappearance of fifteen year old Ellie Hutton. This crime was committed by Danny’s older brother, Calum. Calum is a nasty piece of work who truly made my skin crawl. It’s frightening to know that there are actual real people out there, just like him. His cruelty towards animals is particularly sickening. I felt so sorry for Danny being related to him and I really felt for the all the boys when their plan to get one over on Calum backfires spectacularly. What they find themselves in the middle of is nothing short of horrific. Being young, naïve and completely believing Calum’s threats they feel they have no choice but to keep his secret. They were never going to have much of a chance to go on to lead ‘normal’ lives after such an ordeal and they each have their own ways of attempting to fight their demons having sworn they would never breathe a word of what happened.

When another girl goes missing, in the present day, Danny decides to get the gang back together and try to put Calum in his place once and for all. The four of them, now adults, come back together and agree with the plan and hope they can achieve their goal before anyone else gets hurt. Will their plan work or will it just backfire on them once again? I was absolutely gob-smacked by the end of the book! This author is a genius!

Absolutely outstanding writing, once again! Unique and perfectly executed. Highly disturbing, but completely captivating. LOVED it!

I can’t wait to start Torment now!

BUY NOW!