Publisher Showcase

HQ Fiction Summer Showcase = A whole lotta fantastic books coming our way.

First of all…

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This was my view for the evening on Thursday June 14th 2018.  The photograph, taken on my phone, certainly doesn’t do it justice but it gives you an idea.  Add to this a constant flow of delicious canapés, Prosecco and a room full of authors all keen to talk about their soon to be published novels and you have a pretty wonderful Thursday evening.

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This was of course the Fiction Summer Showcase for HarperCollins imprint, HQ.  It is a relatively new imprint within the powerhouse that is HarperCollins and this was their first Showcase.  It was wonderful.  Not only did everyone have a name badge (saving many an awkward moment) but the room was full of warm, friendly people who were all there because of one common interest – a love of books.

The whole team was lovely and made you feel instantly welcome and at home.  It really was a wonderful evening and I returned home not only with a lovely big bag FULL of books but with an unbreakable, Cheshire Cat grin on my face.

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HQ – One Place, Many Stories

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HQ really do have a wealth of stories coming over the coming months.  Something for everyone.

As I walked out of London Bridge Railway Station I was momentarily blown away by my surroundings.  This is the first time I had been to this part of London and The Shard looked absolutely stunning reaching up towards the blue, June skies.  It actually made me feel dizzy to look up.

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After entering The News Building I was whisked up in the lift and emerged onto a floor dedicated to the celebration I was attending this evening.  Coats were hung and drinks given.  A super start to the evening.

The authors were scattered around the room, along with their books and a themed table that in some way reflected the tale they were telling.  A majority had finished copies or proofs whilst others gave just a tantalising glimpse into what is coming later this/early next year.

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Author Jenny Oliver with her latest novel ‘The House We Called Home’.

The House We Called Home by Jenny Oliver

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The House where Stella and her sister Amy grew up never changes – the red front door, the breath-taking view over the Cornish coast, her parents in their usual spots on the sofa.  Except this summer, things feel a little different…

Stella’s father is nowhere to be seen, yet her mother – in suspiciously new Per Una jeans –  is curiously unfazed by his absence, and eager to talk about her mysterious dog-wlaking buddy Mitch.

Amy has returned home with a new boyfriend she can’t stand and a secret to hide, and Stella’s husband Jack has something he wants to get off his chest too.  Even Frank Sinatra, the dog, has a guilty air about him.  This summer, change is in the air for the Whitethorns….

Warm, funny and gloriously feel-good, this is the perfect summer read for fans of Lucy Diamond and Milly Johnson.

The House We Called Home is due to be published on the 12th of July 2018.  It looks a perfect summer read.

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The Beauty of the Wolf by Wray Delaney

The Beauty of the Wolf by Wray Delaney

I have to say I was a little star truck upon meeting Wray (the pen name of Sally Gardener – award winning children’s novelist). She has created some wonderful novels/stories for children and so I can’t tell you how thrilled I was to receive a (signed:) proof of her latest novel The Beauty and the Wolf – A timely retelling of Beauty and the Beast, reversing the gender roles of the original fairytale.  The proof itself has a stunning purple and gold foil cover and is certainly eye-catching.
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In the age of the Faerie Queene, Elizabeth I, a period of ruffles and lace, of wrought velvet and blanched satins, two newborn babies are cursed, one with unimaginable beauty and the other, in its mirror image, a beast.  But how could beauty ever be a curse?

Not only will all be blind to Beau’s true self, for all will lust after him but none will have the power to see past such an enchanted face – but the curse shall cause his own father’s death.

Meanwhile the beast, Randa, is locked away in her father’s cellar – lonely and hidden away.  She longs for love, but how could anyone ever see past her wings and beak and fierce talons?

Is it possible that these two cursed creatures could be one another’s salvation when all hope is lost?

The Beauty of the Wolf is due to be published on the 21st of February 2019.

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After the Snow by Susannah Constantine

After the Snow by Susannah Constantine

Susannah Constantine is a well know TV personality and fashion journalist so it was a treat to meet her in the flesh and hear her chatting about her debut novel, After the Snow.  The paperback is due to be published in November but it is available in Hardback if you can’t wait that long.  I’m really looking forward to this one AND I know there is another on it’s way from Susannah so I’m doubly excited.  She was incredibly warm and friendly and it was an absolute pleasure to meet her, Oh and I discovered she doesn’t live too far away from me. 🙂

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All eleven-year-old Esme Munroe wants for Christmas is for her mother to be on one of her ‘good’ days – and, secretly, for a velvet riding hat.  So when she finds an assortment of wet towels and dirty plates in her stocking, she’s just relieved Father Christmas remembered to stop at The Lodge this year.

But later that day Esme’s mother disappears in the heavy snow.  Even more mysteriously, only the Earl of Culcairn seems to know where she might have gone.  Torn between protecting her mother and uncovering the secrets tumbling out of Culcairn Castle’s ornate closets, Esme realises that life will never be the same again after the snow…

Susannah Constantine provides a rare glimpse into the secret lives of the scandalous upper classes.  Perfect for fans of ‘Downton Abbey’ and ‘The Crown’.

Now, before I move on I just have to share this from the back cover of the book.

And there was Princess Margaret,

soaking in the bath.

A cigarette dangled in one hand and she clutched her

whisky in the other, her face fully made-up, the rest of

her body hidden beneath the surface.

 

The soft humming of a popular tune could just be

heard floating up out of a side-window.

 

‘Lexi and Esme,’ called a velvety voice from below,

‘I know you’re up there.  I can see the reflection of your

grubby faces in the mirror.’

 

The Princess took a sip from her crystal tumbler 

and stubbed her cigarette out in the soup dish…

After the Snow will be published in paperback on 15th November 2018 but is out now in  hardback

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Mr Doubler Begins Again by Seni Glaister

Mr Doubler Begins Again by Seni Glaister

Now thesis one title that I was keen to see/hear more of and the table display made me even more intrigued.  I absolutely love the sound of this novel.  The synopsis made me think of A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman and the Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick.  I don’t mean to compare but it gave me the same warm, lovely feeling.  Seni was so lovely to chat to and I really can’t wait to get reading.

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Seni Glaister, author of ‘Mr Doubler Begins Again’

Mr Doubler lives alone at Mirth Farm, on top of a hill.

Back when she was around, Doubler’s wife was always surrounded by friends.  But Doubler is different.  The only company he needs are his potato plants and his housekeeper, Mrs Millwood, who visits every day.

So when Mrs Millwood is taken ill, it suits everything – and Doubler begins to worry that he might have lost his way.  But could the kindness of strangers be enough to bring him down from the hill?

 

 

Mr Doubler Begins Again will be published on the 24th January 2019 (but I have a feeling this will definitely be worth the wait.)

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I Invited Her In by Adele Parks

I Invited Her In by Adele Parks

We are going to have to wait until the 20th of September for I Invited Her In but the good news is that Adele has a wonderful backlist of titles to read first if you haven’t discovered her yet.  I’m really excited about this one.  It sounds like a super thriller and one that will have me on the edge of my seat.  Adele was an absolute pleasure to meet.

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When Mel hears from a long-lost friend in need of help, she doesn’t hesitate to invite her to stay.  Mel and Abi were best friends back in the day, sharing the highs and lows of student life, until Mel’s unplanned pregnancy made her drop out of her studies.

Now, seventeen years later, Mel and Abi’s lives couldn’t be more different.  Mel is happily married, having raised her son on her own before meeting her husband, Ben.  Now they share gorgeous girls and have a chaotic but happy family home, with three children.

Abi, meanwhile, followed her lover to LA for a glamorous life of parties, celebrity and indulgence.  Everything was perfect, until she discovered her partner had been cheating on her.  Seventeen years wasted, and nothing to show for it.  So what Abi needs now is a true friend to lean on, to share her grief over a glass of wine, and to have some time to heal.  And what better place than Mel’s house, with her lovely kids, and supportive husband…

This dark, unsettling tale of the reunion of long-lost friends is a thoroughly gripping exploration of wanting what you can’t have, jealousy and revenge.

I Invited Her In by Adele Parks will be published on the 20th of September 2018.

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Liz Fenwick, author of The Path To The Sea

The Path To The Sea by Liz Fenwick

Oh my, it was such a pleasure to meet and chat with Liz.  We talked about Cornwall and the joys of research and glorious houses full of stories waiting to be told.  And she had the most delicious fudge too. We still have to wait a while for this one as it’s not published until April 2019 but it is definitely one for my reading pile.

The Trewin women all had their secrets but Joan, the matriarch, is keeping hers until her deathbed.

On a summer’s night in 1965, at a party in her glorious cliff-top home in Cornwall, she made a choice…her country or love.  The morning after, a body was found at the foot of the cliff path.

But a little girl saw what happened that night.  Not only did she witness the awful events played out on the cliff path, she lied and made it worse.  And now, decades later, the past is catching up with the Trewin women, as a deathbed confession puts Nicola on the trail of a mystery which has remained undisturbed for fifty year, offering a chance to unpick the past…

No cover for this one as of yet I’m afraid as it’s THAT new.

The Path To The Sea by Liz Fenwick

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The Plus One by Sophia Money-Coutts

The Plus One by Sophia Money-Coutts

IMG_20180614_182711__01.jpgThis looks great fun, light and pure escapism.  Perfect for a summer read.  I can imagine myself relaxing on a warm, summers day and escaping into this one.

Sophie was incredibly warm and friendly.  I think she had fun with this and is looking to make her readers smile.  When she signed my copy she said ‘I so hope this makes you laugh!’ and oh my goodness do we need books that do that these days. :). Can’t wait!

The Plus One [n] informal ‘a person who accompanies an invited person to a social function or a reminder of being single, alone and absolutely plus none.’

Polly Spencer is fine.  She’s single, turning thirty and only managed to have sex twice last year (both times with a Swedish banker called Fred).  but seriously, she’s fine. Even if she’s still stuck at ‘Posh!’ magazine writing about royal babies and the chances of finding a plus one to her best friend’s summer wedding are looking worryingly slim.

But it’s a New Year, a new leaf and all that.  Polly’s determined that over the next 365 days she’ll remember to shave her legs, drink less wine and generally get her s**t together.  Her latest piece is on the infamous Jasper, Marquess of Milton, undoubtedly neither a plus one nor ‘the one’.  She’s heard the stories, there’s no way she’ll succumb to his charms…

The Plus One by Sophia Money-Coutts will be published  on the 9th of August 2018.

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How to Keep a Secret by Sarah Morgan

How to Keep a Secret by Sarah Morgan

This one was just published on the 14th of June.  The table was wonderfully decorated with a miniature beach scene – a perfect holiday read and with more to come from Sarah later this year with The Christmas Sisters in November and One Summer in Paris in April 2019.  Lots to look forward to from Sarah.

Screen Shot 2018-06-23 at 21.09.46Matriarch Nancy knows she hasn’t been the best mother but how can she ever tell her daughters the reason why? Lauren and Jenna are as close as two sisters can be and they made a pact years ago to keep a devastating secret from their mother – but is it time to come clean?

Lauren’s teenage daughter Mackenzie masks her own pain by keeping her mother at a distance.  Her mother, aunt and grandmother keep trying to reach her but will it take a stranger to show her the true meaning of family?

When life changes in an instant, the Stewart women are thrown together for a simmer and suddenly they must relearn how to be a family.  And while unravelling their secrets might be their biggest challenge, it could also be their finest moment.

A story about family, being brave and opening up to new love, ‘How to Keep a Secret’ is a feel-good  and emotional novel that will keep you hooked until the final page.

How to Keep a Secret by Sarah Morgan was published on the 14th of June 2018.

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This was the first Showcase from the HQ team and it was a wonderful evening.  The setting and location was perfect and the team warm and welcoming.  It can be quite daunting walking into a room full of people but I never felt out of place and always felt welcome.  I had met some wonderful people on this sunny evening in London and I came home with a bag full of books.  It has created one problem though – I really don’t know what to read first.  What I can say is that I’m looking forward  to reading each and every one.  I look forward to sharing my thoughts on them with you too.

That you HQ for inviting me to your Summer Showcase.  I had a fabulous time.

 

 

 

 

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Tales Before Bedtime Juniors

Poetry and Non Fiction in the Library – How important are they? — Tales Before Bedtime Juniors

Well very, as it so happens. I generally read a great deal of fiction. Non fiction has always just kind of been there, in fact I would go as far to say that I’ve taken it for granted. I use it for research and study and actually have quite a lot of it in my […]

via Poetry and Non Fiction in the Library – How important are they? — Tales Before Bedtime Juniors

Blog Tour, Middle Grade Fiction, Time to talk

My Dad, The Earth Warrior by Gary Haq

Today I’m delighted to be taking part on both Tales Before Bedtime and Tales Before Bedtime Juniors in the blog tour for My Dad, The Earth Warrior by Gary Haq.  I’m particularly honoured today because it is not only publication day but is also World Environment Day.  Now this is a children’s book and normally I would review books for children on Tales Before Bedtime Juniors (previously Story Makers) but I wanted to share this here too to mark the fact that it is World Environment Day and it’s a great book too. 🙂

My Dad, The Earth Warrior is funny, insightful, unique and full of fantastic illustrations.  Not only is it fun to read but it’s also full of important messages and touches on issues that young children have to deal with today from grief, loneliness to concerns about fitting in.

Hero’s dad hasn’t been quite the same since his mum passed away.  He disappears into books leaving Hero feeling a little lost and at times forgotten.  He wants his dad back but things go from bad to worse when a bookshelf collapses leaving his dad with a rather large bump on his head, his memory lost and convinced that he is an Earth Warrior who must do whatever it takes to help mother earth and the fight against a ruthless energy tycoon.  Much to Hero’s horror it seems to involve being naked quite a lot.  Follow Hero as he tries to keep things together AND keep his dad somewhat clothed.

This is a book that celebrates knowledge and how being aware gives us power and the ability to change things for the better.  It is also a book that will make you think twice about the impact each one of us has on the world today.  Yes, we can change the world.

This is a super book to share with emerging readers and newly independent readers too.  It’s fun to read but it’s also a great book to raise awareness with our children about the environment, the world we live in and the impact we have on it.  But that’s enough from me… here is a little more about the book and some words of wisdom from the author himself.

My Dad, the Earth Warrior - coverHero is an ordinary boy who wants nothing more than to have a normal dad. But Dad is only interested in reading his books and filling his head with useless facts. Then one day Dad has a freak accident and wakes up claiming to be an Earth Warrior sent to protect the land from a ruthless energy tycoon. Hero is forced to go along with Dad’s new personality. 

But when Gran mysteriously disappears, Hero and Dad embark on a dangerous adventure. Can Hero save Gran and get his old dad back before it’s too late? 

My Dad, the Earth Warrior is a heart-warming tale of a boy and his dad who reconnect their distant relationship and set out together on a mission to save Mother Earth. It is a story of personal growth, environment and discovering the warrior spirit that lies in all of us – written with humour sure to make children laugh out loud. 

Written by leading human ecologist Gary Haq and publishing to coincide with World Environment Day, the book addresses issues of our changing climate, heatwaves, flooding and the need for action in an engaging way which will inspire all young readers to be eco-warriors. 

So how can you become an Earth Warrior?  Here are Gary’s tips…

Gary Haq
Gary Haq, author of My Dad, the Earth Warrior


How to be an Earth Warrior!

Today is both World Environment Day and the official release day of my children’s book, My Dad the Earth Warrior. This is a story about the relationship between a boy called Hero and his Dad who have grown apart since the death of his mother. One day Dad has a freak accident and wakes up claiming to be an earth warrior sent to protect Mother Earth…

The Earth is our mother, our life-support system, our home. We depend on it for the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat. It provides us with shelter and warmth and all the materials that allow us to live our lives to the full. We need to take care of it, protect it, and make sure it’s in good shape, not only for ourselves but for future generations. We can all be earth warriors and take action to protect Mother Earth, so why not join the tribe and become one yourself? Here are some handy tips on how you too can be an earth warrior! 

SWITCH OFF 

Turn off lights and electrical appliances when not in use. This saves money on electricity bills and reduces your carbon footprint too!

CLEAN YOUR PLATE
Food waste has a big impact on climate change. If it ends up in a landfill site, it will rot and release methane (a damaging greenhouse gas) into the environment. So, only take what you need and finish your plate. 

TURN DOWN THE HEAT
If you’re cold, wrap up and put on a jumper rather than turning the thermostat up. This saves energy and carbon. 

GROW YOUR OWN 

Growing your own fruits and vegetables will help prevent CO2 emissions from trucks, planes and ships that your bring your food from far away. 

PLANT A TREE 

Planting a tree can help remove CO2 from the atmosphere and help tackle climate change. 

REDUCE 

Reduce the waste you produce in your daily life. For example, by using a refillable water bottle or cup rather than buying a new plastic bottle each time. 

RECYCLE AND REUSE 

Recycle your waste and think about using second-hand items or swapping things you no longer want rather than buy new. 

WALK, CYCLE OR TAKE THE BUS
If it’s safe, then consider walking, cycling and taking the bus for short trips rather than going by car. 

SAVE WATER 

Consider how much water you need when washing and brushing your teeth. Try not to waste any by leaving the tap running too long. 

SPREAD THE WORD
Encourage your friends, family, neighbours and teachers to do their bit and become earth warriors too! 

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Gary Haq is an earth warrior whose day job is saving the planet. He is an associate researcher at a prestigious global environmental think tank and a research scientist at a European research centre. He tries his best to be the change he wants to see in the world and hopes to inspire others with his stories. When he’s not involved in his own eco-adventures, he likes to write, read, learn languages and explore new cultures. Gary lives with his wife and young daughter, and spends his time between York, England and Laveno, Italy. 

It’s been such a pleasure hosting today’s stop on the blog tour for My Dad, the Earth Warrior and I thoroughly recommend sharing this book with your young readers today. This is our world and it is important we look after it and teach our children to do the same.  Looking at Gary’s advice I can honestly say that I am well on my way to being an earth warrior too.  I love this planet and its beauty fills me with joy every single day.  If we each do our best to do just these little things, then I believe we can all make a big difference.

There is so much more I could write about this book and the subject matter but for now I urge you to take a look at this fantastic book, Gary’s website and World Environment Day by clicking on the links below.

Discover more about Gary by visiting his website here: www.garyhaqwrites.com 

Follow Gary on Twitter: @drgaryhaq 

He’s also on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/garyhaqauthor

Find out more about World Environment Day: www.worldenvironmentday.global 

I’m absolutely delighted to be able to include a sample from My Dad, the Earth Warrior.  Just click on the link below:

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Thank you to Gary and Hannah Cooper for inviting me to review My Dad, the Earth Warrior.

If you haven’t taken a look at Tales Before Bedtime Juniors yet then why not take a look now and maybe give me a cheeky little follow. 🙂

 

Adult Fiction, Liz Robinson Reviews

The 2018 Fowey Festival of Art and Literature and Harriet Evans – A Guest Post by Liz Robinson

I recently attended the Fowey Festival of Art and Literature, as I waltzed down to the marquee where Veronica Henry was due to chat to Harriet Evans, the view stopped me in my tracks, simply gorgeous, could there be a better setting?

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As a light breeze wafted in from the sea, Veronica introduced us and hosted the chat beautifully. Harriet had wanted to share the stage, to chat about both their books (A Family Recipe and The Wildflowers), but no said Veronica, this was about Harriet, and Veronica asked some searching and fascinating questions. Harriet worked in publishing (was Veronica’s editor) before she decided to write, her career nearly floundered when a faulty hard drive decided to destroy her first 30,000 words, yet she continued, and says that having to rewrite took the book to a better place.

Harriet believes that every book can be summed up in one line, that a central plait should sit through the novel, and that books need soul, to sit and be mellow, that a book takes time to mature. She can forensically pick apart her books, and is more than happy for an editor to be involved, her past experience as an editor enables her to join in the process rather than hinder it.

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Veronica Henry with Harriet Evans at the Fowey Festival of Arts and Literature

Harriet spoke about the inspiration for her latest book The Wildflowers, she was on a beach in Dorset playing in the waves with her then three year old and wanted the perfect summer, a host of golden moments for her children to remember. She decided to write about the ideal holiday home, a pop-up book of ideas and photos grew until The Wildflowers was born. She adores the cover, the colours, the cushion on the seat inviting you to sit on the veranda…

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Tony and Althea Wilde. Glamorous, argumentative … adulterous to the core.

They were my parents, actors known by everyone. They gave our lives love and colour in a house by the sea – the house that sheltered my orphaned father when he was a boy.

But the summer Mads arrived changed everything. She too had been abandoned and my father understood why. We Wildflowers took her in.

My father was my hero, he gave us a golden childhood, but the past was always going to catch up with him … it comes for us all, sooner or later.

This is my story. I am Cordelia Wilde. A singer without a voice. A daughter without a father. Let me take you inside.

And finally here is my review for The Wildflowers by Harriet Evans

The Bosky, a wonderful seaside holiday home sits centre stage in this story, comforting, embracing, helping you move from the Second World War through to 2015. We get to know, to care about, to love the Wilde’s, the sophisticated Tony and Althea and their offspring, their treasured and traumatic memories, what makes them tick, their secrets, their lies. This is a story that feels hugely worldly-wise yet also so very intimate, it travels through time, and takes you to the heart of emotions. Harriet Evans made every character matter to me, she covers the generations, from youngest to oldest beautifully, they also feel so very real, everyone is perfectly imperfect. As the story wrapped itself around me, I became consumed by each time span, only coming up for breath with each break in time, which in turn led to a new discovery. The Bothy travels with the Wilde’s, becoming as one with their story. I adored ‘The Wildflowers”, bittersweet, knowing, eloquently engaging and so very very satisfying… what a truly rewarding read this is.

Liz Robinson

The Wildflowers  by Harriet Evans was published by Headline in April 2018.

Find out more about Harriet Evans by visiting her website here.