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Writer, reader? Undecided…

Writers are great procrastinators in that there’s usually something more exciting to do than sitting in a room all by yourself tapping away. For me it’s reading. It doesn’t matter to me a jot if it’s Kindle or paper but I am pretty much book obsessed.

So should I just jack in the writing thing in altogether and drown in someone else’s words? It would be so much easier except that, in truth there are too many books out there. As a writer I know the competition to find eyes for my words is enormous but as a reader there are just too many good books to choose from.

Conceptually  this is a huge personal issue. I need books in my life in the same way people need air to breathe. But if I was on a desert island I wouldn’t want to choose one book, I’d have to go for either a whole library or unlimited paper and pencils so I could write my own. That’s why I like writing. I like the power to dream up that story that is unravelling in my head like raffia around an Easter bonnet. There are three such stories currently all vying for pole position and the reason, at the moment I’m not going to give up. It’s not that I’m stubborn but you’d have greater luck with getting a donkey to change its ways. It’s not that I think my writing is good as, like most artists self-doubt is the watchword. It just that I have a dream, three dreams and until my head is completely empty of the words pummelling the inside of my head I’m going to continue…

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Gâche And Gossip by Jill Watson

IMG_2307Book Blurb

In the summer of 1990 Lizzie Bayley moves to the tiny Channel Island of Ormerey to live with Raoul St Arnaud, a man she has met on only four previous occasions. Surprised by the hostility she encounters, Lizzie finds it hard to settle down but she is befriended by Raoul’s cousin, Francesca Saviano. Francesca has problems of her own. The man she loves, who had dropped her without explanation forty years earlier, suddenly reappears in her life and wants to resume their relationship. On a wild and beautiful island, where land is precious, the community is divided by a controversial planning application to build a large hotel in the green belt. Against a background of public dissent and personal feuds, Lizzie and Francesca both struggle to find a way to happiness and fulfilment.

My review

It’s not often I have to explain the book title but, for those non-locals among you Gâche (pronounced Gosh) is a yeast based fruit loaf popular with the locals. Gossip is… well Hilda Ogden comes to mind…

I live in Guernsey and as this is set in the Channel Isles albeit a fictious one it was a sure fire book for me to read. There’s a Guernsey feel about this: Guernsey mixed with Alderney and a coating of Sark. These islands, although very small fish in a very small pond have their fair share of political intrigues and this is reflected in the book. If I was pushed to give a book comparison I’d say JK Rawlings ‘The Cuckoo’s Calling and Graham Norton’s ‘Holding’, both amazing reads. If I was pushed to give a TV comparison I’d have to say Midsomer Murders, without the murders. The writing is strong, and well edited, the ideas original and the story of how ‘ the new kid on the Island’ struggles to find her place in such a closed off society one I recognise. A delicious 5 star read. I received an ARC from the author. This opinion is my own.

Gache and Gossip is available from Amazon here

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Book Launch Day: Englishwoman in Scotland

EiS cover

Book Blurb

Talented artisan baker Lady Titania (Tansy) Nettlebridge is betrothed to be married to Lord Brayely no less. She should be ecstatic. She should be delighted at such a match. She would be if she’d actually met him…
Viscount Hector Brayely, or Tor for short isn’t interested in women. He isn’t interested in men. As a renowned mycologist all he’s interested in is fungi, and one particular fungi at that. So when his mother arranges a bride he’s not really interested. He’s more interested in the new cook at the castle, Miss Tansy Smith…
Set in Oban and The Slate Islands Tansy quickly falls in love with the Inner Hebrides but she wouldn’t marry Tor if he was the last man on Belnahua…

Belnahua is one of the State Islands of the Inner Hebrides. Deserted now it used to be a thriving community of workers and their families until WW1 when all the men left to fight and their families were evacuated to neighbouring islands.

When I considered writing another one in this series I decided to go back a little and write a book to sit between the two already published so Scotland comes after Paris but before Manhattan. Apologies if it’s confusing!

And why Scotland? I loved finding about Stonehaven and wanted to feature Pascal and Sarah in this book too. Oban, well I’ve never been but my husband spent a week there many years ago. Why baking and fungi? I bake all my own bread and my hubby’s degree is in microbiology. So, just like a jigsaw the story took shape in my mind. Nanny Mac loves jigsaw puzzles, but I like puzzles of a different sort.

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That’s the facts but this book is more a voyage of discovery…. Tansy’s voyage of discovery in the dark distant land of Belnahua. The Slate Islands, not well known but very important all the same. We’ve all heard about Balamory but this is no place for sweet children’s stories. I’ve spent many hours scouring the internet for photos of this harsh and tragic place… These photos  were playing in my head when I wrote those words (thanks to the blog owner for posting such amazing photos, which are available to purchase).

As a writer I like to use my imagination but I do use real photos, places and things to inspire me. I could never write pure fantasy.

Tansy’s dress, so like a bridal gown but not. A Jenny Packham design available from Harrods here and her matching cream Manila Blahnik shoes ( shoes that are arguably more important than the frock). That’s them in the centre – aren’t they swashbucklingly delicious? Next time I’m in London I’m going to visit the fourth floor and go a hunting. I have nowhere to wear a dress like that but I’ll find somewhere even if it’s only the school yard!  IMG_2286

And who can forget that Chloe handbag that oh so nearly gave the game away? Yes, I’ve agonised for hours searching for just the right bag for Lady Titania. I’ve even sourced her limited edition Stella McCartney phone case and as for notebooks and pens…. Who says writers don’t have the best time in the world?

Englishwoman in Scotland is available for 99p from here  

Thank you Harrods, I’ll be seeing you shortly…

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2 days to book launch

It’s only two days to go. With working nights, days sort of run into each other and this date has stormed by. While I plan a book launch post I thought I’d include some things about me you won’t know…

I love the sea and am never happier than sitting by the ocean. I’m also a closet gardener, loving nothing more than planting and propagating. I also like tea, but in a proper cup or mug. Friday evenings are a must curled up in my favourite chair with the kids fighting over what to watch. I also admire talent in others whether that be writers or crafters. Animals are my favourite of all and I won’t harm them from wasps to worms and ants. (Yes  I do know they’re not animals). I used to help at the local animal shelter (pre kids) looking after the hedgehogs and oiled seabirds and my ideal would be a small animal sanctuary.

I hate making school lunch boxes with a passion and long for the day they are old enough to do their own. I hate queuing but funnily enough traffic jams aren’t a problem as I seem to get most of my book ideas stuck in a bottleneck. Whilst I love flowers I prefer them in the garden. Once they’re picked I lose interest. Whilst I don’t hate make-up I don’t wear any apart from the odd slick of eye liner if I’m going somewhere other than work, school run or supermarket – a rare event.

Englishwoman in Scotland is on pre-order for the princely sum of 99p here

Book blurb

Talented artisan baker Lady Titania (Tansy) Nettlebridge is betrothed to be married to Lord Brayely no less. She should be ecstatic. She should be delighted at such a match. She would be if she’d actually met him…

Viscount Hector Brayely, or Tor for short isn’t interested in women. He isn’t interested in men. As a renowned mycologist all he’s interested in is fungi, and one particular fungi at that. So when his mother arranges a bride he’s not really interested. He’s more interested in the new cook at the castle, Miss Tansy Smith…

Set in Oban and The Slate Islands Tansy quickly falls in love with the Inner Hebrides but she wouldn’t marry Tor if he was the last man on Belnahua…

 

 

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Cover reveal: The little Purfume Shop off the Champs-Elysees

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I’m delighted to help the lovely Rebecca Raisin with her cover reveal today, especially as it’s such a fab one.

Book blurb

What is French for falling in love?

When Del leaves small town America to compete in a perfume competition in Paris, she thinks it is just the next step on her five-year-plan. It’s an exciting opportunity. What started out as just a dream for Del and her twin sister is nearly in her grasp. If she wins this competition, they are on their way to opening their very own perfume boutique!

Arriving in Paris, watching the sun glinting off the Seine and wandering the Champs-Elysees, Del discovers the most perfect perfumery she’s ever seen. Yet, as the competition dawns Del realises that whilst she might have had the best nose in her small village, her competitors seem to know more than she could ever have dreamed. This competition isn’t going to be easy…

Del has the romance of Paris to sweep her away from her worries, but as the competition heats up, so does her desire for that which she cannot have! If only the dashing owner Sébastien didn’t smell so seductive, look so handsome and make her heart flutter like it never has before. They say love smells as sweet as a red rose in bloom, but Del would tell anyone that true love can’t be bottled – it’s beautiful and unique to everyone…even herself. With everything on the line for her future, can Del really let a little attraction get in the way of securing her dreams?

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Cover and Title reveal: Englishwoman in Scotland

EiS cover

If you follow my blog I’m normally about reviewing  other authors books but today it’s my turn…

Book blurb

Talented artisan baker Lady Titania (Tansy) Nettlebridge is betrothed to be married to Lord Brayely no less. She should be ecstatic. She should be delighted at such a match. She would be if she’d actually met him…

Viscount Hector Brayely, or Tor for short isn’t interested in women. He isn’t interested in men. As a renowned mycologist all he’s interested in is fungi, and one particular fungi at that. So when his mother arranges a bride he’s not really interested. He’s more interested in the new cook at the castle, Miss Tansy Smith…

Set in Oban and The Slate Islands Tansy quickly falls in love with the Inner Hebrides but she wouldn’t marry Tor if he was the last man on Belnahua…

Belnahua is one of the State Islands of the Inner Hebrides. Deserted now it used to be a thriving community of workers and their families until WW1 when all the men left to fight and their families were evacuated to neighbouring islands.

Englishwoman in Scotland is book 3 of my stand alone Englishwoman in series, which will be published towards the end of June. ARC’s are available on request (jennyobrienwrites at yahoo dot co dot uk)

 

To celebrate my cover/title reveal Ideal Girl is free today from Amazon, normally £1.99

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22 year old Nurse Liddy Murphy is meant to be the Ideal Girl, but for whom? Up until now all the men she’s met have let her down. That is until she meets Mitch…
Professor Mitch Merrien is disillusioned. Following the break-up of the latest in a string of relationships he’s in search of yet another tall ice cool blond to fill that place in his bed, if not his heart. That is until he literally falls over short, dark and decidedly feisty Liddy. Working side by side on St Justin’s Head Injury Unit is a dream come true for both of them until the unthinkable happens.
Lost and alone Liddy escapes Ireland to live in France. She escapes her previous life and everything she holds dear. But she can’t escape the memories of her past. She can’t escape her dreams just as she can’t escape him

 

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Indy writer: Mind the Gap

IMG_2223Tomorrow is both cover and title reveal for my next in my Englishwoman in series, which I call a modern historical for want of a term that actually fits my writing style or indeed genre. A modern historical has all the feel of a Regency Romance with Lord such and such and The Dowager Viscount whatever but it’s very much set in modern times.

My inability to write in genre, or to a formula isn’t new. It’s something I’ve struggled with from day one and is (probably ) the reason I’m still a (traditionally published) literary reject. Obviously there may be other reasons but I’ve been told I can write so if it’s not that… However there’s not many writers who would use chlamydia as the central theme for a romance (Girl Descending) or what about cataracts (Unhappy Ever After Girl), or indeed head-injury (Ideal Girl)?

Whilst there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the Sheik Greek Geek style of writing I just can’t write them. The nearest I’ve managed to popular fiction is this ‘Englishwoman in’ series and then I only came up with the idea when I was on a pile of drugs when my back finally decided it had had enough of all the years of abuse. So you could say it’s drug induced nonsense, but enjoyable nonsense where I have very much let my imagination run wild.

Its not just my tropes that let me down it’s the way I write because I’m not really writing popular romances at all – I’m writing love stories and there is a difference. A few months ago I examined the top 100 books on Amazon.com and, do you know what I found? Number One was JKR (good for her, I love her books) but, of the 99 others 54 were sex laden erotica. So if you want to get ahead in this game write a saucy piece! In my last book ‘Englishwoman in Manhattan’ I was already 50,000 words in when I realised they hadn’t kissed and that’s what I mean about my writing. It doesn’t fit the expected norm of what a best selling romance book should be, and I’m not just talking erotic here. There’s an old-fashioned flavour to my works where the MC’s are more concerned with what goes on above the neck as opposed to below the waist. But writing is a hobby and I’m writing the kind of book I enjoy reading…

So, if you read a Jenny O’Brien you won’t be getting sex (there’s not much kissing either, although I have made an effort to include more). You won’t be getting Greeks/Sheiks or Geeks and you may just find yourself reading about something you know very little about like er mould. If anyone would like an ARC… 🙂

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Cover reveal time: Daisy James

IMG_2167Today I’m helping the lovely Daisy James publicise her latest cover and it’s just perfect. That’s the thing about covers, they’re there to draw the potential reader into their snare with a neon Buy Me tag glistening on their shiny cover ( even if it’s matt) but they’re also a gift. A present from the writer to you with the storyline encapsulated on a 6 X 9 piece of board. If you close your eyes you can almost imagine the Greek sun wreaking its havoc as she grabs a hat from one of the market stalls on her way to her painting class…. want to read it in Daisy’s words, not mine? Go buy the book… Available to buy here on pre-order

SUNSHINE AFTER THE RAIN

The new delightfully uplifting beach read from Daisy James. Perfect for fans of Mandy Baggot, Christie Barlow and Zara Stoneley.

A summer that changes everything…

Frazzled workaholic Evie Johnson has finally had enough! When she’s blamed for a publicity disaster at the art gallery she loves, she decides to flee the bright lights of London for the sun-drenched shores of Corfu and turn her life upside-down.

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A wild Persuit, Eloisa James

IMG_2178Book blurb

It is whispered behind the fans of London’s dowagers and in the corners of the fashionable ballrooms that scandal follows wilfully wild Lady Beatrix Lennox wherever she goes. Three years earlier, the debutante created a sensation by being found in a distinctly compromising position. Now the ton has branded her as unmarriageable, her family has called her a vixen, and Beatrix sees no reason not to go after what – and who – she wishes.

And she wants Stephen Fairfax-Lacy, the handsome Earl of Spade. Beatrix, with her brazen suggestions and irresistibly sensuous allure, couldn’t be more different from the earl’s ideal future bride. Yet Beatrix brings out a wildness in him that he has tried to deny for far too long. Still, he’s not about to play love’s game by Lady Beatrix’s rules. She may be used to being on top in affairs of the heart, but that will soon change.

Available here

My review

I’d heard of EJ, of course I had. She’s a best selling writer after all however this was my first EJ read (the first of many).

But that’s all I knew. I had a name but these days a best selling book can be as much about the marketing as about the words and I’d been disappointed before: those glorious bright shiny balloon books searing through the charts turning out to be soggy bags of hot air and wind.

That said I took a chance and approached this blind. I didn’t read a review. I didn’t check her writing credentials. I just read, over two days and nights – it’s a long book, an unputdownable book. My favourite read of the year up to now book. I’m digressing…

I was confused at the start. My fault. I’d read the blurb and then found none of the characters I was expecting in the first chapter – duh! I even sneaked a peek at the back (not to be recommended) in case this book wasn’t for me. But I didn’t realise as well as being a composite story teller EJ is a clever one. I didn’t realise she is an English Prof with a love of all things Shakespeare –  however, I did sort of work that one out for myself. There’s a Shakespearean comedic feel about this book. Things not what they seem, people running in and out of the wrong bedrooms in the style of a Twentieth Century drawing room farce not what they seem kind of way. I was strongly reminded of probably my favourite romance of all time, Possession by A S Byatt by the end, not that they are in any way alike apart from the poetry.

A.S is one of my favourite writers. She’s also a very clever one. However these are very different books, one a English literary masterpiece, the other an historical American one. They are pitched at very different readers and different markets and written in different styles but the research is impeccable, the writing flawless and the plot… well let’s just say I’m thinking of rolling over and catching up on some sleep.

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Summer at the Little Wedding Shop: Jane Linfoot

Book blurb 

When the owner of Brides by the Sea, Cornwall’s cutest little wedding shop, offers Lily a job as their new wedding stylist, her first thought is – can she possibly pull it off?

Before she’s even sourced a fairy light or tasted a cupcake, Kip Penryn hires her services – but he’s opened an exclusive wedding venue in direct competition to her friend Poppy! Lily feels like a traitor working for Kip, only everyone knows Penryn men are gorgeous but unreliable. All she has to do is sit back and watch him mess it up…doesn’t she?

Love is in the Cornish sea breeze this summer as the girls tackle their busiest wedding season yet. There’s plenty of bunting, bubbly and baking – but who is going to catch the bouquet?
Available here on pre-order. Published 18th, May.

My review 

We’ve all heard about the wedding of the year, this is the Literary equivalent…

I love romance. What’s not to love? The  psychological kitchen sink drama’s seem to have taken over the literary world but, as a genre I avoid them like the plague.  Yes, they’re well written, well crafted masterpieces but they’re just not my bag. I don’t like surprises. Surprises are for News at Ten. Surprises as an adult aren’t the surprises of a child. They aren’t a last minute trip to the beach, or that special gift just because you deserve it type of surprise.  When was the last time an adult got a nice surprise just because…. Just because they were doing what adults do. Jobs. Housework. School run. Taking the bins out – oh no, that’s the man’s job! These days surprises are usually the little loving gestures brought in by the cat and those are the kind of surprises I can do without.

I think you get I don’t like surprises and yet Jane’s book ended up being just that. I know she’s a good writer, she is best- selling after all and I thoroughly enjoyed the first two in this series however I LOVED THIS ONE. But, funnily enough, at the start I didn’t love all the characters…

The MC, Lily is well rounded, sweet and a good friend. With a failed marriage behind her, a spandex, gym bunny of a mother and no job to call her own she’s searching for a new path and a short term wedding planner job seems to be the short term answer to her  prayers. The men, yes there are two, aren’t easy to like at the start. There’s Kip, the wild boy and even wilder man and wedding business rival – the surly Heathcliff sort and then Fred, the lighter, brighter boy next door type; I disliked both. Or, at least I did until Jane chunked out their characters and their true natures revealed themselves.

There’s lots going on here but this holds its own set of risks and trip wires for the writer. Sub-plots can lead to the reader either getting confused or bored but Jane has excelled herself. There’s Kooky characters coming at you from all sides. If it’s not Lily’s BF’s Instagram stunts with rival Bridzilla, it’s the wedding shop owner’s antics with jet hopping perma-tanned uncle and the continued saga of her mother – just who wants a mother like that!

Well done, Jane but I didn’t expect any less from you. I have just one question- when’s your next one out?