Blog Tour Guest Post: The Sinking Chef by Sylvia Ashby. @NeverlandBT @bysylvia_a

I am thrilled today to be on this blog tour with a fascinating guest post from Sylvia Ashby, author of The Sinking Chef. I also have a giveaway for an Amazon voucher and a copy of the eBook so look out for that when you’re reading the post.  

BLURB:   “Bridget Jones meets Burnt in this delightful comedy novel about a talented YouTuber and the guy who keeps trying to bring her down. Although part of a series this book is completely standalone, as are all other novels in the Pot Love Series.

In Belsize Park, London, Ashley works hard on her daily YouTube channel “The Sinking Chef”. It’s filmed right in her kitchen, so she doesn’t go out much.  James is a gruff British TV director, turned publisher, who Ashley had a crush on ages ago.  She has moved on but when he calls with an offer to take her out to lunch she doesn’t say no. It’s only lunch – what can go wrong?

The day Ashley meets James for lunch and he promises her a book deal, she makes the worse decision in her life – to hide the book deal from her boyfriend, Giacomo. As things progress Ashley’s secrets mount up and other things in her life unravel. Is there a connection? And how is she going to get out of this without losing Giacomo and the life she loves?

Set in the heart of fast-paced London, The Sinking Chef is a charming story of love, recipes, secrets, and the determination to do thinks right by those you love most in your life.”
AMAZON LINKS

The book is exclusive for Amazon & in Kindle Unlimited

US:  https://www.amazon.com/Sinking-Chef-Pot-Love-Book-ebook/dp/B06ZYGMPLB

UK :  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sinking-Chef-Pot-Love-Book-ebook/dp/B06ZYGMPLB

Australia:  https://www.amazon.com.au/Sinking-Chef-Pot-Love-Book-ebook/dp/B06ZYGMPLB

Canada:  https://www.amazon.ca/Sinking-Chef-Sylvia-Ashby/dp/1548021784
GIVEAWAY (International)

1st prize: £25 Amazon voucher and an eCopy of the book

2nd and 3rd prize: ecopy of the book

Click here to enter the giveaway. 

Guest Post: WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR IDEAS?

Every profession has questions it can’t escape. If you become a lawyer, for example, you know you’ll get asked for free legal advice. For doctors, it’s information about medical complaints. Shopkeepers – discounts. Plumbers – leaks.

For authors, it’s where we get our ideas from.

When I was first asked this question, it was so early in my career I hadn’t even published a book yet. I gave a long and somewhat tedious lecture about the creative process. I talked about asking yourself questions and letting your imagination roam. I talked about following leads, allowing characters to be themselves and not forcing them to do things that don’t feel natural.  

Halfway through my answer I realised the poor woman’s eyes had glazed over. I realised she was bored out of her mind. She hadn’t signed up for a lecture. All she had done was ask the first question that popped in her head when she had heard the word “writer”. I finished my lecture because I had already started it, but I never gave a long answer again. Instead, I tried to reply flippantly. I said I buy my ideas from a small shop in Dell Quay. Or that I dream them up, which is a lie.

Nowadays, I answer truthfully.

When I’m asked, and I get asked this a lot, I simply say “I don’t know.” I say that the ideas are not important – everyone has them. They’re five a penny. It’s the hard work to turn them into books that counts. That doesn’t seem to be the right answer either.  People seem to think that I’m being intentionally cagey, because I don’t want to give up trades secrets or something. That I’m being borderline rude.  

My latest book, “The Sinking Chef” came out a couple of months ago. It’s about a talented chef and the man who keeps trying to bring her down. It’s set in London, in beautiful Belsize Park and is part romantic comedy, part mystery. And I’ve tried long and hard to remember where I got my ideas for it because I know I’ll get asked.

For every book I publish, I have to slide out of bed, shake the cookie crumbs, come out of my lair and talk to people. A writer’s life is absurdly secluded to a point where we lose essential social skills. In order to reconnect with society, I have to do some rehearsing in front of a mirror. 

The question I try to answer the most while staring at my pasty-skinned reflection in the mirror is “Where do I get my ideas from?”  In the case of “The Sinking Chef” I think the ideas came from asking questions: How do we overcome our insecurities and fix the mistakes we make? How do we react when we face awkward moments? And, most importantly, where do we find courage? What inspires us to fight for the things we believe in?

In “The Sinking Chef” the answer to all these questions turned out to be one and the same: love. Ashley loves Giacomo with all her heart. She can’t let things go. She has to stand up and fight to keep him, and the life she loves, safe from harm.

It’s the same for me, I realised. I still don’t know where I get my ideas from, but I know what helps me turn them into books: love.

Love for writing.

Love for reading.

Love for everything to do with books.


Author bio: Sylvia Ashby is fond of the written word: books, blog posts, recipes, even an explanation to the HM Revenue & Customs as to why she thinks skirts should be exempt from VAT – she’s written it all! 

She likes travelling and has lived all over Europe – London, Brussels, Amsterdam and Sofia, Bulgaria. Currently, she lives in Leuven, Belgium with her husband, daughter, son and a sparrow called Jack, who comes occasionally to peck the seeds she leaves for him on top of the garden shed.

Website: http://www.sylvia-ashby.com/

Twitter: @bysylvia_a

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Blog Tour Review : One Day in December by @ShariLow @aria_fiction

Many thanks to the publisher and author for letting me have a copy of this book for the blog tour. I loved it so read on to see my review and find out more about it!

About the book

By the stroke of midnight, a heart would be broken, a cruel truth revealed, a devastating secret shared, and a love betrayed. Four lives would be changed forever, One Day in December.

One morning in December… 

Caro set off on a quest to find out if her relationship with her father had been based on a lifetime of lies. 

Lila decided today would be the day that she told her lover’s wife of their secret affair. 

Cammy was on the way to pick up the ring for the surprise proposal to the woman he loved. 

And Bernadette vowed that this was the day she would walk away from her controlling husband of 30 years and never look back. 

One day, four lives on a collision course with destiny…
Buy links:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2vfcgBj 

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2wyrmpQ 

iBooks: http://apple.co/2vojzFU 

Google Play: http://bit.ly/2voCsIK 

Shari’s previous books are out now! http://amzn.to/2xsHHZj

My Rating: 5/5

Review:   I loved this book and read it in a day which is something I rarely ever manage. The book is set over one day and the story progresses in 2 hour chunks during which we get to see the 4 characters make decisions and react to what is going on around them. This book is so well-written that these changes are clear and the story is easy to follow which is not always the case in stories with multiple main characters. 

The characters are really well-written and come alive off the page. I was rooting for some of them and feeling bad for others. It certainly tugs at your heart-strings. It’s a brilliant story which is well crafted and shows how decisions that people make can have unexpected consequences and not always go to plan. This is a book that I didn’t want to end it was honestly that good. 

I cannot recommend this book anymore than I have done already. I’ve struggled to write this review because I wasn’t sure how to do it and do justice to this book. I cannot wait to read more by this author. 
About the author

Shari lives in Glasgow and writes a weekly opinion column and Book Club page for a well-known newspaper. She is married to a very laid-back guy and has two athletic teenage sons, who think she’s fairly embarrassing, except when they need a lift.

Follow Shari

Website: http://www.sharilow.com

Twitter: @ShariLow

Blog Tour Review: Deadly Burial by John Richter @NeverlandBT @RichterWrites

Blurb:

When DI Chris Sigurdsson is assigned a grisly murder case on remote Salvation Island, he knows that it might be his strangest yet.

A forgotten wrestling star of the 1980s has been poisoned whilst in the ring, and amidst the slippery lies of his dangerous opponents, unravelling the victim’s murky past is almost impossible.

And as a storm threatens to cut Salvation Island off from the mainland, the race is on for Sigurdsson to find the ruthless killer before he strikes again…
Book links:

Book is on sale at Amazon at the following link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Deadly-Burial-Jon-Richter-ebook/dp/B01MXDDP6A/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1494447869&sr=8-1&keywords=jon+richter+deadly+burial

The shortened ‘Bitly’ version is as follows:http://amzn.to/2q6Dkkc

Review:  Sadly I haven’t been able to finish this book due to other commitments but I have been able to read enough of it to form an opinion on it. 

It is an interesting premise for a story which is full of larger than life characters.  This is a well-woven tale which takes the reader into the world of wrestling and is written in such a way that even if you have never been a fan of the sport you will still enjoy the story.  The flashback parts are helpful in giving a background to the victim and the other characters but it also lets you learn about the victim from himself, not just from other people’s viewpoints. While this is something that doesn’t always work it is handled well here and as such adds to the story rather than detracting from it. 

This is my first read by this author but it is certainly something I would recommend.  A worthy addition to the crime grenre. 

Giveaway: INTERNATIONAL

Prize is an eBook copy of the book:

Click here to enter. 
Author bio:

Jon Richter lives in London and spends most of his time hiding in the guise of his sinister alter ego, an accountant called Dave.  When he isn’t counting beans, he is a self-confessed nerd who loves books, films and video games – basically any way to tell a good story.  Jon writes whenever he can and hopes to bring you more disturbing stories in the very near future.  If you want to chat to him about this, or about anything at all, you can find him on Twitter @RichterWrites, or at his Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/richterwrites2.

Guest Post from Holly Seddon @HollySeddon

I am thrilled today to have on my blog a guest post from the amazing Holly Seddon, author of Try Not To Breathe and Don’t Close Your Eyes.  We hear a lot about how authors write so I’m excited to share with you Holly’s post about how she got published so read on to see what she has to say.  
How I got published

I’ve always written. I think it’s probably a clichéd thing to hear published authors say, but it’s true. As soon as I could write, I was writing little stories and I never really stopped. 

There were years where I wrote far less fiction, because I was trying to break into journalism and then because I was writing a lot in my day job. There were also years where I wrote terrible fiction, because that’s an important step to finding your voice. But I always wrote. 

I often started writing novels but I’d never finished one until I found my feet with Try Not to Breathe. I started It in 2010, took a little break in the middle and had a ‘finished’ (I thought!) draft at the end of 2013. I sat on it for a little while, out of fear of rejection, I think. But then I had a rough Christmas and a crappy January that led to me being off sick, recovering from an operation and utterly miserable. So I thought ‘what the hell? The worst that can happen is not as bad as this’.

I had a little shortlist of agents I wanted to try first. After they inevitably rejected me, I planned to make a longer list. Initially, I chose agents who worked with authors in similar genres, and who had done work with new writers, such as through creative writing courses and novel writing academies. I figured they’d be most likely to get behind the book but also to be patient and guiding – and help me grow as a writer. 

I put together a covering letter and a synopsis (ugh, I hate these!) and sent them with the first three chapters to my top choice agent, Nicola Barr. Then I decided it would take forever to do it one by one, and felt too optimistic, so I sent it to the next on the list too. Forty-five minutes later, I was shuffling around my kitchen and idly refreshing my email. There it was, a reply from my top choice agent asking to see the rest of the manuscript. 

I sprinted around the house, which was a mistake as I was still recovering and nearly burst my stitches! When I calmed down (sort of) I got the wobbles and decided to re-edit the whole manuscript before sending it. I stayed up until the early hours, tinkering like a nut. It eventually reached her the next lunch time. 

The following week, Nicola emailed to say she loved it. It needed work, of course, but that she’d love to help with that. I got that email while shopping, which is how I came to be openly crying with joy in the milk aisle in Sainsbury’s, while other shoppers studiously avoided me. 

We worked on it for months, Nicola helping to coax out the book I wanted to write all along, and giving me the confidence to go for it. In summer, it was finally ready to submit to editors. Of course, everyone was on holiday so it took longer to hear back than it usually would. When an editor likes a book, they need in-house support from people like sales and marketing. And to get support, those people need to read the manuscript too. Even when editors were excited, the other people who needed to be excited were often on a beach somewhere. Anyway, eventually autumn rolled around and I finally received that magical email saying that the deal had been done. I signed to the brilliant Corvus imprint at Atlantic Books and then several foreign rights deals came in too. I’m writing this as if that’s just a normal thing to say, but this was life-changing. And it was more than I’d ever dared hope was possible. 

In January 2016, Try Not to Breathe was finally published. It was six years from start to finish but it was worth every late night, early morning and almost-burst stitch. 

.   

You won’t be able to put it down.

Just remember to breathe.

Alex is sinking. Slowly but surely, she’s cut herself off from everything but her one true love – drink. Until she’s forced to write a piece about a coma ward, where she meets Amy.

Amy is lost. When she was fifteen, she was attacked and left for dead in a park. Her attacker was never found. Since then, she has drifted in a lonely, timeless place. She’s as good as dead, but not even her doctors are sure how much she understands.

Alex and Amy grew up in the same suburbs, played the same music, flirted with the same boys. And as Alex begins to investigate the attack, she opens the door to the same danger that has left Amy in a coma…

.  

Two sisters. A lifetime of secrets. One terrible reckoning. 

The astonishing new thriller from the bestselling author of Try Not to Breathe. Get ready to be #hookedbyholly 

In a novel that is stunning in its twists, shocks, and gripping psychological suspense, two sisters find themselves on the razor’s edge of sanity.

Untold secrets, a ghastly lie, and suffocating guilt hold them back. Only one astounding act can set them free. And one last revelation will leave readers gasping in surprise.

Robin and Sarah weren’t the closest of twins. They weren’t even that similar. But they loved each other dearly. Until, in the cruellest of domestic twists, they were taken from one another. 

Now, in her early 30s, Robin lives alone. Formerly a famous rock star, now agoraphobic and suffering from panic attacks, she spends her days pacing the rooms of her house. The rest of the time she watches – watches the street, the houses, the neighbours. Until one day, she sees something she shouldn’t…

And Sarah? Sarah got what she wanted – the good-looking man, the beautiful baby, the perfect home. But she’s just been accused of the most terrible thing of all. She can’t be around her new family until she has come to terms with something that happened a long time ago. And to do that, she needs to track down her twin sister.

But Sarah isn’t the only person looking for Robin. As their paths intersect, something dangerous is set in motion, leading Robin and Sarah to fight for much more than their relationship..

Author bio:  

Holly Seddon is a full time writer, living slap bang in the middle of Amsterdam with her husband James and a house full of children and pets. Holly has written for newspapers, websites and magazines since her early 20s after growing up in the English countryside, obsessed with music and books. 

Her first novel TRY NOT TO BREATHE was published worldwide in 2016 and became a national and international bestseller. 

Her second novel DON’T CLOSE YOUR EYES was published in July 2017.

Blog Tour Review: House of Spines by Michael J. Malone

I am thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour for House of Spines, a most unusual book and quite unlike anything I have ever read before. Many thanks to Orenda books and Michael Malone for letting me have a copy of the book and a space on the tour.

Blurb:  A terrifying psychological thriller cum Gothic mystery, as a young man with mental health issues inherits an isolate mansion, where all is not as it seems…

Ran McGhie’s world has been turned upside down. A young, lonely and frustrated writer, and suffering from mental-health problems, he discovers that his long-dead mother was related to one of Glasgow’s oldest merchant families. Not only that, but Ran has inherited Newton Hall, a vast mansion that belonged to his great-uncle, who it seems has been watching from afar as his estranged great-nephew has grown up. Entering his new-found home, it seems Great-Uncle Fitzpatrick has turned it into a temple to the written word – the perfect place for poet Ran. But everything is not as it seems. As he explores the Hall’s endless corridors, Ran’s grasp on reality appears to be loosening. And then he comes across an ancient lift; and in that lift a mirror. And in the mirror… the reflection of a woman…

A terrifying psychological thriller with more than a hint of the Gothic, House of Spines is a love letter to the power of books, and an exploration of how lust and betrayal can be deadly…


Rating: 5/5

Review: I can honestly say this is the most perplexing story I have read in a long time, possibly ever. It only works because it is exceedingly well-written, if this were attempted by someone less talented it would be nonsense but in Michael Malone’s hands it is a story which seeps into you every time you pick up the book. Every little thought and feeling that Ran has is so well described (without being laboured) that it’s almost as if you are him rather than just someone reading a book. 

There’s not a lot I can say about this book without giving away too much but I can say the majority of it takes place in the house Ran inherits. The house and it’s environment are so skillfully constructed that each time I’ve picked up the book I’ve felt apprehensive and wary, basically the exact feelings Ran has for a large part of the story, and in the times when I haven’t been reading the book has been calling to me, something I have never experienced before. 

I tend not to enjoy books that don’t flow well. For me the act of reading automatically conjures up a movie in my head as I read. Poorly written books are like a movie reel that stutters and so I struggle to read them. Well-written books like this one flow smoothly and without any prompting or thought on my part. This is particularly impressive in the case of this book because it is, as I said, quite perplexing. The main character is constantly confused or doubting himself and the story jumps sometimes from one time or place to a different place or a few hours later without warning. In many books this would be a problem but in this one it isn’t simply because of the skill of the author.  

I already knew how good a storyteller Michael Malone is because I read and reviewed A Suitable Lie last year but this has surpassed even that and I can’t wait to see what he produces next. 


Author bio:

Michael Malone is a prize-winning poet and author who was born and brought up in the heart of Burns’ country. He has published over 200 poems in literary magazines throughout the UK, including New Writing Scotland, Poetry Scotland and Markings. Blood Tears, his bestselling debut novel won the Pitlochry Prize from the Scottish Association of Writers. Other published work includes: Carnegie’s Call (a non-fiction work about successful modern-day Scots); A Taste for Malice; The Guillotine Choice; Beyond the Rage.  His psychological thriller, A Suitable Lie, was a number one bestseller.  Michael is a regular reviewer for the hugely popular crime fiction website http://www.crimesquad.com. A former Regional Sales Manager (Faber & Faber) he has also worked as an IFA and a bookseller.

Bloody Scotland 2017

So, days after moving house I spent the weekend volunteering and attending events at Bloody Scotland in Stirling.

The weekend kicked off in style with the announcing of the winner of the McIlvanney prize (Denise Mina) and then with a torchlight procession from Stirling castle to the Albert Halls.  

As a volunteer I was positioned about halfway down the route so was able to get an amazing view of the procession as it came down the street. All the volunteers were also offered the opportunity, as we made up the rear of the procession, to carry a torch of our own (something we never expected).  This made an already impressive experience even more amazing and was the perfect way to start the weekend. I headed home after this as I had an early start the next morning.

Day 2 

On Saturday I had the pleasure of working two events.  One was with C.L. Taylor, Sarah Pinborough and Clare Mackintosh who were a joy to listen to and were an excellent panel. The conversation flowed well and I couldn’t believe all 3 of them had only met the night before!  

The second panel was Catriona McPherson, C.F. Peterson and Michael Ridpath. This was a fascinating hour in which all three authors discussed detting their writing in villages and remote places rather than the cities of Scotland such as Edinburgh and Glasgow. 

Shift over I whizzed off to one of the other venues to catch Peter May in discussion with Lin Anderson.

I’ve seen Peter May talk before but it was a pleasure to hear him again. This time he discussed his Enzo series, the fact that all of the publishers in the country turned down The Blackhouse when it was sent to them and becoming a French citizen amongst other topics. All in all a fascinating and entertaining hour.  

After that it was time for a quick lunch before more of Lin Anderson, this time with Ragnar Jonasson and Thomas Enger.  (And the news that Scotland won the Bloody Scotland football match 6-3!!)

During this hour we heard a lullaby that Thomas Enger’s Henning Juul character composed for his unborn son and a lot of discussion about setting novels in countries which get little, if any, daylight in the winter months. It was another excellent panel and I ended up leaving with a copy of Lin Anderson’s new book simply for asking Ragnar where his inspiration for the character of Ari Thor came from. 

Day 3

A shorter day today. First I went to the Denise Mina and Liz Nugent event. 

I missed the beginning of this due to watching Mo Farah win the Great North Run but it was still interesting nonetheless. It was fascinating to hear Denise Mina talking about the people in her latest book, The Long Drop, and her concerns about the book itself. Hearing about the inspiration for Liz Nugent’s, Lying in Wait (a stunning novel), was equally fascinating and added a little more depth to the novel itself. 

After that it was back to work where I had a surreal few minutes in a minibus-taxi with the panelists on the next panel and the lovely Karen Sullivan. Bloody Scotland allows some authors to pitch their novels to publishers in the hope of getting a deal or, at least, a bit more exposure. This next panel was some of the results of that pitch opportunity from the past few years. 

Steph Broadribb, Jospeh Knox and Matt Wesolowski have all had books published as a result of taking part in pitch perfect. I was already aware of them having read Deep Down Dead and had the pleasure of meeting Jospeh Knox at my book group a few months ago but it was fascinating to hear their stories of what happened after they had pitched their novels and how they got from that to being the published authors they are now. 

My last and final event of the day was working on the Chris Brookmyre event. 

Chris spoke for the whole hour (apart from audience questions).  There was an extract from his new book, out in November called Places in the Darkness which sounds like a mix of science fiction and crime and is set on a space station orbiting Earth.  While quite different from his usual books this one does sound intriguing and may possibly bring him a host of new fans.

That was the end of my weekend and what an ending it was. Bloody Scotland is back slightly later next year on 21st September and I, for one, can’t wait. See you then!!

Taking a short break and other things….

Changes are happening here as I’m moving house next week (Tuesday to be exact!). Apart from doing the blog tours I signed up for I haven’t done anything else recently because of the impending move, and before that, the search for somewhere to move too. This move is not something I chose but was forced upon me by my landlord so you can imagine how stressful it’s been recently. 

Because of this I’ve decided to take a short break from the blog, and twitter, while I move and settle in. However, I am going to be at Bloody Scotland next weekend so will probably have some pictures and tweets to share during that weekend. After that it will be all quiet again until the 12th when I wil be back and taking part in the Orenda blog tour for House of Spines by Michael J Malone.

For the rest of September, October and November I am have some blog tours and reviews scheduled but after that nothing and I’m considering keeping it that way for a while so I can have a proper attempt at getting through my review book pile and Netgalley books.  I need to have a proper think about what I want to do with this blog and that’s what I plan on doing later this year. It’ll still remain a book blog but there may some other changes, only time will tell…….