Review: Queen Move by Kennedy Ryan

Note: I was provided with an advance reader copy by the author. It was my decision to review the novel and receiving a copy in no way influenced my opinion of the novel or this review. 

I am a sucker for a second-chance-at-love story. It’s one of my favourite tropes. Queen Move by Kennedy Ryan definitely fits the bill.

Early on, the reader gets to see how Kimba and Ezra first meet and become best friends as children. Their friendship and their loyalty to one another is intense and a precursor to love. Life separates them as pre-teens, and it’s many years later when they’re reunited. From there, we’re pulled into a very intense and gratifying love story.  

What I loved about Queen Move: Kennedy is a master at creating credible and three-dimensional characters who are so strong, so well-drawn that they seem to have lives of their own. They live, they breathe and you believe in them completely. Whether it’s her protagonists, Kimba and Ezra, or her secondary characters, you believe in them. I also love how she weaves in history in this story — for those of us who were children during the time of Atlanta child murders, we remember the fear and how it left a pall over a part of our childhood. Kennedy weaves this into the beginning of the story, reminding us of how fearful and watchful black parents especially were even in the days following the arrest of Wayne Williams. 

But what I appreciate most is that Queen Move is a very realistic love story. Like real life, Kimba and Ezra’s story is not always smooth sailing. It’s messy, full of twists and turns. It’s two adults dealing with everything that life and love throws at them. 

My rating? 5 stars.


Highly recommended.

Review: The Switch by Beth O’Leary

I really enjoyed reading Beth O’Leary’s The Switch, an entertaining story about a grandmother and granddaughter who decide to “switch” lives for two months with the grandmother moving into the granddaughter’s loft apartment in London while the granddaughter moves into the grandmother’s cottage (and takes over all her grandmother’s activities) in Yorkshire. This is so much more than a simple “changing places” story — it tackles grief and its consequences, losing oneself in work (and other people’s expectations), frustrated dreams, etc.

Loved the multigenerational cast of characters and all the situations they got themselves into. Highly recommended! 

By the way, check out Beth’s other book (which I also enjoyed), The Flatshare.

Review: The Plus One by Sophia Money-Coutts

Imagine you work for a magazine called Posh! and your boss asks you to interview the most eligible titled bad-boy bachelor in the country? That’s Polly’s situation in The Plus One. We follow the previously unlucky at love reporter as she embarks on a whirlwind relationship with Jasper Milton, a sexy and too handsome for his own good aristocrat who’s got a reputation for being a playboy. 

The Plus One is a total rom-com with a fun and irreverent tone of voice and relatable characters. I thought the premise of how Polly and Jasper meet worked really well and hooked me from the beginning. However, the last few chapters left me feeling like something was missing, or as though the ending was rushed — which is a little frustrating since I enjoyed the rest of the book. 

And because the last third of the book felt so rushed, I give the book three stars. Would I recommend the book? Yes. It was a fun read and I really liked the characters and the premise. It was fun and frothy with just enough serious bits.

I just hated the ending.

REDESIGNING HAPPINESS BY NITA BROOKS

REDESIGNING HAPPINESS BY NITA BROOKS

Real life is a work in progress… #DesignYourLife

It wasn’t easy for Yvonne Cable to get over a heartbreaking relationship and revamp her life. But now the once-broke single mom is Atlanta’s most sought-after interior designer—and one-half of the media’s hottest power couple. She and her celebrity fiancé, Nathan, are a perfect, practical match, on—and off—camera. And with their new home improvement reality show the object of a fierce network bidding war, there’s no limit to how far they can go . . . 

But Yvonne is stunned when mogul Richard Barrington III unexpectedly makes an offer for their program. He’s the man she thought left her for a more successful woman. And he’s the father of her son—though he didn’t know it until now. Richard wants to get to know their boy, and Yvonne agrees, though she’s wary. Yet little by little, she’s finding it hard to resist the responsible, caring man Richard has become. But when a scandalous leak puts everything Yvonne’s worked for at risk, she’ll have to look beyond surfaces to come to terms with who she is—and discover what she truly wants.

AVAILABLE ON:

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ABOUT NITA BROOKS

A reading addict, self-professed connoisseur of home improvement shows, and a collector of teapots, Nita Brooks resides in South Carolina with her family. You can connect with her on Facebook and Twitter at @AuthorNitaB.

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Spotlight on Nia Forrester and her new release, FOUR

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Some of you already know that Nia Forrester is one of my favorite authors. I 1-click all of her books and I’m never disappointed. As soon as I found out she was releasing FOUR, I made sure to pre-order it. Get to know Nia and FOUR.

Screen Shot 2018-10-06 at 09.39.12When did you first realise you wanted to be a writer? 

I don’t know that writing begins as a realization. I just know that I always have. From the time I could string together coherent sentences and write them down, that’s what I did. I remember writing something like poetry when I was about four. Something about raindrops and the sounds they made. I only remember because I had an aunt who was so impressed, she acted as though I’d split the atom and kept reciting the poem to everyone and saying how amazing it was. I guess that makes her my first reviewer. 

Which authors have been your literary inspiration? 

Some writers I admire are Donna Tartt for her keen insights into human nature; Anne Rice for her rich detail, Agatha Christie for her tightly woven plots, Stephen King for his ability to use simple almost mundane prose to convey situations that are anything but mundane and also his ability to create equally fascinating characters as plots. And more recently, I’ve enjoyed Lisa Jewell and Peter Swanson’s mystery suspense novels.  My classic favorites are Nella Larsen and Zora Neale Hurston. My by-far favorite independent author is Jacinta Howard, because she doesn’t just share characters and their stories but portrays a world that’s rarely seen in contemporary fiction – young, Black, talented, and socially-conscious hipsters (who sometimes fall in love with each other).

What’s a typical writing day like for you? Could you describe it for us?

I wake up thinking about writing, and where the characters and story were when I last left them. I start counting in my head all my other obligations for the day, and the hours I can spend writing. I think about the characters as I shower (which is where some really great ideas come, interestingly) and when I get out, I may scribble down the thoughts that came to me. I work a day job, so I don’t write (much) while there. But when I get home, I go immediately to my computer and turn it on. I set the intention to write, even if I don’t get many words down. But on average, I think I get about 2,000—3,000 per evening on paper. And maybe about 1,000 of those words survive the evening.

Writing CaveWhere is your favourite place to write?

My home office. Sometimes in my bed, if I use my iPad or Surface. Things don’t work out well when I write from my bed.

Which themes recur in your writing? 

My most frequently recurring theme, I think, is that imperfections and even glaring flaws in who a person is, or was, shouldn’t deny them a chance at happiness. Another would be that, contrary to popular wisdom, you can become your best self through and with another person; and there is no rule that says you have to self-perfect before finding love, and growing in love. I also like to insert a lot about how our families can make us, and how we can make our own families.

What inspired the stories in FOUR? How did FOUR come into being?

Quite honestly, FOUR is my gift to readers. The characters in that book are the ones that they ask about the most, who they constantly refer to over and over again, and who, I think resonated with the largest group of people. So, though I have other stories an ideas that I am eager to get to, I wanted to give my readers deep thanks, for reading about these people and their lives, for loving them, and for letting me know they loved them.

Of the four couples in focus in FOUR, is there one that you would call your favourite? Why?

I think Tracy and Brendan. Because Tracy is so outwardly difficult to love, even while she loves fiercely, and permanently. And because Brendan is her soulmate, her complementary other half who could not be more different from her, and could not be more perfect for her.

Many writers have said they’ve found it difficult to focus on writing in the current political and social climate. Has our current state of affairs affected your writing? 

It is difficult to think about relationships and love in a time when we’re having so much difficulty relating to each other. I can focus on writing only if I incorporate some elements of our time into what I write. I can’t write as pure escapism, and I suspect that the readers who dislike my work may dislike it in part because it doesn’t offer that pure escape. When I write, the people in my books may lie, cheat on partners, make ill-considered decisions, have sketchy pasts, or are just plain stupid. They also interact with the world as we do. They confront racism, colorism, classism, homophobia, abuse … So, I can focus, but the work definitely takes on a darker, more edgy tone in times like this.

Is there a story you would love to tell but haven’t dared to write yet? Tell us about it. Do you think you’ll ever write it?

I want to write a period piece. About what it was like to be Black in America in the early 1900s, when there we were almost one generation past Emancipation, and beginning to embrace the idea of having full agency, or ”freedom.” I want to write a story centered on the journey, hopes and dreams of a young woman in that time, her work, her loves, her ambitions. I may write it, but it’s so perfect in my head that it’s tough to make the leap to putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard).

What’s next for you? Upcoming 2019 releases? Events?

I may do two events in 2019. Wine with Writers, which I do with Lily Java, Rae Lamar and Jacinta Howard, and one other, as yet to be determined.  As far as upcoming releases, I have three or four that I know I want to do, and plan to continue writing my ’Shorts’ as inspiration strikes me.

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Four couples, four transitions, four seasons of marriage …

Grace

Most couples wouldn’t have weathered one mistake of the kind Shawn made when he and Riley first got married, let alone emerge with a commitment that’s stronger, a beautiful family and a love that’s even deeper. Is there any way their relationship can survive mistake number two?

Balance

Whatever Brendan wants, Brendan gets. It’s an arrangement Tracy doesn’t mind, because he provides everything she needs: love, financial security and the comfort of never having to work outside the home. But now, the most important thing she wants, he doesn’t have the time—or maybe even the will—to give. With a relationship built on giving all of herself, is it fair to now ask for a piece back?

Growth

Robyn’s career is in a growth-spurt just as Chris’ seems to be at its natural end. No longer empire-building, he’s struggling with his new reality, and the need for a sense of purpose separate from his work. His wife seems way too busy to notice. That is, until someone else does. 

Renewal

Once a mistress, now just a suburban wife and working mother, Keisha doesn’t recognize herself most days. The problem is, Jayson doesn’t either. If he’s reading her right, she wants out. And unless she’s mistaken, he might not mind too much if she decided to go.

The ‘Commitment’ series finale.

On Sale October 21

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About Nia Forrester

Nia Forrester lives and writes in Philadelphia, PA where, by day, she is an attorney working on public policy and by night, she crafts woman-centered fiction that examines the complexities of life, love and the human condition.

She welcomes feedback and email from her readers at authorniaforrester@gmail.com or tweets @NiaForrester.

 

AUTHOR SITEFACEBOOKTWITTERGOODREADS | AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE

 

Review: The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

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Title: The Wedding Date

Author: Jasmine Guillory

Publication Date: 30 January 2018

SYNOPSIS:

A groomsman and his last-minute guest are about to discover if a fake date can go the distance in a fun and flirty debut novel.

Agreeing to go to a wedding with a guy she gets stuck with in an elevator is something Alexa Monroe wouldn’t normally do. But there’s something about Drew Nichols that’s too hard to resist.

On the eve of his ex’s wedding festivities, Drew is minus a plus one. Until a power outage strands him with the perfect candidate for a fake girlfriend…

After Alexa and Drew have more fun than they ever thought possible, Drew has to fly back to Los Angeles and his job as a pediatric surgeon, and Alexa heads home to Berkeley, where she’s the mayor’s chief of staff. Too bad they can’t stop thinking about the other…

They’re just two high-powered professionals on a collision course toward the long distance dating disaster of the century–or closing the gap between what they think they need and what they truly want…

REVIEW

What would you do if a really gorgeous stranger asked you to be his date for a wedding? Would you say no and laugh it off? Or…would you say yes and see what happens? That’s the situation Alexa Monroe is faced with when she has her meet-cute with Drew Nichols once the two are stuck in an elevator during a power outage in a swanky hotel in San Francisco. What starts off as a fake date has the potential to become something more for commitment-phobe Drew and over thinker Alexa. Will they take their fake date to another level or will they keep on pretending?

The Wedding Date is a fun, sexy (though probably not graphic enough for some readers) romance about the world of modern dating between a black woman and a white man in post-Trump America. Does Guillory touch upon race? Yes, in a very relevant way and with a light hand. It never feels like a sociology lesson and it flows naturally with the plot.

Will you enjoy reading the ups and downs Alexa and Drew experience? Yes, and you won’t want to put your Kindle down. I loved how Guillory handled the subjects of interracial relationships, long-distance relationships and the pitfalls of trying to interpret text messages. So many of the situations in the book made me laugh as I’ve been through them myself.

Take my advice, get thee to your favourite bookstore and pick up a copy of The Wedding Date. You’re going to love Alexa and Drew and you’ll wish it was already a movie.

Highly recommended!

My rating?

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Review: A Summer Affair by Janae Keyes

Screen Shot 2017-10-03 at 06.47.44I love short stories. I like the feeling of satisfaction I get when I can read a complete story while on my morning commute or during my lunch break. Not every short story succeeds in eliciting that satisfied sensation–the pacing may be too rushed or the characterisation flimsy, but Janae Keyes’s A Summer Affair most definitely succeeded.

With A Summer Affair, Janae gives us a very emotional and relatable story about unexpected love. We meet Ashlee, a wife and author who is dealing with a clingy child and a neglectful husband. We also have Kyle, the author who just happens to be as sexy as all get-out. Of course sparks fly. And we want them to–even when we know they shouldn’t.

I loved the emotional rollercoaster that Janae takes us on. I also loved how she depicted Ashlee and Kyle’s feelings for one another. It came across, for me, as believable and understandable. This was my first time reading a Janae Keyes book and it definitely will not be my last.

My rating?

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5 Books I’ve Just 1-clicked…and 5 Books I’ll Soon Be 1-clicking

Now that autumn is well and truly here in Stockholm, it’s time for me to prepare for the looooong, dark Swedish winter.  Granted, Stockholm does not go through the same 24 hours of darkness during the winter as you get in northern Sweden (though when you have thick cloud cover for weeks at a time, it sure does feel that way), but I become rather hermit-like during the dark days. The Danes would call it ‘hygge‘ or this whole art of getting cozy and being comfortable and relaxed (or something like that). In Swedish, we’re more likely to say mysig.

So how to do I get my hygge/mysig on? With good books, a glass of wine or a cup of coffee, and a cozy blanket. I might light some scented candles, too. A cute pair of pyjama pants and a comfy t-shirt or sweater,  add to it my “If you can read this…bring me a glass of wine” socks. But in order to be truly prepared, I need to stock up on books for my dear old Kindle. I’ve already started stocking up for my autumn/winter reading.

Here’s what I’ve 1clicked so far.

Screen Shot 2017-09-17 at 11.46.28Coffee Date by Nia Forrester

You can find out a lot about yourself during the course of a single day.

On the anniversary of the most tragic event of his life, Randall “The Rocket” Reese must face down paparazzi outside his house, a big sister who won’t stay out of his personal life, and a coffee date with an “old classmate” from high school whom he barely remembers.

His plan is to wallow in solitude, but Fate has plans of its own.

 

Screen Shot 2017-09-17 at 11.50.57Relationship Goals by Christina C. Jones

Everyone is a stranger at some point, right?

Pulled by an explicable, undeniable thread of… something… Nick and Noah find themselves keen on becoming more. Hashtags and flights and late-night text sessions lead to a connection neither has experienced, or expected. Beyond the shiny veneer of social media, further than the shallow depths of a good selfie, down to the real, for real stuff that relationships are made of… can Nick and Noah actually reach their prematurely awarded goal?

 

Screen Shot 2017-09-17 at 11.54.16The Hygge Holiday by Rosie Blake

The perfect recipe for hygge this autumn: make a hot chocolate, draw the curtains, snuggle under a blanket and read your way to happiness!

It’s autumn in Yulethorpe and everyone is gloomy. It’s cold, drizzly and the skies are permagrey. The last shop on the high street – an adorable little toy shop – has just shut its doors. Everything is going wrong for Yulethorpe this autumn. Until Clara Kristensen arrives.

Clara is on holiday but she can see the potential in the pretty town, so she rolls up her sleeves and sets to work. Things are looking up until Joe comes to Yulethorpe to find out exactly what is going on with his mother’s shop. Joe is Very Busy and Important in the City and very sure that Clara is up to no good. Surely no one would work this hard just for the fun of it?

Can a man who answers emails at 3 a. m. learn to appreciate the slower, happier, hygge things in life – naps, candles, good friends and maybe even falling in love?

Screen Shot 2017-09-17 at 12.00.05Stay with Me by Ayobami Odebayo

Yejide and Akin have been married since they met and fell in love at university. Though many expected Akin to take several wives, he and Yejide have always agreed: polygamy is not for them. But four years into their marriage–after consulting fertility doctors and healers, trying strange teas and unlikely cures–Yejide is still not pregnant. She assumes she still has time–until her family arrives on her doorstep with a young woman they introduce as Akin’s second wife. Furious, shocked, and livid with jealousy, Yejide knows the only way to save her marriage is to get pregnant. Which, finally, she does–but at a cost far greater than she could have dared to imagine. An electrifying novel of enormous emotional power, Stay With Me asks how much we can sacrifice for the sake of family.

Screen Shot 2017-09-17 at 12.08.16Since We Fell by Dennis Lehane

Since We Fell follows Rachel Childs, a former journalist who, after an on-air mental breakdown, now lives as a virtual shut-in. In all other respects, however, she enjoys an ideal life with an ideal husband. Until a chance encounter on a rainy afternoon causes that ideal life to fray. As does Rachel’s marriage. As does Rachel herself. Sucked into a conspiracy thick with deception, violence, and possibly madness, Rachel must find the strength within herself to conquer unimaginable fears and mind-altering truths.

 

And then there are 5 books that I’ve already marked for 1clicking…

 

Things We Never Said by Nick Alexander

Screen Shot 2017-09-17 at 12.12.37“One day, we’ll be dead, and we still won’t have known each other. Not properly. Because no one ever does.”

When Catherine learns that she is dying, she remembers the words her husband once jokingly uttered and decides to leave him the ultimate, posthumous gift: a time capsule containing photographs of their life together along with tape recordings in which she recounts every secret she ever kept, every unspoken thought whether loving or treacherous; the things they never said.

Catherine’s recordings shake up many of Sean’s beliefs, sometimes enraging him and other times soothing with memories of the many joys that make up a life together.

But even as the tapes provide an emotional roller coaster of surprises, Sean prays that they’ll confirm the one thing he always secretly believed but never dared say out loud: that destiny exists; that their life together was not the result of mere chance.

Screen Shot 2017-09-17 at 12.16.24Cherished by You: A Found by You Finale Novella by Victoria H. Smith

Life and love can take us many places.

For Roxie and Griffin, the journey has been the best part. The strength of Griffin’s love has tested Roxie beyond belief. It forced her to take a look at herself, expose herself, and fight for the man who cares so much about her. For Griffin, the love of a woman named Roxie allowed him to come into his own. He discovered things about himself he might not have known were possible if not for her. She helped him grow into the man he always knew he could be.

They’ve been through a lot and now that the struggles of the past are gone, they can move forward with the next phase of their lives. CHERISHED BY YOU is an extended novella that shows not only where the couple is now, but where they’re headed. The story takes place a few years after LOVED BY YOU and features many of the couple’s friends and loved ones who have been important throughout the series. There will be laughter. There will be heartache as well, but there will also be love.

So much love.

CHERISHED BY YOU is the finale to Roxie and Griffin’s story and was created for all those who wanted more with a few surprises along the way.

Screen Shot 2017-09-17 at 12.19.51.pngThe Nearness of You by Sareeta Domingo

Falling in love isn’t a choice

Since the moment they met, Ryan and Taylor have shared an unspoken bond. Taylor’s drawn to Ryan more strongly than she thought possible and for some reason only he seems able to lift her out of the darkness in her past.

But Ryan is with Marcy – her best friend.

Marcy stood by Taylor when everything else had fallen apart, and Taylor refuses to risk their friendship now. Somehow she needs to resist what she’s feeling. Yet, when Marcy leaves for a few weeks just as Ryan moves in to their shared flat, the tension grows to unbearable proportions. As the line between right and wrong becomes blurred, Taylor will have to decide whether she can – or should – turn away from what might be the love of her life.

Evocative, moving and heartrendingly romantic, this is a story about real life, true love and the power of friendship.

Screen Shot 2017-09-17 at 12.23.23Then Came You (Accidentally in Love Book 3) by Nicole Falls

Damon Patterson is craving a new start and the opening of his pastry stop is just the beginning. He’s got something to prove and is hyper focused on being professionally successful. Damon isn’t seeking long term entanglements, which works perfectly for Patricia Payne—a single mother who is on the hunt for a man with a particular set of skills. A chance meeting puts them in each others orbit and they’re immediately attracted.

Both Damon and Patricia come with a little bit of baggage, but that is irrelevant as they become friends with benefits. What began as carnal needs being met eventually evolves into deeper feelings, which neither Damon nor Patricia are equipped to handle. Then Came You follows these two individuals as they journey through passion-tinged attraction, fighting to keep it casual, but eventually succumbing to that four letter word…

Screen Shot 2017-09-17 at 12.32.47.pngA Winter’s Tale by Carrie Elks

Struggling film student Kitty Shakespeare is determined to make the most of her new job as nanny to major producer Everett Klein’s son, Jonas. It might not be exactly the career she’d hoped for when she moved from London to LA, but thanks to her habit of freezing up in interviews, this is her last chance to impress a key player in Hollywood – if she can get this right, then surely he’ll take a moment to look at her work. However, what Kitty hasn’t allowed for is Everett’s sexy-as-hell brother, Adam – but love at first sight this is not.

Adam Klein may be sexy, but he’s also gruff and rude and in no way ready to make a fool of himself over the nanny – not after the year he’s had. All he wants to do hole up in his cabin and hide from the brother who destroyed his life. If only he could find it easier to ignore the way Kitty makes his heart race . . .

As Christmas approaches, Kitty and Adam come to realise that the course of true love never does run smooth – and just maybe, it’s more interesting that way…

 

Now it’s your turn: what books are you adding to your autumn hygge reading list?

Getting to know…Karen King

I thought life would calm down a bit in November, but it’s been even more hectic than October. It started with NaNoWriMo, add to it a crazy blizzard here in Stockholm, then a death in the family, add a few more unexpected events and you get a month that has made me want to hibernate. But now I am trying to find my bearings again. Whew.

We’re back with another instalment of Getting to know… and today we’ve got author Karen King with us. Karen writes sassy, contemporary romance just right for reading on the beach. ‘I do – or do I?’ is her first chick-lit for Accent Press and has recently been nominated for the RONA (Romantic Novel of the Year Award). She has also written several short stories for women’s magazine and had 120 children’s books published.When she isn’t writing, Karen likes travelling, watching the ‘soaps’ and reading. Give her a good book and a box of chocolates and she thinks she’s in Heaven. So let’s get to know….Karen King!

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Author Karen King

So tell me, Karen, what is your favorite part of being a writer? 

Getting a letter or email from someone who’s enjoyed reading my book. That makes my week! It’s so heartening to think that someone has not only read my book and enjoyed it, but also taken the time to write and tell me so. I really appreciate that.

I know what you mean! Sometimes fan mail can make up for all the times I’ve wanted to give up on a difficult story or character. Or when my writing day hasn’t gone as planned. What would you say is the most difficult part of being a writer and how do you deal with it?

Finding time to write down all the ideas that are whizzing around in my head. I have notebooks everywhere, failing that I’ll write on anything, receipts, serviettes, the back of my hand.

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Karen’s latest novel, I Do? …Or Do I?

I agree. Sometimes it feels like there aren’t enough hours in a day. I try to jot plot ideas down as soon as they pop into my head. Sometimes I lose the notes and have to try to remember them…well, it happens sometimes. 🙂 So tell me, with all the ideas buzzing around, are you a plotter or pantster?

A bit of both. I like to know my characters really well before I start so I’ll write character profiles for them, and then do a basic outline of the story. After that I start writing and let it flow.

It’s the same for me. Started off as a pantser, but now I am a little of both. By the way, I love the cover of I Do…Or Do I? I just want to take a minute to share with my readers the blurb: 

Local journalist Cassie is getting married to hot-shot lawyer, reliable Timothy, and his mother Sylvia, who Cassie has nicknamed ‘Monster-in-Law’, wants to plan the entire wedding. When Sylvia books the exclusive ID Images to take photographs of the extravagant do, Cassie has no idea what she’s walking into. 



The elusive JM, ID Images’ newest photographer, just so happens to be Jared, Cassie’s first love and ex-fiancé, who broke off their engagement to travel and take photos of far-reaching wonders. He’s back to pay for his next wild adventure. 



Cassie decides it’s best to pretend not to know him, but when she’s asked to write an article for her newspaper, she’s tasked with a column surrounding all things wedding related. When Cassie jokingly writes a column meant for herself depicting her situation, a co-worker submits it in place of the real article and it’s soon making headlines, with readers asking the age old question – Who Will She Choose? 

Sounds like the perfect book for this Thanksgiving weekend!  So, readers, if I Do?…Or Do I sounds like your cup of tea, make sure you pick up a copy. Get your copy here:

Amazon – Accent Press – Waterstones – Book Depository – W.H.Smith 

What’s your typical writing day like? Do you write full-time? 

I switch on the computer as soon as I’m showered and dressed, then it’s butt on chair, fingers on keyboard. I answer urgent emails, do a bit of social media then start writing. I’ll carry on writing all day, with the occasional coffee and social media breaks. Often, I’ll write for a couple of hours in the evening too. But I only get a couple of actual ‘writing days’ a week, other days I’m marking assignments (I’m a writing tutor), running courses, visiting schools and other stuff so might write in the evenings.

I write whenever I can snatch away time for it. Still working full-time, but hoping to eventually write full-time. When you write, do you imagine any particular actors or actresses as your leads? Or do you find inspiration elsewhere?

I don’t imagine actors or actresses as my leads but I do look through magazines and cut out pictures of people similar to how I imagine my heroine and hero to look. I also do a Pinterest board of work in progress and pin pictures of things related to my plot on it. For example, for ‘I do?…or do I?’ I pinned lots of wedding related pics, as well as pics of France and Venice which both feature in the story.

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Karen’s writing room – organised chaos 🙂 

Another Pinterest enthusiast! I do the same. I love Pinterest. I even have a board for my dream writing space. Right now, I do most of my writing in my messy home office/guest bedroom, while sitting on my living room couch or in cafés. What abut you? Do you have a favorite writing space?

I’m lucky enough to have my own room to write in. It’s usually very messy, but it’s organized chaos and I know exactly where everything is. If I tidy up I’ve had it, I can’t find anything for weeks.

I am with you there! Whenever I clean my writing space, I can’t find any of the things I need. But when I don’t clean it, the chaos can sometimes overwhelm me. Let’s talk reading. What are you reading now?

I’m reading The Pact by Jodi Picoult.

I read that one a few years ago and loved it. She is one of my favourite authors. Are there any subjects that are taboo for you when it comes to reading or writing?

Horror – I scare easily.

Once upon a time, I wanted to write horror. Nowadays, I prefer writing love stories. Now what about social media? Some people say we authors can’t survive without it.What’s your take on social media? Do you think it’s vital for us?

Yes, I think it is. One well known publisher told me they wouldn’t even consider a book unless the author had over 1,500 followers on Twitter. I like Social Media, it’s a great way to interact with people but it’s easy to while away hours reading the latest Facebook posts or chatting on Twitter so I try to restrict myself. Twitter is my favourite platform, then Facebook and Instagram. I’m on Google+ and Pinterest too but am not as active on them.

What was the best piece of writing advice you ever received?

It was back in the early days of my writing career when I was writing for several children’s magazines and had to come up with story ideas at very short notice, sometimes having to write one in a couple of hours. An editor told me to ‘give a character a problem and solve it’. I added ‘in an unexpected way’ to that and it’s been the basis of my stories ever since.

What advice would you give to novice writers?
Stop faffing about and get that first draft down. Then you can go back and reread, revise and rewrite. If you don’t write something you have nothing to hone.

Thanks again for joining us, Karen! Readers, make sure you follow Karen so you can keep up with the latest! Follow Karen here:

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Getting to know… Laurie Ellingham

Welcome back for another instalment of Getting to Know… Today we have author Laurie Bellingham with us. Laurie  is the author of The Reluctant Celebrity and How to Throw Your Life Away. She lives on the Suffolk/Essex border in the UK with her husband, two children and a cute cockerpoo. I think she loves coffee just as much as I do. 🙂 

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Author Laurie Ellingham

Laurie, tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from originally? 

Firstly, thanks Kim for having me here today. Such a treat to get virtually out and about as a writer. I’m grew up in Rayleigh, Essex and featured Rayleigh in my second novel How to Throw Your Life Away. I called the town Henley in the book so I could add a bit of creative license. I studied Psychology at Hull University and lived in East London for many years. I now live on the Essex/Suffolk borders with my hubby and two children who are six and five and both happily settled at the village school.

When I’m not ferrying the kids to clubs, cheering on the sidelines of football matches, cooking (which I don’t really enjoy), tidying and cleaning (I HATE), then I’m running in the countryside, writing and reading. Oh and I like chocolate too.

I love chocolate too. It’s one of my favourite things in the world… Now tidying and cleaning…hate doing them, but one must do what one must do. 🙂 When did you first know you wanted to be an author?

I had my first rejection letter when I was 10. I sent a story about a family of peas to the Oxford Press. They sent back a very nice letter and lots of stickers. I miss getting stickers with rejection 🙂

So you could say that I’ve always wanted to be an author. From a very young age I became interested in people and why they behave in certain ways, and filtered this into storytelling.

Imagine if every rejection letter came with nice stickers! That would make them a bit nicer to receive! 😀  Fast-forwarding to now: as a writer, are you a plotter or pantster?

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Oh, definitely a plotter, which is madness because the rest of my life is generally rather messy and chaotic *husband nods from over my shoulder.*

At the start of the year I read Stephen King’s On Writing and was taken with his suggestion to wing it and enjoy where the story takes me. I wrote the first 20,000 words of my latest novel like this but I had to stop and plan and get all my characters sorted out. Once the plan is in place I don’t go back and look at it, not once, but it’s comforting to know it’s there, and I’m happy to change direction if I have a great big light bulb moment when I’m brushing my teeth.
Q: Are you working on a new book now? Can you give us a sneak peek of the plot?
I am. It’s book two for my publisher, Carina (Harper Collins). I’m expecting the first draft finished in a couple of weeks and I cannot wait for the world to see it. Here’s my draft blurb and title (it all might change still)…
The Stranger on the Boat.
‘My name is Abigail Rose Wick. My parents are Sarah and Michael Wick. And I’ve been missing for fourteen years.’
A missing girl returns unharmed. A family torn apart by tragedy begin to heal.
But strange things begin to happen to the Wick family. The media are tipped off, throwing them into a spotlight they cannot hide from. DNA results go missing. Holes begin to appear in the girl’s story.
Is the mysterious girl Abigail Wick?
Who is the stranger on the boat who took Abigail?
What happened fourteen years ago?
Only one person knows the truth.

I sat down expecting this novel to be a fast-paced thriller, but it’s not that at all. I love it.

I know that feeling! I once started working on a book thinking it would be literary fiction and it suddenly veered into a holiday romance. But, wow, I really like the premise of your story!  I would definitely add this to my TBR list.

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Laurie’s writing space

So when you’re writing, do you have a favorite writing space? 

Here it is.

It used to be an entrance hall and front door, then it got an internal door and became a space to stash the dog when he gets under our feet, and now the dog has to share it with me. It smells like musky dog most of the time and doesn’t have a view, but it’s one of my favorite places to be.

I’m fortunate to live in the countryside so anytime I get a bit stir crazy I just take my notebook to the meadow behind our house and write outside for while.

By the way, which titles are on your must-read list this year?

Being part of a fantastic online book community for authors and bloggers (Book Connectors) I see so many amazing books I’m desperate to read. Next up I’m reading The Mountain in My Shoe by Louise Beech. I’m saving it for when my first draft is finished so I can give it the attention it deserves.

And what are you reading now?

Right now I’m reading A Suitable Lie by Michael J Malone. It’s the kind of book that stays with you long after you’ve put it down. For me it is compelling, gripping, and uncomfortable all in one.

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Her adorable dog, Rodney

So which authors would you recommend to people looking for someone new to read?

S.E Lynes or B.A Paris for a fabulous thriller, and Louise Beech and Catherine Miller for some amazing women’s fiction with depth.

What’s a typical day of writing like for you?

I like to sit down and crack on in the mornings, which means getting the kids off to school and being back at my desk for 9am. By 10.30 I’m ready for a break and Rodney (here’s a pic) is ready to go out so we either run or walk together for an hour.
Then it’s right back to my desk with more coffee and some chocolate (usually a Twix) until it’s time to collect the kids. These are the best days and I usually hit my daily word count of 1000 words with time to spare, but for every day like this there’s a day when life gets in the way and I’m up until late still tapping away at my laptop.

Sounds enviable. 🙂 So on these days when you’re writing,  do you imagine any particular actors/actresses as your leads? Or do you find inspiration elsewhere?

Yes. In fact, one of the first things I do when planning my novel is search Google Images for photos that fit with the images of the characters in my mind. I find it helps to look at these pictures at the start of each chapter as it reminds me of their different mannerisms as well as their personalities.

I do something similar with Pinterest and Google Images. I’ve got a few favourites who’ve become my muses and some characters I absolutely adore. What about you? Which of your characters is your favourite?

There is a character in my first book called Guy Rawson. He’s this brooding model turned singer, and hopelessly flawed. I missed him so I found a part for him in a later novel – Three Months to Live (out in April 2017). Although the two novels are nothing a like – the Reluctant Celebrity is a romantic comedy and Three Months to Live is edgy women’s fiction – Guy slotted in nicely for a little guest appearance.

screen-shot-2016-10-22-at-12-07-19One of the things I love about writing is when the story first begins to form in my head. What about you? What’s your favourite thing about being a writer?

I love creating a story in my head and characters that feel as real to me as anyone; this is the amazing thing about being a writer. I like hearing that people are enjoying my books as well but that comes later. Mostly though, writing is when I feel most like myself. I’m a mum and wife and a friend and a daughter and a sister, and that’s great, but when I’m writing I’m me.

What would you say is the most difficult part of being a writer and how do you deal with it? 

Loneliness and self-doubt.

The first is less of an issue in recent years because social media has opened up many wonderful writing communities which means I now feel part of something amazing.
The self-doubt is a harder fix. It can hit anytime and completely out of the blue. I try and just see it as the rough with the smooth as there are as many days I’m excited by what I’m writing.

I know exactly what you mean! But, just to change the subject a bit…a lot of people say they read to escape. They don’t want to be reminded of the harsh reality  of the world when they sit down to read a book. What’s your take on this? Should fiction address topical social issues? 

Absolutely. A skilled author can write about topical social issues whilst still offering the escapism of well written characters. Michael J Malone has done just this by writing about domestic abuse with the female as the abuser. It was uncomfortable at times but it had all the elements of a great read too. I feel richer for having read it.

I so agree with you. I think reading shouldn’t simply be about escaping, even if sometimes that’s all I want. Usually I  want to see things from another perspective, even if it means that the writer makes me feel uncomfortable. 

So tell me, what was the best piece of writing advice you ever received?

Read lots of books in lots of different genres. It keeps your mind focused on writing and novels and opens your eyes to other writing styles.

Before we close up, what advice would you give to novice writers?

Firstly, write. Then write some more. Prioritise writing in your life. If you wait until all your other jobs are done, you’ll never get any writing done.
And at the same time read. Then read some more.

Thanks so much for sharing with us today, Laurie! And readers–make sure you connect with Laurie and check out her novels! 🙂 

Connect with Laurie Ellingham

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