Thursday, 16 February 2017

The Breakdown Blog Tour: Q&A with B A Paris and Giveaway

Hello everyone! Today I am very excited to be hosting a stop on the blog tour for The Breakdown the highly anticipated new thriller from B A Paris author of the bestselling Behind Closed Doors. I absolutely loved The Breakdown and if you missed my review yesterday you can check it out here for my full thoughts. Today I have a Q&A with B A Paris to share and I have 3 copies of the book up for grabs over on Twitter.


Q&A with B A Paris 

1) How has your life changed since the release of Behind Closed Doors? Did you ever expect it to be as successful as it was? 
I honestly didn’t have any expectations at all for Behind Closed Doors, all I wanted was to be able to see it on the shelves in a bookshop somewhere. So everything that’s happened this last year has been a wonderful and unexpected surprise. The best thing about its success is that it has bought me the freedom to write, in that I’ve been able to give up most of my teaching. Writing has now become my job.

2) What’s been your best moment as an author so far? 
Being told that HQ/Harper Collins would be publishing my book was a huge moment. Hitting the New York Times bestseller list and receiving the Neilsen Bestseller Award in January for having sold 500,000 copies of Behind Closed Doors were pretty amazing too. But without my lovely agent Camilla Wray none of the others would have happened, so the moment she said she wanted to represent me was definitely the best moment ever.

3) What can fans of Behind Closed Doors expect from The Breakdown? In what ways are they similar or different?
They are similar in that they are both psychological thrillers with a young woman who is going through a traumatic experience as the main character. They are different in that in Behind Closed Doors we know what is happening to Grace, whereas in The Breakdown, even Cass doesn’t know what is happening to her!

4) What sparked the idea behind The Breakdown?
I was travelling home one afternoon through some woods when the sky suddenly became dark, the skies opened and I found myself in the middle of a huge storm, complete with flash-flooding. It was quite scary and I began to wonder what I would do if it was the middle of the night and I saw someone who had broken down at the side of the road. Would I stop and help them? Or afraid for my own safety, would I drive on? I thought it was an interesting dilemma and The Breakdown was born. 

5) Was writing a second novel harder or easier than writing the first? 
Much harder. With Behind Closed Doors I had nothing to prove and had no particular reader in mind. With The Breakdown, I had everything to prove and had the readers who had enjoyed Behind Closed Doors in mind. I didn’t want to let them down, so the pressure was huge.

6) Do you have any advice for aspiring writers? 
Never, ever give up. Each time I received a rejection letter it made me determined to write a better novel. I allowed myself to feel dejected for about two minutes, then it was back to the drawing board, with a new idea and the conviction that I could do it.

7) What books would you recommend to fans looking for similar stories to your own?
Any novel by Mary Kubica. She has a fourth novel coming out this year and it’s brilliant.

8) Can you tell us a bit about what you’re working on next?
It’s another psychological thriller but I don’t want to say too much about the plot just yet.

9) And finally, what three words best describe The Breakdown?
A gripping read – I hope!

For your chance to win a copy of The Breakdown head over to Twitter 


Don't miss the rest of the blog tour!

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Review for The Breakdown by B A Paris

The Breakdown by B A Paris
Publisher: HQ
Release: 9th February 2017
Genre: Thriller, Crime, Mystery
Source: Copy received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review



Synopsis:
"If you can’t trust yourself, who can you trust?

It all started that night in the woods.

Cass Anderson didn’t stop to help the woman in the car, and now she’s dead.

Ever since, silent calls have been plaguing Cass and she’s sure someone is watching her.

Consumed by guilt, she’s also starting to forget things. Whether she took her pills, what her house alarm code is – and if the knife in the kitchen really had blood on it.

Bestselling author B A Paris is back with a brand new psychological thriller full of twists and turns that will keep you on the edge of your seat."

Review
When you write a debut as good as Behind Closed Doors there’s a lot of pressure for your next book to live up to the same high standard. Behind Closed Doors was one of my favourite Thrillers of last year so naturally I was worried that The Breakdown wouldn’t live up to it but I needn’t have been because The Breakdown was every bit as good as its predecessor proving that B A Paris is so much more than a one hit wonder and has a promising career ahead of her.

One stormy night our heroine Cass takes a detour through the woods eager to get out of the storm and home to her gorgeous cottage and partner. As she drives she notices a breakdown on the side of the road but despite her concern doesn’t stop to help. The next morning she wakes up to the news that the woman in the broken down car from the night before has been found dead. Wracked with guilt, Cass can’t get the woman out of her head and since that night has been forgetting things and receiving silent phone calls. As Cass breaks down into a spiral of guilt and paranoia she begins to suspect that what happened to the woman in the car is somehow connected to her and that the murderer is coming for her next.

The Breakdown is quite a different read compared to Behind Closed Doors. With Behind Closed Doors we knew what was happening whereas The Breakdown is more of a mystery that really keeps you guessing. I love an unreliable narrator and we certainly get that with Cass, you’re never sure if what she says happened is the truth or the fantasies of a paranoid woman on the verge of a breakdown. The suspense and tension throughout the book make it impossible to put down. Like Cass, I was never sure what to believe or who to trust.

The Breakdown is the kind of book that has you jumping at the slightest noise and looking behind you as you walk home. B A Paris is a hugely talented writer and I’m already anticipating what she writes next.

Friday, 10 February 2017

The Elisenda Domenech Investigations Series Blog Tour

Hello everyone and welcome to my stop on The Elisenda Domenech Investigations Series blog tour today I have a guest post from author Chris Lloyd on the journey from draft to finished copy.

 From Draft to Finished Copy by Chris Lloyd


The process of writing a book is not an exact science. Not the way I go about it, anyway. I’m still learning the best way for me to write, but this is pretty much how I do it now.

The idea for the next book is always swirling around inside my head while I’m writing the current one, so much so that I have to fight the temptation to make a start on it until I’ve finished the one I’m doing. I just have to be happy with making notes as stories or characters occur to me. I’ve got a rotten memory, so I’m an obsessive note-taker; you can’t imagine the number of brilliant plot twists I’ve thought of in the shower that have gone by lunchtime.

The first month or so of a new book I spend on getting the story straight in my head, getting an idea of the characters who are going to appear, trying to think of the key moments and picturing a sequence. I don’t always worry about the ending just yet, as that usually comes into focus after I’ve started writing. It’s also a good time to be really critical and try and find holes or inconsistencies in the idea and in the way the sequence is coming along. That way I don’t have to backtrack so much to unpick something after I’ve started writing. The next step after that is a short time putting the key scenes into some sort of an order. I usually end up giving up on trying to find the later ones as I know they’ll change in the writing, and I’m starting to get impatient to get on with writing it. What that means is that I know the first three or four major moments in the story and I have a rough idea of how things will develop after that; the rest will fall into place later.

Then it’s the scary bit: writing. The blank screen is pretty daunting, but getting the first few words down is just the best. I don’t know if other writers do this, but I normally start with the second chapter. I write a few notes and a couple of ideas for opening lines for the first chapter, but I like to leave it at that until I’ve finished the book so I know exactly what the opening has to do once I’ve got the whole story in place. As I’m writing, the later key scenes start to take shape and I sketch them out. These scenes are useful as they show me what needs to happen between one key moment and the next – I usually have a couple of pages of notes for each of these sections, which I add to as I write. I use Scrivener for the first draft, by the way. It takes a bit of setting up, but then it’s great for taking care of the structure and format, leaving me to get on with telling the story.

Once the first draft is down, including the first chapter, I export it to Word and start working on redrafting. That’s when I see all the bits of fluff or the most glaring inconsistencies and I can get rid of them. In an ideal world, I like to be able to leave a couple of weeks between drafts, but there’s this thing called a deadline… After this bit, I print the manuscript and go through it with a red pen and make notes all over the pages. I’ve learned to make proper notes that I’ll be able to understand a few weeks later – I can’t count the number of times I’ve looked at a scrawl in the margin and wondered how much I’d had to drink that day. This is usually the stage when I have to delete long sections and add bits that I haven’t made clear. I nearly always have to trim the dialogue a fair bit. Another thing I’ve learned is that the quicker I write a scene at first draft stage, the more I have to cut in subsequent drafts – you can get on too much of a roll; and the longer a passage takes me to write, the more I have to add to it, as I’ve given myself the false impression that it’s going on too long.

That whole redrafting process is repeated until it looks like something I wouldn’t be too afraid to send to my publisher. I email it to both my editor and my agent, and then I sit back and stare feverishly at my inbox for a week or so. They both then send the manuscript back with notes and suggestions, which I stare at glumly for a while and then start working out how to go about doing the redraft. Oddly, I love this stage. So much of the first drafts was done in solitude that I find I enjoy this collaborative aspect. There are always doubts in my mind about scenes or strands, and their feedback normally ends up confirming what I’d thought, but they also find ways of improving the book that I’ve missed. It’s easy to get too caught up in it and I need someone else’s vision to help me sharpen the story. The final part of this stage is the copy-edit, which is also perversely enjoyable. The copy editor sees all the repetitions and clumsy phrases that have slipped through the net so that I can put them right – it’s very satisfying honing your words.

Now we get to the sexy bit. One of the best moments of all is seeing the cover design. There are lots of emails back and forth about what should be on the cover and some sample images, but even though I have an idea of what it’s going to look like, there’s still nothing like the thrill of seeing the finished piece. Something that’s strangely exciting is seeing the lettering – the three Elisenda books have a very strong cover font and it’s the coolest thing to think it’s how my books are identified.

And then, finally, the really scary bit: publication. It’s great fun getting lovely messages from readers, bloggers and other writers, but it’s still a daunting moment when your darling is released into the wild and you wait for the first comments to come back. It’s still worth every minute of everything that came before it, though. And, of course, there’s the bottle of red wine to celebrate it. That feels pretty good too.

Lastly, thank you Jess for hosting me on Jess Hearts Books today.

Thank you so much for being on the blog today Chris 

 Don't miss the rest of the blog tour!


Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Who's That Girl? Blog Tour: Q&A with Mhairi McFarlane and Giveaway

Hello everybody and welcome to my stop on the Who's That Girl? blog tour! I'm a huge fan of Mhairi McFarlane and absolutely loved Who's That Girl? when I read it in hardcover last year, if you missed it you can check out my review here. To celebrate the paperback release I have a Q&A with Mhairi herself and am giving you the chance to win a copy of the book over on Twitter.


Q&A with Mhairi McFarlane

1. Who’s That Girl? is your fourth novel what can fans of your previous books expect from this one?
I was talking to a friend the other day who said I dish worse and worse things out to my heroines, so, trauma, it seems! Who’s That Girl? is about 30something Edie, who becomes a social pariah after an incident at a wedding and is thrown out of her Instagrammable London life, back home to Nottingham, where she has to contend with unfiltered reality. Whereupon she meets hot new star, actor Elliot, who’s handling being famous, while Edie is coping with being infamous. Antics ensue.

2. One of my favourite things about your books is your heroines. Which of your characters is the most like you? 
Ooh that’s a good question. Probably Rachel in You Had Me At Hello, if that’s not too obvious an answer. I’m an ex journalist who loves Manchester, and like Rachel, an arch procrastinator who can’t make her mind up about anything. Obviously the plot of that book is not autobiography though! When I wrote it, I was somewhat tired of chick lit heroines being lovely angels who are assailed by bad luck, when lets face it, most of the time, we have a big hand in making our bad luck. So I definitely gave Rachel plenty of my flaws. Her habit of getting out of difficult conversations by making crass jokes…yeah…I didn’t stretch a million miles to write that. Like Rachel, I had a great time at university and made some lifelong friends, too. The idea for that book came from me thinking what a powerful nostalgia those years gave me, and wondering: wow, what if you’d met your love of your life during those years, and not seen him since? Imagine THAT. For me, fiction starts in a truth, a jumping off point for playing the What If? game.

3. What’s been your best moment as an author so far? 
Hmmm let’s see. The funny thing is, you spend so long dreaming of getting a book deal and once you have one, you wait for it to ‘land.’ I’ll be honest, I thought there’d be a key moment – possibly holding a cocktail, on a villa balcony, watching a setting sun – where it’d dawn on me ‘OMG! I AM AUTHOR!’ but it never happened. I still don’t quite believe it and fully expect to wake up and find myself late for a shift on my old job (I still have that anxiety dream.) I can’t pin one best moment, really: a call from my agent to say I’d had a pre publication offer for my first book from Germany was an absolute ‘I don’t believe this happening’ swoon. I ran home and shouted up the stairs to my boyfriend ‘We can get the fridge!!’ (I had an obsession with getting a green Smeg. Yes, I am a dreadful person.) I hope that answer doesn’t make it sound like it was all about money because it absolutely wasn’t, but knowing I had enough funds for a while to call it my official job? That was incredible. And seeing the cover artwork for You Had Me At Hello, with my name on it. My editor emailed me it and I was screaming at the thumbnail photo before I’d even opened it. And then there’s the day you get a box of books…your own book. Best job in the world.

4. You’re known for writing smart, funny women’s fiction are there any authors who influenced your writing style? 
Thank you! Oh God, plenty. Marian Keyes is the don, of course, for humour, storytelling smarts, and that wonderful voice you could read all day and night. Oddly, also, I’d have to say Joss Whedon made all the difference to me. Watching Buffy was when I realised that genre could tell really impactful, adult stories: so many people dismissed Buffy as teen fluff and it was a total Trojan horse for some stunningly inventive, mature ideas. It gave me the confidence to bend a few of chick lit’s unofficial rules.

5. Where do you get the ideas behind your books? 
I start with a challenge or question that interests me. So for example, with Edie in Who’s That Girl, it was, what if someone good at managing her image, found it all crashing down in one day? You know, so much of our self worth is now bound up on these social media sites which we look at constantly on glass computers in our pockets. What if you had all that torn away and had to confront who you were, without all that superficial affirmation? When I plan a book, it doesn’t start with ‘who’s the boy?’ Although that question follows shortly behind…

6. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
I have so much I never know what to pick! The most basic I can find is: never write ‘into the market,’ ie, try to second guess what will sell. Always, always start with the story that grabs your guts and won’t let go. If yours doesn’t do that, scrap it and find the one that does. Enthusiasm is palpable in the writing, and contagious: if you love your book then so will other people. NB: I am talking about the initial concept, NOT the process itself. You will hate your own writing five times a day and tell yourself you’re useless and awful. I’m afraid the self doubt never goes away.

7. What’s the last great book that you read?
Right now I’m reading Sarah Pinborough’s new thriller Behind Her Eyes and it’s a belter. So, so tense! Will be a film I reckon, I’m calling it now.

8. Can you tell us a bit about what you’re working on next? 
My fifth novel! Readers can expect: a northern city setting. A big shock. Loss. Lots of messy emotion. More social media and mobiles messing up our lives. My first BLONDE heroine, a barmaid with attitude called Georgina. Probably the same amount of swearing. A love interest or two. No spoilers.

Thank you so much for being on the blog today Mhairi!

For your chance to win a copy of Who's That Girl? head over to Twitter 


Don't miss the rest of the blog tour


Who's That Girl? is available to buy in paperback in all good bookshops as of the 9th February

Monday, 6 February 2017

January Favourites: Life, Books, Blogs and More!

Hello everyone and welcome to my very first monthly favourites post! This is my new, more personal way of wrapping up each month that allows me to include some of my favourite things outside of books and blogging. I hope that you like the new format as much as I do! Here are the things I have been loving in January...

 Favourite Books 

 

Out of the ten books that I read in January my absolute favourites have to be Wing Jones by Katherine Webber and My Sweet Revenge by Jane Fallon. Wing Jones is a YA book set in the nineties that follows a biracial teenage girl who takes up running after her brother is in a car accident. It's a gorgeous debut about about losing your way, finding your feet, and chasing your dreams and was the perfect book to start the year off with! My Sweet Revenge follows a lady called Paula as she sets out to make her husband fall back in love with her after finding out that he's been having an affair so that when she leaves him it hurts him as much as he's hurt her. This is such an entertaining and fun read and is perfect if you like smart and sassy Women's Fiction. I reviewed both books this month so if you'd like to read more of my thoughts you can check out my review for Wing Jones here and my review for My Sweet Revenge here.

Favourite to Listen to

   

I'm a huge Ed Sheeran fan and have loved his music and followed his career since the very beginning so when he dropped two new singles at the start of the year it's safe to say that 2017 was already off to a good start for me. I love both songs so much and have been playing them on repeat ever since they came out, I think they show two totally different sides to Ed's music and demonstrate just how diverse his range of talents are as a songwriter and musician. If I had to pick one I'd say Castle on the Hill is my favourite although I absolutely love the Shape of You music video. Roll on the 3rd March, I already have my copy of Divide on pre-order!

Favourite to Watch


So last year I discovered the absolute joy that is Brooklyn 99 on Netflix and since then it's become one of my all time favourite shows. The 4th season is currently airing in the UK on Thursday nights on E4 so needless to say Thursday nights have become my new favourite. This show never fails to cheer me up when I'm feeling down or have had a bad day and it goes from strength to strength with each season. It's funny, witty and silly with a great cast of characters who at this point have honestly come to feel like friends. If you haven't watched this show yet and want to watch something guaranteed to make you laugh and feel good this is the show to watch!

Favourite in Beauty


After the indulgence of Christmas my skin has been breaking out like crazy so for my birthday I asked for a few new skincare products to help clear it up. After doing a lot of research on my favourite beauty blogs I decided to try out the Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser and the three L'Oreal Paris Pure Clay Masks and I absolutely love them, they've definitely helped balance out my sensitive, combination, acne prone skin. I use the Liz Earle cleanser daily followed by a toner and moisturizer, I absolutely love the smell of this product and how using it feels like having a treatment at a spa. It's so gentle on my sensitive skin and has lots of skin loving ingredients that make my skin feel really clean and clarified after use. I use the face masks two to three times a week, each mask does something different so I apply them on the areas needed as a multimask. Once a week I use the detox mask all over, the charcoal in it is really good for drawing out impurities in the skin helping to avoid the breakouts that I am prone to. The combination of these products has left my skin looking healthier and clearer and all without drying out or irritating my sensitive skin - perfect!

Favourite Online


Being a blogger I absolutely love January, everyone always comes back to blogging after Christmas refreshed and ready for a new year and there are always so many brilliant posts and videos to watch. This month saw the return of one of my favourite book bloggers Vicki at Cosy Books, Vicki is one of the very first book bloggers I started to follow so I am thrilled that she is back. We have very similar taste in books so if you don't already I'd definitely recommend giving Vicki a follow! Over on YouTube I have been absolutely loving watching Fabulous Book Fiend's vlogs she features a good selection of Women's Fiction, YA and Non-Fiction and does lots of different types of videos. My recent favourite has to be her review of The One We Fell in Love With by Paige Toon it made me finally decide to pick it up and I ended up really enjoying it. A blogger who I always love reading is Jim from YA Yeah Yeah but I especially loved his post in January all about jealousy and not feeling good enough it's a topic I could really relate to and if you haven't read it already I'd recommend checking it out here.

Favourite Thing


I received a 2017 Happiness Planner for Christmas and I have been absolutely loving it! This isn't just your typical planner, if you couldn't guess from the title it is a planner with a focus on fitting more of what makes you happy into your life. The first section of the planner has a series of questions to help you figure out what makes you happy, what makes you sad, your goals and the obstacles in the way of you achieving them. It then helps you formulate a plan to help you get the most out of the year ahead. After using this for a month I'd say this planner is helping me live a more balanced life focused in the present. It's perfect for personal goals, work goals and to help you create a schedule that balances what you need to do and what you want to do. It's kept me so organized and the gratitude section at the bottom of each page to fill out at the end of every day has really helped me to change the way I think and to actively seek out the good things that would usually get overshadowed by the bad things. Already this planner has massively changed my life from the way I think, to taking the time to do the things that make me happy, to helping me work towards my goals every single day. I can't recommend this planner enough.

Favourite Memory


This month me and two of my best friends visited one of my favourite places in the world for my birthday, Astley Book Farm. It's the largest second hand bookshop in the Midlands and I am lucky enough to live a ten minute drive away. I'm not exaggerating when I say that you can spend a whole day there and that's exactly what we did lost in the corridors of books, eating large slices of their delicious cake and chatting on one of the squishy sofas in front of a burning log fire. It was absolute bliss. I wrote a whole post about why it's my favourite bookshop for Books are my Bag here if you haven't been yet and live close enough I'd definitely recommend a visit!

 I hope you had a great start to the New Year! 
What were some of your favourite things in January?
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