Monday, 18 September 2017

Blog Tour: The Worst Case Scenario Cookery Club by Chrissie Manby, Q & A and Review

The Worst Case Scenario Cookery Club by Chrissie Manby
Published: 21st September 2017
Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks
Pages: 384
Available in Paperback and on Kindle
Rating 5/5

Today I am super excited to be welcoming one of my favourite authors to the blog Chrissie Manby. Thank you so much Chrissie for taking the time to answer some of my questions about her writing and in particular her latest novel The Worst Case Scenario Cookery Club.  So please enjoy this first stop on the blog tour for The Worst Case Scenario Cookery Club and make sure you follow along with the other stops all week. 

Q & A with Chrissie Manby

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what inspired you to become a writer?

What inspired me to become a writer?  Failing at becoming anything else!  Growing up in Gloucester, what I wanted to be was a fashion designer.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get much support for that career plan so I went off to Oxford to study Experimental Psychology instead, with a view to becoming a clinical psychologist.  I dropped off that career pathway when I got a 2:2, which meant I couldn’t get onto a graduate training course.  In a moment of desperation, I moved to London and became a temp.  I got a temp job at an audio book company, which is where I met science fiction writer David Garnett.  He dared me to write a novel (I’d already written and published several short stories). I took the dare up.  He passed my manuscript to his editor. She liked it.  And the rest is history!
The Worst Case Scenario Cookery Club is your seventeenth ( I think) book, is it difficult to keep coming up with new ideas for books after so many?
It’s actually my twenty-second book as Chris / Chrissie Manby and my thirty-sixth book overall (I think!).  I also write as Stephanie Ash, Stella Knightley and Olivia Darling.  Coming up with ideas isn’t a problem for me (obviously).  Seeing them through to the end sometimes is. I am always suspicious of people who can’t come up with at least ten book ideas in a day.  It suggests to me that they’re really not engaged with the world around them.  Ideas are everywhere and if you’re going to be a novelist, you better learn how to spot them.
Can you sum up The Worst Case Scenario Cookery Club in one sentence?

Three strangers, hopeless both in and out of the kitchen, find friendship and happiness through a beginners’ cookery class.
What was your inspiration for writing The Worst Case Scenario Cookery Club?

Well, not cooking.  I’m a totally terrible cook and have very little interest in becoming a better one.  I was inspired more by all those smug healthy eating blogs in which twenty-two year olds bang on about their ‘journeys’ and call a slice of apple with a blob of peanut butter on it a ‘recipe’. They make me howl.  At twenty-two, you could live off chips and Tizer and still look like a goddess.  They should all sod off and come back when they’ve hit the perimenopause, then tell us about the healing powers of kale.
Liz, John and Bella are very different characters, which was your favourite and why?

Liz is my favourite because she gets all the laughs.  I love writing mad-cap funny characters.
How did you want readers to feel after reading The Worst Case Scenario Cookery Club?

Inspired to post a five star review on Amazon? J

What can we expect to see from you next?

More Newbay (my made-up Devon town), more laughter, more cooking (totally made up. Do not try any of my recipes at home).
Who are some of your favourite authors?

I will read anything by Lucy Dillon, Juliet Ashton, Michele Gorman, Fiona Walker, Rebecca Chance and Alexandra Potter.  Also Anne Tyler, Carl Hiaasen and Michelle Lovric. Oh, and Alex Marwood writes amazing thrillers.
Which three books have you enjoyed reading the most so far this year?

Juliet Ashton’s The Woman at Number 24 was smashing.  We read it at my book club.  Everybody adored it! I’ve also enjoyed rereading Michelle Lovric’s Carnevale, which is set in the Venice of Casanova and Byron. It’s a huge book but every page just sings.  And last week I devoured The Other Woman by Laura Wilson, which is the cleverest, funniest thriller I’ve read in years.
How do you intend to celebrate publication day?

By working. Unless someone buys me a bottle of champagne. Hint hint!
Describe your writing process?
What a terrible question. Worse than ‘how long is a piece of string’.  It’s impossible to describe my writing process except to say that I plot really carefully, I work out how long I’ve got until my deadline, then I set myself a word count and stick to it.
What advice would you give to anyone wishing to pursue a writing career?

Write. Too many would-be writers spend more time worrying about how to get an agent than actually finishing their first book.  Having a whole manuscript ready to go puts you at a huge head start when it comes to getting an agent anyway.
Quick fire questions:

Tea of Coffee? Tea.
Sweet or Savoury? Both.
Cosy fires or summer sun? Both.
High heel or flats? Flat. Though I wish I could wear heels.
Drive or be driven? Drive. Definitely. Hate being a passenger.

In the quaint seaside town of Newbay, a beginner's cookery course is starting. And three very different students have signed up...
Liz's husband has left her for a twenty-something clean-eating blogger, and she's determined to show the world - and her daughter - she's just as capable in the kitchen. John, newly widowed after fifty years of marriage, can't live on sympathy lasagnes forever. To thirty-year-old workaholic Bella, the course is a welcome escape from her high-pressure job. Their only common ground: between them, they can barely boil an egg!
Enter talented chef Alex, who is determined to introduce his pupils to the comforts of cuisine. As Liz, John and Bella encounter various disasters in the kitchen, the unlikely trio soon form a fast friendship. Their culinary skills might be catastrophic - but could the cookery club have given them a recipe for happiness?

The Worst Case Scenario Cookery Club is the latest novel by Chrissie Manby and features four people brought together at a cookery course run by chef Alex. Liz has joined the course after daughter Saskia has started has started taking more interest in the food cooked by Brittany, her husband’s new girlfriend who is a health food blogger rather than the luxury ready meals Liz dishes up. Bella has joined up to reignite her passion for cooking which has been lost since her father died and John has joined as he’s getting sick of not being able to fend for himself after his beloved wife Sonia has died. Throughout the six week course the three become friends along with Alex and all begin to deal with problems they’ve been hiding from.

The characters in this book are a little stereotypical but I think the way Chrissie Manby has added comedy to this novel makes the characters work perfectly together. Liz is your typical working mum in her late forties who’s having trouble with her philandering husband Ian and difficult teenager Saskia. Saskia seems to have started idolising Ian’s new girlfriend Brittany, deciding to be a vegetarian and turning her nose up at everything processed that Liz tries to feed her. Poor Liz, despite trying her best for her family she never seems to get it right and more than one cooking experience ends in disaster. My favourite moment involving Liz was the processed meat incident which had me in hysterics and still makes me smile when I think of it, I would so love to have been a guest in the hotel watching the whole scene. I also loved the inclusion of the Waggy Weight Loss club for Liz’s poor dog Ted, the rivalry at the meetings reminded me so much of weight loss groups I’ve attended for myself, brilliant fun to read about.

Liz was by far my favourite character in the book, both Bella and John seem to have more serious less chaotic lives. Bella has joined the cookery club to regain the passion she once had for food and despite numerous interruptions from her work as a duty solicitor, her love for food isn’t the only thing that gets reignited. It’s not long before Bella has decided to make some big changes in her life.  Even John has a little secret which he’s been keeping which added a little mystery to the book.

I loved everything about this book, it has a little romance, a little mystery, and great insights into family dynamics but most of all its hilarious. It’s Chrissie Manby at her absolute best and is the funniest book I’ve read all year. Thank you so much to Hodder and Netgalley for sending me a copy to review and inviting me to be part of the blog tour for The Worst Case Scenario Cookery Club. Thank you also to Chrissie Manby for taking time to answer my questions, I can’t wait to read your next book.

Friday, 15 September 2017

Blog Tour Review : The Lost Sisters by Lindsey Hutchinson

The Lost Girls by Lindsey Hutchinson
Published: 1st September 2017
Publisher: Aria
Pages: 442
Available in Paperback and on Kindle
Rating: 5/5

Orpha Buchanan and Peg Meriweather had a very different start in life. Orpha surrounded by wealth and riches, Peg dumped on a doorstep as a baby with nothing to her name but a scruffy blanket and tatty clothes. But one thing they had in common from their very first day, was a mother who despised them and wished them gone.
Hortense Buchanan wasn't made to be a mother. Bullied herself when she was a child, she continues the tradition with her own children, loving money and finery more than her own flesh and blood. When her daughter Orpha runs away from home, Hortense celebrates, never once worrying for her safety.
Circumstances bring Orpha and Peg together, and before long they're as close as family, making their way in the hustle and bustle of a booming Birmingham and the smoke-filled Black Country. But before long, Hortense realises that her daughter stands in the way of the one thing she really cares about, and the bitter legacy of the Buchanans looks set to destroy them all...

The Lost Girls by Lindsey Hutchinson is just the type of family saga that I love to read, it was one where after just a few pages I was completely immersed in the story of the Buchanan’s.

Hortense Buchanan was not a woman cut out to be a mother, bullied by her own mother she has no love for her first born daughter. She takes the poor baby and leaves her on a doorstep in a neighbouring town, then claimed that gypsies took the little girl. When she is blessed with a second child Hortense is no different and makes poor Orpha’s life a misery. Until one day when Hortense so jealous of her own daughter throws her out and says she’ll kill her if she returns.

For many girls of fourteen this would have been a disaster and they probably would of ended up in the workhouse or worse but for Orpha it’s a relief to be away from her dreadful mother. Luck shines on the young girl and she finds herself taken in by some kind people who give her a roof over her head, money in her pocket and a taste for the delights of chocolate making.

Eventually Orpha decides that she must try to be reunited with her father who she misses very much, but this time fate decides to throw Peg Merriweather in her path. Peg is a little older than Orpha but the resemblance between them is unmistakable, both sharing sparkling emerald eyes. Having found her long lost sister, Orpha finds a home at last but it’s not long before thoughts turn to her father once more. Again Orpha sets off to reunite her family but this time she unravels more drama and secrets surrounding the Buchanan family.

I loved this book, I’ve read quite a few family saga books this year and this one is my favourite so far. I just loved the way that just when you think everything has all settled down for the characters another twist occurs and there’s more drama. I loved all the drama, even the bits which are a little far-fetched were thoroughly enjoyable. Despite being a long book I never felt the story dragged as so much was going on with the many characters.

This book has to have one of the worst mothers ever written about, Hortense Buchanan is a disgrace! Never have I known someone stoop so low just to get some money, she was a truly horrible character with little or no remorse for her actions. Saying that I thought she was very well written and a great character to have in the book. I like Orpha and Peg but Hortense was the one I enjoyed reading about the most.

The Lost Sisters is a book about revenge, families, murder, redemption, secrets and lies and even a little romance. It has a darker tone than many family saga books and there is a lot of violence so it may not appeal to all readers. For me it was a winner and not just because of the chocolate.

Thank you so much to Aria and Netgalley for the review copy and for inviting me to be part of the blog tour. I’m looking forward to reading more books from Lindsey in the future.

About the Author

Lindsey lives in Shropshire with her husband. She has a son and a daughter and three beautiful grandchildren. She is the daughter of million-copy bestselling author Meg Hutchinson.
Follow Lindsey
Twitter: @LHutchAuthor
Facebook: Lindsey Hutchinson

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Blog Tour Review: One Day in December by Shari Low

One Day in December by Shari Low
Published: 1st September 2017
Publisher: Aria
Pages: 296
Available on Kindle
Rating: 5/5

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...


One Day in December is the latest book by Shari Low who is fast becoming one of my favourite authors. In this book we follow the lives of four very different people as they set out to make today the day that changed their lives.

Caro is on her way to Glasgow to find out if she has a half-sister. After looking through Facebook she found a picture of her dad with another girl who looked like his daughter. Her father walked out on her and her mother a few years early and hasn’t been heard of since, with her mother dying it’s time for Caro to get some answers.

Lyla’s has enough of being a mistress and after seven years she doesn’t want to share no more. She wants the glory of being the trophy wife so sets out to tell her lovers wife about his cheating ways so she can keep him for herself.

Bernadette has decided today is the day she leaves husband Ken and their loveless and controlling marriage and starts a life of her own. With best-friend Sarah she sets out to put her carefully laid out plans into action.

Cam is nervous. After many hints from his girlfriend about marriage he’s finally decided that today is the day he will propose. Dragging friends Josie and Val along to help finalise all his plans can Cam make this a proposal to remember.

By midnight all of these four lives will have changed as they become tangled together. Will any of them get their happy ever after?

I loved this book so much, Shari Low is an excellent storyteller and this just unravelled at such a pace make very addictive reading. One thing that makes this book work so well is the day is split into two hour sections for each of our four main characters. This built up the suspense as we find out what their plans are and how they all become connected at the end. The drama builds right from early morning and for some their day goes according to plan. For others problems arise giving them obstacles to overcome, which lead to some comical moments as frustrations rise.

Shari Low has created some great characters in this book but my favourite had to be Lyla. She’s the sort of girl you just love to hate because she behaves like the rules don’t apply to her just because she is rich and beautiful. I loved her interactions with other characters and her endless need to take selfies for her Instagram account.  

I also loved the reappearance of Val and Josie from Shari’s previous book A Life Without You, it was lovely to see these two characters in a happier setting showing just how fun loving and sneaky they really can be.

I loved everything about this book it has great characters with each main character having their own great plotline which all come together to form an explosive and hilarious finale. Shari has brought drama to small everyday situations making this book a joy to read from start to finish. It’s been one of my favourite reads of the year so far and cemented Shari’s place in my list of must read authors. I’m lucky that Shari has quite a back catalogue to enjoy while I wait for her to write her next stunning success.

Thank you so much to Aria and Netgalley for sending me a copy to review and to the publishers for inviting me on the blog tour.