Sunday, 30 April 2017

Book Review - Manipulated Lives

Book review of Manipulated Lives - by Helene Leuschel



I had read the blurb on this story online and was delighted when the author Helene Leuschel offered me a review copy. The theme of manipulators, told within five different stories, caught my eye and interest and I was keen to get started reading as soon as the copy arrived! This book came at a great time for me, when busy with young children, I am only able to read for short periods of time. The length of each story was enough to get me hooked but also short enough to finish within a timeframe - perfect!


Five stories – Five Lives. Have you ever felt confused or at a loss for words in front of a spouse, colleague or parent, to the extent that you have felt inadequate or, worse, a failure? Do you ever wonder why someone close to you seems to endure humiliation without resistance? Manipulators are everywhere. At first these devious and calculating people can be hard to spot, because that is their way. They are often masters of disguise: witty, disarming, even charming in public – tricks to snare their prey – but then they revert to their true self of being controlling and angry in private. Their main aim: to dominate and use others to satisfy their needs, with a complete lack of compassion and empathy for their victim. In this collection of short novellas you meet people like you and me, intent on living happy lives, yet each of them, in one way or another, is caught up and damaged by a manipulative individual. First you meet a manipulator himself, trying to make sense of his irreversible incarceration. Next, there is Tess, whose past is haunted by a wrong decision, then young, successful and well balanced Sophie, who is drawn into the life of a little boy and his troubled father. Next, there is teenage Holly, who is intent on making a better life for herself and finally Lisa, who has to face a parent’s biggest regret. All stories highlight to what extent abusive manipulation can distort lives and threaten our very feeling of self-worth.


Wow, these stories had me completely hooked! Each one unique; each one powerful in the message that they were giving. Manipulators are everywhere and come in many different forms. It really makes you think back at your own life and some of the people that you have met along the way. Hindsight makes you think about these people very differently from when you first met them. The well-researched short stories have the ability to thrust you head first into the lives of the characters. I particularly enjoyed reading the developing relationship between Sophie and the little boy and between mother and son in the last story. The author is excellent at writing the complex relationships between different people. 

It is hard to see the manipulation going on when you're so involved, but if you stand back its obvious to everyone else. Very thought provoking stories. Would make a great book group discussion.

Some stories had the potential to be easily expanded into a full length novel but Leuschel has the ability to make each short stand alone and leave you feeling satisfied. I have never really read short stories before (apart from to the children!) so this was a refreshing change and much more manageable for me in my hectic life! 

Thank you Helene for giving me the opportunity to read these fantastic stories.

Buy the book here: 


More about the author - 



Helene Andrea Leuschel was born and raised in Belgium to German parents. She gained a Licentiate in Journalism, which led to a career in radio and television in Brussels, London and Edinburgh. Helene moved to the Algarve in 2009 with her husband and two children, working as a freelance TV producer and teaching yoga. She recently acquired a Master of Philosophy with the OU, deepening her passion for the study of the mind. Manipulated Lives is Helene’s first work of fiction.





Thursday, 27 April 2017

Book review - Mr Make Believe - Beezy Marsh

Mr Make Believe
Marnie Martin’s formerly perfect life is not quite going to plan.
Hard-hitting newspaper journalist turned stay-at-home mum and part-time failing food columnist, Marnie is wondering when her life went so wrong.

While her husband Matt’s career takes off, she’s left with the impossible task of pairing socks and locating Lego. His late nights at the office are turning into late nights who knows where else and they haven’t had a proper conversation in weeks, sex in months, or a full night’s sleep in years.

On the brink of losing everything when a fantasy about movie star Maddox Wolfe leads to a missed deadline and a disastrous case of food poisoning, Marnie becomes Mrs Make Believe: anonymous blogger, secret spiller, and voice of imperfect mums everywhere.

However, Marnie Martin could never have imagined that her movie star daydream would walk off the screen and into her reality, turning her already muddled world totally on its head.

Will Marnie find happiness in the arms of the (literal) man of her dreams? Or will she find that true love is just make believe? 



 
Review of Mr Make Believe by Beezy Marsh
  
I have been lucky enough to have Beezy Marsh on my blog twice today! Beezy appeared on my blog this morning for an author interview and now I am blogging a review post about her new book Mr Make Believe. I was really delighted to receive a copy of this hilariously funny novel about parenting amongst other delights and straight away couldn't resist getting stuck into reading.

What an amazingly fun read! I wasn't disappointed. I totally immersed myself into this hilarious world of Marnie Martin. A complete joy to get away from my own hectic world and be tumbled headfirst into someone else's equally disastrous one! I could relate to a lot of the child rearing incidents with a mixture of nodding agreement and complete disbelief at how hard it is, and that I'm going through it daily too (except without the handsome movie star, shame!). I loved some of the cooking disasters, I think I would be the same!

Marsh has an easy style and flow to her writing that draws you in straight away. A great novel to read for perfect and imperfect mums everywhere!

A fun and laugh out loud read. Marnie's life shows the true chaos that parenting brings in a delightfully humorous way. I was worried that I would feel even more down at my own life with two tiny people, but this uplifting book certainly cheered my mood. Satisfying ending that'll lead you waiting for the next novel by Beezy Marsh.

I can't get enough of Mr Make Believe, and can't wait for the next!

Buy this book today!


UK amazon: http://amzn.eu/5AgrTgD

US amazon: http://a.co/4MB4IpO



More about Beezy...

Beezy Marsh is an award-winning journalist, who has spent more than 20 years making the headlines in newspapers including The Daily Mail and The Sunday Times.

This was never going to be enough for a girl from Hartlepool, whose primary school teacher told her to give up her dream of becoming a poet and concentrate on being a nurse instead. Thirty years later, give or take, she became an author.



Q&A with author Beezy Marsh - Mr Make Believe


A big welcome to Beezy Marsh to my blog and congratulations to her on the publication of her novel 'Mr Make Believe.' I have been lucky enough to recieve a copy of this novel and will be posting my review on this fabulous book later today.

Beezy has kindly offered to answer a few questions on her novel for my blog, thank you Beezy for joining us!


Author interview - Beezy Marsh


Thank you so much for appearing on my blog! Welcome.

Thanks so much for having me on your blog! This is actually my first interview for a blog, so it's really exciting.

How much is Marnie like you in personality?

Well, there are probably elements of me which are like Marnie  - I will have to put my hands up to being a daydreamer  - but she is very much a literary creation. People who know me well say she sounds like me when I get exasperated with the kids (!) and life, but I think every mum out there can relate to things she goes through, don't you?

My life bringing up two very young children (9 months and two) seems a lot like Marnie's! Do you have any parenting words of wisdom to get me through the early years?!

I was about to ask you the same question! I'm making it up as I go along on the parenting front. Be kind to yourself, especially with a toddler in tow. Mums try to please everyone all the time and can get totally exhausted by it all.

Have you always wanted to write a novel?

Yes, I have. I started out as a journalist and I was completely immersed in that world for a long time but having kids brought me out of the office and got me thinking....

Are you currently writing your next novel?

I'm so excited about my next books! I have a prequel to Mr Make Believe, called Ten Easy Steps To I Love You,  which is due out later this year with Ipso Books and also a historical memoir for Pan Macmillan called Keeping My Sisters' Secrets, which tells the moving story of three London sisters growing up in the 1930s, due out at the end of July.

Fantastic Beezy, your next couple of novels sound very exciting! What are your hobbies when you are not writing? 

I spend a lot of time in my head so I use sport to get me into my body, otherwise I find it hard to switch off.  I'm passionate about riding horses  - I find it so calming. I'm also a karate black belt and I usually train two to three hours a week but it is not as shouty and punchy as people think. It's about being in the moment.

Do you have a fantasy Mr Make Believe? 

I have always had a few movie star crushes and that was definitely the inspiration for this book ( *blushes*) because the more exhausted I got with being a mum, the more I wanted someone to come and sweep me off my feet. Aidan Turner can hoe my lawn in his Poldark kit any day of the week...

Where do you choose the characters names for your novel? Mine are from names vetoed by my partner when naming our children!

Well, that is funny because Marnie was among the names I might have chosen if we had had a girl and Marnie's kids Rufus and Charlie were contenders for boy names in our house too. Other characters sort of choose their own names in a way because when I imagine them, they sound like the person I'm trying to create; Maddox: strong, sexy and rather naughty and Matt: blokish, handsome and rubbish at doing the laundry  -  you get the picture!

Thank you so much Beezy for joining us today and for the fabulous answers! I am in awe of you writing with such a busy life! Congratulations for the publication of Mr Make Believe and I wish you every success with your writing.

Buy a copy of Mr Make Believe here...

UK amazon: http://amzn.eu/5AgrTgD

US amazon: http://a.co/4MB4IpO

Mr Make Believe
Marnie Martin’s formerly perfect life is not quite going to plan.
Hard-hitting newspaper journalist turned stay-at-home mum and part-time failing food columnist, Marnie is wondering when her life went so wrong.

While her husband Matt’s career takes off, she’s left with the impossible task of pairing socks and locating Lego. His late nights at the office are turning into late nights who knows where else and they haven’t had a proper conversation in weeks, sex in months, or a full night’s sleep in years.

On the brink of losing everything when a fantasy about movie star Maddox Wolfe leads to a missed deadline and a disastrous case of food poisoning, Marnie becomes Mrs Make Believe: anonymous blogger, secret spiller, and voice of imperfect mums everywhere.

However, Marnie Martin could never have imagined that her movie star daydream would walk off the screen and into her reality, turning her already muddled world totally on its head.

Will Marnie find happiness in the arms of the (literal) man of her dreams? Or will she find that true love is just make believe? 
    
More about Beezy...


Beezy Marsh is an award-winning journalist, who has spent more than 20 years making the headlines in newspapers including The Daily Mail and The Sunday Times.

This was never going to be enough for a girl from Hartlepool, whose primary school teacher told her to give up her dream of becoming a poet and concentrate on being a nurse instead. Thirty years later, give or take, she became an author.


Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Writing with hand pain - Emily Williams

Second novel syndrome.

As well as suffering with the curse of second novel syndrome, another problem is hampering my writing efforts for the second novel.

Bella, my American Quarter Horse
A few years ago I fell of my horse, landing hard onto my wrists on a road. A couple of years previous to that I was hit by a car and again, took the brunt of the fall on my hands and hip joint. Since then I have suffered with incredible hand pain, recurring ganglion cysts in the joints of both hands and numbness and tingling. I had a bilateral hand and elbow surgery to relocate the ulnar nerve and remove the cysts from the wrist joints, and all was well. For a while.

The niggling feeling returned before Christmas, and now, a few months later, full on numbness and constant hand pain has returned in my left hand. My right aches occasionally but nothing compared to my left. I have had four operations on the wrist and one on the elbow to move the ulnar nerve (I now have no funny bones!). I am back on the long wait for scans, nerve conduction tests and probable surgery. To top it all off the ultra sound technician also found tendonitis which has caused fluid and more pain on my hand! I have tried wrist straps, ice, resting, stronger painkillers and nothing makes a difference. A kind member of twitter suggested Ibuleve gel so that it next on my list for temporary relief.

However, despite all this, I am completely passionate about this second novel, the proceeds in which I am donating to two horse charities. Even if I have to dictate the entire novel into my Dictaphone and get someone else to type it up, I will finish!


Lucy, my Welsh Mountain Pony

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

New project - Charity novel

New project - Young Adult horse novel!

I am so excited about my new writing project. As some of you might have read already, I am a huge fan of horses and have always wanted to write a horse related novel. However, other ideas always took over and the dream was put aside. I just couldn't think of a storyline big enough to rival my favourite novel of all time 'The Horse Whisperer'! I wanted to do my horse novel justice! I have now developed the characters strong enough to lead a coming-of-age novel involving teenagers and a racehorse! I wanted to encapsulate the turbulent and confusing teenage years in a witty yet passionate and gripping story.

This idea became the novel 'The Subtle Art of Keeping a Racehorse.' The novel has been playing on my mind for quite a while and I finally plucked up the courage and told a few people. The reaction I received was amazing.

My horse Bella out on a hack on the South Downs

I am writing my horse Young Adult novel, at last, and the entire proceeds from the sales of both the eBooks and paperback novels will be donated to two horse charities.
One of the charities is The British Thoroughbred Retraining Centre. The charity was founded in 1991 and was the first charity in Britain dedicated to the rehabiliation and training of retired racehorses. This centre provides a vital support system to retired racehorses, retraining and finding these horses new homes. It gives these horses a positive future and I am very passionate about the cause. I was delighted when the centre said they were honoured to be a part of my project.

I will be sharing more information soon so please keep tuned! Please get in touch if you'd also like to help support and promote the novel. I would love to talk about the project and receive support in anyway possible. Proof-readers and editors that can offer their services for a good cause will be most welcomed!


Saturday, 15 April 2017

Read with Mummy - review of 'I Can Only Draw Worms'

Review of 'I Can Only Draw Worms' - Will Mabbitt



I was surprised and thrilled to find out I had won a competition to win a copy of 'I Can Only Draw Worms' by Will Mabbitt, and a chocolate apple and caterpillar. Who doesn't love chocolate and a book! The book, which I didn't know much about at the time, was most welcomed by my son. He calls it the 'wiggy wiggy worm' book now and it's a bedtime favourite. He is a massive lover of the outdoors and anything buggy or insecty features high up on his fascination.

This book is about worms. I can only draw worms. You might think worms are boring - but you'd be wrong. These worms have INCREDIBLE adventures! I can't draw those bits, though, so you'll have to imagine them. A hilarious and superbly silly book that will have children in stitches and begging for more.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book with my son. It is very witty and although a lot of it went over my sons head (Elliot is only two), it made reading it to him a complete pleasure. I was a little horrified to hear what happened to one of the worms, but my son was more concerned that the worms needed feeding to our chickens! Great for counting and numbers, I could see the possibilities of using this book in the classroom. There are endless ways this could be used, such as for fractions (I'm thinking of that poor worm again!) and for text features in English.

The illustrations are bold, large and easily able to be used to aid with counting. The numbers are written in capitals letters for each word  Elliot was then delighted to show that he too can draw worms!

This book certainly livens up the dull worm!

Great book - many thanks to Puffin and Will Mabbitt for the copy.

Buy a copy of the book from amazon: http://amzn.eu/htklfOp

Monday, 3 April 2017

Lovely reviews

I have been very lucky the last few days to receive such amazing reviews. These reviews totally make my day and give me the confidence to continue my dream of writing full time. I'm currently loving writing my second novel, hopefully it'll be out very soon!!


See one of these reviews below:
https://dbbloggerxoxo.com/2017/04/03/letters-to-eloise-by-emily-williams-book-review-%f0%9f%93%96/