Tag Archive | Rowan Coleman

Really Good Books

I was thinking earlier it would be really good to do a blog today. Then I started wondering what I could write – it’s not like I’m actually writing is it. So that would leave… reading. I’m really enjoying the book I’m reading now Jeff Abbott’s A Kiss Gone Bad, and the thought of that led me to… I’m reading a lot of really good books at the moment.

In 2009 I only read 17 or something books, and only a handful of them really stood out. I think I tried to do a top ten books I read that year, but didn’t have a top ten. There just weren’t enough good ones there.

Last year was the opposite. I read 45 books, and enjoyed a huge number of them. So, what better way to spend a blog, than with my top books of last year. I was thinking top ten, but going through my list, I’ve actually made a top twenty. Hope it’s not too boring:

YA:

  • Twilight by Stephanie Meyer (I only read this to prove to people I wouldn’t like it. I loved it. I think it’s my favourite book of the year)
  • Avalon High by Meg Cabot (When I was researching YA novels before writing mine, I knew I had to read one of Ms Cabot’s books – the queen of teen and all that)
  • Summer Dreams Winter Love by Mary Francis Shura (this was my favourite book growing up, and I wanted to read it again. It still had that magic)
  • Della Says… OMG by Keris Stainton (I loved the sound of this when I started following Keris’ blog, and was lucky enough to get invited to her launch party where she signed the book. After all that I was so glad I loved it)

Chick Lit:

  • Love Lies by Adele Parks (I got given a small booklet on the street. It was the first two chapters. I couldn’t read just that, I had to get the whole book and read it.  But then I love Adele Parks so would have had to get it at some point anyway)
  • Foursome by Jane Fallon (This is the best book I read in this category. I loved everything about it, and will definitely be on the lookout for more books by her)
  • Husbands by Adele Parks (what can I say? I love the lady, I had to read more than one)
  • The Happy Home for Broken Hearts by Rowan Coleman (I got a copy of this from the publisher to review. I was pretty scared I wouldn’t like it then there would be loads of pressure on me to say something nice about it. Luckily it was great – it was Rowan Coleman, of course it was great)
  • The Baby Group by Rowan Coleman (ditto the great comment above)
  • What My Best Friend Did by Lucy Dawson (another that is in my top three of the year I imagine. Great. Not sure if it’s really chick lit, but I think it belongs here)
  • Ralph’s Party by Lisa Jewell (I read this when it came out ten years ago,  but after winning a ticket to an evening with Lisa, I thought I should re-read it before I went. So glad I did, I’d forgotten how good it was. And Lisa Jewell – she’s awesome and funny, and has a great story of how she got published. I like the idea that mine could go the same way…)

Thrillers:

  • Until It’s Over by Nicci French (my step mum gave me this, saying she loved it. Well, so did her step daughter)
  • The Memory Collector by Meg Gardiner (Although this is only the second book of hers I’ve read, I am a huge Meg Gardiner fan, and this is my favourite book. Can’t wait to start on her other series of books)
  • Too Close to Home by Linwood Barclay (Again second book of his I’ve read. Again this is my favourite)
  • Random by Craig Robertson (I got this free from the publisher because of doing the Thriller & Suspense Reading Challenge. It’s his debut book, and it’s brilliant)
  • The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo & The Girl Who Played with Fire both by Stieg Larsson (I only picked the first up because of the Thriller & Suspense Reading Challenge. I was so glad I did. I watched the movie too – it sucked)

 Sci-Fi:

  • The Caves of Steel by Asimov (I read this on recommendation from the other half. He thought I should read something DIFFERENT, so I did. I didn’t want to enjoy it, but I did. I want to read the rest in the Robot series)
  • 1984 by George Orwell (It’s a classic – I had to read it at some time. This was the year. It totally deserves the hype it gets)

I really hope 2011 is as good for books as last year was. I’m on book three, and so far it’s certainly shaping up that way!

What were your favourite books from last year?

Mostly About Books

I had a plan today. I planned to read the next chapters of my writing course. However I stupidly left the book in the back office and I’m sat on reception. Doh! I’ll work on it this afternoon. I will, I will, I will.

I got a book in the post today. It’s only another prize from a competition I entered! This book’s really exciting for me, as it’s a) not available in England and b) an author I’ve never heard of – this could be a whole new discovery for me!

The competition was one of those ‘be the first to comment…’ over on The Lady Loves Books. The book is ‘At Home with the Templetons’ by Monica McInerney. Can’t wait to get started on it.

This may sound a little stupid, but I had a realisation this morning. I’m currently reading Husbands by Adele Parks. I bought the book a few months ago in one of those library sales I love. This morning though, as I walked between tubes (hurried should I say, not cause I was late, but cause I wanted to read more) I realised that before I started reading the novel I didn’t know what it was about.

‘Why’s that?’ you ask? It’s because I bought it without looking at the back. I knew it was Adele Parks, and I knew I hadn’t read it, so I had to buy it. It didn’t matter what it was about.

I developed the thought further and realised I’m the same with quite a few authors – if I love them, it doesn’t matter what their new book is about, I want it.

I thought I’d make a list of authors that this is true for, so here goes:

  • Sophie Kinsella
  • Adele Parks
  • Jane Green
  • Marian Keyes
  • Cecelia Ahern
  • Rowan Coleman
  • Audrey Niffenegger
  • Lisa Jewell
  • Dorothy Koomson

I’m sure they’re some I’ve missed out, but that’s pretty much my favourite author list!

I think I want a Kindle. There’s an advert at the tube station I go to in the mornings, and I keep looking at it… Anyone would think they put it there on purpose as Christmas is coming up…

I’d always been put off them, because I like books. I like holding them, reading them, turning pages etc.

But, I’ve just found a huge reason for wanting one – its size. I’ve got a few books on my TBR list that I’m desperate to read, but I’m put off because they’re so big and heavy to carry round (and I always have the book I’m reading in my bag). Although, if I did have a Kindle, I’d have to re-buy those books. I’d have more chance of reading them though.

Does anyone else have one? What do you think of them?

I’ve just had a quick look on Amazon and stumbled upon Jane Green’s Straight Talking. I wouldn’t say it was my favourite book ever, but it moved me, and actually changed my life – improved my life. I loved it. BUT Amazon reviewers didn’t as much. Out of 55 comments, 13 gave it one star, 3 gave it two stars and 5 three. What is wrong with these people??? I’m going to have to add a review of my own! *giggles to self* Well, actually, I’m going to have to re-read it, then add a review. Woo hoo – I’ve got an excuse to re-read a novel I love. Love it!

Rowan Coleman’s Party and My Next Big Challenge

You know sometimes you have days where you just can’t be bothered? Well, today’s one of those days. Ugh. I put it down to a combination of factors: 1: Quite a late night, 2: A very early morning and 3: Too much wine last night. I didn’t have loads, but with the combination of not much sleep I’m feeling a little… groggy shall we say.

And why was I drinking on a school night? Well, that would be because I was one of the lucky few Facebook ‘friends’ of Rowan Coleman’s that got invited to her book launch party. It was great. Every Friday she ‘hosts’ a Status Short Story Competition on FB which I’ve entered many times, and so have lots of her other friends. A lot of them were there last night – it was great meeting so many talented (and nice) people. Rowan herself did a reading from The Happy Home for Broken Hearts and mingled. She’s so nice.

The big downer of  the night though, was that I forgot my copy of the novel, so couldn’t get it signed. Really annoyed about that, but someone pointed out it just means I’ll have to go to the next party so I can get it signed. Damn 🙂

Something Rowan told us really interested me. When sat at the front talking, reading and answering questions, she said how much she hates doing it. She was so good though, and looked so relaxed (maybe the glass of wine helped?). Why I find it interesting is because I think I’d be the same. When I’ve been to this kind of thing before, or heard about people reading their writing out loud, I always freak out at the idea of doing it myself. I hate public speaking. I do it, and once I get over the shakes and the red cheeks, I think I’m pretty much ok at it, but I hate it. It’s nice to know that Rowan hates it too, but does it and looks so fine doing it. It’s inspiring really.

I think the only other thing I want to blog about – is Search Term Writing Challenge II over at Ergo Fiction. I took part in ‘Challenge I’ months ago which was so much fun, so can’t wait to do it again. Although I think the deadline is October, so knowing me and how I work to deadlines, I won’t be doing anything until then!

What is it? I hear you cry! They give you eight random search terms that have been used to find blogs (really weird things people search for) and you have to use at least three in a story. Now, we all know how I like to make life harder on myself that I need to – so last time I decided I HAD to get all eight in. And this time, yep you guessed it, I’m going to try that again. Have a look at the website – it’s really good fun. Plus when all the stories are posted you get to vote for your favourite. Excellent.

Hey. Tomorrow is Fiction Friday. Woopie! There’s ‘homework’ for tomorrow’s. Eek. Well not really ‘eek’. We need to listen in to 10 conversations, or snippets of conversations and use them all in the story. This could be hard. I love a challenge.

Right. Having said I was going to do some writing about five hours ago, I really am now!

Busy Week Ahead

How typical is this. I have a very busy week this week, and last night I got a horrible cold. I’m talking Man Flu kind of horrible (yes, I fully admit to moaning too much when ill – I can’t handle being ill, I’m really not good at it 😦 ).

I do slightly blame myself, it was going to be an ok week, but then I went and got myself some free cinema tickets (like I could not get any when they’re free!!!) which has messed up my week meaning I’ve had to change shifts and move them about meaning I’m now stressing about not having enough time to do certain things and not sleeping enough to make me better. Sigh.

Still, very exciting week coming up!

Tonight is How To Get Your Book published – an event by Stylist Magazine, featuring Sophie Kinsella and Lisa Jewell. Awesome.

Tuesday is now my free cinema visit. Even better than it just being free, it’s a Jennifer Aniston film that doesn’t come out until September – The Switch. Awesome x2.

Then Wednesday is a ladies’ night at the local Runner’s Need (free champagne and physio advice for runners which I need right now) then on to Rowan Coleman’s book launch party. Awesome x4.

The only problem is that I’m feeling so rough I’m exhausted just thinking about it all 😦

Ooh, I’m now really excited about something else too. I’ve just found out (thanks IMDB) that Getting Rid of Matthew (a brilliant novel by Jane Fallon) is being made into a film – staring Jennifer Aniston. The only problem is I never really like movies when I’ve read and loved the book before. well, I generally don’t anyway.

Speaking of which, last weekend I watched The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I’ve had a week to think about it, and still don’t know what I think. I think I liked it, but there was just so much missing that I thought should have been in there. But then it was long enough as it was, so adding any more would just have made it too long. And missing all that out didn’t really detract from the story, which led me to question – was there too much irrelevant stuff in the novel? Hmm.

I got chatting about NaNo on Twitter last week. I’m definitely going to do it again this year. I just need a story. I like the idea of doing something YA, and I have an idea of the characters. Well one of the three main ones I want. But don’t really know what’s going to happen. I need to read more YA books. Woop! All in the name of research.

I didn’t do any writing over the weekend, so I’m going to go and do some now.

Quite A Lot of Thoughts for A Thursday Night

I worked an early shift today. On the way home I decided NOT to go to the gym (I was meant to be going out so wasn’t supposed to be going anyway – that’s my excuse). My housemate wasn’t going to be in for an hour or so, so I thought I’d get my Fiction Friday story done. And a blog. And did I? Bet you can guess!

First I got sucked into making dinner. Then my new novel (Until it’s Over by Nicci French – I literally haven’t been able to put it down today. How come no one told me about her before?). Then when I was going to start writing I remembered I wanted to make Brownies for work tomorrow (it’s one of the team’s last day so thought it would be nice – plus I’ve been promising I’ll make something for well over a year now!). So now at gone 10, I’m starting a blog. Dunno if I’ll get as far as doing the Fiction Friday thing, I might just add a little more to the ‘Holiday’ scene I wrote yesterday.

Oh wow, yesterday. Yesterday was of course the Chick Lit Evening at Brixton Library. Now for those of you that aren’t familiar with London – Brixton is pretty far South. I live near-ish Tottenham which is pretty far North, and I work somewhere in the middle. So yes, it was well out of my way. But was it worth it? Hell yeah. Lisa Jewell, Jenny Colgan, Matt Dunn, Jojo Moyes, Kate Harrison and Rebecca Chance were all there. First they each did a reading, then answered questions from one of the library staff then the audience. There wasn’t as big turn out as I imagined there would’ve been, but that was almost a good thing, there weren’t 100s of people asking questions, and I had a really good view from the 3rd row.

Every extract from the novels that were read were great, I’m telling you there’s some new novels on my TBR list now! All the authors seemed honest and funny and like they genuinely wanted to be there. It was great. Just sitting listening to them talk about how they started writing, or how they got agents, or where they get their ideas from really inspired me to write more. I don’t want to be famous – I’m not all that good being in the lime light (hence I hide behind this NTWG front) but how awesome would it be to sit on a stage with 5 other people and talk about doing the job you love. Seriously – I want to do it!

Brixon library got a cake and on top of it were pictures of each one of each of their books. It was amazing. I’ve got a picture I’ll post of it when I download it from my phone.

At the end they had a boo signing. I really wanted to go up for a chat, but didn’t have any of their books to get them to sign, and we’re well past the time of the month that I can splash out on books. I’m actually really annoyed at myself cause I’d just finished a Kate Harrison book (Brown Owl’s Guide to LIfe – great book!) which I should’ve taken to get signed. Oh well. Next time.

The highlight of my evening was when Lisa Jewell caught my eye and must’ve recognised me from last time I met her (in April I think at another one of these author things I won a ticket to – just her that time) cause she smiled and lipped hello. At least I think it was at me anyway, ha ha.

So that’s 1 of my fun book/author things for the next two weeks. On Monday I’m going to a ‘How to Get Your Book Published’ night put on my a London Magazine Stylist. I had to pay for this one which I was pretty outraged at (not really, just all the other things I’ve been to have been free – but this will probably be the most useful). When I saw it advertised I ummd and ahhed about it, but, Lisa Jewell’s going to be there (I hope she doesn’t think I’m her new stalker) and so is Sophie Kinsella. I had to go didn’t I? Plus, champagne and canapes. HAD to!

Then on Wednesday I’m going to Rowan Coleman’s book launch party for The Happy Home for Broken Hearts. Saying that, I’ve not been confirmed on the list, but she said first 40 people to review one of her novels and I was the 2nd or 3rd, so pretty confident about that one.

The winners of the Rowan Coleman Short Story Competition were released today. I didn’t come top 8, but with over 300 entries I didn’t really expect to. She’s going to post the winning stories on her site over the next few days, so I’m going to read and learn from them. I’m so glad I entered, it made me realise that’s entering isn’t all that scary, even I can do it. Next step is magazine submissions I guess. Gulp!

When I was at work today I decided I’d write my Fiction Friday piece. I read the prompt and knew exactly how to start it. I was going to use Kate from Holiday again, cause I really like getting in her head and I’m there a lot of the time at the moment anyway (all my daily writing is her), and I knew where it would fit into the story (even if it’s not used in the novel itself). But then I started thinking more about it. Bad move. I then came up with a couple of ideas of where to take it. Then I couldn’t decide which one to use. The result was I didn’t write it. Damn it.

Then of course I decided to set a challenge for my Twitter friends. Well, not so much a challenge, more I asked for some help. Last night I replied to a couple of comments on here. That took my comments up to 666, which kinna freaked me out a little. By lunchtime today, it was still on 666. I’m not really superstitious or anything, but just didn’t like being stuck on there. I didn’t want to comment on anything myself for the sake of it, so I asked for help. And put an incentive out there too. I said I’d name a character in my Fiction Friday piece after the next person to comment on my blog. Bless Walt from WaltinPA – he commented (Thank you so so much Walt). I’ve got a couple of ideas of who ‘Walt’ is going to be. I wonder which one I’ll go with… Oh I’ve just thought, if I go with one I might be able to get my favourite word ever in it – ‘cantankerous’. Excellent.

I feel like there’s something important I was going to blog about and can’t remember what it was. Maybe one day I’ll plan a blog so this doesn’t happen.

Oh I know. My job! From sat around doing nothing today, I’ve managed to get a couple of people suggesting jobs to me, that I think I’d be in a pretty good position of getting.

The first one is for the company I work for now. My boss suggested it last week and I said no way – for about a week every 2 or 3 weeks I’d have to be in work at 7.30am. I’d have to leave my house at 6.30am. I’d therefore have to get up around 5.30am *shudder* I am NOT a morning person. My boss obviously wants to keep me cause she said she’d have a word with the manager over at that site to see if they’d like someone on the late shift (9.00 – 6.00pm) predominantly. Today she came back and said yes. Now because it’s a different site and the way my company works, I’d have to apply for it, but I think I’d be in a pretty good position to get it! Result. Except I hate the company I work for. But a job’s a job right.

Until. I was chatting to someone at the site I work at (a different company) and he mentioned he’s looking for an administrator. I said no straight away, but thought about it and thought it probably wouldn’t be a bad idea. The money’s a little less than I’m on now, but it’s 2 1/2 hours LESS work a week do now, and 5 hours less than this other job I’m looking at. And finishes at a nicer time.

Either way, I’m not going to be able to spend as much time at work writing, blogging, tweeting etc which is a shame, but I’ve had a good run of 18 months doing it. I think if I get an iphone or something similar I’ll be able to still tweet and keep up to date with blogs and stuff. And if I get either of these jobs I’ll be finishing earlier so hopefully I’ll be able to get more done in the evening. Especially as the next few months will probably see quite a significant change in my living arrangements, meaning I’ll be more able to work in the evenings. But that’s a story for another time.

I’ve just realised how long this blog is, sorry to keep you so long. If you’ve even made it this far!!

Another Competition and More Chat

This not doing much work at work is really working for me. Today, I’ve entered a very short story competition. Over at my new favourite website Chick Lit Shorties they’re running a very short story competition in August. They’ve given us an expert of an Isabel Wolff novel then we have to carry it on – in 500 words.

So I’ve written and posted my entry. If you want to take a look, click on here. There are three winners, to be shortlisted enough people have to ‘like’ your story. So, if you like my story, please ‘like’ it too.

Yesterday I sent off my next writing course assignment. I nearly forgot. I got home, had dinner, lounged about and was halfway through watching a movie when I suddenly remembered. Phew. The longest it takes to have it back is 10 days. Oo, exciting.

I wrote a list of all the writing I NEED to do this week. I got a little freaked out by it all. So when through my inbox to delete some of the 5,000+ I have. You know, a job that’s so important!!

I’ve actually crossed a couple of things off the list, so that’s making me feel pretty good. The first was the Chick Lit Shorties competition and the second was my review of The Happy Home for Broken Hearts – which can be found here if you’re interested. I’ve got a little dilemma about this. I got the novel as a freebie to review, but from Facebook. I want to let Rowan know that I’ve reviewed it, but, my Facebook account is in my real name, and obviously this isn’t. I guess I’ll send her a direct message. But if I posted it so that all her ‘liker’s (fans) saw it, I bet I’d get a few visitors across. Hmmm. I might have to do it. I guess it’s not going to be anyone I know on Facebook that sees the link – no one else I know is a fan (except a couple of other writers that know my two identities). I guess at some point I have to let the world know my name, cause I’m going to (if I get that far) publish ‘Holiday’ under my real name.

The reason I’m not using it though on here, is that the first book I’m going to try to publish is going to be a Mills & Boon book, and I don’t want to use my name for that. I want a distinction between my chick lit and M&B books. And also my thrillers and children’s books. If I do either of them. How much ambition do I have?! 🙂

Speaking of ‘Holiday’ I think I’m going to have to change that name much sooner than I thought I would have to. The reason? My next writing course assignment (when I’ve read SIX modules) is to write about a novel I’m planning (I’m going with the idea at only 20,000 words, it’s still in the planning stage – ok, I’m cheating using this but still). I need to have a title, and do a 750 word synopsis and a 150 bio of four of the main characters. Woop! Loving that.

Of course, there’s always the option I don’t write about Holiday. I’m thinking of writing a YA novel for NaNoWriMo in November, so I could do a little planning of that now (or when I’ve read those modules anyway). I quite like the idea of doing Holiday though, cause then I can get some actual feedback straight away.

It did cross my mind to do it about Italian Infatuation, but as that’s already written I don’t think it’s a good idea.

Ok, that’s probably it for now. I should really go and do a little work… 😉

Book Review – The Happy Home for Broken Hearts by Rowan Coleman

Ellie Woods spends her days immersed in the escapist pages of the romantic novels she lovingly edits. But her reality is somewhat less rose-tinted. Once upon a time, Ellie had her ‘happily ever after’ moment when she married her beloved Nick, but fifteen years later her husband’s tragic death leaves her alone with their soon-to-become-a-teenager son, faced with a mountain of debt, and on the verge of losing the family home. On the brink of bankruptcy, Ellie finally succumbs to her sister’s well-meant bullying and decides to rent out some rooms. And all too soon the indomitable Allegra with her love for all things lavender, Sabine on secondment from Berlin and estranged from her two-timing husband, and unreconstructed lads’ mag aficionado Matt enter her ordered but fragile existence – each with their own messy life in tow. And Ellie finds herself forced to step out of the pages of the romantic novels she hides behind, and learn to live – and love – again. Maybe a new chapter is about to begin for them all…

 

          I’m one of Rowan’s fans on Facebook (although I think now I’m a ‘liker’ not a fan) and when she asked if anyone wanted to read her new novel to review I almost ripped her hand off in excitement. I’d just finished one of her previous novels The Baby Club and had absolutely LOVED it. However, what if I read it and didn’t like it? How could I review a book I didn’t like?

          Well, I didn’t need to worry about that. From the first page I fell in love with Ellie, by the 3rd page she’d hit something inside me and I cried. At page three! I know I’m an emotional person, but I’m really impressed Rowan created a character that I could sympathise with so much in such a short space of time.

Her development through the book realistic – I can imagine some authors would have her making a complete recovery (I won’t spoil it from saying what from) in a short time, but the fact it happens slowly – like real life – adds to her character.

          The other characters are lifelike too. Especially Matt who I must admit I kind of fancy a little and Ellie’s son is just the greatest – he almost made me want an eleven year old son!

          One of the cleverest things about this novel, is that it’s almost two in one, as every now and then you’re treated to a page or two of Allegra’s novel.

          I’d really recommend this novel to anyone that’s a fan of the ‘chick lit’ or ‘romance’ genres. There’s everything in there: love, family, friendship, betrayal and bereavement. From the first chapter I was hooked and stayed up way too late on two consecutive nights because I just couldn’t put it down. I laughed (a lot) and cried (more than just on page three) and was so sad when it finished. Another fantastic read by Ms Coleman.