Tag Archive | The Happy Home for Broken Hearts

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?

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!

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.

Assignment Four – DONE!

I know, it’s hard to believe isn’t it, but it’s true. Assignment Four is ready to go. The only reason it’s not been sent is that I want it to be sent from my Hotmail account, and of course we can’t access Hotmail from work. As soon as I get home I’ll zap it off. Woop!

You know I’d so love to just post that as a blog – it’s so much better than anything else I’ll have to write – but you know me and my rambling – I’m going to carry on and on and on.

I’m half way through writing a review of Rowan Coleman’s The Happy Home for Broken Hearts. I find book reviews so hard to do. Last time I said that in a blog I said I’d start doing more to get better at them. I didn’t. In fact, I’ve not done one since April, maybe March. That’s really bad when you consider I’m taking part in a Thriller & Suspense Reading Challenge (see sidebar) where I’m supposed to review the books I read. I’ve a list of four I need to do for that 😦

Ages ago I started a list of all the books I’ve read since being an adult. I lost that when one of our work computers crashed. Last week I started writing it again. Taking my favourite chick lit authors only, I’ve got to between 38 -44 (I can’t for the life of me remember if I’ve read those 6 or not – I recognise them, but maybe from the cover only?). The list was round about 100 when I lost it, so I’ve a long way to go.

I took part in a survey to find the top 10 chick lit novels of all time last week. It was hard to pin down my favourite 5, but I managed it. They are:

  • Straight Talking by Jane Green
  • Angels by Marian Keyes
  • Can You Keep A Secret by Sophie Kinsella
  • PS I Love You by Cecilia Ahern
  • Where Rainbows End by Cecelia Ahern

Ah, reading that list back makes me want to read them all again. 🙂

My Thursday Rambling

It’s Thursday and for the second week running, I’ve started my FictionFriday piece before Friday. I don’t know what the world is coming to.

I started writing it as Kate – the MC from one of my novels, the character from my last few FictionFriday pieces. But, I had to stop writing from her POV because it sounded like it might be personal. It wasn’t, but I imagine some people reading it could have taken it to be. That’s the pain writing from a POV of a character that’s in the same situation as me. I know that’s a little cryptic, but I’m afraid it’s going to stay that way.

So, I took the same idea and swapped over to using Dan as the character. Dan’s the MMC from the novel – Kate’s best friend. However I’m a bit stuck as to who the girl he’s with should be. There’s an exact place in the novel I want this story to fit in. Although I could never use this in the book (it’s 1st person from Kate’s POV), now I’ve got this idea in my head I NEED to write it. But I don’t know if the girl should be the one that turns into his girlfriend, or just a random girl.

Oh yeah, this piece isn’t going to be a complete story, it’s going to have to be something taken out of something bigger (that probably won’t be written), so sorry in advance. Actually I might be able to make it a self-contained story.

I read about 10k of ‘Holiday’ last week. I quite like it. I want to keep writing it, but think I need to put the bits together before I start on it. That’s why I’m loving these Fiction Friday pieces, little glimpses into Kate and Dan’s lives without getting into the novel.

I entered a ‘competition’ to ‘win’ a ticket to Rowan Coleman’s book launch party for The Happy Home for Broken Hearts (which I will review soon, it’s sooooo good). You have to write a short review of your favourite book of hers, then she’ll pick the 40 (yes 40) she likes and they get to go to the party. At the moment there’s only three reviews, so I’m totally going. I may have to warn my friends they won’t see me much this month, I’ll be at loads of author events. Woop!

Before I started writing, there was so much I wanted to say, now I’m here I can’t think of another thing. As soon as I press ‘Publish’ I’ll remember at least one. How annoying.

Ok, got some things…

I started Jane Green’s Girl Friday yesterday – I’m already on p124. I did read A LOT yesterday somehow. Oh yeah, it was raining on my lunch break so I sat in the canteen and read. It’s really good, but I’m having a bit of a problem settling into it being in the present tense. This happens quite often when I read a book that’s past, then straight away swap to one that’s present. I can’t really pinpoint why, but something in my mind just doesn’t like the swap over.

Other than that, I’m loving it – as I totally expected to with a Jane Green novel. She’s definitely one of my favourite authors. Straight Talking is possibly my favourite novel of all time. Oh, after The Time Traveller’s Wife and Twlight (I’m still freaked out a vampire/teen book is in the top 2). I guess it’s possibly my favourite Chick Lit book ever.

Speaking of which, I read something on Simon & Schuster’s Facebook page recommending a survey to find the top 10 Chick Lit novels of the last decade. It’s run by Chick Lit Central on Facebook…. Actually, I’ve just looked and it’s closed. Damn, I didn’t give my opinion. To take part you had to list your top 5 chick lit novels. I couldn’t think of my top 5. I got top three – Straight Talking by Jane Green, Can You Keep a Secret by Sophie Kinsella and Angels by Marian Keyes. But 2 more? Ooh, that’s hard. So I didn’t add any, and now I’ve missed my chance  *stamps off in a mood*

A few weeks ago one of our computers at work crashed and lost everything that was on the desktops. Yes I had loads of stuff. I had thought that it was probably stuff I’ve emailed myself anyway, but I’m now not so sure.

I’m 100% sure I’ve lost my list of books I’ve read. I was compiling a list of all the books I can remember reading as an adult – just for my own amusement. I was up to 90 odd. And have lost it. I am so annoyed with myself for not saving it somewhere else too.

I think, although I’m not sure, I’ve lost a load of research I did on Italy. Damn.

This should teach me a lesson. I need to buy an external hard drive to save all my stuff on. I know you can get them online and stuff, but I just want one. However I do it, I should do it soon, every 3 days I get a reminder pop up telling me to do it. I’ll be so annoyed at myself if I lose everything and haven’t backed it up. Just another thing for the ‘To be done’ list!

July Review

So, as I made goals for July, I guess I should review them. If I have to. Which I do because there’s no point making them if I’m going to stick them in a cupboard and ignore them. So. I think I’ll tackle one at a time.

Write 250 words a day, 5 times a week. Well. I did some writing. No where near 5 days a week. I also totally forgot to keep track of when and what I wrote but I know it wasn’t that often.

5 blogs per week. I did 5 blogs a week for 2 weeks, and 4 the other 2 weeks. A pretty good effort I think.

Finish American Gods by Neil Gaiman and read two other novels. Oh I totally rocked this goal. AG finished. Four other books read. Yes FOUR! The Happy Home for Broken Hearts by Rowan Coleman, Love in the Air by James Collins, The Baby Group by Rowan Coleman and The Memory Collector by Meg Gardiner. Woop, that’s great. Maybe this month I should think more about WRITING than READING. Still, both the Rowan Coleman ones and the Meg Gardiner were BRILLIANT. In fact I stayed up way too late the last two nights to finish The Happy Home…!

Spend two hours per week on my writing course. Well, last week I probably spent more than two hours on it. But hadn’t touched it the rest of the month. Damn again.

So what have I learnt from this? I should maybe read a little less this month and write more. And definitely work more on my writing course.

I’ll set some goals for this month in the next couple of days, but it’s going to be hard when I know I’ll need to be job hunting. 250 words a day is not much though. I could do it in the morning or before bed if I can’t find time anywhere else (which I doubt I won’t be able to do!).

In other news, I had the most productive evening ever last night. After work I went to the recording of a TV show (‘Pointless’, pretty funny) so got in late. I planned to do the Bathroom, a Blog and Book (I was loving Bs). I managed to do the bathroom, post a blog, finish a book AND do some ironing. I need to take last night’s motivation for getting things done in the evening and carry it on to every other night of my life. Ooh, except tonight, I’m going out for dinner then to watch Inception. Can’t wait!