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Sheila O’Flanagan To Release Children’s Book

Sheila O'FlanaganIrish author, Shelia O’Flanagan announced some exciting news this week when she revealed that she would be writing a children’s book called ‘The Runner’ with her publisher Hodder Books.

She revealed the news on her website –

“I’m really excited to tell you that I’m now also a children’s book author! The lovely people at Hodder book publishing will be bringing out my first every book for children in 2016. It’s a fantasy and will be for boys and girls in the 12+ age group. It’s called The Runner and it’s about a sixteen year old boy named Joe who is bullied at school and who one day steps through a portal into a different world. But he’s walked into training camp for young people who have a very special mission to carry out. The must venture beyond the Shield that protects their country to place the organic units that keep the Shield in place. This means they have to journey through enemy territory where one false move will get them captured and killed. Joe is forced to travel with one of the Runners, a clever and capable girl named Kaia who is determined to do whatever is necessary to protect her country….

I had great fun writing Joe’s story and seeing how he dealt with being in a different world with people whose values are very different to his own. I hope children and their parents will enjoy reading it too!”

Sounds like an interesting book, no matter the age!

For more information and updates, check out Shelia’s website.

Christmas With Billy And Me By Giovanna Fletcher

Christmas With Billy And MeIf you enjoyed Giovanna Fletcher’s debut book, ‘Billy And Me’ then you will be delighted to hear that Giovanna has returned to those characters with her short Christmas book ‘Christmas With Billy And Me’

The story of ‘Christmas With Billy and Me’ is –

Christmas has come to Rosefont Hill and it’s destined to be a particularly special festive season for Sophie May. When a smitten stranger emails Sophie to ask her if he can propose to the woman he loves in her little teashop, the romantic in her finds it impossible to refuse. Even though Christmas is her busiest time of year she has her own sweetheart, Hollywood actor Billy Buskin, to lend a helping hand. How could she say no to making someone’s dream come true? As Sophie and Billy work together to plan the perfect fairytale proposal for this couple, excitement in Rosefont Hill is mounting. Who is this mysterious man? And who is the lucky lady he’s about to get down on one knee for?

I don’t usually review short stories for the fear of giving too much away especially with this sweet festive story being just 52 pages long.

But I wanted to give it a little review, as it is the return of our favourite couple by Giovanna Fletcher from her debit novel Billy and Sophie as they prepare for Christmas and Sophie has been given a special task for Christmas Eve.

‘Christmas With Billy And Me’ is an enjoyable and warmhearted festive story that is perfect to curl up with a cup of tea. Packed with joviality and Christmas magic this book is lovely reading!

You can buy Christmas With Billy and Me from Amazon and is available to buy from Waterstones.

It’s Not Me It’s You By Mhairi McFarlane

'It's Not Me, It's You‘It’s Not Me, It’s You’ is the latest book by Mhairi McFarlane.

Delia Moss isn’t quite sure where she went wrong. When she proposed and discovered her boyfriend was sleeping with someone else – she thought it was her fault. When she realised life would never be the same again – she thought it was her fault. And when he wanted her back like nothing had changed – Delia started to wonder if perhaps she was not to blame. From Newcastle to London and back again, with dodgy jobs, eccentric bosses and annoyingly handsome journalists thrown in, Delia must find out where her old self went – and if she can ever get her back.

I’ve been a fan of Mhairi’s books since the release of her first book, ‘You Had Me At Hello’. I’ve loved her stories of fiery heroines who fall for unfortunate heroes and this book was just the same as Delia had thought that she had found her happy ever after, only to discover her Prince Charming was cheating and the life that she dreamed off was suddenly snatched away.

Desperate to escape the horror, she leaves Newcastle and disappears to London and lives with her best friend Emma, who helps her set up a new life and a shoulder to cry on. She is fortunate that she finds a job quite quickly and settles to her role at Twist and Shout comfortably, a company that handles celebrities and politicians. But when she meets Adam, a handsome hipster journalist who wants to know all about the dodgy dealings of the company and her sleazy Australian boss, Delia finds herself in awkward situations.

This story is a delight to read from the very start. Here, we have a heroine who puts her heart on the line and asks her boyfriend off ten years to marry her only for it to be broken, when he mistakenly texts her instead of his lover. Broken and bitter, Delia rallies on with the help of her innocent and sweet game loving brother, Ralph, her outspoken best friend Emma and council hating Joe. She works hard at forgetting the hurt, even though Paul tries hard to win her back. Mhairi has once again created a character that you want as a friend, a friend who can help mop up a broken heart as well as make an excellent drinking buddy and that is what Delia is, fun loving with her quirky fashion sense, she exudes vibrancy across the pages.

As well as Delia, there are a host of characters in this book that make for extremely fun reading. Joe and Adam in particular, I enjoyed, Delia’s friendships developed between the two. And the occasional love/hate banter that Adam and Delia did having me sniggering to myself. Even though the story is quite lighthearted, there is one harrowing part of the tale that did leave me bawling at my work desk, so I would suggest having tissues close by when reading the book.

A delicious story that I would happily read again and again and which most definitely has to be my favourite cover of the year. ‘It’s Not Me, It’s You’ is a wittily written uplifting story about overcoming heartbreak, new friendships and realising that you’re never too late to start over.

You can buy It’s Not Me, It’s You from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Rick’s Oatmeal Raisin Cookies From The Stall Of Second Chances

The Stall Of Second ChancesToday I’m hosting the book tour for Dana Bate’s new book ‘The Stall Of Second Chances’ and I’ve a recipe to share that is included in the book. So let’s crack open our eggs and sieve our flour and get stuck into Rick’s Oatmeal Raisin Cookies. 

Rick’s Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
For big cookies à la Rick, use an ice-cream scoop with a 2-inch diameter to scoop the dough onto the cookie sheets. For smaller cookies, reduce the baking time. You can use dark raisins if you like, but Rick and I prefer golden ones. This recipe can easily be doubled.
Makes 15 cookies
? cup plain flour
? teaspoon baking powder
? teaspoon ground cinnamon
? teaspoon kosher salt
8 tablespoons (? pound) unsalted butter, at room temperature
? cup light brown sugar, loosely packed
? cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1? cups rolled oats (old-fashioned, not quick-cooking)
? cup golden raisins
Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
In a small bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.
In a large bowl, beat the butter, brown and granulated
sugar together with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Turn the mixer to low and add the egg, followed by the vanilla.
With the mixer still on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture. Then add the oats and raisins and mix until just combined.
Using a 2-inch ice-cream scoop, drop the dough onto the baking sheets, spacing the scoops 2–3 inches apart. Flatten the tops slightly with a damp hand. Bake for 15–20 min?utes, until lightly browned but still slightly soft in the centre. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for a minute or so, then transfer them to a baking rack and cool completely

You can buy The Stall of Second Chances from Amazon from is available to buy from good bookshops.

Jodi Picoult

Jodi PicoultJodi Picoult is the bestselling author of of twenty-three novels. Her last eight novels have debuted at number one on the New York Times bestseller list. Her books are translated into thirty four languages in thirty five countries and four of her books, ‘The Pact’, ‘Plain Truth’, ‘The Tenth Circle’, and ‘Salem Falls’ were made into television movies and ‘My Sister’s Keeper’ was adapted for the silver screen. She lives with her husband Tim and their three children in Hanover, New Hampshire. ‘Leaving Time’ is Jodi’s latest novel and I am excited to welcome her to Handwritten Girl.

  1. Can you tell us about your new book ‘Leaving Time?’
    Yes of course – it is about 13-year-old Jenna Metcalf, who is on a quest, searching for her mother, Alice, an elephant researcher, who disappeared 10 years earlier after a tragic accident at their sanctuary for former circus/zoo elephants in New England. The book explores the mother-daughter relationship, be it elephant or human, and the idea that those we can’t forget are never truly gone.
  2. You were a writer for DC Comics writing the Wonder Woman series. If you were to be a superhero, what would your superpower be?
    I would choose the ability to change people’s minds.
  3. Your stories are often of complex and sensitive issues such as the Nineteen Minutes with the school shooting and My Sister’s Keeper, a teenage girl battling for the ownership of her body. What has been the hardest book to write?
    My last book, ‘The Storyteller’, which was based around the Holocaust, is somewhere near the top of the list – the research was among some of the most emotionally grueling I’ve ever done. I met with several Holocaust survivors, who told me their stories. Some of those details went into the fictional history of my character, Minka. It was humbling and horrifying to realize that the stories they recounted were non-fiction. Some of the moments these brave men and women told me will stay with me forever.
  4. In relation to ‘My Sister’s Keeper’ how did you feel about the adaptation, were you happy about the changes?
    It’s hard for people to believe, but when Hollywood adapts a movie to the screen, the author is pretty much at the bottom of the totem pole. You sell the rights and it’s like giving a baby up for adoption – you aren’t allowed to call daily and ask what she’s been fed for breakfast. Of course, you hope that the family you’re trusting with your baby is a good one, and that she’ll turn out well in the long run…but there are no guarantees. There was a lot of wonderful stuff in the movie version – most notably the performances, which I really enjoyed and by which I was really moved. There were some scenes added that weren’t in the book which I loved (the beach scene, for example). But the ending IS different. Let’s leave it there!
  5. If you were starting your writing journey over again, would there be anything that you would do differently the second time around?
    I really don’t think so – I have worked hard and been lucky enough to be successful and I really can’t ask for more.
  6. You wrote a teenage fantasy book with your daughter, how did you find working on a new genre and with a partner particularly your daughter?
    I have always written adult fiction and I’ve always been delighted that so many young adults have found their way to my stories when they are emotionally ready to do so. After all, I used to joke, after you’ve read all the Harry Potter books, what’s next!? I have also gotten letters from parents asking me how old their child should be before reading one of my stories. To me, ‘Between the Lines’ is a great fit for preteens and younger teens who may not be quite ready to tackle moral and ethical dilemmas in fiction. There are characters their own age, feeling feelings they have probably felt. As in my other novels, the teens in the book seem very real – they talk and act like adolescents (I know this, because I had a bonafide one co-writing with me!). And working with Sammy was a blast! We had such fun and I realised totally what a smart kid she is. Look out for the follow-up novel, ‘Off the Page’, next summer in the UK.
  7. What authors do you admire?
    Alice Hoffman, F Scott Fitzgerald, Margaret Mitchell, Stephen King and Shakespeare of course. Then there is Alice Hoffman, Jo-Ann Mapson, Alice Hoffman, Anita Shreve, Ann Hood, Amy Tan, Diana Gabaldon, Alice Hoffman, Jacquelyn Mitchard, Emma Donoghue, Alice Hoffman, Jennifer Weiner, Susan Isaacs, Dan Chaon, Aimee Bender, Elinor Lipman, Chris Bohjalian, Ann Tyler, and Jane Hamilton. Oh, and did I mention Alice Hoffman?
  8. I remember reading ‘My Sister’s Keeper’ on the bus and quite openly crying at the end. Has there been a book that has affected you in an similar way?
    ‘My Sister’s Keeper’ came from our own experience of putting one child in front of another – because you have to – not because you love them more. So you could say that it affected me hugely because it was personal on many levels. At the age of 5, our son Jake came down with cholesteatoma, a benign tumor in his left ear. However, we were told it could get to the brain and kill him… so we had to get rid of it. We took an experimental approach that required multiple surgeries — 13 of them. Had we used a more traditional approach, Jake would have been profoundly deaf. There was so much going on with Jake at the time that the other kids had to wait until we got back to them, so to speak. They seem ok about it now, though!
  9. If you were to start your own book club, what authors would you ask to join?
    All those I admire!
  10. What career would you have chosen if you weren’t a writer?
    That’s easy – I would have been a baker!
  11. Can you describe your writing routine
    I don’t work on weekends, usually (although I have been known to sneak up to an office when I’m in the middle of a chapter – I hate leaving my characters hanging!) But other than that, I’m a workaholic. I will start a new book the day after finishing a previous one. What you need to remember, however, is that there’s nothing I’d rather be doing than writing. My kids know that I need it like some people need medication – as a preventative, because when I don’t write for a few days, I get predictably cranky. They’ve become used to sharing me with people who don’t really exist, but who are incredibly real to ME while I’m telling their stories. A book takes nine months to research and write …yes, it’s like having a baby! And I write every day in my office at home.
  12. And finally do you have any new exciting new projects on the horizon?
    My next book will be ‘Living Colour’ and it is about race in America, in the present day. It is a book that has pushed me the furthest into confronting my own unseen prejudices and privileges as a white woman in America. Too often, and too recently, we have seen acts of violence taking place that have a root of racism at their core… It is the one conversation America and many other countries doesn’t want to have. It’s too scary, it’s hard, and we fear saying the wrong thing even if we are well-intentioned. Which is exactly why I think we need to start talking. I hope my book prompts that.

Follow Jodi Picoult on Twitter Jodi Picoult for updates or check out her website at Jodi Picoult