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The Forgotten Guide To Happiness By Sophie Jenkins

The Forgotten Guide To Happiness‘The Forgotten Guide To Happiness’ is Sophie Jenkins debut novel

Twenty-eight-year-old Lana Green has never been good at making friends. She’s perfectly happy to be left alone with her books. Or at least, that’s what she tells herself. Nancy Ellis Hall was once a celebrated writer. Now eighty, she lives alone in her North London house, and thinks she’s doing just fine. But dementia is loosening Nancy’s grip on the world. When Lana and Nancy become unconventional house mates, their lives will change in ways they never expected. But can an unusual friendship rescue two women who don’t realise they need to be saved?

‘The Forgotten Guide To Happiness’ is a beautifully poignant and witty story that really grabbed my attention throughout. The story is seen through the narrative of Lana, a successful author who is struggling with her follow up second novel. Having suffered a recent heartbreak, she’s finding it difficult to write an upbeat story of love and positivity much to the dismay of her agent and bank balance. Finding herself not only broke but broken, she starts a new career as a romantic lecturer as well as becoming a carer for Nancy Ellis Hall, a literary icon on the cusp of dementia. Her step-son has stepped in as a reluctant hero to help Lana research her book as well as prove that heroes do exist.

This is a lovely story, Lana is a funny and regularly had been laughing at her anecdotes and crazy situations, as she relaxed into her new job as a lecturer and teaching others around her about love, even though she has given up on the concept after being left heartbroken. Nancy is a boisterous character that really lit up the pages of the story, outspoken, creative and deliciously kind hearted, it was hard not to fall in love with the old dear as she spoke frankly of love and her own experiences. She becomes across as quite a hardhearted character, but she’s actually quiet vulnerable and hides behind this facade. Scenes between her and Lana are wonderfully funny and occasionally tender moments. Whilst Jack, the budding hero of the story is quite a charismatic gentleman who is out to prove to Lana, that there are still some heroes in the world.

Wonderfully lighthearted but deliciously fun, ‘The Forgotten Guide To Happiness’, is an entertaining story of friendship and new beginnings.

You can buy The Forgotten Guide to Happiness from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 9th August 2018.

The New Girl Book Tour – Extract

The New GirlSit back and enjoy an thriliing extract from Ingrid Alexandra’s chilling new book called ‘The New Girl’.

The wine is cool and crisp as it passes my lips and, after a couple more sips, the familiar warmth curls in my stomach like a cat settling in for the night. Humming a catchy tune I heard on the radio, I flip through the mail.

An estate agent advertisement, the electricity bill and a letter, the one with the brown stain on it, addressed to someone named Sophia Gates. It’s the second time this person’s mail has arrived here; Sophia Gates must have been the previous tenant. I toss the letter into the recycling, take a long pull of wine and then pause, rubbing a finger along my lips.

I knew someone named Sophia once. Or Sophie, maybe. I think for a moment but my mind’s cloudy, and I can’t remember anyone specific. It’s probably no one important, yet I have that feeling I get at times, like I’m supposed to remember something but there’s a brick wall in my mind and my thoughts stop there. A blank space, as I’ve come to call it.

My wine’s nearly gone and no one’s home yet, so I top up my glass with a bottle from the laundry. I go to my room, sit at my desk and flip open my laptop. I check my email, trawl through my newsfeed. Without planning to, I google the name Sophia Gates. Images, Facebook pages and LinkedIn accounts pop up, but I don’t recognise anyone. I’m being stupid, paranoid as usual. It must just be a coincidence.

‘Any mail?’ Cat’s voice calls from the kitchen, startling me. I hadn’t heard the door.

‘On the coffee table!’ I tell her, gulping a mouthful before hiding the glass under the desk.

Just a short taster, that really leaves you wanting more.

You can buy The New Girl from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 4th October 2018.

The Lost Sister Book Tour – Extract

The Lost SisterToday’s book tour features an extract from Tracy Buchanan’s new book called ‘The Lost Sister’.

Mike shot me a disapproving glance. ‘Fruit or nothing,’ he said, grabbing his car keys. He gave Becky a kiss on the head then waved at me before letting himself out. There was once a time when he’d kiss me before leaving for work.

Not now though.

Should that have made me feel sad? Well I didn’t. I felt nothing. When I was sure he was gone, I went to the cupboard and got some chocolate flavoured cereal out, winking at a giggling Becky. ‘You have to be quick though, we have to leave for school soon.’

Five minutes later, we walked to Becky’s school. It was a breezy day, still warm though, the skies blue, the sun bright, the sea glimmering in the distance. People were either walking to work or coming back from dropping kids off, dressed in shorts and T-shirts, sandals and flip-flops.

The school lay at the bottom of a hill, five minutes’ walk from our new-build house. As I passed the newsagent, I noticed the headline: UK’s Economy at Historic Low. I peered towards where Mike worked with Greg at a large
financial advice firm in town.

There had been rumours of redundancies the year before but nothing had come of it. What if Mike was made redundant now?

Would I have to go back to working full-time again?

The thought sent a dart of fear through me.

Better if they made me redundant from my senior copywriter job. It wasn’t like I was pulling in much on my three-day salary anyway.

I put my sunglasses on, pulling up the straps of my silky red vest top to cover my bra straps, my black skirt skimming the back of my knees. Everyone else around me was wearing pastel colours, but I liked to be bold: blood reds and stark blacks, azure blues and emerald greens. I had earrings to match, necklaces sometimes too.

You can buy The Lost Sister from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 20th September 2018.

Top 5 Tips for Creating You Own Cut Flower Garden By Vanessa Carnevale

The Memories Of UsOn the book tour for Vanessa Carnevale’s new book called ‘The Memories Of Us, she talks about creating her own cut flower garden and tips to making it a success.

While researching flowers for ‘The Memories of Us’, I set about creating my own cut flower garden in my own backyard. I pulled up all the veggies in my veggie patch and replaced it with flowers. I created garden beds for roses, peonies, dahlias, sweet peas and most of the varieties that Gracie cultivates at Summerhill. Here’s how you can go about creating your own mini flower farm.

Make a list of your favourite varieties
Start by making a list of flowers you love and the kind of colours you’d like to see in your garden or flower arrangements. You may like to plant several plants of the same variety so you can harvest multiple stems at the one time.

Some great cut flower varieties include: dahlias, peonies, ranunculus, sweet peas, hybrid tea roses, tulips, daffodils and gerberas.

Beside your list, make a note of when the sowing time is for seeds or bulbs, along with another column for the time you can expect your flowers to appear in the garden. You may not be able to order all the seeds or tubers at the same time, so it pays to keep track and add them to your garden as you go. For example, dahlias will come into bloom over the summer, peonies have only a short flowering window of around three weeks, and roses will last over a period of several months. If you can ensure you’re planting a range of flower varieties, you can be assured you’ll have a nice range of blooms to pick for as long as possible.

Don’t forget to plant filler foliage! Dusty miller, hypericum berries and seeded eucalyptus make great filler foliage. Bulking up an arrangement with greenery makes flowers look even more stunning in a vase or bouquet.

Decide on perennials versus annuals
When planning you’re cutting garden you may like to like to take into account how many perennials and annuals you’ll be planting. Bell flowers, asters and foxgloves are great examples of perennials that will grow back each year.

Stagger planting windows
Once you’ve made your list, plot out on a calendar, when you can look at planting each flower variety in your garden.

Decide where to plant your flowers
Deciding where to plant your flowers will depend on how much room you have. Raised beds and pots are a great option if you have limited space.

Keep your garden healthy
Be sure to adequately water and fertilise your garden. Don’t be afraid to cut flowers and when you do, be sure to cut stems a little longer than you’ll need them so you can recut when you arrange them in a vase.

You can buy The Memories of Us from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

In Appreciation Of The Bonkbuster By Kat French

Claire AllanOn the final day of the book tour for Kat French’s new book called ‘A Summer Scandal’, we talk about the great authors of the bonkbusters.

Every year I write a summer book; this year my release is called ‘A Summer Scandal’, about a girl who unexpectedly inherits a pier in a south coast town she’s never heard of and packs her bags for a summer of adventure. I love writing a proper sizzler of a book – for me, a good beach read needs to turn up the heat! I’m hugely inspired by lots of writers, but I’d like to focus particularly on a genre that holds a special place in my heart – the bonkbuster! Bonkbusters, named affectionately as a mash up of a blockbuster and bonking, never go out of fashion. Fabulously over the top, they fizz with sex and scandal and absolute beach appeal; here are three of the most legendary authors in this genre.

Jackie Collins – The Queen.
Sadly no longer with us, Jackie was the queen of the genre by a long chalk. I think I’ve read every book she ever released, a steady diet of glitzy, glamorous scandal from the age of about fifteen! Thirty-two novels, more than five hundred million books sold and translated into forty languages – what incredible stats! I can’t imagine any one will ever topple Jackie’s crown, she oozed glamour in real life and seemed to live an LA lifestyle right off the pages of one of her racy novels. She lifted the lid on Hollywood and gave us all a peep behind the curtain. We salute you with champagne, Jackie.

A Summmer Scandal

Jilly Cooper
What Jackie is to LA, Jilly is to the rolling English countryside. Her Rutshire Chronicles (‘Riders’, ‘Rivals’, Polo, etc.) are a delicious thrill, full of adultery and scandal set amongst the British upper-class Polo and foxhunting crowd. Huge, heavy books that you read slowly so as not to get to the end too soon, and the ultimate sexy anti-hero in Rupert Campbell Black. Often loathsome but as sexy as they come, he is the poster boy of all things bonkbuster.

Shirley Conran.
I read ‘Lace’ at a rather impressionable age, and it has stayed with me ever since! I doubt there is a romance writer alive who doesn’t envy the line “Which one of you bitches is my mother?” – it’s a twisty tale of revenge and revelations set in the sixties and seventies, and is as much a story of four women’s friendship and self discovery as it is about Lily’s search for her mother. Anyone who has read Lace will never look at a goldfish in the same way again…

You can buy A Summer Scandal from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.