Tracy Bloom Talks Books

Tracy Bloom writes funny books, ones that make her readers laugh for hours and allow her to collect over one hundred five star reviews on Amazon. I’m sat down with the loveable author to discuss her new Christmas book.

I Will marry George Clooney

Q. Your new book, I Will Marry George Clooney… By Christmas is out for readers to indulge in. For those who haven’t heard about it, what is it about?
A. There comes a time in every woman’s life when the only answer is to marry George Clooney. Slogging her guts out in a chicken factory, whilst single-handedly bringing up a teenage daughter who hates her is far from the life that 36-year-old Michelle had planned. But marrying George Clooney could change all that couldn’t it? Sometimes your only option is to dream the impossible because you never know where it might take you.

Q. How did you find writing a Christmas book in a month other than December?
A. Brilliant – who doesn’t want to re-live Christmas in July?

Q. Why did you choose to include George Clooney in the book? Why not someone A LOT hotter say… Daniel Radcliffe? (Emma’s personal fave…)
A. Really? Are you serious? Mr. Clooney is way hotter than Harry Potter!!! I think I chose George because he seems to have such universal appeal and I very much see him as our modern day Prince Charming. Sophisticated, funny, kind and very easy on the eye – what’s not to love?

Q. You do know he’s married, right?
A. He wasn’t married when I started! He actually got married 11 days before the book came out but we took the view that just like Prince Charming, we can all still dream that in times of extreme adversity that he might just come and rescue us.

Q. Your books are jam packed with humour. What is the best tip you can give my readers if they’re interested in writing comedy?
A. Humour is such a personal thing. What makes one person laugh is totally unfunny to another so you just have to have confidence in yourself. Be brave and write what you think is funny and hope there are enough other people out there with the same sense of humour as you.

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Now for the quick fire round…

Christmas Eve or Boxing Day?
Christmas Eve – it’s all about the anticipation.

Christmas at home or Christmas on holiday?
At home – want to be in pyjama’s eating chocolate and drinking Bucks Fizz at 6am surrounded by wrapping paper please.

Kindle or Paperback?
Depends on the book. Some I like to feel the pages in my hands whereas other I’m happy to swipe through. Definitely room for both.

Describe your perfect Christmas in FIVE words…
Twinkly, Together, Singing, Dancing, Flopping

Twitter: @TracyBBloom
Website: www.tracybloom.com

Review of The Stall Of Second Chances by Dana Bate

Published: 20th November 2014
Publisher: Little Brown
Pages: 432

Blurb: 

Sydney Strauss is obsessed with food.

Not just with eating it – though she loves that too – but with writing about it as an aspiring cookery reporter. But food journalism jobs are more coveted than cupcakes, and so Sydney is stuck working for one of TV’s biggest egomaniacs – until she’s left scrambling for shifts at the local farmers’ market.

Selling muffins at the Wild Yeast Bakery is hardly going to make her the next Nigella. But soon Sydney is writing the market’s weekly newsletter, and her quirky stories gain attention from a prominent food columnist. After years of being left on the shelf, she’s even dating again. And then Sydney gets a shot at the story, one that could either make her career or burn it to a cinder – along with her relationship and her reputation.

Review:

Thank you to Little Brown for kindly sending a review copy.

The narrative begins as Sydney loses her job and I thought this was a tough way to begin a plot as readers haven’t had the chance to get to know the main character yet, but the book proved me wrong as Sydney turned out to be a remarkable woman. I felt every emotion whilst she went through the process of finding something new. What I found to be a little odd was that Sydney loves food yet her kitchen is bare – there’s barely any food in the fridge but in time, Dana explains all.

As a main character, Sydney had such a warmth about her. She was amusing, talented and honest. She really grabbed my attention when her best friend Heidi mentioned her blog and as a blogger myself, I found her blogging life to be really interesting to read about. The love interest, Jeremy wasn’t up to scratch for me I’m afraid. His attempt to be a gent was a bit weak and I felt like Sydney deserved a lot better. The topic of food allowed them to really connect and despite me not liking Jeremy, I enjoyed their conversations.

When Sydney’s food career was going nowhere, I understood her frustration at the “it’s an experimental job at the moment” comments. I really liked the fact that Dana included this aspect into the plot because it was highly relatable and it added a very strong sense of realism which I really enjoyed.

Overall, I thought the book was written really well. The flow was consist and if I’m honest, it really surprised me as a whole. I enjoyed the book a lot more than I thought I would. The narrative just drew me in completely and I thought Sydney was a brilliant main character.

Twitter: @danabate
Website: www.danabate.com

Review of The Soundtrack To My Life by Dermot O’Leary

Published: 9th October 2014
Publisher:
Hodder & Stoughton
Pages: 304

Blurb:

The Soundtrack To My Life is Dermot’s personal memoir of a life in music told through the songs that were playing at key moments in his life. With a wonderful gift for storytelling, Dermot describes his journey from a childhood in Colchester with his Irish family, to some of the biggest jobs in TV and radio in the UK. It’s a story which is accompanied, in every scene, by music.

Dermot would be the first to admit, they are not all great songs. This isn’t Desert Island Discs; the songs chose him, not the other way round. Dermot went to his first gig at the age of nine, and saw Irish troubadour Brendan Shine, he roller-skated to Baby I Can’t Wait by Nu Shooz and got his first job in TV while the Macarana was playing everywhere. Constantly.

But, other songs playing in the background to his life – songs by The Smiths, Elbow, The Pogues or Bruce Springsteen, are tracks & artists which he truly loves and will always love, and not just for the memories they evoke.

Review: 

Thank you to Hodder & Stoughton for kindly sending me a review copy.

We all know who Dermot O’Leary is. If you don’t, clearly you haven’t watched T4, Big Brother’s Little Brother, The X Factor, The Brit Awards and The National Television Awards. He’s everywhere these days, including doing a voice over for Amazon Prime TV. Dermot believes that everyone has a soundtrack to their lives and I agree. His soundtrack ranges from Terry Wogan to Peter Andre (insert a big cheer here) to Beyonce. I knew I was going to enjoy this book just by reading the introduction as it’s extremely witty and he is brutally honest, including his typing skills.

“Four bars from a recognisable tune and you’ll be back to your first kiss…”

Dermot uses music to relate to certain aspects of his life as we all do. His Irish background was wonderful to read about before seeing pictures from his family archive. As a lot of autographies go, the readers  tend to learn much more about the person than intended and that was the case with Dermot. Did you know that he got an A in his A-Levels for Politics? No. Me either. But it certainly comes in handy for shushing Cheryl and Simon for disagreeing live on air. He’s not just a pretty face, oh no, he’s a brainbox as well. From college, he went on to University (before the heavy fees were introduced) and worked his peachy backside off.

During Soundtrack 15, Dermot hit an emotional note by mentioning Jade Goody. For those who don’t know, Jade was a contestant on Big Brother many years ago and rose to fame within an instant. She had a very bubbly personality and was very well loved. Dermot talks about her death in a lovely, warm manner and how she made an impact on his life.

The chapter on The X Factor was the one I was really looking forward to. When he was put forward for the job, to my surprise, he didn’t say yes straight away (but thankfully, he did). In fact, he lost a lot of sleep over making the right decision and even asked the previous host Kate Thornton for her blessing. I laughed quite a bit when he mentioned meeting Simon Cowell and discussing the job role with him – would he have to eat/drink something disgusting? I’ll let you be the guess of that one…

“It’s the first live show and I’m SHITTING MYSELF!”

Overall, this book has made me love Dermot even more. There is more to the man who says “your Saturday night starts right here!” He’s a true gent, a very witty man, unbelievably honest and highly passionate about music. Most of all, he’s a great hugger. I’ve got the opportunity to meet Dermot in December so make sure you keep your eye on a blog post all about my meet up.

Twitter: @radioleary

A. L Michael Talks Christmas Writing Tips

A.L. Michael is a twenty something writer from London. She works as a creative facilitator, running workshops in Creative Writing, writing for well being, and children’s lessons. She has a BA in English Literature with Creative Writing, an MA in Creative Entrepreneurship, and is working towards an MsC in Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes. She is not at all reliant on her student discount card. When she’s not writing or talking about writing, she bakes, runs, plays with her puppy, and gets continually distracted by shiny things on etsy. Today, she shares her Christmas Writing Tips for all you budding authors…

Writing a Christmas novel wasn’t anything I’d ever considered doing before. In fact, I didn’t even really realise that it was a thing! But when you browse on your e-reader now, you can see there are more Christmassy novels than ever. I especially love it when authors take the characters from an existing novel, and do a Christmas special- who doesn’t love the chance to revisit their favourite characters and settings with a little extra Christmas sparkle?

1. Decide what Christmas means to you.
My first thought was ‘family’. Mainly in the good way, that it’s the season to spend with those you love, but also that everything gets blown way out of proportion over the holidays! So I knew I wanted there to be family drama, wanted the idea of someone going home for Christmas and feeling nostalgic but also tense. I wanted there to be Christmas traditions, and explore how it feels when you try to connect to those things you’ve always associated with the holiday, even when you don’t feel connected to the people you did them with.

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2. Focus on is setting.
Do you want a city Christmas? A suburban snow-covered setting? The country side? Maybe you want Christmas on a beach in Australia! But picking where everything is going to be, like in all stories, matters. Because that’s where your festive feelings are going to come from. There’s no reason you can’t choose a really exciting, alternative Christmas setting, something people wouldn’t expect, but it’s important to remember that we all have certain festive expectations, and the likelihood is, if we’re reading something to get in the Christmas mood, we’re going to want the expected bells and whistles.

3. Drama!
Same as I said in the beginning, everything’s heightened around the holidays. You’re made to spend more hours than usual with people you don’t see that much, adding too much food and booze and disappointing jumpers, and there’s going to be drama. Or the romance element, because frozen noses and fairylights are romantic (sort of) and being alone at the holidays is always more difficult. Or something that would suck on any other day (being robbed/losing something) is so much worse around the holidays (Christmas is cancelled!). Use what matters to you about Christmas time, and take it to extremes, the absolute best and absolute worst!

Twitter: @ALMichael_
Website: www.almichael.com

 

Holly Bourne Talks YA Writing Tips

Holly Bourne, author of Soulmates and The Manifesto On How to Be Interesting, shares her tips on how to write Young Adult fiction.

First things first, what ‘is’ YA?
With every other genre in the literary universe, there are helpful conventions to follow and prop you up along the writing way. Unfortunately, YA is almost the entire fiction section of a bookstore crammed into one ‘genre’. YA includes contemporary romance, sci-fi, fantasy, dystopia, thrillers, murder mysteries, ALL THE THINGS…but just the central characters happen to be teenagers.
When you first start writing YA, this can be quite overwhelming. My key bit of advice for good YA is, whatever happens, remember they are teenagers. Whatever happens, think, ‘is this what an actual teenager would do? ‘

Crack out your teenage diaries
Most of us kept them – humiliating daily accounts of our adolescent doom: “Dear Diary, today Laura lifted my skirt up in front of all the boys. I HATE HER SO MUCH! Pizza for dinner. Yum! I have two spots though, GUTTED. God, I love Pacey from Dawson’s Creek. I hope we get married.” (Or was this just my diary?)

Whenever I start a new book, I get out all my old diaries and re-read them cover-to-cover. It never gets less cringe, but it’s a great exercise in getting back into the headspace of being a teenager again. In fact, some of the cruel bits in The Manifesto On How To Be Interesting were creatively shoplifted right from my teenage diaries.

Story story story pace pace pace
To me, a good YA book is one you whip through, devouring each page like it’s an All You Can Eat buffet, staying up till silly o’clock to finish it. While writing, always think ‘what’s the story here? Am I getting there quick enough Nigel?’. Also, short sentences, short paragraphs. This makes the reader race through it quick quick quick. I am very partial to the one-sentence paragraph myself…sorry rainforest.

Remember all your characters are Coming Of Age…
… not just your protagonist. Lots of YA is about Discovering Who You Are, another reason why I love it so. But all your main secondary characters will be sixteenish too, and discovering who they are too. Remember this! And it makes for some great inter-character tensions. Also, there ain’t no sixteen year-old whose fully-developed and exists solely to help someone else on their path to self-discovery. So don’t write supporting teenagers like that, pretty please thank you.

And keep the parents at bay
Unless the book is specifically about your MC’s relationship with their parents – keep them out of there as much as possible. When you’re a teenager your mates are your main orbit – they essential are your family. Focus a lot on the dynamics and dramas of the MC’s friendship circle, more than the family. That said, also try not to fall into the convenient plot trap of your MC having parents who are never in town and never seem to care what they’re up to just so your MC can do whatever the hell you like. This will also compromise the reality of your story.

Beware the clichés
The I’m-cute-because-I’m-clumsy girl
The I-don’t-realise-how-pretty-I-am girl
The wow-despite-being-so-unpretty-and-clumsy-all-the-hot-boys-in-school-have-fallen-in-love-with-me-and-now-I-don’t-know-how-to-choose scenarios
And woah-these-boys-have-such-sexy-crooked-grins
NB: I have read and ADORED books with all these in, however, do try and steer clear of these if you possibly can.

Don’t use slang…
Just don’t.
WASSSSSSSSSSSSSSSUUUUUUUUUUUUUPPPPPP?
Remember that?
Exactly.

Twitter: @holly_bourneYA
Website: www.hollybourne.co.uk

Review of The A To Z Of You And Me by James Hannah

Published: 25th March 2015
Publishers:
Transworld
Pages: 288

Blurb:

I’m lying here in a bed, my head full of regret, with only a little bird flitting through a tree to comfort me. Friends want to visit, but I refuse them. So my carer Sheila has given me a task to keep me occupied. An A-Z list. Think of a part of my body for each letter. Tell a little tale about it. When I reach H for Heart, what will I say? How we loved to string crocheted hearts in trees? How our hearts steadily unravelled? So I begin with A. Adam’s apple. Will you be there to catch me when I fall?

Review:

Thank you to Transworld for kindly sending me a review copy.

When I began to read this book, I noticed the chapter titles more than anything. They weren’t the usual “Chapter One, Chapter Two’ etc. Instead, they listed the letters of the alphabet. I thought this was just a clever little idea to tie-in with the title, but oh no, it means much more than that.

As the narrative begins with A, the readers are invited to flashbacks of childhood memories which include his sister and as well as his friends. At first, I didn’t understand the point in continually going back in time, but as the story continues, it all makes sense right at the very end. It wasn’t made very clear what was wrote with Ivo and many possibilities crossed my mind but the two which fitted in with the plot were mental health and/or a terminal illness.

“It’s the little details that get to me.”

On my Kindle, it sometimes doesn’t show the front cover and therefore, I haven’t seen the cover side title until I’m writing this review and in all honesty, I think it’s a little misleading. It wasn’t a comedy. If anything, it was a tragedy to witness such a strong main character being the way that he is. I don’t think this book ought to be categorised as a romance, because to me, there was no love involved. Ivo mentions his ex-girlfriend quite a lot, but I never got to know what happened between them. Overall, I thought Ivo deserved to have a stronger plot built around him as he was a really fantastic character.

Twitter: @jameshannah

Review of An Eligible Bachelor by Veronica Henry

Published: 9th October 2014
Published: Orion
Pages: 464

Blurb:

When Guy wakes up with a terrible hang-over and a new fiancée, he tries not to panic. After all, Richenda is beautiful, famous, successful… What reason could he have for doubts? As news of the engagement between the heir of Eversleigh Manor and the darling of prime-time television spreads through the village, Guy wonders if he’s made a rash decision. Especially when he meets Honor, a new employee of the Manor who has a habit of getting under his skin. But Honor has her own troubles – a son who’s missing a father, and an ex-boyfriend who has made an unexpected reappearance…

Review:

Thank you to Orion for kindly sending me a review copy.

Guy wakes up, hungover and engaged. Not only that but the ring once belonged to his Grandmother which is a BIG DEAL!! Within six months, Guy and Richenda have met, fallen in “love,” and become engaged. Without an ounce of dialogue on the first two pages, Veronica conveys the scene beautifully with her splendid descriptions. She’s the Queen of descriptions, I’m certain.

“It was practically his party piece, proposing to girls when he was drunk.”

As well as the highly detailed descriptions, Veronica also writes change in view point very well. When I’ve read other books by different authors, I’ve had to go back and think of who is talking next but that’s never the case when I’m reading a Veronica Henry book. Despite the chemistry between the newly engaged couple, Richenda was living in a fantasy world – she was too caught up in the celebrity world.

Veronica’s characters are always full of life, relatable and there’s always a sense of familiarity with them all. I really enjoyed how Honor and Guy’s stuck up mother Madeline were connected. But at times, I wanted to be shown how the characters were feeling rather than being told. The plot finished on a delightful note which I really enjoyed and reminded me of why I enjoy reading Veronica’s books.

Twitter: @veronica_henry
Website: www.veronicahenry.co.uk

Review of It’s Not Me, It’s You by Mhairi McFarlane

Published: 6th November 2014
Publisher: Harper Collins
Pages: 544

Blurb: 

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 life 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.

Review:

Thank you to Harper Collins for kindly sending me a review copy.

This book is full of humour from the very beginning with entertaining lines from “well, it’s smell has got right into my Muller Greek corner” to “Ten points to Gryffindor!” It was really refreshing to have such an upbeat, entertaining opening, but then it became serious when she discovers that the First Class Ass-Hole aka. Paul has been cheating on her. After his stupidity is announced, she uproots to London to stay with her best friend from University, Emma (great name!).

Delia’s life quickly changed. She had gone from sourcing an Internet troll to a break-up to quitting her job to moving to London to finding a new job and to meeting a douche bag of a man, Adam. As entertaining as the plot was, I didn’t like either of the two main male characters. Paul was a cheater so he was immediately listed as a *insert nasty name here* and when Delia  first met Adam, he just seemed far too up his own backside for my liking. He needed to be brought down a peg, or two.

The plot was very business orientated but that’s how Delia lost herself, before finding herself again. As always, Mhairi’s jokes are always on top form and the humour just kept on flowing. Mhairi’s books are always one to look forward to.

Twitter: @MhairiMcF
Website: www.mhairimcfarlane.com

Daily Recommendations

How can YOU get more book recommendations out of me? There are two simple steps…

ONE:

Throughout the month of November, I will be tweeting and instagramming book recommendations. If you’ve visited my blog before, you will notice that I have a recommendations page. You are free to browse that at any time. But I thought I would try something new.

My good friends over at Headline are hosting #bookadayuk over on Twitter and I’ve decided to join in.

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If you would like to know my answers to these daily questions, follow me on Twitter @EmmaIsWriting and scroll down to see my thoughts on the first two days. Hopefully, I won’t forget to post my thoughts. It’d be rather awkward otherwise.

TWO:

On Instagram, I’m also taking part in a daily posting but this time, it’s through the use of pictures *obviously…* I’m not 100% sure who is the main host of this particular project but I know it’s been going on for most of the year. If you know, please inform me!

bookchallenge

If you would like to follow my daily pictures of #novemberbookchallenge14 – head over to my instagram @emmathereader and you will already be able to view the first two. Just by looking at this list, I know I’m going to struggle with particular days but I guess that’s just the way it goes. If you do spot that I’ve missed a day, it’s probably because I feel uncomfortable answering the question.

Enjoy the daily recommendations!
Do feel free to join in with the two hashtags – #bookadayuk (Twitter) and #novemberbookchallenge14 (Instagram)

 

October Book Haul

bookhaul

Happy Halloween!

Books I Bought

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Christmas At Rosie Hopkins’ Sweet Shop by Jenny Colgan via. Amazon

I Will Marry George Clooney (…By Christmas) by Tracy Bloom via. ASDA

Books From Publishers

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#2Sides by Rio Ferdinand via. Blink
- I’m a HUGE Rio fan so I’m utterly delighted to be the owner of a copy

Our Zoo by June Mottershead via. Headline – For my Mum!

The Heart Of Winter by Emma Hannigan via. Headline

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The Christmas Surprise by Jenny Colgan via. Little Brown

The Christmas Party by Carole Matthews via. Little Brown

Rio: My Decade As A Red by Rio Ferdinand via. Midas PR – SIGNED COPY! *faints*

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The Winter Gathering by Deirdre Purcell via. Headline

The Stall Of Second Chances by Dana Bate via. Little Brown

The Soundtrack To My Life by Dermot O’Leary via. Hodder & Stoughton

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The Year Of Taking Chances by Lucy Diamond via. Pan Macmillan

Books From NetGalley

The French For Christmas by Fiona Valpy via. Bookouture

A Christmas To Remember by Jenny Hale via. Bookouture

Snow Angels, Secrets and Christmas Cake by Sue Watson via. Bookouture

Cold Feet At Christmas by Debbie Johnson via. Harper Impulse

The A To Z Of You And Me by James Hannah via. Transworld

The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins via. Transworld

Three Amazing Things About You by Jill Mansell via. Headline

Dying For Christmas by Tammy Cohen via. Transworld

Mistletoe Mansion by Samantha Tonge via. Carina

Driving Home For Christmas by A. L. Michael via. Carina

As Good As It Gets? by Fiona Gibson via. Avon

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