What Happens at Christmas by T A Williams Cover Reveal


I am delighted to bring you the cover release of T A Williams’ latest book ‘What Happens at Christmas‘ in association with Bliss Book Promotions. I’m sure you’ll agree it’s absolutely gorgeous and so evocative of a lovely Christmas read.


Book Information

Title: What Happens at Christmas…

Author: T.A. Williams

Release Date: October 22, 2015

Genres: Chick Lit

Publisher: Carina UK


For the perfect Christmas…

When career-girl Holly Brice learns that her estranged father has died, she decides to take a trip down memory lane and find out about the man she never knew. Arriving in the sleepy little Dartmoor village, she’s shocked to discover that she’s inherited the cosy little cottage she remembers so fondly, a whole load of money –and her father’s adorable dog, too!

Head to snow-covered Devon!

And as the first snowflakes begin to fall and Holly bumps into her gorgeous neighbour, Jack Nelson, life gets even more complicated! Men have always been off the cards for high-flying Holly, but there’s something about mysterious writer Jack that has her re-thinking her three-date rule…

A fabulous, feel-good festive read, perfect for fans of Debbie Johnson and Carole Matthews.

Author Biography


Firstly, my name isn’t T A. It’s Trevor. I write under the androgynous name T A Williams because 65% of books are read by women. In my first book, “Dirty Minds” one of the (female) characters suggests the imbalance is due to the fact that men spend too much time getting drunk and watching football. I couldn’t possibly comment. Ask my wife…

I’ve written all sorts: thrillers, historical novels, short stories and now I’m enjoying myself hugely writing humour and romance. Romantic comedies are what we all need from time to time. Life isn’t always very fair. It isn’t always a lot of fun, but when it is, we need to embrace it. If my books can put a smile on your face and maybe give your heartstrings a tug, then I know I’ve done my job.

I‘ve lived all over Europe, but now I live in a little village in sleepy Devon, tucked away in south west England. I love the place. That’s why you’ll find leafy lanes and thatched cottages in most of my books. Oh, yes, and a black Labrador.

I’ve been writing since I was 14 and that is half a century ago. However, underneath this bald, wrinkly exterior, there beats the heart of a youngster. My wife is convinced I will never grow up. I hope she’s right.

Social Networking Links

Website: http://www.tawilliamsbooks.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TrevorWilliamsBooks

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TAWilliamsBooks

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/GRTAWilliams

Amazon Author: http://www.amazon.com/T-A-Williams/e/B00FDVNVMA/

The Parisian Christmas Bake Off by Jenny Oliver

Parisian Christmas

‘The Parisian Christmas Bake Off’ by Jenny Oliver was published by Carina in November 2014. It is available in both ebook and paperback.

When primary school teacher Rachel finds her friends have booked her into a baking competition in Paris during the Christmas holidays she is not best pleased. However, with her mother dead, an uncommunicative father and a n’er do well sort of boyfriend, she agrees to give it a try and so begins a competition that might just help her find herself again.

For the first few pages of this book I thought I would find it formulaic and uninspiring. I was wrong. Admittedly, the plot has the elements one would expect, with a couple of love interests, some difficulties and a best friend for telling the protagonist a few home truths, but this predictability is also its strength. Readers of this genre want a book they feel familiar with, that is fun and that fulfills their reading preferences. Jenny Oliver does this brilliantly. We want snow and romance at Christmas and reading this book with its Parisian setting is what we get.

‘The Parisian Christmas Bake Off’ is a lovely story. As the time frame for the setting is tight, there is excellent pace so the story zips along. Jenny Oliver uses the senses so well when she writes that I could see, smell, taste, touch and hear Christmas. The descriptions are so vivid I found myself incredibly hungry reading about all the baking and I actually felt quite Christmassy reading it in blazing sunshine in September.

The characters all felt like real people and I thoroughly appreciated the way in which a range of individuals was presented. Of course, I preferred Philippe to Ben and I wanted Marcel to get his comeuppance! The full range of emotions is present from petty jealousies to hope and love so that readers can identify with what happens all the more easily.

If you like watching The Great British Bake Off on television, you’ll adore Jenny Oliver’s ‘The Parisian Christmas Bake Off’. I know I did.

The Sense of an Elephant by Marco Missiroli

The Sense of an Elephant

I was delighted to receive an unsolicited copy of Marco Missiroli’s novel ‘The Sense of an Elephant’ from Katie Green at Macmillan. Translated from the Italian by Stephen Twilley, it was published in paperback by Picador on 10th September 2015.

Ex-priest Pietro moves to Milan to become the concierge in an apartment block where he encounters an eclectic and interdependent range of inhabitants, each with their own secrets and lies.

It took me a while to attune to the rhythm of this fascinating novel, because it is often veiled with secrecy in the writing as well as in the characters. This becomes the strength and fascination of reading ‘The Sense of an Elephant’. Just when I thought I had the measure of the narrative, an extra event, phrase or piece of dialogue gave me a jolt and revealed another layer of truth. I actually found myself exclaiming aloud at times when a further secret was uncovered. The iterative image of elephants – and especially to ‘take care of the herd without regard to kinship’ – becomes clearer as the story progresses and does so in a natural and subtle manner.

Pietro’s memories are gradually revealed, intriguing the reader with links made between the present and the past until the final, surprising and satisfying conclusion. A lot of the story is told by inference, by what isn’t written in this pared down prose and I loved the way direct speech usually didn’t have the label of ‘said’ to qualify it so that it felt like natural conversation.

There are dark themes at the centre of ‘The Sense of an Elephant’. The line between humanity and murder is blurred and readers will find themselves questioning their own perceptions and prejudices. That said, this is not a depressing book, but one which deserves careful reading and consideration. I also thought it interesting how men were so frequently referred to by profession, suggesting we never really get to understand the real person.

This is a book about lost faith, death and humanity and how we build our lives. I loved the concept that ‘All you need to survive is one decent memory’ and after wondering if I would enjoy the read at the beginning I found it ultimately poignant, emotional and moving. I am now convinced that everyone needs a little tap dancing in their past.

I thoroughly recommend ‘The Sense of an Elephant’ as a thought provoking and intelligent read.

Freefall Into Us by Tess Rosa Ruiz


I am incredibly grateful to Matthew at Urbane Publications for a copy of Tess Rosa Ruiz’s ‘Freefall Into Us’ in return for an honest review. It was published on September 1st 2015.

I normally begin a blog post by setting the opening scene of a book but it is impossible to do so with ‘Feefall Into Us’ as it is a collection of poems and short stories that defy categorisation. The book actually opens with a drawing of a naked woman with a Picasso type face. The more I read, the more appropriate this image became. There is utter honesty in the writing in the same way a naked body can’t hide its secrets under clothes. Whilst the features are present on the face, they are fragmented in the same way life as it is described in ‘Freefall Into Us’ is also broken and shattered.

I was stunned by this book. The poetry is so simply written but is raw with emotion.That violent anger a loved one might feel as another dies from cancer, for example, thrums on the page. Not a word is wasted and not a word misses a beat in these incredible pieces. When you read the book, look out for the repetition of ‘Maybe’ in Put On Charlie Parker for example.

From the opening story the reader is aware that Tess Rosa Ruiz is no ordinary writer as the character Ruby describes her father at her own funeral. I intended to dip in to this book over several days, but wasn’t able to leave it alone, so strong is the emotional pull of the writing.

Tess Rosa Ruiz uses expletives liberally and usually I find this irritating with authors deliberately trying to shock. I did not feel this with these stories and poems. I simply understood the depth of feeling and the honesty of portrayal the writer provides.

Whilst some might feel offended by the strong language and the difficult themes of relationships, love, lust, prostitution, sexuality and death, I would defy any reader not to find an emotion or situation with which they can identify completely. Tess Rosa Ruiz knows exactly what it is to be human and to love and she know how to show the reader that humanity too. This is perfect writing.

A Taste of Ashes by Tony Black


My very great thanks to Janne at Black and White Publishing for providing an advanced reader copy of Tony Black’s ‘A Taste of Ashes’ in return for an honest review. It is published on 24th September 2015 in ebook and paperback.

Although ‘A Taste of Ashes’ is the second in the DI Bob Valentine books after ‘Artefacts of the Dead’, it stands alone as perfectly well and not having read the first did nothing to diminish my enjoyment of this fantastic crime thriller.

Returning to work after almost losing his life in a previous case, DI Bob Valentine is struggling to balance work and family as a local murder in Ayr and missing school girl are just the start of events that overtake his every hour.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, because the plot was entirely believable even where there are almost supernatural elements involved as Bob Valentine’s mental state is tested as much as his physical health whilst he strives to solve the case.

Bob Valentine’s character is really well rounded and easy to empathise with. Tony Black manages this highly skilfully without padding out the story by constant reference to Bob’s home life. There is just enough detail to enable the reader to understand fully how Bob Valentine is as he is. Perfect writing.

The story opens in dramatic style and maintains its pace throughout with none of the contrived elements I sometimes find in this genre. The narrative races along and keeps breathless reader interest. The twists and turns, with frequent jolts and bombshells, make for a truly thrilling read. I was kept guessing throughout.

Alongside what is a great read are universal themes of modern society with which we can all identify. Corruption, decaying towns, violence and budget cuts are a convincing background to ‘A Taste of Ashes’ and add layers of interest to an already absorbing story.

I didn’t know Tony Black’s writing before reading this book, but I am an immediate fan and thoroughly recommend ‘A Taste of Ashes’.

We Never Asked For Wings by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

We never asked for wings

My grateful thanks to Katie Green at Pan MacMillan for a copy of Vanessa Diffenbaugh’s ‘We Never Asked For Wings’ in exchange for an honest review. It was published in hardback by Mantle on 10th September 2015.

Having had two children, but with no partner, Letty has always shied away from parenthood, relying on her mother Maria Elena to bring up 15 year old Alex and 6 year old Luna. Instead, Letty has created an unsatisfactory lifestyle of no-hope jobs, irresponsibility and alcohol so that when her parents return to Mexico she is suddenly faced with parenting after all.

A couple of elements initially reduced my engagement with the writing and I didn’t think I was going to finish reading the story. I found it hard to accept that, at 33, Letty couldn’t do the most basic household chores such as getting a simple meal. I’m also not keen on children and found Luna irritating. However, I think this says something about the excellent quality of the writing that Luna is as annoying to the reader as she is Letty!

I found that ‘We Never Asked For Wings’ appealed to me increasingly the more I read and as the characters developed and they became more three dimensional. It wasn’t long before I was totally engaged with the story and desperate for life to treat all the characters better. I ended up thoroughly enjoying it and actually quite moved by the outcomes. I think, as an ex-teacher, it was the life chances that are so shaped by the vagaries of education that Vanessa Diffenbaugh explores so well that hooked me. I found I wanted to rail against the unfairness of some people’s lives.

‘We Never Asked For Wings’ is a really interesting read, dealing as it does with some highly complex themes such as family, parenthood, belonging, identity and immigration. Many of the characters are striving to deal with their own identity – not least Alex who is at an age when knowing who his father is has deep emotional significance, and Letty who finally has to learn to be a parent.

I think ‘We Never Asked For Wings’ is a novel that takes a while to engage, but when it does, it does so completely.

You’ll Find Me in Manhattan by Jill Knapp

I’m delighted to bring you the gorgeous new cover for Jill Knapp’s latest, and final, book in her ‘Manhattan’ series. It is published by Harper Impulse in ebook on 22nd October 2015 and paperback on 17th December.

You'll Find Me In Manhatten

You’ll definitely want to know if Amalia Hastings finds love at last.

You can read my review of the first book ‘What Happens to Men When They Move to Manhattan’ here.

What happens to men

Book two is the series is We’ve Always Got New York’ when we find if Amalia has made the right choices!

New York

You can follow Jill on Twitter

Nieto Photography 2015

Nieto Photography 2015

The Runaway Bridesmaid Guest Post by Daisy James

The Runaway Bridesmaid_FINAL2 (1)

As I so like the look of Daisy James’ new novel, ‘The Runaway Bridesmaid’ I thought I’d ask Daisy if she would be prepared to be a guest on my blog. Fortunately she said yes! ‘The Runaway Bridesmaid’ will be released by Carina as an ebook on September 28th 2015. Here Daisy tells us about Rosie Hamilton and even bakes us some basil biscuits!

The Runaway Bridesmaid by Daisy James

Rosie Hamilton Character profile

Have you ever wanted to run away from a situation and never look back? I’m sure most of us have been in that situation when the flight or fight instinct kicks in. But would you run away from your sister’s wedding – when you are holding the bridesmaid’s posy?

Well, that’s exactly what Rosie Hamilton does. A fancy wedding in Connecticut which she has single-handedly arranged for her beloved, but spoilt little sister, the fabulous, floaty dresses, the elegant flowers and the spectacular catering – she leaves it all behind. After finding Freya in the linen closet with her wedding date, she slings her bouquet out of the window and storms away in her hired red roadster. Enough was enough!

And whilst Rosie adores the vibrant buzz of Manhattan, its vertiginous glass buildings, its quirky, cosmopolitan residents and its awestruck tourists, she needs to get away from the overwhelming sense of loneliness that had infused her bones. So she ditches her Louboutins for Wellies and flies off to London – well, Devon to be precise – where she holes up in her late Aunt Bernice’s thatched cottage hoping that her heartache seeps away.

Rosie doesn’t know what to do with herself in the tiny hamlet of Brampton where there’s only the village shop and the village fête for entertainment. She’s uncomfortable with the invasion of privacy masquerading as community spirit and yearns to return to her old life of social indifference. But then she discovers her Aunt’s hand-illustrated recipe journal entitled ‘Bake Yourself Better’. Not only is the diary crammed with beautiful drawings of flowers and herbs from her Devonshire garden, it is also contains recipes to ‘bake yourself better’.

She decides to take her aunt’s advice. The first recipe Rosie tries just has to be …Strawberry Tarts for Broken Hearts’ where her aunt has recorded:    

‘Strawberries are often referred to as the fruit of love. When the strawberries in this recipe are sliced as directed they appear heart-shaped, bursting with sweetness and zinging with a luscious rich red, the colour of love and passion. They are nutrient-rich and packed with healthy antioxidants, especially if grown in your own garden! Some believe they possess healing qualities and can alleviate melancholy. And if that isn’t enough to tempt you, darling Rosie, the strawberry plant is part of the rose family.’

And she sets to – to bake, bake, bake until she’s liberally doused in flour and sugar and exhausted from her culinary exploits.

There are many other recipes from her Aunt Bernice’s Bake Yourself Better journal to try out on a wet April afternoon – ‘Fig Delights for Passion-filled Nights’ and ‘Sweet Basil Biscuits for New Love Interests’ – all of which Rosie bakes – with varying degrees of success.

But will Rosie find the solace she craves? Or the love and happiness her aunt has urged her to find?

All will be revealed in ‘The Runaway Bridesmaid’!

Photos of me - bio 023

Here is a taster for your lovely blog readers:

‘Sweet Basil Biscuits for New Love Interests

One of the meanings of the herb basil is love and I know we can all do with an extra sprinkle of that in our lives! It is written in some folklore that a young man who accepts sweet basil from a woman will fall in love with her. I love that story so I had to include this recipe for you, Rosie, especially as I have grown basil in my garden since I bought the Lodge. Be careful who you select as a sampler, darling! We wouldn’t want to tempt the fates, would we?


150g butter, softened

75g caster sugar

75g ground almonds

150g plain flour, sieved

Large bunch of basil


Beat the butter and sugar together until creamy. Add the ground almonds and mix. Fold in the flour and knead gently. Wash the basil and dry with a paper towel. Remove stalks and chop. Roll the basil into the mixture until it resembles a speckled green sausage 8-10 cm in diameter. Wrap in cling-film and refrigerate for ten minutes whilst you clear up. Cut into biscuits approx. 1 cm think and place on a greased baking tray. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden (gas mark 6, 200˚C). Cool on a wire rack.’

Basil bisciuts photo (1)

I’d love to hear from readers who’ve tried out any of the recipes in The Runaway Bridesmaid – either via Facebook or Twitter or Instagram – and photos would be a bonus!!!

Here are my links:

Facebook and Twitter

Thanks ever so much for having me.

Happy Reading Everyone.


And thank you Daisy, for taking the time to tell us about Rosie and give us some literal food for thought! I can’t wait to read ‘The Runaway Bridesmaid’ and it can be ordered here.

The Long Siesta by Nick Sweet

The Long Siesta

I am very grateful to Robert Peett at Grey Cells Press, an imprint of Holland House Books, for a copy of Nick Sweet’s ‘The Long Siesta’ in return for an honest review. It was published on 5th September 2015.

When a priest is murdered in a particularly horrific way Luis Velazquez has a difficult crime to solve. But as he struggles with his own demons and the body count rises across Seville, the case gets personal.

‘The Long Siesta’ opens with a startling and graphic murder and the plot races along from that point so that it is impossible to predict what will happen next. Nick Sweet employs an iterative image of bullfighting throughout and his plot mimics the swirls of the cape and the charge of the bull as a metaphor for truth throughout.

It took me 30 or 40 pages to attune to the writing style and at times I found it a little jerky as if it had been over edited. I would occasionally have liked greater development in descriptions and I felt there was too much (probably unintentional) product mention with frequent references to Swatch, Seat Ibiza and Alfa Romeo. That said, I did enjoy the overall structure very much with the division into three parts containing snappy chapters that always ended with a pithy comment or cliffhanger.

Despite the mounting body count and the inclusion of gangsters, assassins, Russian mafia, transvestites, bull-fighting girlfriends and heroin addicted policemen which all combine to create an atmospheric film noir effect, there is also humour and tenderness in the writing which comes particularly through some of the direct speech so that there was a greater credibility to the more aggressive parts.

I thought the research that had gone in to making ‘The Long Siesta’ both geographically and historically accurate was impressive.

The title ‘The Long Siesta’ has left me intrigued. There are so many ways in which it could be said to fit the story – as the past has been sleeping and is now catching up, as death becomes a final sleep for so many, as pivotal to Spanish life for authenticity, in the way characters awaken out of their habits or complacency – that I think I’ll need to reread the book to come to a final conclusion for what it means for me.

Those who love a fast paced crime thriller with a flawed leading policeman will enjoy ‘The Long Siesta’.

Self-Publishing Guest Post by Laurie Ellingham

I was fortunate to meet Laurie Ellingham at a recent book event and when we got talking I was fascinated by how she’d come to be a novelist. When Laurie agreed to be a guest on my blog I was delighted. She’s here telling us about self-publishing.


My road to self-publishing and beyond

I quit.

It’s a thought most writers will have at some point on their journey to becoming an author, but perhaps not quite as early as me – twenty-five years old and a meagre three years into my writing life. It was 2009, the year I got married and the year I fell pregnant with my first child. The same year I received countless rejections from literary agents for my first novel – The Reluctant Celebrity – as well as a rather expensive editorial report that I didn’t agree with a single word of.

Fast forward four years, two children and two house moves to a chilly day in February. Both children (now four and three) had started preschool, and I found myself with a wonderful gift, something I’d forgotten even existed – time. I powered up my Kindle and started to read, devouring book after book, some amazing, and others not so good, which is when I discovered how far the world of self-publishing had moved on in four years. No longer did writers have to worry about print runs and how they’d go about selling three thousand copies. With the popularity of Kindle and other reading tablets, self publishing ebooks was not only easy, but free.

With a mild amount of trepidation, I climbed into the loft and dusted away the cobwebs of The Reluctant Celebrity. As I started to read (there and then in the cold of the loft) I realised two things. Firstly, I could write (Hooray!), and secondly, everything in the editorial report was right.

I dived into a frenzy of editing, and three weeks later I download the Amazon Kindle Self-Publishing guide, which explained every step I needed to take to make my 70,000 word manuscript into an ebook I could sell in the Amazon Kindle store. The only cost to the entire process was an ebook cover, which I purchased for a very reasonable price (I paid £10) from a fantastic premade book cover website called http://www.goonwrite.com.

Then I was ready. I clicked on the ‘Publish’ button and in a flash my novel was out in the big wide world of books. I used the free giveaway offer to promote The Reluctant Celebrity and all of a sudden thousands of people from all over the world had downloaded it. Within six weeks I had gone from a dusty manuscript to having a book that was holding its own in the Kindle book charts. Fast forward another six weeks and I had a publishing offer from an independent London publisher. Fast forward fifteen months and my novel was on the bookshelves of Watertones and other retailers.

Self-publishing gave me confidence in my ability as a writer, and allowed a publisher to see the potential in my novel. If I hadn’t received the publishing offer I would absolutely have continued to self-publish. The opportunities for promotion and self-publishing are endless.

Never again will I utter the words ‘I quit.’  I now realise that I am just at the start of what I hope will be a very long career as an author and as a writer, and I can’t wait!

My self-publishing tips:

– Take your time with the formatting stage. Readers will find it annoying if there are spare pages dotted about

– Purchase a professional looking ebook cover. It’s the first thing anyone will see, so don’t give a reader the opportunity to turn it down before they’ve even read the blurb

– Consider spending the money on a proof reader or enlisting a friend with a good eye. It’s near impossible for you to spot all of the typos in your own work because you will read the word it’s supposed to be, not what it is. Receiving a review which says, ‘I loved the novel but the typos ruined it for me,’ hurts.

– Treat yourself like a professional. Embrace social media, get a good head shot, develop a website and build your brand as an author. Once you’ve self-published, contact local papers and radio stations for some free promotion.

The Reluctant Celebrity

I think Laurie has given all aspiring authors some excellent advice. You can buy Laurie’s book here. You can also follow Laurie on Facebook on Twitter @LauireEllingham and visit her website here.