It’s always such a thrill when an invitation to an event run by Books and the City @TeamBATC for Simon and Schuster drops into my inbox. This year was no exception and I was delighted to head off to London for an evening of chat, laughter and fun last Wednesday.
The wonderfully irrepressible Sara-Jade ) made us all so welcome with glasses of fizz, nibbles and Restoration Cake cupcakes as we mingled, chatting with authors and fellow bloggers.
As Milly Johnson will be one of the authors at the Deepings Literary Festival where I live in May (tickets available here by the way) it was good to catch up with her again.
It was lovely to join blogger Kirsty from The Curious Ginger Cat Blog in the special photo booth for Messy, Wonderful Us so that Rich could take our picture.
Also very special for me was having time to have a proper chat with Anstey Harris as I so loved The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton reviewed here and last time we met we didn’t have time to talk properly.
Once we’d eaten and drunk as much as we could, we were treated to readings from some the atending authors, introduced by Bec Farrell. It’s always so exciting hearing authors actually reading their own writing as it brings it alive. Once the readings were complete we had a further chance to chat with our writers who were armed with Sharpies and signed our books and samplers for us. We came away with the usual stunning goody bags, including proofs and samplers, chocolate, shower gel, a notebook and a bookish necklace from Oh Panda Eyes.
It really was a glorious evening.
Let me tell you a bit about some of the books we were introduced to. Some are so new that covers and details have yet to be revealed so don’t be surprised that I can share too much yet.
Firstly, the authors from whom we had readings:
The Glittering Hour by Iona Grey
Selina Lennox is a Bright Young Thing. Her life is a whirl of parties and drinking, pursued by the press and staying just the right side of scandal.
Lawrence Weston is a penniless painter who stumbles into Selina’s orbit one night and can never let her go.
Spanning two decades and a seismic shift in British history as World War II approaches, this is an epic novel of passion, heartache and loss.
The Glittering Hour is available for pre-order here.
If You Were Here by Alice Peterson
‘I can toast to my future, but the thundercloud over my head, the threat of a storm, will follow me like a shadow wherever I go. The truth is, I have a potential bomb in my bag, and who knows when or where it will go off.’
When her daughter Beth dies suddenly, Peggy Andrews is left to pick up the pieces and take care of her granddaughter Flo. But sorting through Beth’s things reveals a secret never told: Beth was sick, with the same genetic condition that claimed her father’s life, and now Peggy must decide whether to keep the secret or risk destroying her granddaughter’s world.
Five years later, Flo is engaged and ready to pack up her life and move to New York with her high-flying fiancé. Peggy never told Flo what she discovered, but with Flo looking towards her future, Peggy realises it’s time to come clean and reveal that her granddaughter’s life might also be at risk.
As Flo struggles to decide her own path, she is faced with the same life-altering questions her mother asked herself years before: If a test could decide your future, would you take it?
If You Were Here is available for pre-order here.
Living My Best Li(f)e by Claire Frost
Bell had it all, the perfect job, the perfect partner, and on their 10th anniversary she thought she would get the ring… But two weeks later, Bell wakes up to find herself still clutching a wine bottle and the memories of Collin saying those dreaded words: ‘We need to talk…’
Determined to get on with her life before she hits 40, Bell starts following ‘inspirational’ people on Instagram. Her favourite lifestyle guru is @mi_bestlife, whose life seems Insta-perfect but if you were to zoom out of the heavily filtered picture, you’d see reality strike.
Millie is a single mother, with a cute son called Wolfie, whose father is absolutely useless and not much on the scene. Instagram and the profile she has built up online is more ‘best lie’ than ‘best life’. It isn’t until Millie and Bell’s paths finally cross that the two women begin to understand what is real and what it is that they really want.
Living My Best Li(f)e is available for pre-order here.
The Magnificent Mrs Mayhew by Milly Johnson
Behind every successful man is a woman.
Behind the fall of a successful man is usually another woman.
Sophie Mayhewlooks like she has the perfect life. Wife of rising political star John F Mayhew, a man who is one step away from the top job in the government, her glamour matches his looks, power, breeding and money. But John has made some stupid mistakes along the way, some of which are threatening to emerge. Still, all this can still be swept under the carpet as long as Sophie ‘the trophy’ plays her part in front of the cameras.
But the words that come out of Sophie’s mouth one morning on the doorstep of their country house are not the words the spin doctors put in there. Bursting out of the restrictive mould she has been in since birth, Sophie flees to a place that was special to her as a child, a small village on the coast where she intends to be alone.
But once there, she finds she becomes part of a community that warms her soul and makes her feel as if she is breathing properly for the first time. Sophie knows she won’t be left in peace for long. Now she must decide: where does her real future lie?
The Magnificent Mrs Mayhew is available for pre-order here.
You can read a guest post with Milly here on Linda’s Book Bag to celebrate The Mother of all Christmases here and my review of Milly’s The Perfectly Imperfect Woman here.
The Love Child by Rachel Hore
Now, this is so new I don’t even have access to the blurb and sadly I haven’t had time to type it out from the back of my sampler but what I can tell you is that Rachel’s reading had me gripped and I can’t wait to read this one about an unmarried mother and a child adopted by a couple unable to have children of their own…
The Love Child is available for pre-order here.
Then two books we received as proofs in our goody bags:
Messy, Wonderful Us by Catherine Isaac
One morning in early summer, a man and woman wait to board a flight to Italy.
Allie has lived a careful, focused existence. But now she has unexpectedly taken leave from her job as an academic research scientist to fly to a place she only recently heard about in a letter. Her father, Joe, doesn’t know the reason for her trip, and Allie can’t bring herself to tell him that she’s flying to Italy to unpick the truth about what her mother did all those years ago.
Beside her is her best friend since schooldays, Ed. He has just shocked everyone with a sudden separation from his wife, Julia. Allie hopes that a break will help him open up.
But the secrets that emerge as the sun beats down on Lake Garda and Liguria don’t merely concern her family’s tangled past. And the two friends are forced to confront questions about their own life-long relationship that are impossible to resolve.
Messy, Wonderful Us is available for pre-order here.
(I loved Catherine Isaac’s You, Me, Everything which has now been optioned for a film and you can read my review of that book here. I spent an ‘evening in’ with Catherine here too.)
If You Could Go Anywhere by Paige Toon
Angie has always wanted to travel. But at 27, she has still never left her small mining town in the Australian outback. When her grandmother passes away, Angie finally feels free to see the world – until she discovers a letter addressed to the father she never knew and is forced to question everything.
As Angie sets off on her journey to find the truth – about her family, her past and who she really is – will enigmatic stranger Alessandro help guide the way?
If You Could Go Anywhere is available for pre-order here.
You’ll find my review of Paige Toon’s The Last Piece of My Heart here and of Five Years From Now here.
And last, but by no means least, the sample books from our goody bags:
Poppy’s Recipe for Life by Heidi Swain
Things haven’t always been straightforward in Poppy’s life but her dreams are finally within her reach.
She’s moving into a cottage in beautiful Nightingale Square, close to the local community garden, where she can indulge her passion for making preserves and pickles. She may not have the best relationship with her family but she is surrounded by loving friends, and feels sure that even her grumpy new neighbour, Jacob, has more to him than his steely exterior belies.
But the unexpected arrival of Poppy’s troubled younger brother soon threatens her new-found happiness and as the garden team works together to win community space of the year, Poppy must decide where her priorities lie and what she is prepared to fight for …
Poppy’s Recipe for Life is available for pre-order here.
Heidi is such a good friend she’s been on Linda’s Book Bag almost as often as I have, most recently here when she wrote a smashing guest post to celebrate the publication of Snowflakes and Cinnamon Swirls at the Winter Wonderland
We also stayed in together to discuss Sunshine and Sweet Peas in Nightingale Square here, and you can read my review of Heidi’s Mince Pies and Mistletoe at the Christmas Market here.
Those People by Louise Candlish
Could you hate your neighbour enough to plot to kill him?
Until Darren Booth moves in at number 1, Lowland Way, the neighbourhood is a suburban paradise. But soon after his arrival, disputes over issues like loud music and parking rights escalate all too quickly to public rows and threats of violence.
Then, early one Saturday, a horrific crime shocks the street.
As the police go house-to-house, the residents close ranks and everyone’s story is the same: Booth did it.
But there’s a problem. The police don’t agree with them.
Those People is available for pre-order here.
If Those People is as brilliant as Louise’s Our House (my review of which is here) we are in for a stunner with this one!
The Fall and Rise of Sadie McQueen by Juliet Ashton
Again, as you can tell from the image taken on my phone, I have very little I can actually tell you yet except to say I’ve read the blurb and initial pages for this book and I can’t wait to move in to Cherry Blossom Mews.
As The Fall and Rise of Sadie McQueen is so new I thought I’d remind you of my review for Juliet Ashton’s The Sunday Lunch Club that you can read here, and of her wonderful The Woman at Number 24 that you can find here.
Thank you Simon and Schuster
I’d just like to thank all the team at Simon and Schuster for making this one of my highlight events of the year. They work so hard to make sure bloggers have a fantastic evening, get to speak with every author (including those like wonderful Anstey Harris who wasn’t a formal part of the evening but whose book The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton was just fabulous as you can see here) and go away with new books and goodies that are second to none. We’re in for a fabulous reading year.