Book Review: Close To Me by Amanda Reynolds

Format: Paperback, proof copy
Link Goodreads | Amazon UK
Blurb: She can’t remember the last year. Her husband wants to keep it that way.

When Jo Harding falls down the stairs at home, she wakes up in hospital with partial amnesia-she’s lost a whole year of memories. A lot can happen in a year. Was Jo having an affair? Lying to her family? Starting a new life?

She can’t remember what she did-or what happened the night she fell. But she’s beginning to realise she might not be as good a wife and mother as she thought. Continue reading

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BOOK BOOST: Hot Shade by Tamara Lush (& Giveaway!)

Hello everyone! I do hope you’re well on this lovely Saturday and have lots of nice plans for the weekend! I’m brining you a little promo today for a book that I’m currently touring with, Hot Shade by Tamara Lush. You can follow the tour more closely on my tour’s Twitter page here but keep scrolling for some info on the book, some shareables and a giveaway!

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Book Review: When He Fell by Kate Hewitt (& Giveaway)

25486341Publisher: Carina
Format: eBook, ARC from NetGalley
Links: Goodreads | Amazon UK | Amazon US | Barnes & Noble
Blurb: Josh and Ben are nine years old and best friends, until a single, careless act in the school playground destroys the lives of both families – and wrenches their small Manhattan school apart.

As both mothers Maddie and Joanna try to find out what really happened between the boys, they discover the truth is far more complicated and painful than either of them could have ever realised… with lasting repercussions for both families.

And when tragedy strikes again in the most unexpected of ways, the lives of these two women will be changed once more, and this time forever.


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Movie Review: If I Stay (2014)

filmsIf_I_Stay_posterWhat it’s about: Life changes in an instant for young Mia Hall after a car accident puts her in a coma. During an out-of-body experience, she must decide whether to wake up and live a life far different than she had imagined. The choice is hers if she can go on.

Genre: Drama, Romance

Rating: 12A

Director: R.J Cutler

Starring: Chloë Grace Moretz, Mireille Enos, Jamie Blackley, Joshua Leonard Continue reading

Movie Review: Pride (2014)

films

PRIDE-Final-Poster1-694x1024What it’s about: U.K. gay activists work to help miners during their lengthy strike of the National Union of Mineworkers in the summer of 1984.

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Rating: 15

Director: Matthew Warchus

Starring: Bill Nighy, Andrew Scott, Dominic West, Imedla Staunton, Ben Schnetzer, Paddy Considine Continue reading

Movie Review: Shame (2011)

shameWhat it’s about: In New York City, Brandon’s carefully cultivated private life — which allows him to indulge his sexual addiction — is disrupted when his sister arrives unannounced for an indefinite stay.

Genre: Drama

Rating: 18

Director: Steve McQueen

Starring: Michael Fassbender, Carey Mulligan, Nicole Beharie Continue reading

Movie Review: Her (2013)

her_xlgWhat it’s about: A lonely writer develops an unlikely relationship with his newly purchased operating system that’s designed to meet his every need.

Genre: Drama, Romance, Sci-Fi

Rating: 15

Starring: Jaoquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Pratt

Director: Spike Jonze

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Review: Although this film is up for 2 Oscars, I haven’t really heard much hype about it. I was highly sceptical at first, the plot of the film just seemed a bit… I don’t know… Something. It just seemed off to me so I was in no rush to see it but after it finished I was absolutely blown away. You know they tell you not to judge a book by it’s cover? Well, don’t. Her is set in the future and Theodore Twombly is going through a divorce. He is at a very vulnerable time in his life when he unexpectedly falls in love with his Operating System (a future version of Siri for the iPhone but much more technologically advanced). The story follows Theodore and Samantha’s (the OS) relationship, the highs, the lows and whether it is possible to have a loving and meaningful relationship with something/someone that you can’t physically see.

At first, I thought Theodore was going to be really weird. I know that’s a pretty generalized statement but like, who the heck falls in love with a computer? I automatically thought he was going to be a creep but I was wrong on so many different levels. He was humble, tender and extremely likeable. You begin to understand how much of an effect his imminent divorce is having on him and the way he struggles with human communication so you really do feel for him. When Samantha comes along, he really opens up and lets his true self shine through. He becomes more confident and happier and that can only be a good thing. Samantha’s voice is played by Scarlett Johansson and you really can understand why he falls for her. She is charming, funny, bubbly and yes, I know she’s a computer but that’s the whole point of the story isn’t it? Amy Adams plays Theodore’s friend and she’s beautiful – as always. I liked her character because she was very understanding, soft and gentle and it was a nice contrast from her role in American Hustle.

This film definitely gives a good representation of what the future of technology is going to look like. It’s adapting and growing every single day so I feel it’s not going to be long until we are able to have genuinely realistic conversations with our computers or phones. That being said, it makes me wonder whether this is something that could actually happen in the future? I definitely wouldn’t rule it out completely. This was far from your typical, predictable romance story and although at this point in time, Theodore and Samantha’s relationship was unconventional, ridiculous and unrealistic, it was so so beautiful. I don’t cry at romances, heck, I don’t even like romances but this was different and there was something about this film that touched emotions and heart strings I never knew I had.

Book Review: Shannon’s Law by Emma Calin & Author Interview

Shannon's Law Front Createspace ProportionsWhat it’s about:

A sexy aristocrat. A wild child inner city cop. A crime wave of passion.

Could she really mix with the British royal family? Can she risk her heart and career on yet another maverick mission? Can she get justice for an innocent boy? Dare a kid from the gutter dream of being a countess?

Tough south London girl, Shannon Aguerri, clings on as a cop. Red lights are for running in pursuit of ruthless crooks. A new royal baby poses a problem for Spencer, 11th Earl of Bloxington, that only the beautiful village cop can solve. A rival from a different world of wealth and class may think she can walk over Shannon in riding boots. She’s gonna find out what a girl fight really is.

An all action hard-core crime story. An open and frank love affair. There’s nothing coy or hidden as lovers throw off the loneliness that had clothed their lives. Nothing is held back as they meet evil with equal force in a desperate struggle with murderous criminals.

Abandoned total love takes the field against tradition and vice. One thing alone can bring true justice. And that is Shannon’s Law.

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Review:

I was absolutely thrilled to be sent an advanced copy of Shannon’s Law to review for Emma. I love crime books, especially those where the protagonist is female. Emma is also a new author for me so I was excited and intrigued to see what her work is like – I definitely wasn’t disappointed and look forward to reading more of her books in the future! Shannon is a cop who has be relocated to a small village called Fleetworth-Green. When she comes across a group of teens doing drugs and drinking in the middle of a field she gets a hunch that one of the boys doesn’t belong with the group and when she finds out he has a criminal record, something just doesn’t add up. She later finds out that the boy is son of Spencer, the hunky 11th Earl of Bloxington. Spencer and Shannon hit it off right away but Shannon can’t shake the feeling that she doesn’t belong in his world. In the midst of an ongoing investigation and a snobby stuck-up lawyer who has her eye on Spencer, will they find love?

The official back sleeve of the paperback which I am honoured to have a quote on!

The official back sleeve of the paperback which I am honoured to have a quote on!

When starting this book I was really quite surprised at Emma’s writing style and how sophisticatedly written this book was. Emma’s descriptions and similes were other-worldly – she could have written an entire page about snow without saying the word ‘snow’ once yet I still have a clear picture in my head of what was going on and how Shannon was feeling and that’s a very talented thing to be able to do. This book has some graphic adult scenes in, but they’re written very tastefully. It’s no 50 shades and they’re between a couple who care very deeply for one another so are in no way offensive or portraying women (or men for that matter) in a bad light. I also liked that they weren’t rushed because if there’s one thing I hate most about reading a sex scene – especially when the book is considered ‘erotica’ – is when the whole thing is over within half a page with no indication of how the characters are feeling. It’s like an author got too embarrassed about what they were writing and just stopped! This definitely wasn’t the case with Emma and she cleverly describes not only their actions in a lot of detail but they’re feelings as well which I think indicates maturity. The way they speak to each other during these heated scenes is quite unrealistic and I’m not sure people actually talk like that but I’ve never slept with an Earl so it’s hard to judge… I like that this book doesn’t only focus on the steamier, sexy scenes – it has a considerable amount of crime and police action in it to, which I loved. Both aspects of the books were very well balanced which is what made it work so well for me.

It’s really refreshing reading a book where the female is the more dominant figure and Shannon was the definition of a dominant, strong, female figure. I absolutely loved her with her quick and witty sense of humour and her quirky and fierce personality. She was confident and to the point so all-in-all the perfect protagonist. Quite frankly, I’ve had enough of these storybook women gushing over a man and turning into jelly in their company. Shannon used Spencer to her absolute advantage and got him exactly where she wanted from the very beginning. I don’t know whether that was the cop in her or her natural self-confidence but whatever it was, it worked. Despite being a cop, she doesn’t play by the rules and the prime example of this I found is when Shannon is writing a birthday card out for Spencer after only meeting him once and the narrative says, ‘Could she, should she add a kiss? She knew she shouldn’t. So, she did and sealed it’. Spencer was a great character too – extremely well-developed and very interesting to read about. How often do you read about a sexy, millionaire Earl? It was definitely a change of pace! All of the characters were very read-able and well-rounded. Even the ones you love to hate. Move over Mr Grey – there’s a new Earl in town. Shannon’s Law is dramatic, mezmerising and extremely sexy with an ultimate fairy-tale ending that will renew your belief in true love. An absolute must-read.

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Interview:

Hi Emma, can you tell us a bit of what Shannon’s Law is about?

Hello and thanks for inviting me to chat on your blog!

Shannon’s Law is a passionate love story involving an aristocrat and a socially disadvantaged mixed-race girl who has become a cop. Their love develops against a background of serious crime and the day to day semi-comedy of English rural life. In the mix we also have a jealous love-rival and a wayward teenage boy. It’s Cinderella meets The Winslow Boy with 50 Shades of – hot tea.

Where did the inspiration for this book come from?

Ever since I was young I have been fascinated by police stories. Modern London is probably one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world and in itself inspires this kind of story. I have the good fortune that my partner is an ex-cop who can tell me the nuts and bolts and inside track on attitudes within the police. The most direct inspiration is my awareness of social issues such as modern slavery that I have visited in other stories. It is a powerful love story and love is its own inspiration. Traditionally romance and hard crime do not happen in the same story – this is a genre mix-up that sends publishers and agents into a frenzy of despair. My feedback from the first ‘Passion Patrol’ novel ‘Knockout!’ is that people are looking for romance with a powerful action story going on as well.

Where did the idea for the cover come from? Did you take any of the photos yourself?

I wanted the cover for this book to sit alongside the cover for Knockout! As a ‘steamy’ romance with a fair amount of intimate action, I wanted Shannon’s Law to appeal to the relevant readers – and the male torso seems to do the trick. When Shannon first meets Spencer in the workshop she sees his bare chest and it is a germinal moment for both of them. I bought this stock photo because it conveyed his male power and attractiveness. The house exists – it’s a country house near my home and is the place where we’re having the launch party on the 2nd March. I’ve always wanted to write about it and it’s one of my favourite views. I decided to add a picture representing Shannon, in order to demonstrate this is not a routine detective story – she is a foot soldier in uniform and not a glamorous high-flyer. The picture of Shannon was taken in my conservatory with uniform props from eBay! The model is a friend of my partner’s daughter. I created the cover on Photoshop, with many prompts and assistance from my teenage sons.

Is this book going to be traditionally or self published? What made you decide to take that route?

Originally I was approached by a big publisher to produce this for them. The first few chapters were submitted and I was given the green light to go ahead. The question then began to play in my mind asking what does a publisher do that I cannot do myself? Standard terms pay out a meagre 25% of takings and their contracts ask you to sign away all rights to the work – even if they do not use them. I am sufficiently arrogant to think that my work could play on a number of platforms (I have done my own audio books very successfully in the past.) In the end I turned down the publishing deal and have invested substantially in professional editing, promotions and other costs to bring this book to market. Here’s hoping it flies….!

If Shannon’s Law was made into a film, who would be your dream cast?

What a great question – now I can really indulge my fantasies! Here’s my choice of current actors who would fit the bill:

Freema Agyeman to play Shannon Aguerri, the heroine. Mixed race sassy, beautiful, sexy, late twenties, London-born cop  (this actress played one of Doctor Who’s assistants). Orlando Bloom to play Spencer 11th Earl of Bloxington, the hero. 40 yr. old noble, widowed hunky British aristocrat and ex-SAS major. Daniel Huttlestone would make a great Ben, teenage son of Spencer. A motherless boy struggling for identity in the shadow of a wrongful conviction: (he played Gavroche in 2013 film Les Misérables). Keira Knightly would be excellent as Jasmine de Montfort the love rival for Spencer’s attentions. A British professional woman, late 30’s upper-class aristocratic barrister, independently wealthy, manipulative, ruthless ambitious. She might need to be made a little less beautiful though – with larger more prominent teeth… Pierce Brosnan would be my favourite for Fabbio Ceccarelli – an Italian aristocrat in his early seventies, distant cousin of Spencer, suave sophisticated and still charming. Deborah François – is a gorgeous French actress who would be great in the role of Selena Fontesse. A glamorous surgically enhanced starlet, mid-twenties – very attractive, outgoing, outrageous and exciting (She played a key role in one of my favourite films: la Tourneuse de Pages). Colin Firth – too old to play the lead role, I had to get our local hero into it somehow (he comes from Eastleigh near to where I live!) He can play Mel, Shannon’s best friend, 43 year old attractive gay male detective. Ian Midlane – is an actor from TV soap Doctors and would be ideal to be Vandervell O’Brien. Movie director and resident of Fleetworth-Green, loves a nice meat pie or two. Lenny Henry – another favourite of mine over the years and ideal choice for jovial father of Shannon, Patrick Aguerri. A mechanic in his mid 50’s from Antigua to Peckham. Fiona Shaw – known to many as Pentunia Dursley from Harry Potter, she fits the bill for Mary Aguerri. Shannon’s mum, Irish, shift-working hospital cleaner. Hugh Grant – again I had to get him in as Inspector Lilly: Shannon’s boss. A career cop aged around 50, conservative sycophantic, plays by the rules. Christopher Eccleston – Wiley Detective chief Superintendent Tom Mitchell. He leads the crime investigation into the death of a girl discovered in a ditch in the Fleetworth-Green area. Mid fifties, sharp, dedicated cop. Not averse to taking risks. Dame Judy Dench – who else to play the part of Isobel Hornett: resident of Fleetworth- Green, genteel old lady, unfortunate victim of doorstep swindlers. David Jason – A nice cameo role in the form of Professor Max Strauss: Forensic scientist and pathologist. David Witts (of Eastenders fame) –  a nice cockney cheeky chappie to play PC Gary Woods: a womanising lovable rogue cop in his mid 20s. Rupert Grint (Ron from Harry Potter) – Wayne Swift: Fleetworth-Green village tearaway, self-esteem issues often manifesting in drunkenness and violence. Age late twenties. David Tennant – a cameo role to play Tim – Spencer’s friend and colleague, artist and designer working on Unesco projects and star of the Fleetworth Green cricket team.

Film poster for Shannon's Law

What are your tips for writing believable and tasteful adult scenes?

There is one essential point: the characters must be in love. The physical acts of sex are very much the same regardless of characterisation. What makes the difference is the emotional blanket that covers them. This is a hard issue – just how far to go, what to hide, what to reveal? But if the characters are in love and you have conveyed this to the reader, then they know – if they have ever been in love themselves – the strength of sexual passion. As I have developed my own writing I have become less coy about sex – in response to a question that I ask myself. Why would I hide something that we know happens from my readers? If I am honest about their ambitions, motives, doubts etc, why would I not be open about their sexual life? You cannot make a cup of tea without boiling water…

What are your words of wisdom to aspiring authors out there?

If you had asked me this 10 years ago, my advice would have been very very different. The world of publishing used to dictate genre and style. In order to get published you had to match yourself to the templates required by the big 6 (as they were then). Because of the changes in publishing and the opportunity to go alone, I say go for it with all your heart wherever it takes you. Write the book you want to write. Write lots of them. Read as much as you can – but not while you are writing yourself (unless it is a completely different subject/genre).

Who are your personal favourite authors and writers?

My style and content icons are Thomas Hardy and George Orwell. I enjoyed Daphne du Maurier and Agatha Christie as a child. I moved on to Jackie Collins, Robert James Waller, Martina Cole. More modern authors I enjoy include Kazuo Ishiguro, Martin Amis, James Robertson and Audrey Niffenegger. I have discovered many great writers on the internet who would just not show up in previous generations – for example Anneli Purchase. I also love poetry by the usual suspects, Wordsworth through Les Murray to Simon Armitage and less well known poets Paul Tobin, Jo VonBargen and of course my partner Oscar Sparrow.

Do you have anything else lined up for this year that you’re able to tell us about?

The third ‘Passion Patrol’ book is underway – I write by hand in old school exercise books so it takes me a long time to create a novel. It features another female cop, action, adventure and passionate love along the way. I hope to have it finished and published in time for Christmas. You can’t hurry love!

When is Shannon’s Law officially released in both eBook and paperback and where can we find it?

Shannon’s Law is coming out on Friday 28th February in print and digital formats. It will be available on Amazon worldwide and also B&N, iTunes, Sony, Kobo and Smashwords.

You can get 12% off if you pre-order the paperback from Amazon UK HERE. You can get a special early-bird price if you pre-order for Nook HERE. Find out the latest buying links from the Shannon’s Law WEBSITE.

Do you have any tours readers can follow?

Coming soon is “Shannon’s Law Pinterest Reveal Pre-Launch Virtual Book Tour”.

I’ve already set up a Pinterest Board for Shannon’s Law where I’ve posted interesting images, news etc about the book. The next stage will involve posting a whole batch of ‘teaser’ silhouette images – clues to elements in the book. Then, during February, the information behind the ‘teasers’ will be revealed – each on a different blogger site. Every day at least one silhouette image will be exchanged for images from the blogs where I am guest-posting. By the launch date there will be a whole montage of images and articles all about characters, locations, inspirations behind the book. This interview is part of the tour and will be posted on the Pinterest around the 3rd February.

You can find the Shannon’s Law Pinterest Board HERE. Watch out also for the launch – there will be a Virtual Launch Tea Party on the 28th February on the Shannon’s Law FACEBOOK PAGE. There is a VIP invitation-only real-life Tea Party at Avington Park (the inspiration for ‘Bloxington Manor’ as featured on the book cover) on Sunday 2nd March. You can win tickets to come HERE.

Participants in “Shannon’s Law Pinterest Reveal Pre-Launch Virtual Book Tour”

3rd Febraury – Jenny Marston – Interview and review: https://jennyinneverland.wordpress.com/ 

7th February – Melanie Robertson-King – Inspirational Jewellery behind Shannon’s Law: http://www.melanierobertson-king.com/wp02/

9th February – Sheryl Browne – Character Study Ben: http://sheryls-ramblings.blogspot.co.uk/

13th February – Julie Wilkinson – Review: http://www.allthingsbookie.com/291105966

11th February – Loveahappyending – Cop’s Kitchen Companion Cook Book: http://www.loveahappyending.com/

14th February – Kobby at Chicklitpad – Inspirational jewellery: http://chicklitpad.blogspot.co.uk/

14th February – Venture Galleries Inspirational Cars: http://venturegalleries.com/author/emmacalin/

17th February – Dawn Crooks Animals in Shannon’s Law: http://crooksonbooks.blogspot.co.uk/

19th February – Jo at Cometbabebooks Excerpt: http://cometbabesbooks.blogspot.co.uk/

20th February – Mandy Baggott musical inspiration Elvis: http://www.mandybaggot.com/apps/blog/

23rd February – Patricia Sands Location inspiration – Venice: http://patriciasands.wordpress.com/

21th February – Anneli Purchase Cop’s kitchen recipes: http://wordsfromanneli.wordpress.com/

21st February – Kim Nash Character Study Jasmine de Montfort: http://kimthebookworm.blogspot.co.uk/

28th February – Launch on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ShannonsLaw

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emmacalin_1379401758_07About Emma Calin

Emma Calin writes romance novels and gritty short stories about love and survival in the 21st century. She has published a number digital and paperback books which are available from Amazon worldwide. The latest is a ‘boxed set’ compilation of short stories called the ‘Love in a Hopeless Place Collection’.

She blogs about her dual life in St-Savinien sur Charente in South West France and Romsey, a market town in England. She feels extremely lucky to be able to experience the world and life through these two, very different, lenses. She spends any time she can, when not writng, on her tandem exploring the countryside.

You can find Emma and her books on the following links:

About.Me | Twitter | Website | Amazon UK | Amazon US | Pinterest

 

 

Movie Review: The Iron Lady

Wthe-iron-lady-posterhat it’s about: An elderly Margaret Thatcher talks to the imagined presence of her recently deceased husband as she struggles to come to terms with his death while scenes from her past life, from girlhood to British prime minister, intervene.

Genre: Biography, Drama

Rating: 12A

Director: Phyllidia Lloyd

Starring: Meryl Streep, Jim Broadbent, Alexandra Roach, Olivia Coleman, Iian Glen

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Review: Before I start, I have a confession to make. I knew absolutely nothing about politics, Margret Thatcher, what she did and why it was so iconic before watching this film- absolutely nothing. So I went in with an open mind and this review is coming from a completely unbiased person. This film was quite a step for little old me into the big, scary world of politics and government but I must say, I thought it was very informative and somewhat enjoyable and definitely come away with a bit more of an opinion towards Thatcher than what I went in with. The Iron Lady follows an elderly Margret Thatcher as she struggles to come to terms with the death of her late husband, Dennis. As a frail old woman with Alzheimer’s, she reflects over her life from a young 21 year old girl, inspired by her father to becoming Britain’s first – and only – female prime minister.

From a person who isn’t familiar with the story, I really needed something in this film to keep me watching and that thing was solely Meryl Streep. Her acting in this film was absolutely outstanding. She is the definition of grace and wisdom in everything she does but having the ability to pull off such a iconic role and give it dignity is phenomenal. She not only looks like Thatcher but sounds like her and got her mannerisms down to a T. This film shuttles backwards and forwards between the present, when Thatcher is an old woman and during her prime as a leader and Streep manages to get both of these parts spot on. Meryl Streep is an ideal role model – particularly in this day and age for women to aspire to. I felt this film was really good at portraying how difficult and daunting it must have been being a woman in politics in an otherwise male-orientated profession. All the way from when she was 21 years-old, she was a strong, female figure with ideas and views she wasn’t afraid to express and whether you agree with her or not – you have to give her credit for that.

The structure of the film wasn’t as good as it possibly could have been. Like I mentioned, it shuttles backwards and forwards and I think that could have been done a bit better so it was a bit clearer for the audience (particularly the un-informed audience) to follow.  From an outside perspective, I really enjoyed this film. It offered good insight into her life both political and personal as well as what it was like being the first woman prime minister and having to come to terms with her husbands death. I felt sympathy towards Thatcher – which is something I didn’t think I’d end up feeling – because underneath her hard and strong façade, she was just another woman who went through all the struggles of life, who wanted to change the world. And that she did.