Thursday 31 January 2019

Blog Tour: Guest Post and Extract from What Happens in France by Carol Wyer

I am very excited to be part of the blog tour today for What Happens in France by Carol Wyer. This book was relesed on 28th January in the UK and you can click here to order your copy if you enjoy the extract below! Don't forget to visit the other stops on the tour for more exclusive content and reviews!

Here's what it's all about:

Bryony Masters has been looking for her long-lost sister, Hannah, for years, but when their father has a stroke her search takes on new urgency. So when primetime game show, What Happens in France, puts a call-out for new contestants, Bryony spots the ultimate public platform to find her reality TV-obsessed sister, and finally reunite their family.
With the help of handsome teammate Lewis, it’s not long before she’s on a private jet heading for the stunning beauty of rural France. With a social media star dog, a high maintenance quiz host and a cast of truly unique characters, Bryony and Lewis have their work cut out for them to stay on the show and in the public eye.
Yet as the audience grows and the grand prize beckons they find that the search that brought them together may just fulfil more than one heart’s wish… 

And here's that extract & guest post from Carol for you!

An ABC Guide to Getting onto a Game Show

With the rise in popularity of reality and gameshows more young people applied to go onto the next series of Love Island than applied to go to Oxford or Cambridge universities) I thought I’d give you my quick ABC guide to getting onto a show, not that I’m an expert, but there is a knack to making it to audition.
Like Melinda tells Bryony in What Happens in France You need to stand out from all the other thousands of applicants if you want to be on this show.”


‘You downloaded the application?’
Bryony rummaged in her bag and brought out a few sheets of A4. ‘I spent ages last night staring at the screen trying to think of ways to make myself sound interesting enough for the producers to invite me along for audition but I couldn’t, so I’ve printed off what I’ve written so far for you to check.’
‘Hand it over.’ Melinda took the form and read the title. “Contestant Application for What Happens in…” It sounds exciting already. They give any clues what the show’s actually going to be about?’
‘It’s all hush-hush. I only know it’s an exciting new game show, unlike any other, for people who really want a challenge and to make a name for themselves.’
‘That’s pretty much the same as they say on the adverts for it. What have you put so far? Name, address – yadda-yadda-yadda. Ah, here we are. “Tell us some interesting facts about yourself?” And you’ve answered… I organise and run an annual quiz at a private school. Are you for real?’
‘What’s wrong with that? I set and organise the school quiz. This is a game show. I thought they’d like to know I enjoy quizzes.’
‘Hell-lo!’ Melinda put on an American accent. ‘You can do far better than that. Give me that pen.’
‘What are you writing?’
‘That you dived with sharks, abseiled down the Shard dressed as a monkey, and sat in a tub of cold baked beans wearing only a bikini, for charity.’
‘You think they’ll be interested in that?’
‘More than in you running a school quiz, yes. “Why do you think you’d be a good contestant?’ Easy. “I am a quizzer and love anything that is game related. My best friend thinks I’d be perfect for the show as she says people will underestimate me and not realize I live up to my nickname of Miss Masterbrain.” I reckon that’ll get them curious about you.’
‘Melinda, I can’t write that. I sound like a complete show-off.’
‘No, you don’t. That’s why I put “My best friend says…” You need to stand out from all the other thousands of applicants if you want to be on this show, so do as I suggest.’
‘I can’t.’
‘Okay, I’ll complete the online application for you.’
‘No, don’t do that.’
‘Well, either you write word for word what I put down here, or I will. You know I will. In fact, I’m going to stand over your shoulder while you type it out. You can use my computer.’ She pursed her lips and put her fists on her hips, reminding Bryony of the fierce little girl she’d once been. She grinned at her friend.
‘Okay. You win.’


A)   Aim for lesser-known shows

Although you might fancy your chances on a popular show such as The Chase, you will stand less chance of getting selected than if you hunt out a new or less popular show. I got through The Chase audition and was on the waiting list to appear on the actual show for over a year before producers rung me with possible dates. During that time, I heard about a lesser-known show called Decimate, hosted by Shane Richie. I applied for it and sailed through the audition and was on air within weeks.
Often producers of one show are in contact with those of another and if they see a candidate they think has possibilities, they send their details along. Such was the case for me when after appearing on Decimate I was asked to be on the very first show of Masterpiece, hosted by Alan Titchmarsh. Since then, I’ve been invited to appear on further five shows but because of work commitments, could only take up one – Tipping Point.

B)   Be prepared

Most game shows will ask you to complete an application form. This isn’t a job application form and you’ll need to give the fullest answers, so prepare in advance. Many of the questions are the same whichever show you apply for such as, ‘What are your hobbies?’ or ‘What would you do if you won any money?’ so keep a record of what you’ve written. I put mine in an online folder so I could copy and paste answers. Try to be flexible with dates. You will probably be asked which audition venues you could attend. Try to give two or three options to increase your chances, although you need to be aware you’ll foot travel costs. (If you get selected for a show, the television company will foot your bills but you get nothing for attending an audition.)

C)   Conspicuous contestant

Chances are your application will be one of thousands so you’ll need to stand out from the crowd. The key is to fill it in as if you were chatting to somebody. Pretend you are talking to the producer rather than writing down a few pointers. You need to get your personality across, not actually filling in a job application form. For example, under ‘hobbies’, don’t just write ‘reading’ if you’re a book blogger. Don’t write ‘book blogger’ either. That is factual and accurate but not what producers are looking for. Show them how enthusiastic no… how passionate you are about reading. Wax lyrical about how many books you’ve read this year and how long you’ve been running a book blog and how popular it is, and which author events you’ve attended or which book blew your mind in 2018. They’ll not actually be interested in those things but they’ll see instantly that you have personality and given they’re hunting for enthusiasm and somebody with a spark, they’ll consider you. They want the person who will be worth watching on television.

D)   Delight in the experience

You made it to audition? It’s your big chance. First off, don’t worry… it will be fun! It’ll be like playing charades with Auntie Ethel at Christmas only without the six glasses of sherry beforehand!
Be bright, cheerful, bubbly and memorable. Engage with the producers and other contestants but don’t be bullish. The more fun you have, the more you’ll come across as the perfect contestant.

Producers are looking for individuality although don’t go over the top with wackiness. So, follow my simple advice and fingers crossed, you might be on a version of a show like What Happens in…

Author Bio:

As a child Carol Wyer was always moving, and relied on humour to fit in at new schools. A funny short story won her popularity, planting the seed of becoming a writer. Her career spans dry cleaning, running a language teaching company, and boxercise coaching. Now writing full-time, Carol has several books published and journalism in many magazines.
Carol won The People’s Book Prize Award for non-fiction (2015), and can sometimes be found performing her stand-up comedy routine Laugh While You Still Have Teeth.

Twitter: @carolewyer
Thanks so much to Carol for stopping by the blog today and sharing this with us!

Wednesday 30 January 2019

Guest Review: Written From the Heart by Trisha Ashley

Tina Devino makes more money teaching people to write than writing herself. A middling romance novelist who dreams of penning a bestseller, she’s increasingly forced to compete with younger, blonder debut authors for her publisher and agent’s attention.
Feeling forgotten, Tina realises the only way up is to take her career and destiny in hand and build her own happy ending; which is perfect because, for a romance writer, Tina isn’t the most traditional of women… Although she does see her long term partner lover friend, Sergei, once a week which is ‘quite enough, thank you very much’. But her uncomplicated love life might soon need some unravelling when a mysterious Tube Man, unwelcome ex-husband and a shadowy figure in a butterfly mask waltz into the picture.
Only Tina can work through the drama and claim the life she’s always wanted… but will she succeed?

Review: This book was previously published under the title Happy Endings, and was one of Trisha Ashley’s earliest romantic comedies. Trisha informs us that she hasn’t rewritten it, simply polished it up a little, remembering the developments in technology that have occurred in the intervening decade since it was first published. I did not read the story in its original form, having ‘found’ this author more recently. I would have to say that I prefer the more recent novels, but I did find this story highly amusing and entertaining. 

The story concerns romance writer Tina Devino. A published author for many years, she now finds her work as a literary consultant more lucrative. This is mainly due to both her publisher and, to an extent, her agent considering her a midlist author and not devoting the required amount of effort to publicising her work. Luckily she has best friend Linny to encourage her. Eventually, through a combination of taking matters into her own hands and publicity gained through her association with long-term boyfriend Russian ballet dancer Sergei, things begin to change. A bit of mystery also creeps into Tina’s life in the shape of a handsome man she keeps encountering while travelling on the underground; who can he be?

This is one book that had me laughing out loud. The story is interspersed with letters written to and from Tina in her role as literary consultant; many of the concepts proposed by her would-be authors are most amusing or even bizarre. The situations she finds herself in at literary events also add to the overall hilarity of the book. Although not a favourite of mine, I think this is a funny and interesting story that will be enjoyed by many readers.

To pre-order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US 

Tuesday 29 January 2019

24 in 48 Readathon Wrap Up

So this weekend was the 24 in 48 readathon where you try and read for 24 hours in the 48 hours of the weekend. The official clock begins at midnight eastern time which means 10pm on Friday for me which works out just great! You can click here to see my TBR and sign up post!

The readathon involves plenty of reading and coffee

But also allows you to get rest in between times. 

The first book i finished was If Only I Could Tell You by Hannah Beckerman at 368 pages. I read most of it on Friday night, staying up until just after 4am but I had to give into sleep eventually!

I remembered to keep screenshotting my time as well in case it re-set!

The next book I finished was From Mum With Love by Louise Emma Clark. This come out at the beginning of February and is 328 pages.

I enjoyed reading a lot of this in the bath! A Bath is just the BEST during a readathon let me tell you!

My audiobook for the readathon was Something to Tell You by Lucy Diamond at 464 pages. Having an audiobook allows you to rest your eyes during a readathon and also allows you to keep reading whilst doing things like going to the gym, folding laundry or making more coffee and snacks!

And then I had about another 90 minute before I got to my 24 hour target. I had a couple of things lined up for this including Wildflower Park Part 3 by Bella Osborne which was just a great way to finish off the readathon at 90 pages.

So altogether I read for just over 24 hours this weekend. I read 1250 pages but I also watched 2 films, went out for brunch and slept for like 14 hours so it was a massive win in my book. 

The next 24 in 48 takes place in July so make sure you check out their website, or follow me on social media so you don't miss out. It really is a lot of fun! 

I'll be putting my reading vlog up on my channel soon so make sure you keep and eye out for that!

Top Ten Tuesday: The Most Recent Additions to my To Be Read List

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

This is an interesting one because sometimes books are sent to me, sometimes I get my holds in from the library and then sometimes I just end up ordering books! This is a mixture of all of those!

Monday 28 January 2019

Review: Something to To Tell You by Lucy Diamond

When Frankie stumbles upon an unopened letter from her late mother, she’s delighted to have one last message from her . . . until she reads the contents and discovers the truth about her birth. Brimming with questions, she travels to York to seek further answers from the Mortimer family, but her appearance sends shockwaves through them all.
Meanwhile, Robyn Mortimer has problems of her own. Her husband John has become distant, and a chance remark from a friend leads Robyn to wonder exactly what he’s not been saying. Dare she find out more?
As for Bunny, she fell head over heels in love with Dave Mortimer when she first arrived in town, but now it seems her past is catching up with her. She can’t help wondering if he’ll still feel the same way about her if he discovers who she really is – and what she did.
As secrets tumble out and loyalties are tested, the Mortimers have to face up to some difficult decisions. With love, betrayal and dramatic revelations in the mix, this is one summer they’ll never forget.

Review: Wow this book contains one secret revelation after another after another. But at the heart of it all though is Lucy Diamonds unfailing potimism and a hugely strong sense of family and family ties. 

When I began reading this book, I couldn't work out how the three main storylines were connected or how they weer going to come together but then I began to work out who was who and how they related to one another and the storyline began to weave before me. This book really does have a large cast and so you may was to take reference as you are reading so as not to loose track. The main storyline though concerns three mothers and their love for their families. Not only do these women love their families though, they recognise the importance of their own identity and not losing that and so their stories are really quite empowering. 

I loved the way these characters all related to each other as the story unfolded and there were definitely a lot of 'ah ha' moments from me as it progressed. I listened to this one on audio and so that might be why I had trouble keeping track of who was who initially. Some of my favourite characters were Bunny, a slimmer of the year with some serious skeletons in her closet, Frankie, someone who is really struggling with her identity since a whole host of ghosts from the past have come to haunt her and Paula, the one who is just trying to do the right thing and keep it all together. 

Yes this story is sometimes complicated but that does make for a whole host of drama. With revelations taking place left right and centre, there is never a dull moment in this book and it will definitely keep you guessing as to how it is going to conclude. 

The majority of this book is set in a part of the world I am very familiar with, North Yorkshire and so it was great to be reading it here in Denver and getting a little taste of home, I even gave a cheer when Knaresborough was mentioned. I can definitely recommend the audiobook as it was well narrated and allowed me to read 'on the go' but if you have trouble keeping track of a large cast of characters then perhaps the hardback would be a better purchase so you can refer back to whole belongs to who if you get lost! I can't wait to find out what Lucy Diamond throws at her characters next!

To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US

London Book Fair Blogger Awards

Book Podcast of the Year category lands at UK Book Blog Awards

Awards celebrating social media influencers returns for second year
The London Book Fair is delighted to announce the return of the UK Book Blog Awards @ LBF, with a new category being added for Book Podcast of the Year.

Bloggers, social media influencers, members of the publishing industry, and the general public are invited to contribute nominations for Book Podcast of the Year, as well as for the three returning categories: Book Blogger of the Year, Bookstagrammer of the Year and BookTuber of the Year.

Once the shortlist has been revealed, a panel of judges will select one winner in each category, who will be honoured at a special awards ceremony at The London Book Fair. Building on the success of last year’s programme, the Fair will include seminars and networking events focused on bringing the social media influencer community closer to the publishing world.

Celebrating the important contribution of social media influencers to the book industry, the UK Book Blog Awards debuted last year, with winners including popular blog The Literary Edit, Bookstagrammer Faroukh Naseem, and YouTuber Lauren Whitehead.

This year’s judging panel will include Rosie Beaumont-Thomas (Waterstones), Paul Black (Andersen Press) and author Shahroo Izadi (The Kindness Method).

Helen Clifford, Marketing Manager at The London Book Fair commented: “Social media is a vital part of the publishing landscape, and the addition of a podcast category award highlights the growing number of ways in which influencers help promote authors and their titles. We are thrilled to recognise the important link between the influencer community and publishing once again with the UK Book Blog Awards @ LBF.”

The awards are open to any UK based book blogger, YouTuber, podcaster or Instagrammer. To put forward a nomination, or to nominate your own blog/podcast/Instagram account/YouTube channel  

  1. THE UK BOOK BLOG AWARDS 2019 are open to any blogger, YouTuber, podcaster or Instagrammer featuring books, who is based in the UK.
  2. Blogs, Instagram profiles, podcasts and YouTube channels can be entered by the brand owners, affiliates, or members of the public.
  3. The deadline for entries is Friday 1st February 2019 (the “Closing Date”).
  4. Judging: a panel of expert judges will decide a shortlist of three entries per category, one of whom will be the overall winner in each category.
  5. The Judges’ decision is final on all matters and no correspondence will be entered into. 
  6. If the judging panel feels that none of the entries in a category reaches the standard outlined to them in guidance notes, The London Book Fair may (under exceptional circumstances) cancel the category.
  7. The Winners will be announced at The London Book Fair, 12-14 March 2019

Sunday 27 January 2019

Movie Reviews: January 20th-26th

Another Sunday, another lot of movie reviews. As always, I go into more detailed thoughts on my movie reviews video over on my BookTube channel which I will leave at the bottom of this post once it is live so if you want a little more detail, give that a watch please and thank you!

I really enjoyed this one, way more than I thought I was going to. It had a bit of everything, humour, action, diversity, story. I also thought the animation style was really interesting. 

An awesome documentary about climbing massive and difficult heights without ropes or support, my palms were sweating badly during this one. I can see why it has been nominated for an Oscar! Definitely recommend. 

I was really disappointed in this one, I think it could have done with a little more budget. There were parts of it that were interesting and I learned a little more about the Laurel and Hardy story but maybe wait for it to be released onto a streaming service before watching. 

Would you like to see a post/video about my thoughts on the Oscar nominations or just my thoughts on the best picture nominations since I have seen them all?

Saturday 26 January 2019

Blog Tour: Interview with Kendra Smith Author of The Chance of a Lifetime

Today I am excited to be part of the blog tour for The Chance of a Lifetime by Kendra Smith. I have an interview to share with you today. The book was released on the 15th January in the UK and you can click here to buy a copy. Don't forget to check out the other stops on the tour for more exclusive content and reviews. 

Here's what it's all about...

A new life down under? It's not as perfect as you'd think.


Katie and Tom's marriage is in trouble. As is their bank account. So, when Tom tells Katie that they need to talk, she knows it must be about one of two things, and neither are good. But when he blind-sides her saying that his boss is sending him to Australia – permanently – Katie realises it might just be what they need to save their marriage.
Trouble is, she doesn't like the heat, can't swim and hates spiders. Not to mention the bouts of homesickness – and Tom's endless business trips. Katie is finding the hope of saving their marriage slowly slipping through her fingers. But Katie is determined to take the bull by the horns – and her Speedos by the strap – and tackles her new life.
When all is said and done which side of the globe will she decide to call home?
'An entertaining, fast-moving, page-turner for anyone dreaming of a new life' Jane Corry, best-selling author of Her Dead Ex.
Previously published as Jacaranda Wife.

And here's that interview for you...

First question-bit of a cliche-how did you get into writing?

I have been ‘into’ writing from the day I took hold of the failing school magazine (I was age 14), ‘interviewed’ staff and pupils, ‘commissioned’ my best friend who did art to sketch some line drawings, used A4 paper, a stapler, the goodwill of the office ladies and their photocopier, and re-distributed it around my school. Ever since, I have worked in journalism – mainly in women’s magazines. My move to writing fiction came about when I wanted to use my creative skills and found that as a stay-at-home mum, separating my whites from my coloureds didn’t cut it any more, so I started writing novels.

Do you write full time & if so, have you always done this?

I write or carry out some kind of ‘writing’ work for about 3-4 days a week, (more on deadline…). I have done this for many years and I balance this with my commitments as mum to three busy boys, running them around to where they need to be – combined with that wonderful American euphemism ‘home-duties’ (picking up odd socks, anyone?).

Do you have a particular writing style or genre that you prefer?

Commercial women’s fiction.

How do you develop your characters as you write, are any of them based on real people?

All characters are based on ‘real’ people to some degree… but my characters do develop as I write. And I look to people around me, those from other novels, and my own experiences to create the human potpourri of any one fictional character.

What was the inspiration behind The Chance of a Lifetime?

I have lived and worked in Australia for many years so knew first-hand about the country and could write Katie’s feelings of homesickness and her ‘journey’ with authenticity. My storyline and other characters came about by wondering ‘what if’ as I put my main character into various situations.

What is your writing process-do you map it out first? Write a bit at a time?

I do a bit of both: I like to have an outline synopsis or a roadmap as I call it, and start there. Then I start writing. However, I do force myself to keep re-writing my roadmap every now and again as it makes you consider the whole story and where you are going with it. Many aspects to the novel will change on the way, this is how a novel ‘grows’ – and each draft will, I hope, make for a richer finished product.

How much of you is reflected in your writing?

 I think that all authors are reflected in their writing! As the American writer, Flannery O’Connor, once said: ‘I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.’  

What kind of research did you do before/during writing The Chance of a Lifetime?

We were living in Australia when I wrote the first draft of The Chance of a Lifetime; so the landscape, weather, flora etc that I wrote about was very real and present. I also spoke to individuals who had gone through some of the emotional arcs of the book, so I wrote their story by listening to what they told me. For things like the swimming or diving scenes, I am a qualified diver, so I used my own experience as well as contacting a dive master from a local diving school for his input; and for the medical scenes, I used a bit of my experience, but always researched each situation, and spoke to professionals in their industry about how it would pan out in reality.

How much attention do you pay to the reviews that you get?

It’s heat-warming to get good feedback from reviewers/readers. And I always enjoy hearing that my themes or characters have chimed with someone; I’m always touched when someone either writes to me or says that my book has moved them. But, at the end of the day, we don’t all enjoy the same food, holidays and so on, and that applies to what people like to read, too.

Are friends and family supportive of your writing? 
Yes, very. But my family know I’m on deadline when there are no dinners cooked and the 18-year-old might just be wearing the 12-year-old’s school shirt in moments of panic.
How do you feel leading up to your publication day?

Excited and nervous at the same time.

Which other authors inspire you or are there any you particularly enjoy reading?

My two favourite authors are Liane Moriarty and Allison Pearson. Many others have inspired me to write better, but if I were to name a few they’d be Julie Cohen, Hilary Boyd, Jane Corry, Lisa Jewell and Jojo Moyes.

Finally...what are you working on right now?

Book three. It’s about a woman who finds herself having a bit of a mid-life crisis. She is, I think, drawn from a bit of Katie (from The Chance of a Lifetime) as well as one of my characters from Book two. And I’m having a lot of fun with her!

About the author

Kendra Smith has been a journalist, wife, mother, aerobics teacher, qualified diver and very bad cake baker. She started her career in Sydney selling advertising space but quickly made the leap to editorial - and went on to work on several women’s magazines in both Sydney and London. With dual Australian-British nationality, she currently lives in Surrey with her husband and three children. 
Follow Kendra:  
Twitter: @KendraAuthor
Facebook: @kendrasmithauthor

Follow Aria
Twitter: @aria_fiction
Facebook: @ariafiction
Instagram: @ariafiction
Buy links
Google Play:

Thanks so much to Kendra for stopping by today and answering my probing questions, don't forget to check out the other stops on the tour!