London – The Best Thing that Never Happened to Me – Laura Tait and Jimmy Rice

The_Best_Thing_That_Never_Happened_To_Me_Laura_Tai

Why a booktrail?

1999 and 2010: Do you remember your first love? And would you want to meet them again?

Story

Growing up as teenagers in Yorkshire and now both living in London. Holly is now a PA and sleeping with her boss whilst Alex has moved down to London to work as a teacher. They have grown up together and their friendship is one that has seen them both grow and grow up but their love for one another has never faded. When both in London, there is the chance to finally reveal what the other one feels and to find out if there really could be a Holly and Alex,a couple, after all.

But it’s hard going back isn’t it? Crossing that line?

Place and setting

BEST-THINGS
London Greenwich where Alex lives Deptford where he works Shakespeares Globe where he wants to visit when in the city

They say you should never go back but everyone does, Everything comes back for a second go. Look at Flares. And Whispa Gold, And Take bloody That.”

In fictional Mothston, somewhere in Yorkshire close to Leeds as that’s where Alex’s dad holds  a season ticket, Alex and Holly grow up and have the kind of conversations familiar to teenagers up and down the land.

Fast forward ten years and now both living in London, Alex is worried that he wont last two minutes outside of Mothston. He’s excited about his new school and of seeing the sights such as the natural history museum and Shakespeare at the globe. With a new school in Deptford, his friend Kev tells him not to resort to Yorkshire slang such as ‘Ay up, lad”

Holly is also is strange waters for sleeping with your boss is not the best career move. Richard is a panto baddie of sorts – the only obstacle getting in the way of true love. Melissa works with Holly and does not have her best interests at heart. Kev is Alex’s sidekick and does.

London is a big place but whether these two will ever manage to get it together is another thing entirely.

This London set adventure has Richard Curtis written all over it.

Review

Laura Tait writing as Holly and Jimmy Rice writing as Alex makes for a great and realistic comedy setting of two people sailing through life side by side but acting like ships that pass in the night at the same time.

Holly and Alex are fun characters to get to know. Nerdy Alex who ventures out from remote Yorkshire to the big smoke and Holly who has already moved there but has got herself into a risking relationship with her boss.

A lot here was easy to relate to – the things we say and do when young and the way when you return to your primary school, you are always strangely surprised that everything seems so small!

The writing was cheeky and fun and this is  a nice slow burn romance and story of misunderstandings that will make you smile.

Author info:

Twitter: @LauraAndJimmy

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London – The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets – Eva Rice

LOST ART COVER

Why a booktrail?

1950s: Set in post-WW2 Britain, in a medieval mansion they call Milton Magna…… Penelope Wallace lives her eccentric family at the start of the rock’n’roll era.

Story in a nutshell

Penelope Wallace is 18. She’s a nice enough girl but is bored with life until Blonde and exciting Charlotte enters  her life. Charlotte Ferris is the epitome of 1950s glamour and has a unique view on life and wants to enjoy the parties and lifestyle that the music and dancing of the times allows.

Penelope’s mother Talitha is lost without her husband and their financial situation so soon after the war is precarious at best. But it’s penelope that gets out in to the world, with the help of Charlotte and her Aunt Clare.

Milton Magna is the scene of many an adventure but it’s Charlotte and her wish to dance, have parties and live life to the fullest which will have the greatest effect on them all.

Place and setting

LOST-ART
Milton Magna, Westbury, Wiltshire – They take the train from the station and head to London LONDON: Hyde Park where Penelope wanders and dreams of Johnnie Ray Kensington Church street Aunt Clare lives here 

From the moment you step through the door at Milton Magna, the 1950s burst into life.

The two settings, the grand house and the jumbled eccentric flat of Aunt Clare evoke the 1950s well.The crumbling Milton Magna is gothic and flamboyant -It’s supposed to be quite the most magnificent building in the West county…

Magna sits like  sapphire among the trees – part birthday cake, part ocean lines, part sculpture, part skeleton: a magnificent, ostentatious chunk of history..

But sadly now lies ruined by war and circumstance. This is home however and the thought of losing it is too much to bear despite the bad memories there.

Contrast this with the quirky and carefree existence of Aunt Clare.

Her cramped flat is full of trinkets and love. Clare is said to alter the room like a bunch of flowers would, by illuminating everything around her with her beauty and smell of rose water.

Oh and her study!

There were books, books and more book,s stacked in random piles all over the floor and spilling off the shelves…

Then there are the parties in London – Jonnie Ray, the popstar is all the rage  and Penelope is  a huge fan. The youth of England are bursting with life and the sense of adventure. Elvis Presley is a young up and coming singer in the United States.

But this is also a time where there is magic in the air too. Charlotte’s brother Harry is a magician, loves jazz and sitting back enjoying a drink and a smoke dreaming of his unsuitable American girl. He takes Penelope to parties meant to make this girl jealous.And we all know how games of that nature often play out!

This is the time to live life to the fullest,dance to Elvis Presley and sing at the top of your voice to the tunes of Johnnie Ray, with your polka dots skirt and your Mary Janes…or is that just us?

Author details:

Twitter: @EvaRiceAuthor

Denmark – Lone Theils – A Writer to Watch…

Today we welcome Lone Theils to the Booktrail sofa as she chats about her book Fatal Crossing – Pigerne fra Englandsbåden in Danish. This debut takes place in both Denmark and the UK and is set in the modern age of globalisation

LONEThe star of the show? Nora Sand – the no-nonsense kickboxing UK correspondent for Danish newspaper Globalt starts to investigate a suitcase and onto the trail of two Danish girls that disappeared in 1985.A chilling story inspired very much by true events…

Lone – welcome to the Booktrail and thank you for this yummy liquorice! Salted Poletter – there’s nothing like it!

Why did you choose to mix Scandinavian noir with traditional British crime?

It was natural to me, because I love both genres and I am in a way a mixture myself. I have spent most of my professional life working as a journalist out of London and so when I travel between the UK and Denmark I always say, I am going home to Denmark and I am going home to London when I travel the other way. It kind of makes sense to me.

I just love a great crime novel and I used to gobble up Agatha Christie from when I was 12 years old, later on I started on Sjöval and Wahlö, so in a way I am a product of both traditions.

Nora Sand is quite the no-nonsense kickboxing main character? Can you tell us more about her?

She is a complex person. In many ways she is so used to taking care of herself that she finds it difficult to let anyone help her or even think that asking anyone for help is an option. In that respect she is a bit annoying, you could say. But she is also this clever and quite tough journalist who knows both how to use her brain and also can use kickboxing to get out of a sticky situation.

This is mainly inspired by my own great love of kickboxing, which I do a couple of times a week.

I think there has been a tendency to let female heroines be smart, but not so physical, and I thought: Why not? Why can´t a woman be smart AND take action and defend herself?

Women can do both, I feel, and maybe that is part of my Scandinavian heritage, the Pippi Longstocking idea that girls a strong. (Pippi can, after all, lift a horse) and she is dead clever.

pigerna_fra_englandsbåden_omsl-e1439289174816Your novel is inspired by true events. Can you tell us more about this?

I read this story in Politiken online which just really stayed with me. Not least because it was illustrated by an old photo of two girls taken at the central station in Copenhagen many years ago. The story was this: In the US a serial killer had been apprehended and convicted for a number of murders, but the police suspected there were more victims. He had a pattern where he would photograph people before he killed them. After he was put on death row, the police found a storage room he had rented, and in there they unearthed literally piles of photos of unknown people. Potential victims. The background of one of these photos made it clear it had been taken in Denmark and for that reason the police in the US had contacted their Danish colleagues to try to establish who the girls were, and if they were alive at all. The piece I read was basically the Danish police appealing for information: Did anybody know these girls?

In real life they turned out to be alive. But the story stuck with me, the idea that after many years a photo would emerge who could solve a crime. I moved the setting to the ferry between Denmark and England and made the serial killer British. Deliberately I did not read more on the real story, so as to feel free to make my own twisted plot.

Your job is reporter for the Danish newspaper Politiken how has this helped or shaped your writing?

It has helped in more ways that I can count. First of all I has sent me to many corners of the UK, so it has given me knowledge about how people live, talk and what things really look like. I often approach setting a scene in the story as I would write a feature article. What details are important, how you capture people´s dialogue.

Secondly, just being a journalist gives you a good working relationship with the act of writing. You have had to respect thousands of deadlines during a working life, so you know that sometimes you cannot spend five hours waiting for inspiration. Sometimes you just sit down and get on with it, so the working discipline is there. Also as a journalist, I think you get less sensitive to editing. Which is a good thing, because what most people don’t know is that there is so much editing work with a book. So it helps that you don’t feel like crying when your editor says you have to cut five pages of this or that.

Finally it has of course helped me that I am a journalist myself and has a job that is similar to Nora´s. I know how it works to be a correspondent. Both the good and bad parts and I try to make that a part of the book.

Denmark

What are the things you miss about living in Denmark? What English habit or word do you still find amusing?

I miss most of all my nieces and nephews, they are 4 to 8 years old and they don’t really get why I need to live so far away from them. One of my nephews actually at some point called me Auntie London instead of Auntie Lone. I miss friends, but it is pretty easy to stay in touch these days.

Oh, and every time I am in Denmark I stock up on Danish rye bread and liquorice (I don’t know why the Brits do not see the beauty of salty liquorice, such as Poletter  – What is not to like?)

I have in some respect turned so British in all these small things that you almost stop to notice. Such as apologizing when people bump into you, being overly polite when people are being rude to you. And I believe I have gotten the art of saying Really? as I arch my eyebrows just so down to a t. I believe in the healing powers of a good cuppa, and I even put vinegar on my chips (admittedly that last bit did take me a while to pick up on).

But there are things that I still get a little bit baffled by such as cricket (I respect it and love the white outfits, but I just cant seem to grasp the finer points), carpets on bathroom floors and how some of the more sordid papers are actually selling so well despite being so full of blatantly non-journalistic stories.

Now then – a lighter topic for a moment. What about Danish cake and drink?

One of the most Danish of cakes is, in my opinion the Brunsviger. It is a quite bready cake but with a completely decadent slather of a thick layer of brown sugar mixed with butter which melts into it in the oven. For added naughtiness some people eat with ice cold whipped cream. My mum used to make that as a birthday cake when I was a kid and would even decorate it with sweets.

For drink, a very Danish thing that I have for some reason never seen in the UK is elderberry cordial. I don’t mean the cordial you make from the flowers (which I also love), but the small black berries. It taste amazing and is also full of C-vitamins. I swear by the stuff in wintertime and I feel secretly and somewhat irrationally convinced that drinking it with hot water and sometimes a bit of fresh ginger will cure anything from flu to heart ache. I don’t know why it hasn’t caught on in the UK.

Where are you from in Denmark and why does the landscape fascinate an English audience do you think?

I was born in Holstebro, which is in the WestDENMARKern part of Jutland, not quite as rough as Søndervig, but pretty close. Western Jutland is a place where most of the trees point East because of the hard wind coming in from the West and where people tend to not speak too much and just get on with it. It probably would not be too far off to compare it a bit with Scotland. What I mostly loved about my hometown was that there was an amazing library. It played a great part in my life long love affair with books.

I feel I belong to many places in Denmark now, I lived in Århus, in Copenhagen and I have a Summer house now in Djursland. But part of me will always have a streak of Western Jutland in me. For better or for worse.

Please share with us a fun Danish word, phrase or saying.

I once had a British friend coming over for a visit to Denmark and she was laughing really hard when we passed a shop with a sign that proudly pronounced that here was a Boghandel.

You can see what she must have been thinking. In Danish it means book store. Also as a writer there is a great satisfaction when you can write the word Slut in your book. Because in Danish it means The End.

Not such a great phrase in English.

And on that note, we decide to finish the rather nice salty licquorice she’s brought. Lone you are more than welcome back.

Twitter – @LoneTheils

Facebook: /ForfatterLoneTheils

Web: www.litteratursiden.dk

London – The Ship – Antonia Honeywell

SHIP

Why a booktrail?

TIME – In the Future. While London burns, and its people live in poverty, a ship holds the only hope for escape…or does it?

Story in a nutshell

London as you know it no longer exists. Civilsation is coming to an end. Oxford Street is burning, Regent’s Street has been bombed and those people who can’t produce an ID card, well you might as well not exist.

The only place which remains remotely recognisable is the British Museum. Well that’s if you can see past the crowds of survivors and disappearing displays from the once grand museum. The Nazareth Act has come into force. All those who can board the ship should do so.

Because the ship is  a floating salvation from this living nightmare….isn’t it?Only the worthy will be chosen but who decides and what kind of world lies on board this ship? 500 people are about to find out.

Place and setting

It's London but not as you know it. The British  Museum is at the centre of this dystopian world www.britishmuseum.org/
It’s London but not as you know it. The British Museum is at the centre of this dystopian world
www.britishmuseum.org/

Set in the not-too-distant future, the setting of a London under siege, burning, fraught with danger, poverty and disease is nevertheless largely recognisable as the city we know today. Minus the dystopian setting obviously but this recognition of present day places and events makes for a chilling and uncomfortable scene.

London is now somewhat changed – the crowds, the comfortable life which Lalla shares with her parents in Central London, the parks, the British Museum and familiar streets such as Oxford Street and Gower Street in a very different light and they become terrifying places.

This is London but not as we know it. Lalla is cut off from most of the horror since her only trips out are to the British Museum where she looks at the exhibits, notices the homeless who have not been registered and so are not entitled to food or supplies. Regents park for example has become a refugee camp of sorts. Bombs fall on those not registered.

The ship comes into dock as being the one place which could save humanity. Lalla’s father has bought it and equipped it for the hundreds of people he has selected to go on board. A human Noah’s ark if you will. Lalla believes with the others that as this is the end of civilsation then the ship is the only way out. But life on the ship is not what is seems. Everything they do on board is controlled, from the food they eat to the news they hear. But who is controlling what and why?

And what has happened to London and the outside world?

REview

Quick someone head over to the British Museum and check it’s still there? And Regent’s Park….and London now you think about it. I live near the sea and I swear if I look out and see a ship, I don’t know what I’ll do. 

The setting for this was so recongisable as was the language and coming of age feel to it all then I really saw London in a new light. Blimey, I’ll certainly take a new look at life now. It was thrilling to see how Lalla was so protective in her world but then how she came to realise what else was just yards from her own door.

I don’t know what other dystopian worlds are like but this was chilling yet also normal which made it even more chilling. Like Lalla, I was unsettled with the idea of the ship but intrigued to board. It did sound a marvellous place in some respects with its blue velvet benches and chandeliers but in a very creepy way. I really was looking over my shoulder reading this such was the feeling that I was being led astray and knew I shouldn’t be going there.

Can’t really say much more without giving spoilers but this was good. Very very good and I really feel as if I’ve read something I have never read before. I’m going on a ferry in few weeks and am getting nervous sweats already…..