donderdag 27 september 2012

Interview with Anne Allen and GIVEAWAY

First of all I want to thank Anne Allen for taking some time to do this interview and for giving us the opportunity to give two e-book versions of "Dangerous Waters" away. Enjoy!

Who is Anne Allen?

Anne Allen lives in Devon, by her beloved sea. She has three children and her daughter and two grandchildren live nearby. She was born in Rugby, to an English mother and Welsh father. As a result she spent many summers with her Welsh grandparents in Anglesey and learnt to love the sea. Her restless spirit has meant a number of moves which included Spain for a couple of years. The longest stay was in Guernsey for nearly fourteen years after falling in love with the island and the people. She contrived to leave one son behind to ensure a valid reason for frequent returns.

By profession Anne is a psychotherapist but has long had creative ‘itches’, learning to mosaic, paint furniture, interior design and sculpt. At the back of her mind the itch to write was always present but seemed too time-consuming for a single mum with a need to earn a living. Now the nest is empty there’s more time to write and a second novel is gestating, but novels take a lot longer than children to be born!

Some things we'd liked to know...  

What's so special about Guernsey that you wrote an entire book about it?

It’s a beautiful island only a few miles from the French coast though it’s actually British. I think all islands have a certain mystique and a feeling of separateness and Guernsey is a great example of this, with a fascinating history going back to Neolithic times. There’s a strong French influence, reflected in the personal and place names and there’s a local Guernsey-French dialect. I lived there for many happy years after arriving for a holiday and falling in love with both the island and its people. Guernsey has beautiful sandy beaches, cliff walks, windy lanes and a pretty ‘capital’ in St Peter Port. The Channel Islands were occupied by the Germans in WWII, creating an impact to the present day. There’s definitely scope for stories to be based on Guernsey!

What places on the island do we need to visit when we go there and why?

Well, St Peter Port is a must – it has something for everyone. There are narrow cobbled streets full of great shops, cafes and restaurants and gorgeous views over the harbour and neighbouring islands. I’m sure you’ve all heard of Les Miserables and Victor Hugo finished writing the book while living in St Peter Port and his house is still exactly as it was back in the nineteenth century. The beaches are all worth visiting but I particularly like L’Ancresse and Lady’s Bay in the north of the island. And don’t miss Herm! It’s an even smaller island 15 mins away by boat which has an atmosphere all of its own. There are no cars or bikes so everyone walks around at their own pace. A place to really unwind and which always seems to enjoy even better weather than Guernsey. 

What got you into writing and when did you start it?

About 6 years ago I entered a writing competition after being pushed by my mother. Bless her! She thought it would be a useful experience as I’d always talked about writing one day. It wasn’t fiction, though, instead the national magazine wanted a true-life story in 500 words based on a significant life event. I still entered (my life had been anything but boring) and won. It was quite a boost and spurred me on to write Dangerous Waters shortly after.

Will there be other books written by you? Are you currently working on a project? 

Yes, I’m writing my second book, Finding Mother, now. It’s the story of a young woman’s search for her natural mother after her marriage crumbles. The setting is predominantly Guernsey but there are excursions to England, Jersey and Spain.

Which writers have influenced you the most?

It’s hard to be specific as I’ve read voraciously since a child. The romance writers whose books I’ve most enjoyed have been Maeve Binchy, Erica James and Katie Fforde. Mystery and suspense writers include Mary Higgins Clark and Robert Goddard.

What's your favourite place to write a book?

In my own space – either at my desk or a table , or, weather permitting, in the garden. I wouldn’t be able to concentrate if I was out and about in a cafĂ©, for example.

Do you have certain habits when it comes to writing? Some things you need around you during the process?

I like to know I’ll be uninterrupted! If the muse arrives, you have to keep her close. So it’s better to have all other ‘jobs’ out of the way before sitting down to write. I start by writing in longhand so need paper and pen and space to spread out. Plenty of water and hot drinks are also needed to keep me going.

What's your writing day like?

It varies. If my time is unlimited I’ll just sit down to write until either I’m hungry or I hit a ‘block’. I can write for hours at a time on a good day, otherwise it tends to be a bit patchy.

Did you base your main character Jeanne on someone you know? She looks so real (and she writes ;) )...

Well, in some ways she does remind me of my younger self! Although we naturally don’t share the same history, I can relate to some of her experiences. But I didn’t consciously base her on anyone I’ve known.

What would you like to have achieved in 10 years?

To have written a few more books and be a ‘successful’ author.

Thank you Anne Allen for this great interview and I don't think it'll be a problem to be a 'successful' author in 10 years. We'll help you by reading your books and loving them!

How to win "Dangerous Waters" by Anne Allen?

The only thing you have to do to win an e-book (we'll pick 2 random winners - worldwide) is leave a comment on this post with your e-mail address in it. The giveaway ends sunday 07/10 at 11 a.m. (Belgian time).

Bonus entries
If you'd like to have more chances to win this book, you can add these things in your comment (all entries can be in one post):

1. What's the place you'd like to live most of all? Why?
2. Follow this blog and say you're a follower.
3. Follow Anne Allen on Twitter and say you're a follower.
4. Follow us on Twitter and say you're a follower.
5. Share this giveaway on your Blog or Twitter and give us a link.

 Like to learn something more about Anne Allen and her book? Please visit these sites:

woensdag 26 september 2012

We heart MUSIC! Phantogram - Eyelid Movies

Ok, maybe you've all known this band for ages, but I didn't. I just discovered them while watching random video's on Youtube (yeah, sometimes I just don't have a life). I must say "I LOVE THEM!". Their music is a mix of different genres that I love, so the discovery made my day!

Phantogram was formed in 2007 according to Why aren't they more known in Belgium? It's not like New York is very far away. Hmmm, I'll take that back. New York is "far" away, but what's distance for music? 
Because of this disappointment I decided to take the not so hard task upon me to promote Phantogram and their music. Hereby, a start:

Listen and cry a little bit (but in a good way).

This post is part of the "and more" section on my Blog. When I say it's about "Books and More" I have to share the "more" in my life, being music and film!

maandag 24 september 2012

Review "Dangerous Waters"

Some information

Title: Dangerous Waters
Author: Anne Allen
Pages: 302
Genre: chicklit, romance, mystery
Published: April 2012
Publisher: Matador
My source: author (thank you!)
My score on Goodreads: 4 stars


'Oh my God, what's happening to me? After all this time, please, not again ' Jeanne Le Page, gripped by fear and panic, struggles to breathe as the ferry arrives in Guernsey, the island she had fled 15 years before, traumatised by a family tragedy. Now she has to return after her grandmother's death. Jeanne has inherited her cottage and she plans to sell it before returning to the UK. Deeply unhappy after the recent end of a long-term relationship, she has no desire to pick up her old life on the island. Suffering traumatic amnesia after being involved in the accident that killed her family, Jeanne has experienced nightmares for years. The return to Guernsey triggers frightening flashbacks and Jeanne undergoes hypnosis to recover her memory, reliving the tragedy as the ghosts continue to haunt her. But someone on the island does not want her to remember, and she faces danger from an unexpected source... A contemporary story of love and loss that will capture the reader's imagination, Dangerous Waters will appeal to fans of female fiction. Anne is inspired by a number of authors, including Robert Goddard, Katie Fforde and Mary Higgins Clark. A comparison can be drawn to The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.


Although I needed some time to get "into the book", I must say "Dangerous Waters" by Anne Allen is a must read for chicklit lovers as well as for mystery lovers (and others of course). Even if you don't think it's your taste, you have to continue and give it more than a chance! The writing of Anne Allen gets better and better throughout the book. I thought the book went from "Hmm I like it" to "Oeeeeh I really like it" to "I just loved the story".

The reason I "only" gave 4 stars is that I found some unnecessary pieces in the book (that's just my opinion). Some parts slowed the reading down because they didn't have an additional value to the story. That's just a minor thing I didn't like, so in fact you could say I gave the book 4.5 stars! Good job, Anne! What I appreciated is the way Anne misled her readers sometimes. It's good to give your reader the feeling you're writing a predictive book, but just don't at the same time!

The story Anne tells us is about Jeanne Le Page, a former resident of Guernsey (man, I want to visit this island after reading the book). Jeanne left the island after her parents (and she herself almost) died in a boating accident. The question is: was it really an accident? Jeanne suffered amnesia as the only survivor of the accident and didn't want to recover her memory because it just was too painful. Also the loss of her beloved grandmother, her own unborn child and her lover Andy,... hurried Jeanne to forget her past.
Now Jeanne's gone back after she inherited the cottage of her grandmother. Because of the loss of her child and man, there's nothing that keeps her in London (except for her aunt Kate). With the cottage she inherits lots of old stories and memories. Times become even more difficult for Jeanne, but she's strong and finds lots of old and new friends on the island that are most willing to help her. The sad thing is some of them aren't as friendly as the seem to be...

I recommand the book because it's a love story with some mystery added to it. Those two elements are a great combination I think. Anne did a beatiful job in describing the characters and the island. She makes me eager to visit the island one day. This proves she really made the story vivid and gave me the feeling I knew Jeanne for real. It makes the story alive and smooth reading!

Thanks Anne for sending me this great book :)

donderdag 13 september 2012

Review "On Top of Everything"

Some information
Title: On Top of Everything
Author: Sarah-Kate Lynch
Pages: 316 (Dutch version)
Genre: Chicklit
Published: 2008
Publisher: Uitgeverij De Kern
My Source: I bought this book at "Fnac" bookshop
My score on goodreads: 3 stars (but it deserves 3.5)

Rotten things happen in threes in Florence’s family so when she’s fired by her best friend and left by her husband in the space of a single afternoon, she knows there is yet more trouble brewing. And when her son Monty returns from his gap year Down Under it’s only too clear what, or who, that trouble is.

Then the plan to turn her crumbling home into a tea room hits a snag, the macramĂ© at her sister’s house starts to seriously unravel, and why is her doctor leaving so many messages?

Enter Will, a mysterious handyman with a secret stash of chocolate truffles, and soon life – with all its hiccups – is just her cup of tea.

A bittersweet story about life, living and the importance of afternoon tea.

Although I only gave three stars to "On Top of Everything" I must admit I really liked this book. I don't understand why it doesn't get more credit or is more known (in Belgium for instance). Maybe I can think of one reason :p In Dutch the title sounds less "cake-like". It's translated as "Sweet Desire" and holds a lot of people from buying the book. I can see it in lots of eyes when they see the title of the book I'm reading ;).

Sarah-Kate Lynch tells us the story about Florence, a beautiful, happy, married, hardworking mum of 39. She's quite happy with the life she leads working in an antique shop just across the street, married to her childhood sweetheart and mother of a great son, Monty, who lives a year in Australia. Too bad all those good things get smashed rather quickly. Florence doesn't know what happens when she loses her job and husband on one day. Superstitious as she is, she thinks she'll be hit by a third "bad thing". And indeed... A few days later her son returns from Australia, a thing that supposed to be comforting now her beloved man turned out to be different than she thought.However Florences light on the dark sky goes quickly. Monty has something to tell her and it's quite a big deal...If you want to know if Florence is able to get her life back on track and find happiness again, I think you should definitely read the book yourself. I kind of recommend it to chicklitlovers ;)

What I really like about the book is the fact we get Florences version of the whole story, but at the end of each chapter there's presented a short intervention by another character. These other characters are the important people in Florences live. They give us another perspective on things and reveal some more details about Florences character she doesn't want to show us herself. Another reaaaaally lovely thing about the book is the recipe you find in it to make a chocolate-banana pie. The recipe alone can make your mouth water. I'll definitely try it someday!

A little point of disappointment for me is the fact the end of the story got handled too quickly. I didn't like the ending too, but that's just my opinion. Still I think Sarah-Kate could give us some more pages describing the new Florece at the end of the story. On the other hand she provides us some free space to give the ending our own twist.

Chick Lit Central: The Blog!: Samantha Hoffman plays it smart, plus a book giveaway

Chick Lit Central: The Blog!: Samantha Hoffman plays it smart, plus a book giveaway
Worth looking at ;)