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My summer book harvest

3 authors I’ve discovered in lockdown…

For book lovers, I don’t think much can beat the joy of discovering a fantastic author – like each page is slowly unwrapping the best sort of birthday present, or opening up an old chest to find it’s full of treasure. And when you learn that they’ve already written a whole load of other books, that’s even better.

Back in the spring, my books of choice were the paper version of a comfort blanket – old favourites, read many times before, from authors who could immediately whisk me away from the stresses and strains of real life for a while, replacing it with the hope of a happy ever after.

But by the time libraries reopened in July, I was more than ready for some fertile hunting ground, on my endless quest for new authors whose writing I love. When the books are free, I can take risks, step out of my usual genres and try things on a whim. And in the past few weeks I’ve found 3 authors in particular who I’m now looking out for on future library visits.

So, in the interests of spreading the joy, my Fantastic Finds are:

  1.  Stella Newman – The Foodie’s Guide to Falling in Love

Food and romance – two of my favourite things in one book, so I had high hopes for this one, and I wasn’t disappointed. It tells the story of Laura, a secret restaurant critic (I first picked up the book because a food reviewer features in my current work in progress), Adam, a chef, and a horrible restaurant review that causes no end of problems. I absolutely loved the humour – it was genuinely whip-smart funny without being crude or tasteless. But my highlight was the relationship between Laura and Adam – it managed to be tender and sweet while not at all saccharine. I immediately bought two more of Stella Newman’s books, which basically says it all.

https://amzn.to/3mCelSK

2. Lisa Wingate – Dandelion Summer

This book was a genuinely pleasant surprise. It wasn’t that it was more light-hearted than I expected (although at times, it was). More that it felt full of light. The story follows a sixteen year old girl who ends up working as a companion for a depressed widow who worked for NASA during the space race. The unfolding of their relationship is simply beautiful, and I was desperately rooting for them both. But what I loved most was that, despite covering some difficult topics, overall the book was full of all the things I love to read about – warmth, wisdom, hope, and joy amidst the trouble, and learning to love and value yourself enough to reach for the stars. I will definitely be looking out for more books from Lisa Wingate, with the hope they are equally as uplifting.

https://bit.ly/33OZwDU

3. Greg Hurwitz – The Nowhere Man

Okay, so this is a totally different genre – the 2nd in a 4 book thriller series (though skipping the 1st book didn’t matter). It follows the ongoing adventures of Orphan X, who broke out of a government programme of trained assassins (not a million miles away from Jason Bourne) in the previous book,  Easy to read, entertaining throughout, enough emotion to keep me caring – park reality at the front cover and enjoy the ride. (WARNING: I did need to overlook one of the worst ‘male author writing about a beautiful woman admiring her own naked body in a mirror’ scenes that I’ve been unfortunate enough to encounter while not on a themed Twitter thread).

https://amzn.to/2FZO1kR

So, that’s my lockdown book harvest – I’d love to hear your favourite author discoveries of the summer!

The inspiration behind A Day That Changed Everything

One of the things people tend to ask me after they find out I’m an author, is where my ideas come from. The best answer I can usually come up with is ‘Everywhere!’ Every conversation I’ve had (or earwigged). Every memory, or funny story or interesting fact. Snippets of the places I’ve been and the people I’ve met, swirling together like imagination soup until the scent of an interesting idea wafts out and catches my attention.

And like usual, the original idea behind A day That Changed Everything was not one idea, but several, scribbled down over the years in a notebook. One of them was about a woman who had a promising sporting career, and then gave it up for a man who turned out not to be worth it. I wondered about this woman, where she ended up and whether she ever got over her bad decision. Whether, after giving up the dream of winning, she would forever class herself as a loser. But of course, the more I grew to like her, the more I wanted her to find a way to believe in herself again. To dump the shame like she dumped that no-good man.

But for that to happen, it would mean restoring her physical wellbeing, as well supporting her mental health.

And that naturally got me thinking about my amazing mother-in-law, Phyllis Moran. Unlike Amy Piper in the book, Phyllis was never considered sporty, and raising 8 boys in the Northern Irish Troubles is exercise enough for one woman. But it’s also very stressful, and Phyllis struggled at times with her mental health, as do so many of us, in whatever situations we find ourselves in. However, she pressed on, she worked hard, she laughed loud through all the tough times, and once her sons were grown men and she finally had some time to herself, now in her 60s with a gaggle of grandchildren, she joined a running club. And to her surprise, she met a group of people who didn’t think any less of her for being the oldest one there, or a novice, or for getting lost if she ran on her own. Instead they cheered on her every step. And as she fell in love with running, her confidence blossomed. As she grew stronger physically, her mind grew stronger too. In months she was running half-marathons, inspiring the club members so much with her quiet determination and positive attitude that they gifted her with an all-expenses paid trip to do the Great North Run.

My mother-in-law has unfailingly been one of my biggest author fans. She is beyond proud of me. Well, Phyllis, your family are just as proud of you, and are so pleased you’ve finally learnt to be proud of yourself.

And that was my hope and dream for Amy Piper, too. That after years of hiding away, she would learn to feel proud of herself again. And what better place for that to happen than a running club. Where, like my mother-in-law, Amy finds group of women from all walks of life, who cheer her on, run alongside her (even when she’d rather they didn’t) and teach her that, with a little help, things can change for the better.

https://amzn.to/3hay74m

A Day That Changed Everything

I’m so excited that my next book, A Day That Changed Everything is now available in paperback, ebook and audio book. I absolutely LOVE this cover – it captures perfectly one of my favourite scenes in the book, and just somehow makes me feel sunnier.

https://amzn.to/30Sgstg

Amy Piper is a loser. She’s lost her confidence, her mojo and her way.

But one thing she has never lost is her total love for her thirteen-year-old son Joey, and for his sake she knows it’s time for a change. But first she has to be brave enough to leave the house…

What she needs are friends and an adventure. And when she joins a running group of women who call themselves The Larks, she finds both. Not to mention their inspiring (and rather handsome) coach, Nathan.

The trick to changing your life, is to take it one day at a time. Now, with every ounce of strength she has left, Amy is determined to make just one day special – for herself and for Joey. And who knows, today might be the day that changes everything…

Uplifting, funny and unforgettable, Beth Moran returns with a joyous tale of friendship, love and facing your fears. 

This book was previously published as How Not to be a Loser.