28th February 2018: International Day of Hygge

I love the hygge trend. I’m definitely someone who loves home comforts, cosy blankets and cups of tea. Hygge can also translate as self-care. As someone with a chronic illness, I have to take care of myself, and there’s nothing I love more than snuggling on the sofa, surrounded by candles and soft throws and that feeling of being at home.

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February 28th is International Day of Hygge. On that day, people will be sharing how they go about embracing hygge, using #internationalhyggeday.

Last year I wrote a blog post about how to bring hygge into your office. The 28th falls on a Wednesday, so I’ll be at work all day, then attending a Pilates class, which is something that greatly helps my fibromyalgia.

I’m all about embracing hygge in small ways every day, so I’ll make sure I take a proper tea break at work, sitting and meditating and just being in the moment. In the evening, we’ll have some good comfort food, maybe roasted lamb chops. I’ll make time for reading, snuggled up in the car on my lunch break or curled up on the sofa in the evening before bed, fighting off the winter with a hot drink.

Hygge is literally about enjoying life, acknowledging joy, and creating a cosy environment. It’s the little things that make your day just that bit better. For ideas on how to embrace this day, visit How To Hygge The British Way.

What will you be doing on International Day of Hygge?

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Blog Tour: False Prophet by Richard Davis

The Bandwagon is thrilled to be joining in with the False Prophet blog tour! You can read reviewer James McStravick’s review below.

A psychotic terrorist has his son. He will do anything to save him. When a rogue cult turns deadly, the FBI call on former conman Agent Saul Marshall. FALSE PROPHET introduces a gripping new series from thriller writer Richard Davis.

Marshall is soon drawn into a cat and mouse chase with the leader of the cult, Ivan Drexler. As the scale of Drexler’s terrorist ambition becomes ever clearer, news arrives that he has taken Marshall’s son hostage. Removed from the line of duty, he must work alone, off-grid.

As the attacks intensify, Saul will stop at nothing to defeat Drexler. But the FBI are questioning Saul’s own part in the carnage. He must work fast to save both his country and his life. Can Saul stop the carnage before it’s too late? And can he save his son?

As wave after wave of attacks break, the clock is ticking for Saul.

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I don’t very often read agency-based thriller books, but this novel will certainly go towards changing that. I think the start of this book really helps set up the over-arcing story, as straight away we know that whoever is involved will do whatever is necessary to get what they want.

There are a few intriguing aspects about the story here, and none more so than that of the cult. This aspect alone truly shows how much the author wants this book to grip its readers; you are fed very small amounts of information about them, and this always leaves you wanting to know more about them and their end goal.

One other aspect I enjoyed but also somewhat felt was double-edged was the pacing. I really enjoyed how fast paced the story was, and I think this helped greatly towards not only making it very easy to read but also very interesting.

Even though I enjoyed the fast pacing I felt at times this hindered the characterisation as I don’t feel we ever fully got to learn about Saul Marshall, his colleagues or the work they carry out. This was more so apparent when Saul reacted in certain ways, and, without knowing him more, it made his reactions feel less human in a way, especially for someone working in the FBI.

Overall I feel the book has some great hooks and reading it is very enjoyable. I think if Richard went into more detail about his characters this would not only make it a better read but also help towards the understanding of certain scenes. I’m very much the type of person that doesn’t like it when a story has an incredibly slow pace but this can sometimes helped along by characterisation. I understand that finding that a good balance between characterisation and pacing can be difficult and I fully appreciate the type of book Richard Davis is trying to create.

With all of the above in mind I enjoyed reading this book and I think Richard can only grow stronger as he writes.

Review originally posted on The Bandwagon on April 24th 2016.

Follow the rest of the False Prophet blog tour!

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Blog Tour: The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

The Woman in the Window is a psychological thriller taking the book charts by storm. It’s being raved about by bloggers and, after receiving & reading my own review copy, it’s easy to see why. You can read my review here.

To celebrate the release, read on for a Q&A with author A.J. Finn.

The Woman in the Window

  1. How long did you take to write The Woman in the Window?

 It took me exactly twelve months to write. I had the idea for the story in September of 2015, and submitted a 7500-word outline to my friend Jennifer, a well-regarded literary agent in New York. She encouraged me to proceed, so a year later, the finished novel was on submission, thanks to Jennifer and my equally well-regarded UK agent Felicity (also a friend—I like to work with friends).

I hadn’t dabbled in fiction since my school days, but I’ve written plenty of academic papers and book reviews. So I assumed that the ins and outs of sentence-level composition—the writing—would pose no problem; it was the characterization and plot-work that spooked me. To my surprise, Anna took shape very quickly, like a figure approaching through mist, dragging her story with her pretty much intact. And it was the writing that proved challenging!

  1. We’ve heard there might be a film The Woman in the Window, what can you tell us about it? Could you tell us who you would love to play Anna Fox?

The film rights were pre-empted by Fox 2000, the studio that made Gone Girl and Life of Pi, and the movie will be produced by Oscar winner Scott Rudin, who made No Country for Old MenThe Social NetworkThe Grand Budapest Hotel, and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, among other movies.

As for casting, I suspect that I could name six actresses only to see the filmmakers cast a seventh! So instead, I’ll tell you whom I would have cast were Hitchcock making the film sixty or seventy years ago: Gene Tierney. She wasn’t a ‘Hitchcock blonde’, or indeed any kind of blonde, and perhaps that’s why he never worked with her; but her life was marked by a series of traumas that would have helped to prepare her for the lead role. And she radiated both steeliness and vulnerability.

  1. How did you create your pen name?

Because I work in publishing, I needed to submit my novel to editors under a pen name, as I didn’t want anyone to buy (or not buy!) the book because they knew me; and I chose a gender-neutral name in order to discourage speculation about my identity. A. J. is the nickname of my cousin Alice Jane, a well-regarded banker on Wall Street; and Finn is the name of another cousin’s French bulldog. I like the name A. J. Finn for the same reasons I like the name Anna Fox: It’s short, memorable, and easy to pronounce.

  1. Do you have any hobbies you could tell us about?

My three great passions are books, films, and dogs. I read voraciously, I love watching old movies (as well as newer ones). I keep active swimming, sailing, and spending time in the gym. I enjoy traveling abroad whenever possible, particularly here in the UK, where many of my friends live.

Unlike the heroine of my novel, I don’t drink much, but I like to cook.

The Woman in the Window is available to buy on Amazon.

Author Spotlight: Siobhan Clark

The Bandwagon presents Siobhan Clark, author of The Children of Midgard, an historical fiction novel based in the Viking era, and described as “a Norse saga by a woman for women”.

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The year is 961 and King Harald Bluetooth of Denmark has his gaze firmly set on the Western Kingdoms of Norway where his nephew Harald Greycloak reigns.  Bluetooth has declared Greycloak as his vassal King of Norway and will claim the establishment of the Jomsvikings.  In doing so he will solidify the order, building a keep for the warriors he intends to use to create a fleet of men who will rule the seas under his command.

However, the order is older than one man’s claim and consists of many who have their own destinies separate from the feuding monarchs.  There are men of honour and worth and there are those who seek naught but power and privilege, searching only to prosper from the misery of others.  There are tales of a legendary ring and a child who is said to be the progeny of the All-Father.

The Children of Midgard is available to buy on Amazon. To find out more, visit Siobhan’s website here.

About The Author

scSiobhan Clark is an historical fiction writer based in Glasgow, Scotland, where she lives with her husband.

From a young age, she was introduced to many fictional works by family who encouraged her interest in history, not only of her Scottish/Irish roots, but that of her wider heritage, stretching as far back as the Viking era.

 

Author Spotlight: Tam May

The Bandwagon presents Tam May, author of The Order of Actaeon, described as a “classic psychological family drama”.

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Sometimes the hunter becomes the hunted.

Jake is heir to the fortune and name of the prominent San Francisco Alderdice family. Although dearly loved by his sister Vivian, his passion for art and his contemplative temperament make him a pariah in the eyes of his bitter, tyrannical mother Larissa.

Eight months after his grandfather dies, Larissa announces the family is going to Waxwood, an exclusive resort town in Northern California, for the summer. At first, Jake’s life seems as aimless in Waxwood as it was in the city. Then Jake meets Stevens. With paternal authority and an obsession for power and leadership, Stevens is the epitome of Larissa’s idea of a family patriarch. Jake develops a hero worship for Stevens who in turn is intrigued by Jake’s artistic talent and philosophical nature. Stevens introduces him to the Order Of Actaeon, a group of misanthropes who reject commercial and conventional luxuries for a “pure” life in the wild.

But behind the potent charms of his new friend and seductive simplicity of the Actaeon lifestyle lies something more brutal and sinister than Jake could have anticipated.

To read an excerpt of The Order of Acteon, click here. It’s available to buy on Amazon US and Amazon UK.

About The Author

Tam May Author HeadshotTam May was born in Israel but grew up in the United States. She earned her B.A. and M.A in English and worked as an English college instructor and EFL (English as a Foreign Language) teacher before she became a full-time writer. She started writing when she was fourteen and writing became her voice. She writes psychological fiction, exploring characters’ emotional realities as informed by their past experiences and dreams, feelings, fantasies, nightmares, imagination, and self-reflection.

Her first work, a short story collection titled Gnarled Bones And Other Stories was published in 2017 and was nominated for a Summer Indie Book Award. She is currently working on a family drama series, The Waxwood Series. Set in a Northern California resort town, the series explores the crumbling relationships among the wealthy San Francisco Alderdice family. Book 1, The Order of Actaeon, is out now in paperback and will be out in ebook on January 18, 2018. In the book, the Alderdice son and heir falls into the hands of a charismatic older man obsessed with power and leadership during a summer in the resort town of Waxwood, California. The second book, The Claustrophobic Heart, brings in Gena Flax, a young woman who must cope with her aunt’s mental deterioration during a summer vacation in Waxwood. In the last book of the series, Dandelion Children, Daisy, the daughter of the Alderdice family is drawn into the disturbed life of the man who ruined her brother one rainy summer in Waxwood.

She is also working on a psychological women’s fiction book titled House of Masks about a woman mourning the death of her father who is drawn into the lives of her eccentric and embittered neighbors.

She lives in Texas but calls San Francisco and the Bay Area home. When she’s not writing, she’s reading classic literature and watching classic films.

Website: www.tammayauthor.com

Blog: https://thedreambook.wordpress.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tammayauthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/tammayauthor

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/tammayauthor/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Tam-May/e/B01N7BQZ9Y/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16111197.Tam_May

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/tam-may

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

I review The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn.

What did she see?

It’s been ten long months since Anna Fox last left her home. Ten months during which she has haunted the rooms of her old New York house like a ghost, lost in her memories, too terrified to step outside.

Anna’s lifeline to the real world is her window, where she sits day after day, watching her neighbours. When the Russells move in, Anna is instantly drawn to them. A picture-perfect family of three, they are an echo of the life that was once hers.

But one evening, a frenzied scream rips across the silence, and Anna witnesses something no one was supposed to see. Now she must do everything she can to uncover the truth about what really happened. But even if she does, will anyone believe her? And can she even trust herself?

Review

Anna hasn’t left the house in nearly a year. Ten months to be exact. Something happened to Anna, something she blocks out with painkillers and prescription medication and alcohol. She spends her time sleeping, watching old movies, and chatting online to others in similar situations.

Finn has created a very realistic, if not totally likable, protagonist. The information is drip-fed to the reader, catching hold and drawing you in. I must confess that I binge-read this book, so captivated was I by the story and the characters. In order to keep this review spoiler-free, I’m not going to say any more, but the twists and turns in this book are sharp and breathtaking.

My only “issue” with the book was the constant references to old movies, which sometimes got jumbled up. The antagonist was carefully created, crafted to fool both Anna and the reader.

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The Bandwagon is proud to be a part of The Woman in the Window blog tour! Keep an eye out for my post on 30/01/18!

In Bloom: My current work-in-progress

Since last autumn, I’ve been working on my latest project; a full-length, semi-autobiographical novel called In Bloom. I’m currently on my second draft, conducting a full read-through, and getting feedback from beta readers. I’m aiming to have a final draft ready to submit for publication within the next month.

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I want to talk about In Bloom, because writing it has been an incredible journey for me. When I say it’s semi-autobiographical, what I mean is that one of the key events in the novel is based on something that happened to me as a teenager. When I was 15, I was raped by a guy I’d been seeing casually, and had agreed to go off with, but when I wanted to stop, he wouldn’t.

It took a long time for me to realise that this was rape. We were warned about strange men lurking in dark alleys, or even creepy “uncles” who might touch you in the wrong way, but not about this. I was never told that I could say no at any point. That having full body autonomy means that I can give and withdraw consent whenever I wish. And that if someone doesn’t respect my decision, they are doing something wrong.

As girls, we’re taught all the wrong things. To quote my own novel:

It starts when we’re young, of course. We’re told what good girls do, and don’t do. Then we start to have periods and grow breasts, and we’re told to hide ourselves, lest we attract The Wrong Attention. We’re told to be wary of boys, afraid of men, and their questionable intentions. Yet we also have to live with them, trust them, love them, so we don’t know how to cope when those men betray us, hurt us. The world takes us apart, piece by piece, turns us into unsure, trembling, fragile creatures. We’re left bare, vulnerable.

And so it goes, our confidence slowly ripped apart, our sense of self destroyed. How many young women know what constitutes rape? How many young men know what consent actually means? The answer is pretty terrifying.

I didn’t start writing In Bloom so I could name the guy who raped me. The time for that has passed. I’ve changed enough details so it’s unlikely he, or anyone else, will realise the event I’m talking about. I wanted to write this story because writing is my outlet. It’s cathartic, therapeutic. I wanted to tell this story because it’s the story of so many other women and girls; women and girls who may feel that they’re alone, that they’re wrong. In Bloom has a very simple message: You are not alone. You are justified. You are heard.

That scene is pivotal for my protagonist, Lauren, but it isn’t the end of the story. She has to deal with someone sharing a photograph of her from that night – passed out, half-naked, vulnerable. She loses her friends. And then, almost a year later, her sister, Hannah, is found dead.

In Bloom may be a story of pain, of sexual violence and trauma. But it’s also a story of sisterhood, of maturity, of confronting your past, your ghosts. It’s a story of acceptance, not of what has happened to you, but acceptance of yourself, as you are. You are more than the sum of your experiences.

I’m still open for beta readers, though I will caution anyone that this book contains the following themes: rape, child abuse, suicide. But nothing is graphic or gratuitous. Read the blurb below, and if you’re interested, please email thebandwagonreviews@gmail.com.

 

In Bloom

Lauren Winters must return to her hometown, the town she fled from after her sister, Hannah, committed suicide. 

Before Hannah died, she revealed a truth to Lauren that she knew could never be forgiven. After Lauren experiences a traumatic event, she relies on Hannah to keep her safe and sane. But what happens when the one you trust the most betrays you?

Lauren has no choice but to go back, to face the life she left behind. 10 years later, a memorial is being held in Hannah’s honour. And someone is desperate to bring her back to life.

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