Saturday, 26 April 2014

Promo Blitz: The Other Side of Morning by Jo Lambert

Today it is my pleasure to host Jo Lambert and her latest novel The Other Side of Morning.

Born and raised in rural Wiltshire, Jo Lambert grew up with a love of books and a vivid imagination.  As a child she enjoyed creating her own adventure stories similar to Enid Blyton’s Famous Five.  Writing always stayed with her, but college, work and eventually marriage found it kept very much in the background as a hobby.  In 2009 everything changed when she decided to self-publish a novel she had completed. After When Tomorrow Comes, three other books - Love Lies and Promises, The Ghost of You and Me and Between Today and Yesterday followed.  In 2013 she decided to give up full time work to concentrate fully on her writing.  Her fifth novel The Other Side of Morning was accepted by ThornBerry Publishing UK and is now available in e-book form with a paperback version to follow shortly.

Jo is married and lives in a village on the eastern edge of Bath, Somerset with one small grey feline called Mollie. She shares her husband with his ‘other woman’ Bridget - a 48 year old white MG Midget who keeps him occupied while she is busy writing.

Book Blurb
Charlotte Kendrick’s ill-fated relationship with rock star Christian Rosetti still haunts her. The new man in her life, handsome, rich Italian restaurateur Marco D’Alesandro, is everything she wants. But when beautiful heiress Rossana Caravello arrives to spend time with his family as their house guest she wonders whether history is about to repeat itself. Marco insists he loves her and that he has no interest in their guest, but how can Charlotte believe him when everything about his behaviour around Rossana indicates he is lying? Giving him the benefit of the doubt, Charlotte wonders whether his ruthless stepmother Thérèse may be involved, and decides to find out more about the young heiress. However, far from putting her mind at rest, what she discovers leaves her feeling more unsettled than ever about her future with Marco…

From rural West Somerset to the glorious rolling landscape of Tuscany and the Italian lakes THE OTHER SIDE OF MORNING is a story of love, betrayal, deception and ultimate sacrifice.

My Review
In THE OTHER SIDE OF Morning, Jo Lambert takes the story of the evil step-mother to new heights. Wealthy, glamorous Thérèse is determined to put an end to the budding relationship between her stepson Marco and kind, clever and unassuming Charlotte Kendrick, and it seems will stop at nothing to push naive Italian heiress Rossana into his arms and his bed. The love story between Marco, who owns of one of London's most exclusive restaurants, and Charlotte - still recovering from her failed love affair with rockstar Christian Rosetti -  seems doomed from the start.

As we follow them from beautiful rural Somerset to glamorous London or again Tuscany and France through a series of incidents and sometimes frustrating misunderstandings, we can only hope evil Thérèse gets her comeuppance and love prevails in the end.

Jo Lambert also creates an impressive cast of characters who develop throughout the story, the most memorable for me being tormented rock star Christian Rosetti and dangerously unhinged Kayte.

Altogether I found THE OTHER SIDE OF MORNING a very enjoyable read.

You can find it here:

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

A recipe for the 'Mouna', a traditional Easter brioche from North Africa

My mother was born and brought up near Algiers in North Africa, where Easter Monday was celebrated with a family picnic and the sharing of the 'Mouna', a traditional Easter brioche. Even long after leaving Algeria, she still baked a Mouna for our family and the smell of the brioche baking in the oven - a blend of citrus fruit and aniseed - was absolutely divine.

Where does the name Mouna come from? Nobody really knows. Some claim that is originates from Spain where a similar brioche called 'Mona de Pascua' is baked for Easter Monday. Others associate it with Fort Lamoune near the Algerian town of Oran. The fort was built by the Spanish in the seventeenth century and called Fort Lamoune (or Castillo de la Mona) because lots of monkeys lived in the area, and in Spanish, monkey is 'mona'. The families of the men imprisoned in Fort Lamoune could only visit them once a year, on Easter Monday, and used to bring them sweet bread loaves. Another explanation is that the Mimouna is the last day of the Jewish Easter and that it was traditional on that day for Jewish families from Algiers and other North-African towns to spend the day outside, in parks and forests - and have a picnic.  

Whatever its origins, the Mouna is delicious, if a little denser than other brioches.

Ingredients for 4 small Mounas. (You would traditionally bake four Mounas, one for you and your family, one for relatives, the others for friends and neighbours.)
1 kg flour
300 g sugar
75 g butter
5 eggs
1 sachet yeast
6 large spoonfuls of oil
the zest of one lemon
the zest of one orange
the juice of one orange
a few aniseeds (optional)

30 minutes - 2 to 3 hours for the dough to rise - 30 minutes to bake

1. Pre-heat the oven at 100°C (th.3/4).
2. Mix the sugar, eggs, lemon and orange zests until the mixture is pale and fluffy. Add the melted butter and the oil and mix well. If you have aniseeds, you can add them to the mixture now.
3. Now mix in the sachet of yeast into the flour, and add bit by bit to the rest of the mixture, working the dough until you can roll it into a soft ball. Cover with a tea towel.
4. Switch the oven off and put the dough (covered with the tea towel) inside for 2 to 3 hours.
6. Take the dough out of the oven, and knead it until it's soft and does not stick.
7. Make 4 balls. With a sharp knife cut a few lines on top of each ball, then brush egg yolk on top and sprinkle sugar (traditionally you crush sugar lumps or cubes but you can't really find them in England). Leave for 15 min before putting in the oven.
8. Bake for 20 min at 210°C (th.7) then switch the oven off and leave for a further 10 minutes.

My family was truly multicultural. Just before biting into my mother North-African Mouna for breakfast, we would be submitted to the Polish 'dyngus' by my father! For those who don't know, it's the tradition to throw water at people on Easter Monday (which can vary from a weak sprinkling to a thorough soaking).

Joyeuses Pâques! 

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Liebster Blog Award

Author Katie L. Carroll nominated me, and several other fellow authors, for a Liebster Blog Award. I must confess I had never heard of it before but it sounds like a really great idea.

 The Liebster Blog Award translates to “the beloved” or “the dearest.” The award is given as a way to celebrate smaller blogs. (Only blogs with under 200 followers can be awarded.) Before you accept the award, there are a certain set of tasks you must complete. The first is to reveal 11 facts about you, answer the 11 questions asked by the blogger who nominated you, and then create 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer on their own blog.

So here are my 11 facts:

1.  Napoleon stopped over in my village near Lyon on his way back from his exile on Elba during what is known as 'The 100 days'. I always wanted to go inside never dared ask.
Château de Saint-Genis-Laval
2. My first dog was a horrible, smelly stray. I was six years old and named him 'Peanut Bottle of Rum' (Cacahuète Bouteille de Rhum in French). I don't remember why. I never liked peanuts and I had of course never drunk a drop of rum!
3. We were three girls (still are) in my family. I wanted an older brother so badly I made one up and kept the pretence for over two years in my primary school. I had named him Stanislas (which was my Polish grandfather's name).
4. In fact, I was always one for making up stories and inventing people. My best friend Nathalie and I invented an imaginary friend, Josephine, and were so convincing people still ask about her to this day.
5. I must have a touch of OCD because I can't stand it when things aren't straight or symmetrical. My students at school are very good about it and always make sure desks and chairs are straight before I even need to say anything!
6. I've had the same vivid, recurring dream about a haunted chateau and its inhabitants since I was a little girl. There is this dark room I am not to go in. After all these years of dreaming about the place, I still haven't plucked up the courage to open the door. It looks something like this...

7. I stammer when I'm tired, which is pretty much all the time these days.
8. I used to have a fantastic photographic memory and got through four years of law school by memorising pages and pages of legal documents, dates, numbers and facts and regurgitating them the day of the exam. I always felt like a fraud because of it. 
9. I could happily live on goat cheese, crusty bread, cake...and black coffee.

10. I went to my first Romantic Novelist Association conference last July. During the train journey to Sheffield, I chatted to a very interesting guy and for the first time ever I introduced myself as a writer. It felt incredible.
11. I love the process of finding my characters' name. En vrac, the heroins of my next four novels will be called Celeste, Venetia, Gisèle and Prudence.

And now, here are the questions Katie asked me to answer.

1. What do you like best about your personality?
I'm not sure there is anything to like, really. I'm a perfectionist, and very hard working!
2. What is the best piece of advice you ever received?
A French saying: Qui ne tente rien n'a rien. (Who dares not, gets nothing...would that be right?)
3. What does it take for a book to stay with you long after reading it?
The characters must be true, feel real and create strong emotions inside me.
4. If you could tell an author that you admire one thing, what would it be?
That their book made me laugh, and cry, and dream, and I wanted to magically sneak into it! 
5. Who is the one person who always makes you happy? (I have to change this to 'persons')
My three children - two boys and a girl. They are infuriating, fun, adorable, thoughtful and a bit loopy!
6. What was the best birthday you ever had?
Every single birthday is lovely and special.
7. What drives you to share your thoughts about books on social media?
I like writing about the books I enjoyed reading, and I love exchanging ideas and tips with fellow authors.
8. What is the best thing an author ever said to you?
To write and rewrite, and then rewrite again. 
9. What do you consider the ideal length for a book in terms of the number of pages?
I'm not sure there is an ideal length. It all depends on the story and the characters. Some take longer to develop, I suppose.
10. What fictional character do you most resemble?
Marie-Ange, from my debut historical romance ANGEL HEART.
11. If you could give the person who reads this an uplifting message, what would it be?
There is joy and love and wonder everywhere around you. Just open your eyes and your heart.

The time has come to nominate another blogger for the Liebster Blog Award. If you would like to take part, please leave a comment! I will reply and tell you what to do to enter.
It was the talented Katie L. Carroll who nominated me. You can find her and her great books at