Blog Tour: Review & Author Interview – Driving Home For Christmas by A.L. Michael

cover55067-mediumSource: Carina UK via NetGalley
Format: E-book – Read on Kindle
Publish / Release Date: 28th October 2014 by Carina UK
Price: N/A
Date Read: 28th October 2014
Genre: Romance / Family
Links: Amazon UK / Amazon US

Note: I received this review copy of Driving Home For Christmas for free in return for an honest review during this blog tour. The opinions and thoughts I share in this review are my own.

Goodreads Summary:

Megan McAllister is home for Christmas…whether she likes it or not!

Christmas is about family…and for Megan family means two people: herself, and her daughter Skye. It doesn’t mean her parents who, ten years ago, saw her pregnancy as anything but a miracle. And it definitely doesn’t include her irresistible ex-boyfriend Lucas Bright.

So ‘Driving Home for Christmas’ has never been top of Megan’s festive playlist. But for Skye, she knows she needs to spend the holiday season with the people she’s left behind. She can do this. Even if the thought of meeting Lucas under the mistletoe still has her feeling like she’s drunk one-too-many Snowballs!

But somewhere between the hanging of stockings and the crackle of wrapping paper, Christmas starts to sparkle. And Megan begins to wonder if family could be bigger than her and Skye after all…

My Review:

Christmas reading in October? Usually something I wouldn’t do but Driving Home For Christmas is a fantastic story and one I would definitely encourage others to read.

The story is mainly told in the present day, in the 3rd person and from the point of view of Megan McAllister. Occasionally though, the author gives us different viewpoints such as the wonderful character of Megan’s daughter Skye. The author also assists the reader by filling in the back story bit by bit, by adding in italicised scenes from the past of Megan. This allows the reader to find out so much about the characters and stories surrounding Megan, including her previous relationship and friendship with Lucas, the early few months with baby Skye and so much more. These little glimpses every now and again – which do jump around and are not in a continuous order – enable the reader to puzzle through and put together this literary jigsaw.

There are so many wonderful characters in this story which all fit together and have their own amazing and real characteristics. The main character Megan has turned into a happy and loving mother but who has been away from her parents and brother for so long and for such a reason that returning is very hard. But she will do anything for her daughter Skye. Skye is an amazing girl; she is naturally loving and outgoing and at times far too grown up for her age but intuitive about her mother’s needs and her own. Skye wants to be a private investigator when she grows up and spends a lot of her time practicing; with great effect. Into the story also comes Lucas; former best friend and boyfriend of Megan and now handsome-hunk teacher / rock god. Lucas is, very fortunately for this story, single and living back in the same village he and Megan grew up in. Through the flashbacks, we find out that Lucas was the person Megan always ran to when she needed to get away from home and her parents and in the main story we see a rekindling of this friendship which is utterly sweet and wonderful. With the added minx of Skye to help things along, what could possibly go wrong?! Add in Anna, her gay lodger Jeremy and Megan’s parents the story is well and expressively told and a pure joy to read.

This book is a wonderful introduction to Christmas and one which many will be able to relate to. I was quickly drawn into the story and sped through it in around 4/5 hours. I didn’t want the story to end… Aww! I really hope you enjoy this story as much as I have. Merry Christmas!

Rating: ♥♥♥♥ – I loved it.

 

An Interview with author A.L. Michael:

Hi A.L. Michael and welcome to the blog! Thank you so much for taking a few minutes to answer a few questions for us. Congratulations on ‘Driving Home for Christmas’ which came out just 3 days ago!

A.L. is extremely mysterious – may we call you something else? And being a proper British host I must ask… Tea? Coffee? Mulled wine? Biscuits?

Call me Andi! Ooh, mulled wine is very seasonal, any excuse for something alcoholic and Christmassy!

 

Now we’re comfortable, could you please introduce yourself a little – any Christmassy likes, dislikes and hobbies you can tell us about?

I’m pretty simple! I’m a bit of a hipster writer type, a cliche really! Christmas for me is about being family, drinking fizzy wine, eating all the amazing food that I try not to eat the rest of the year.

My ideal Christmas is when I make breakfast for everyone, we lazily open presents, we all cook together, and everyone’s having fun and laughing, then passes out eating Quality Street in front of the TV. What I hate? Doing things just because you should- everyone’ Christmas should be different! Also my Mum is amazing and wants to cater to everyone, so she gets herself really stressed. But I know I would too if I was cooking for 15 people!

Hobbies…I’m into running, am desperately waiting for my new gym to open, and I love an excuse to dance, whether it’s salsa, forro or zumba. Something with a latin rhythm and I’m good to go!

 

One guide to writing says “Write what you know” – is this what you have done in ‘Driving Home for Christmas’?

Actually, no, not at all. The story appeared instantaneously, and I knew I wanted to write a book with a kid in. I’m getting to that age when my friends are settling down, and I wanted to think about what it would be like if one of us had a fairly grown up kid now. I set it in a rural village, when I live in London…I did always want to be in a band in secondary school though!

 

‘Driving Home for Christmas’ is of course a Christmas book… Duh. I would love to know, did you write in season or out and was it hard to write or a book that wrote itself?

Oh, I wrote it in July! It was crazy hard to get in the Christmas spirit. I was sweating away, eating BBQ and wearing flip flops- insane! The great thing is, now it’s out I’m completely feeling Christmassy and really excited for December to get here!

 

If you had to describe ‘Driving Home for Christmas’ in just one sentence, what would it be?

A nostalgic, bittersweet story about a young woman going home with her daughter, after running away from home at 17.

 

Do you have any plans in the pipeline for a continuation or a next book?

I absolutely love Skye and Megan and Lucas, and whilst I think their story has been completed, you can never say never. I didn’t think I was doing a sequel to The Last Word (my last novel) and now I am!

 

For fun, if you were stuck on a desert island and you could take only 3 items with you, what would they be and why?

I’m terrible about these, I’m always way too practical! Water filtration tablets, a blow up bed etc…but if I was being cheeky, I’d say lots of books, an amazing pair of sunglasses and…yeah, suncream. I can’t help it. Even fantasy scenarios are practical!

 

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions, and of course – Merry Christmas!

 

A bit about the author: 

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A.L. Michael

A.L Michael is a writer and workshop leader from North London. She has a BA in Creative Writing with English Lit, an MA in Creative Entrepreneurship and is starting an MsC in Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes. She likes learning and hates essays.

She’s a fan of cheap wine, expensive chocolate and still wants to be a secret agent when she grows up, but she’ll settle for lying on the page.

Twitter // Website // Goodreads

Blog Tour: An Interview with Joan Ellis, Author of I Am Ella, Buy Me

Welcome to my stop on the Joan Ellis ‘I Am Ella, Buy Me’ blog tour! I have a wonderful interview for you with this fantastic author and I am extremely excited to share it with you.

 

i am ella buy meTitle: I Am Ella, Buy Me
Author: Joan Ellis
Publish/Release Date: 2oth July 2014
Genre: Fiction – Humour
Purchase Links: Amazon UK / Amazon US

 

About the book:

Based on Joan’s own experiences in top London advertising agencies, this funny, fast-paced tale is set against a backdrop of Thatcher’s Britain where money trumped morals and lust was a must. ‘I am a ginger tom. I am a boy racer. I am a housewife. I am a pain in the arse.’ Working in Soho’s mad, bad Adland in the sexist 80s, Ella David is a rare beast – a woman in a man’s world. When her lothario boss, Peter Richards, bored with his ball-clicker, demands something or someone new to play with, Ella finds herself battling more than just fat thighs. Faced with losing her job or sleeping with him, Ella turns to her friend, Adam Hart the one constant bright spot in her life. Can love help her go from a girl in the firing line to a woman calling the shots?

 

An interview with author Joan Ellis:

Hi Joan welcome to the blog – thank you so much for taking the time to answer a few questions for me! Just to warn you though, this is my first author interview so please be kind!

Hello, no worries, it’s my first time too! I’ve had a sneaky peak at your questions – they’re great!

 

Let’s start off on the right foot. Thanks to Ella and Adam, reading your book made me think constantly of cake… What’ll you be having? And can I offer a cup of tea, coffee or other to go with it?

Home-made chocolate cake, New York cheesecake, Christmas cake, coffee and walnut, lemon drizzle, raspberry Pavlova, Yule log, almond croissant. The richer the better. And a cup of black Earl Grey, please. On second thoughts, better make that a pot. Thanks!

 

Now we’re comfortable, could you please introduce yourself a little – any likes, dislikes and hobbies you can tell us about?

Can’t get enough of:

Love and laughter with family and friends.

London (especially my beloved Crouch End), the Isle of Wight for taking me to its heart and Capri for the best gelato in the world.

The sea – the one place where I don’t have a care in the world. I saw a sea-horse once. Not going to lie – I thought it would be the size of, well, a horse.

My thatched cottage – like living in a tea-room but with less people and more cakes.

My cat, Baby Ragger – born to be cute. Cheers me up when I’m down.

Could certainly live without:

Injustice

Illness

Dishonesty

Tofu

 

One guide to writing says “Write what you know” – is this what you have done in ‘I Am Ella, Buy Me’?

Yes, up to a point. Like Ella, I was a woman in a man’s world, an award-winning copywriter in top London advertising agencies with a penchant for bad boys and big hair. Well, it was the 80s.

Some sleaze did actually say to me: ‘I’ve never had you, have I?’  Wrong on so many levels but the perfect quote for Peter!

Obviously, ‘I am Ella. Buy me’ is a novel; what happens never happened in real life but it’s fun to think some of it might have. I’m just relieved Peter isn’t out there somewhere, stalking the corridors of power, causing havoc!

 

‘I Am Ella, Buy Me’ has some fantastic characters (Wally and Adam) and some not so good ones. I am of course talking about the sleaze-ball (Peter) and villainous weasel (Tom) – are any of these based on people you have come across before?

Wally is based on my darling Dad, the funniest man I ever met. Adam is a great friend of mine who has seen me through the best and worst of times. Kind, witty and most importantly, knows there’s nothing a slab of cake can’t solve.

Tom and Peter are pure fiction, each created using a mishmash of unsavoury characteristics. I love a good villain. Every book needs at least one to add colour to the black and white pages.

 

Do you have any plans in the pipeline for a next book?

I have just launched my first psychological thriller, The Killing of Mummy’s Boy. People ask why I didn’t move when I found myself sitting next to a murderer on a train. In the hour I was trapped with him, I was terrified, horrified and sickened but never bored. What better start to a novel?

My third book Guilt is out soon. Seven-year-old Susan is alone with her younger brother when he dies of an overdose. The guilt informs the rest of her life. When it threatens to destroy not only her but also her family, she must revisit her past to discover the truth.

If you want to give someone a fright this Christmas, these are the gifts that keeps on giving!

 

For fun, if you were stuck on a desert island and you could take only 3 items with you, what would they be and why?

Something to write on – I could invent a host of characters to keep me company. One might even be smart enough to help me escape!

A massive photo album going back years – I’d relive all the happy times spent with my daughter, my husband and the rest of my family and friends.

Red lipstick – no-one would see me wearing it but it would make me feel more glam.

 

Finally for the most important question. In a cream tea, do you put the jam or cream on first?

Love it! Always the cream on first but I’m a Londoner, what do I know?

Thank you. It’s been fun and thought provoking.

 

And thank you Joan – you’ve given us some amazing answers!

 

A bit about the author:

joan ellis

 Joan Ellis

Advertising copywriter, comedy writer, performer, lecturer – Joan Ellis has been them all. With a full-time job in a top London advertising agency and a new baby, she did what any right-minded woman would’ve done and set up a comedy club. She even appeared on the same bill as Jo Brand. Once.

A career highlight was casting a black and white moggie as Humphrey Bogart for her award-winning cat food commercial. Other great performers who brought her words to life include Penelope Keith and Harry Enfield.

As a lecturer, Joan taught comedian Noel Fielding all he knows about advertising before encouraging him to showcase his creative talents on a wider stage.

Working for The Press Association, she tutored Wordsworth’s great-grandson in the art of copywriting: Buy a host of golden daffodils and get a blue one, free!

Suffering from swine flu and sweating like a pig, she moved from London to the Isle of Wight where she lives on cream teas with her beloved husband, daughter and two cats.

Twitter // Website

Want to check out previous and upcoming stops on the ‘I Am Ella, Buy Me’ Blog Tour? Take a look at the tour poster below!

buy-me-i-am-ella-blog-tour-poster-212x300

This blog was brought to you by JennyBee’s Book Blog in concert with Girls Love To Read Blog Tours

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