Monthly Archives: June 2012

The inspiration for The Long Weekend came when my husband and I sneaked away for some downtime to our favourite hotel, the Old Quay House in Fowey, Cornwall. I was sitting on the terrace overlooking the harbour, sipping a glass of white wine, and I began to wonder about all the other guests and what they were doing there. There is something so romantic and intense about a long weekend away:  who knows what might happen in a stolen forty-eight hours?

I also began to wonder what it was really like to own and run a boutique hotel – it’s a common enough fantasy, if all the reality television shows are to be believed.

In The Long Weekend, Claire and Luca seem to be the perfect team when they take on the idyllic Townhouse by the Sea in Pennfleet. She is an organized perfectionist; he is a talented but temperamental chef. But is the reality a dream come true or a total nightmare?

I then complicated their lives by wondering what would happen if the love of Claire’s life checked into the hotel for his stag weekend – the One That Got Away all those years ago. Will she let Nick go second time around, or will she stay with Luca?

Then in my imagination all the other guests starting checking in, all with their own emotional baggage, all with their own secrets and agendas. A man with a guilty conscience, a girl in search of her identity, a couple with a tragedy to get over: they all have their reasons for wanting to escape.

By the time the weekend is over, they all have choices to make and none of their lives will be the same.

I think my favourite character of all is Angelica, the chambermaid-cum-receptionist. She has a tough background, but by working at the hotel and coming into contact with its guests, she realizes that there is more to life than drudgery and changing sheets. She wants a taste of five star luxury for herself – but first she has to deal with the crush she has on Luca … a crush he is only too happy to exploit.

Reading The Long Weekend will be just like having your own mini-break. The bedrooms are luxurious, the food is divine and there will always be a cocktail to hand. And the people-watching will be irresistible!

I’ve reserved a room for you, right at the top of the house, with a sea view. What are you waiting for?  The Long Weekend starts here …

The Long Weekend by Veronica Henry will be available in store from Tesco from the 5th of July!

First there was The Shadow of the Wind.

Then came The Angel’s Game.

Now in The Prisoner of Heaven Carlos Ruiz Zafón takes us back to the to the wintry streets of Barcelona, the Sempere and Sons Bookshop and the Cemetery of Forgotten Books to find out what happens next…

Buy The Prisoner of Heaven online from Tesco Direct now for just £8.86! 

Earlier this month we launched a competition to win a wonderful Snow White and the Huntsman goodie bag. To be in with a chance of winning, you just had to tell us what your favourite fairy tale was and why.

We’ve gone through all of your answers and I’m thrilled to let you all know that the five lucky winners were Naila, Gaynor, Ed, Margaret and Annelien, congratulations! We hope you enjoy all of the Snow White goodies pictured below!

Buy Snow White and The Huntsman online from Tesco Direct for just £3.86!

If you’re still searching for your perfect summer read then you’re in luck! The Out of Office Girl has all the makings of a Summer hit: perfect poolside material!

To celebrate the release of the book we also have a week’s stay for up to eight people at the luxury Villa Al Plemmirio in Sicily – click here to enter!

One of the things I love about books is that they can take you anywhere. In real life, rain is beating down outside, the wind is howling and you’ve got to do the laundry and defrost the fridge. But turn the pages and you’re on a sun-drenched terrace in Italy, between a blue sky and an incredibly blue sea, or sunbathing on a yacht next to the most gorgeous man you’ve ever met … sorry, where was I?

The Out of Office Girl is about a girl called Alice, who’s a downtrodden assistant at a publishing company. When her boss falls ill she’s sent on the best work trip ever: to a villa in Sicily, to help a gorgeous Hollywood actor write his autobiography. It doesn’t work out quite the way she expects, but that’s all part of the fun (for the reader at least!).

I started writing the book during a miserable, rainy summer in London. I wanted to transport myself to somewhere sun-drenched and glamorous and to tell an escapist story that would put a smile on my face. I chose Sicily because it has all the romance and beauty of Italy, but it’s less well-known than Rome or Tuscany. It’s also a bit wilder and almost more tropical than the rest of Italy – in fact, many Sicilians consider Italy to be a different country, and vice versa! Sicily also has a long tradition of film-making and my book is partly a tribute to classic films like Roman Holiday.

Part of the joy of writing books, as opposed to making films, is that you can choose any location you like, regardless of expense. I wanted my characters to stay in the most luxurious villa possible, and a friend pointed me towards the Villa Al Plemmirio, rented by Think Sicily. As I pored over the website, I knew that I had found my location. There was a table on the terrace where the characters could all have champagne, a little back balcony where Luther, the film star, could have heart-to-hearts with Alice, and most importantly a pool where all sorts of things could happen…

I’m really thrilled to say that not only can you transport yourself to the villa through the book, but also you can actually enter a competition to win a week’s stay there for 8 people! The only thing not included, sadly, is the gorgeous film star Luther and his arrogant (but attractive) agent, Sam. Details of the competition can be found in the book itself. I hope this will tempt you to discover this magical part of the world and to follow Alice’s adventures there.

Happy reading!

Nicola x

Preorder The Out of Office Girl by Nicola Doherty online from Tesco Direct - the book will be released on July the 5th!

I think I first became well-known when I wrote The Story of Tracy Beaker. She’s the fiercest, naughtiest child I’ve ever invented. She’s great fun to write about but I’m not sure I could cope with her in real life!

I’ve written many books since, all of them about modern day children and their problems. But a couple of years ago I was asked to write a novel about a Victorian foundling child and I decided this would be a delightful challenge. I started day-dreaming about a little foundling girl who grows up in a severe institution, not knowing her own mother. I called her Hetty Feather – and as soon as I thought up her name she became alive for me, a sparky imaginative child with bright red hair and a wicked temper.

I hoped my readers would enjoy her adventures – and to my great delight Hetty Feather quickly became one of my most popular books. I got so many lovely letters and emails commenting on her story, and begging me to say what might happen next. Would Hetty Feather become a servant when she left the Foundling Hospital at fourteen?  Would she stay in touch with her dear mother? Would she ever meet up with her childhood sweetheart Jem?

I wanted to find out the answers too, so I wrote the sequel to Hetty’s story, calling it Sapphire Battersea. I loved writing about her mishaps as a little servant who wouldn’t always obey orders.  I gave her a new boyfriend too! My Hetty ends up in a bizarre seaside carnival show, earning her living as a ‘mermaid’, and sharing a room with a friendly female giant. But then something very sad happens – you often need a box of tissues when you read my books!

There’s a bitter-sweet ending that I hope is satisfying – but if you want to find out what happens next, then you won’t have to wait too long. Watch out for a brand new Hetty Feather story in October called Emerald Star!

We also have a limited edition signed and numbered proof copy of Emerald Star to give away to one lucky Jacqueline Wilson fan!

To be in with a chance, just tell us who your favourite Jacqueline Wilson character is and why in the comments!

Preorder Sapphire Battersea online from Tesco Direct - the book is released on the 5th July!

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Hello dear readers!

Hopefully by the time you read this the sun will be doing its job but if not (this is England after all), then you can always transport yourself to warmer climes with my debut novel, Chelsea Wives, a sizzling homage to this chic enclave of London and the glamorous women who inhabit it. Grazia magazine have called it ‘the perfect poolside companion’ – which I am thrilled about.

As a journalism student I lived in Chelsea. I became fascinated by the area and the oh-so chic women who strutted along the King’s Road in their Jimmy Choos, oversized It bags swinging from the crooks of their tanned arms, hair perfectly blow-dried. I wanted to be one of them; live in one of the sugared-almond coloured mews houses situated off the pretty side streets and shop in the designer boutiques. My student loan didn’t quite cover it, sadly, but I never forgot the exciting, magical feel of the place. It was a no-brainer to set my debut here.

As a sun chaser who likes to write about luxury, glamour and escapism, I took my characters off (metaphorically speaking) to various chic destinations in the novel including Lake Como, St Barth’s, LA and Nice to name a few – places I have been lucky enough to visit and some I would love to go to, but the fact remains wherever I find myself, my heart will always be in London.

The lovely people at Smooch are giving away five gift boxes full of gorgeous make-up and beauty goodies in a bid to ensure you’re red-carpet ready this summer. To win one these fantastic prizes, please leave a comment answering the following:

Which one beauty product can you not live without and why?

Ten runners up will also receive a signed copy of my book, Chelsea Wives!

I sincerely hope you enjoy reading my debut as much as I loved every minute of writing it!

I wish you an amazing summer.

Anna-Lou XX

Chelsea Wives by Anna Lou Weatherley is available in store for just £3.86 – or as part of our 2 for £7 paperback offer!

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Our Book of The Week, The Decision by Penny Vincenzi, comes out today and is available both in store and online for just £2.99! Ahead of the release of her new novel, Penny has written us a lovely post to give us a bit of background on the book.

Hi Everyone,

Talking about any of my books is one of the things I enjoy most, but The Decision, which goes on sale next week (look out for it on the Tesco bookshelves!), is particularly interesting in terms of how I came to write it and how it ended up the way it was.

I get most of my ideas from just talking to people, but sometimes they come from something I read or hear, and there was an item on the radio one day about a man who’d threatened to jump off the Golden Gate Bridge, he was so distressed at losing his children in his divorce case. And I thought that really is a powerful subject for a book: a custody battle, and all the passions and jealousies it carries with it. After all, the love of parents for their children is arguably the most intense and the least selfish of all, although in the case of a custody battle it can lead to some pretty selfish behaviour.

Anyway, that was how I got the idea (you could say that was the easy part!); then I had to make it work.  I wanted the battle to reach the High Court, and these days such cases are all settled in the family courts in a comparatively civilised way. So I went back to when it was commonplace and that was the seventies; and that meant the parents – my hero and heroine, Matt and Eliza – should meet and get married in the sixties. Which suited me just fine as it’s a time I really love, and indeed I was a fashion editor then, so Eliza just happened to be a fashion editor too!

She was also rather posh, a debutante (I defy you not to be intrigued by the first sentence of the book!), and Matt was the opposite, a real working class boy made good, wheeling and dealing in the world of property development.  He thought mothers should stay at home and look after their children, and when their daughter Emmie was born, that’s what he insisted on. Eliza, after a very hard struggle, gave in and never really forgave him; but that was only one of many differences between them.

And so I now had a plot and a setting; next came the research, always very important to me. I absolutely have to get things right, so I found a very high-profile divorce lawyer who specialised in cases like mine and was very generous indeed with his time and knowledge; I also had to research the property scene. The fashion side I could take care of!

The book was fascinating and wonderful to write. Lots of other characters revealed themselves: Mariella the beautiful fashion icon wife of a rich man living in Milan; Jeremy, the posh boyfriend Eliza was supposed to marry; Scarlett, Matt’s sister who was an air hostess – a very smart career for girls then; Louise, Matt’s long-suffering but feisty colleague. It really is quite a rich book.

I don’t ever like to say I’m proud of books, but I was pleased with it; I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Buy The Decision by Penny Vincenzi online from Tesco Direct for just £2.99!

Lynda la Plante has a long history of writing great crime-drama, both for the screen and in print. With multiple television series’ to her name and a long list of published best sellers, she is a mainstay of British crime fiction and an author that we were absolutely thrilled to give our readers the chance to put questions to.

A big thanks to everyone that got involved, Lynda for taking the time to do the Q&A and to the team that put the wonderful video together!

Buy Backlash by Lynda la Plante online for just £7.46!

I had terrific fun researching and writing Rumours – my 12th novel. The story is set around the potential sale of a stately home – so I had the incredible opportunity of snooping around some magnificent country estates and meeting some very eccentric folk. For me, research is a true perk of my job – really, I just indulge myself choosing topics and locations for my novels that interest me…

Over the course of my career, I’ve dipped into various fascinating worlds. The Tour de France, for example, which is all lashings of lycra and powerful thighs – I had an Access-All-Areas pass and it really was ALL areas… I sat in on physiotherapy sessions and traded cameo appearances in the novel for rides in team cars and one-to-ones with the champion riders.

Then there was the novel featuring a sleepwalker – for which I interviewed many poor souls who suffer from this dreadful yet somehow quite comedic affliction. You wouldn’t believe where some of them sleepwalked to – invariably in a state of undress.

Tanzanite jewellery was another intriguing subject – the rarest of gemstones found only in a 5km stretch of the foothills of Kilimanjaro, the stuff of Masai legend. For my launch party, I was loaned thousands of pounds worth of this incredible blue-violet jewel. But I had a lousy time, on edge all evening should an earring drop off.

One of my characters was an aromatherapist; I had a year’s worth of wonderful massage all in the name of research. I’d take my dictaphone in with me – but the playback was mainly silence punctuated only by the odd sigh of contentment. And a snore.

For me, it’s not just the subjects, but the settings too which are essential in bringing my books to life. In my stories, location is so much more than just a backdrop to the action, it’s a leading character within each novel.

My accountant despairs of me. He says research trips are tax-deductible.

“Why don’t you set a book in the Maldives, my dear,” he’ll say, “Or Mauritius, or Maui or some other exotic location?”

“Middlesbrough?” I propose

He casts me a look.

“It begins with an ‘M’ too?” I try.

I love the UK – it’s just so varied.  Though a southerner born and bred, a couple of my novels were indeed set in the North East and I was given the very great honour of Ambassador for the region. A true career highlight was being a VIP at the centenary celebrations in 2011 for Middlesbrough’s Transporter Bridge.

Rumours, my new novel, is set much closer to home.  As was my last book, Chances, which took at its heart Hertfordshire – the beautiful county where I now live. For Rumours, I had a dreamy time following in the footsteps of my characters, Stella and Xander. She, a feisty newcomer in charge of selling a beautiful country estate. He, the village’s eligible bachelor whose secrets are bound up with the great house. Xander will do anything to stand in Stella’s way – anything, that is, but fall in love.

And that’s what perhaps I enjoy most of all in my writing – characters I’d like to meet, like to be, like to fall in love with.

Buy Rumours by Freya North online from Tesco Direct for just £3.86!

Holiday season has arrived and to celebrate the release of Katie Price’s fantastic new novel, In the Name of Love, we have an all inclusive holiday in a four star hotel in Barbados up for grabs!

Katie has also taken the time to do a quick Q&A for all of you, so have a read, enter the competition and as always, best of luck!

Where’s the best place to go on holiday?

My favourite holiday destination is the Maldives. I love going there as it gives me a chance to spend lots of time with the children. And Barbados, where In the Name of Love is set, is absolutely stunning.

What are the best things about going on holiday?

Having a chance to relax and get away from it all, have a bit of sun, sea and sand, and if you’re single, maybe a hot holiday romance! Plus some escapism with a great beach read like In the Name of Love, of course!

Charlie and Felipe’s relationship in In the Name of Love is a total rollercoaster – what’s the craziest thing you’ve done for love?

There’s a saying ‘I’d move mountains…’ and that’s me all over.  When I fall in love, I’ll do anything and everything for my man.

Is it fun coming up with the characters for your books?

Yes, I love it! Felipe, the hero of In the Name of Love, was a particular favourite of mine, as not only is he incredibly good looking and sexy, he’s also an Olympic eventer, so I got to put in loads of stuff about horses. I’ve been riding since I was seven and have always loved horses. I’ve now got six! It is quite a lot, and although I’m usually very busy, I think that if you love something enough you’ll find time to fit it in. I do ride most days, but of course in a dream world I’d ride all day every day!

Felipe’s Spanish – Spain’s one of my favourite places because of the lovely weather, and it’s where I launched my range of riding wear, so it was fun to set some of the book there.

What’s the best part about having books published?

Ever since my first book I’ve loved doing it and I loved doing all the signings for it so I’ve just carried on. And luckily every book is successful so the publisher just wants more and more! I’m nervous every time but so far I’ve been lucky and they have all done really well. The best feedback I get from my fans is seeing them all turn up at my signings. Again I never get complacent about them turning up but I love doing them and I love meeting everyone.

Enter now for your chance to win an all-inclusive seven nights in a four star hotel in Barbados!

Buy In the Name of Love by Katie Price online from Tesco Direct for just £8.46!