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Socrates Book Reviews – Guest Post: Desert Island Delights


If you were stranded on an island what 10 things would you most want with you?

1) Kindle, filled with books and solar powered so that it wouldn’t run out of charge as I guess they’ll be no plug sockets on this island. Note to Self: Preload Kindle before you go on any cruises or plane journeys where there’s a likelihood of crashing into the sea.

2) Laptop, again solar powered, then I could write away to my heart’s content. I would so love internet access to go with it so I could do my own research and Skype people, let them know I’m safe, ask for pick-up etc, but I guess that wouldn’t be possible if I was in a hugely remote place.

3) Water I guess – especially if there was none in the island. Pretty important. Should have been first really. Or maybe I’d become a real survival expert and learn how to extract salt from seawater or set up some kind of water-gathering device. Another Note to Self: Preload to Kindle, lots of “how to do things when stranded books”.

4) Food. I’m assuming the island has some natural foods that I can eat, berries, fruit and fish, etc. but just in case it didn’t, then I guess I would have to have a huge hamper of food enough to last until I am picked up. (And tin-openers with it and chocolate, lots of chocolate).

5) Shoes. I know what it’s like on the beach when the sand gets excruciatingly hot. Hopping from shady spot to shady spot. I assume this is a hot island. But even if it wasn’t, and it was all cold and craggy, I’d still need a good pair of shoes, stop my feet getting torn to shreds. Just a nice pair of trainers, don’t need to worry about make or anything.

6) Clothes – I wouldn’t want to be rescued naked, although if there was a choice I suppose I’d forego my modesty. But I hate being too cold and too hot and clothes would be hugely important. I mean I may get all clever with the vegetation and vines and make myself a banana leaf sarong or waistcoat or something, but it would be much nicer just to have some clothes washed up on the shore with me.

7) Sunblock. If I was there for months, I’d probably get very brown, but risk skin cancer? No way.

8) Moisturizer. There may be natural oily plants, like aloe vera plants or coconuts that I could crack open and rub into my face, but it would be so much easier to have a big old tub of moisturiser to hand. When I’m rescued I don’t want to meet the press looking like a wrinkled old prune as I model my banana leaf sarong and show them my home-made water collection contraption…

9) Animal. Little furry thing that I could befriend, like a squirrel or wallaby, or heck, even a rat (as long as there was only just one). I would be their friend. Tame them and they would follow me everywhere, and I would whistle and they’d come running to me and put their little paw up when they wanted more nibbles. I would talk to them and teach them commands like sit, beg, down. They would lie in my arms at night and I’d tell them stories or read to them from my memoirs. Because you might as well write them if you’re on an island, leave something behind for your family to remember you by.

10) Cigarette Lighter/ Fire starter. So I’ve been fed and watered, am comfortable clothes-wise, wandering around my island in my shoes and bikini under my banana leaf sarong, followed faithfully by my highly-trained squirrel/rat creature, been writing and reading with no disturbance (bliss), and my skin is well moisturised (for the press and future movie-makers watching on TV), then my No 10 would have to be a cigarette lighter. I love real fires and I’d need one for warmth, scaring off ferocious animals (if I can’t tame them), cooking, attracting passing ships/planes, gazing into and dreaming of lost loves, etc. Of course I’d have learned how to rub two sticks together my preloaded “desert island survival” e-book, but honestly, every night…? What a faff.

Do you know, writing this, I am actually wanting to go to this island, it is seeming more like bliss every moment.

Excerpted from Socrates Book Reviews – thank you, Yvonne, for featuring us today.  

Giveaway, Amazon UK 99 pence promo and More…

Lot of excitement these past few days.  Cowgirl lorraineBy some miracle – maybe the 10,000 downloads on our KDL free promo wekend – we got into Amazon UK’s 100 books for under 2.99 for June with Looking For La La priced at 99 pence all this month.  Suddenly Pam was calling me every hour – we were #8 on the list, wait… we were #6, then #5, then #4.  Ahead of some big names too.  And our Amazon rating had changed too – from being somewhere in the stratosphere… ranked 30,000 or 300,000… 3,000,000… or whatever it was, we’d jumped into the Top 500, a never before achieved feat for us.  And with a self-published novel.  Doesn’t sound impressive until you realize how many books must be in that list.  Then we were at 312, then in the Top 200, then suddenly we were in the Top 150 at #146.  Will we break into the Top 100 before the promo ends?  It remains to be seen.  The initial rush has slowed down, we’ve slid back to #180 but there is still the rest of the month ahead.  And our Amazon US ratings have improved too.  Oh, if only some of those people who bought La La or downloaded it for free would review!  People always think they need to write an essay or a book report – remembered horrors from school – but even a few words that meet Amazon’s minimum work fine.

We’ve had loads of support too from people who had reviewed or featured us on their blogs and sent out tweets twitter birdand Facebook messages on our behalf.  Thank you, everybody – you know who you are and we love you for it.  And it’s not over yet.  Although Pam has gone to Paris to fry bacon as support for this year’s YMCA cycle challenge and is no longer sending me 15 emails a day.  (I’m sure she has gone into total withdrawal.  I know I have;)

Also wanted to spread the news about our new GIVEAWAY on Facebook, offering both an ebook and a paperback copy of Looking For La La.  It’s so far gone undiscovered – only 10 entries as opposed to 800 on our last Goodreads giveaway.  So anyone who enters has a great chance of winning.  All you have to do is like our Facebook page and sign up.  Of course if you’re a UK kindle owner, you can spend the 99 pence and not wait for the drawing but what fun is that..!

Thinking about reviews and school book reports reminds me… I was always anamber avid reader, finished all the required books for English within a few days of getting the list, devouring four J T Edson westerns in a day (he wrote dozens and the cool handsome heroes rode great horses), sped my way through all of Jane Austen, Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers plus the bodice rippers of the time (anyone remember Forever Amber?) and anything else I could get my hands on.  But book reports… hated ’em, loathed doing them with a passion.  The bane of my existence.  (Well, actually all homework came under that category.)  Used to copy from my friend during tutorial.  And what did I end up doing in my publishing career?  Book reports, book reports and more book reports.  For the literary agency I worked in, for Woman magazine reading novels for serialization, for Penguin books as a reader, for the Book of the Month club, also as a reader.   And now when I review a book, I still struggle over what to say… even though, as I said, I’m well aware it doesn’t have to be a work of art or even very clever.  But then again I can never think of what to say on birthday or sympathy cards either.  A problem I share with Cathy O’Farrell in Looking For La La.

Anyway that’s it for now.  Beautiful day in sunny Colorado.  Had what I hope was our last major snowfall about 3 weeks ago and now we are plunged into summer.  And I hope to join our local swimming lake and plunge into that.


Lots of Winners – in time for Mother's Day

We’re delighted to announce that Nurmawati Djuhawan from Indonesia won our Rafflecopter Giveaway!  She won a free paperback copy of Looking For La La.. Congratulations Nurmawati!   But you can all be winners!  To celebrate Mother’s Day on Sunday, Amazon is giving away free kindle copies this weekend of Looking For La La to end on Sunday May 12th, at 11.59 PST.    Order now an help us get to #1 in the Kindle Free Top 100!    If you’re suspecting that you may not be the most ‘together’ mother in the world, if your house is a little messy and your kids won’t eat their vegetables, reading Cathy Roger’s trials is bound to cheer you up.

Want to win a Kindle copy of all three of our novels?  You have 12 days left to enter Reading Renee’s giveaway of How To Survive Your Sisters, When Good Friends Go Bad and Looking For La La.  And, yes, there are some less-than-perfect mothers in those books too…

Loincloths, spankings and 'Sexy Rexys' – 10 classic movies (and actors)to make our Mother swoon.

In honor of the upcoming Mother’s Day (May 12th in the States) Pam and I have compiled a countdown of the old classic movies and stars that won my mother’s heart. And yes, there does seem to be a common thread.

10. Samson and Delilah.


Mum had a thing for Victor Mature. He ran around in Biblical epics like ‘the Robe” and ‘Demetrius and the Gladiators’ displaying his shaved bare chest, emanating square-jawed virility. He was what Mum called a ‘sexy rexy’. She wasn’t particularly religious so I don’t think it was the content that thrilled her so much as those muscular thighs.

9. Tarzan.

Tarzan_the_Ape_Man_1932_posterWe had to watch every Tarzan movie that ever came out and it wasn’t just for the elephants and chimpanzees. Nothing thrilled Mum more than a man in a loincloth (see Victor Mature). Especially if he was pounding his chest, yodelling and flying through the air on a dangling vine or diving into a jungle pool and emerging half-naked and dripping wet. Her favorite Tarzan was Johnny Weismuller who was an Olympic gold medallist. She liked the other Tarzans too although we were all somewhat dubious about the one who ran around in slippers. In the jungle? Really?

8. Spartacus.

Another stud in a loincloth (see Tarzan and Victor Mature) although any movie Spartacus_-_1960_-_poster (1)with Kirk Douglas was a fave. He was a bit too intense for us as children but he was the definition of manliness and Mum liked his passion and the dimple on his chin which I convinced Pam was caused by falling on a nail. She liked his son Michael Douglas too until she saw him in Fatal Attraction having sex on the kitchen sink with Glenn Close. We could never persuade her that it wasn’t real and they were merely acting. But then again who knows… After all Mum was right about David Bowie (and all the other stick-thin pop singers) being on drugs in the 70s when we as innocent teenagers hotly denied the possibility.

7. Robin Hood.  Or Captain Blood.

Robin_hood_movieposterErrol Flynn was a real Hollywood bad boy, handsome, dashing, with a womanizing reputation and a flashing blade that dared anyone to suggest his tights were in the tiniest way unmasculine. He laughed with head flung back, hands on hips, his grin was pure devilment and when he swept a woman into his arms…. Well, no wonder Mum swooned. We did too.

6. Top Hat.

astaire_rogers - CopyWe could never miss a Fred Astaire musical, not matter how often it was repeated on TV. Didn’t matter if he looked like a turtle and lacked some of the physical attributes of the loincloth brigade. My mum and grandmother always had the same eternally entertaining conversation as Fred tripped lightly around the ballroom with Ginger in his arms. Nana: “I just don’t understand why he didn’t marry Ginger Rogers.” Mum: “Because she couldn’t stand the man, Mother.” Two minute pause, then… Nana: “It’s such a shame those two never married.” Mum: “Mother, I just told you, she hated him.” And so on until closing credits.

5. Seven Brides For Seven Brothers.

Seven_brides_seven_brothersHoward Keel was big and brash with a fine head of hair, a swagger in his step, and a beautiful deep voice. Mum loved him in buckskins singing “Bless Your Beautiful Hide” and slapping his thigh and she loved him as Fred/Petruchio in Kiss Me Kate, waggling his funny pointed beard and spanking Kathryn Grayson. There was nothing like a good spanking to titillate the older generation. I seem to remember Maureen O’Sullivan was always being bent over John Wayne’s knee in all those old Westerns and given a sound thrashing to show her who was boss.

4. Going My Way.

220px-BingCrosbyTheBellsofSaintMarysTrailerScreenshot1945Yeah, Bing Crosby could always make her cry but put him in a dogcollar standing over a dying priest singing ‘Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ra’… You’d need boxes of Kleenex. Maybe a bucket.

3. Singing In The Rain.

Singing_in_the_rain_posterWell, of course. Terrific story, fantastic singing, dancing and comedy and it starred two of mum’s favorites, Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor. Gene Kelly could do no wrong, especially dancing in a downpour with his good looks, natural athleticism and unstudied grace. But Donald O’Connor almost elbowed him out of mum’s heart clowning about in the song, ‘Make ‘Em Laugh.’

2. The King and I.

Lawrence_BrynnerNo offence to Rex Harrison who played the role in the dramatic film version, Anna and the King of Siam, but there’s no way he could compete with Yul Brynner. Bald head, exotic accent, open-legged arrogant stance, Yul played the fiercely unpredictable king with colourful costumes and yet another bare chest – what’s not to love! Yes, there’s some great musical numbers. – ‘ Whistle A Happy Tune could be Mum’s theme song – but Yul as the King of Siam, prowling around his palace, barking out orders followed by ‘etcetera, etcetera, etcetera’ to a bemused but feisty schoolteacher, was the showstopper. Not to mention the story of star-crossed lovers was guaranteed to get the tear ducts flowing.

1. Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner.

Poitier_croppedBig stars in this one – Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn but most of all…trumpet blast, please… Sidney Poitier. He was Mum’s all-time hero, partly because he was tall, handsome and soft-spoken, partly because he’d done the unthinkable in his era, become a black leading man and box office star, the first African-American to win an Academy Award for Best Actor. And this was such a great movie. Even if Sidney spends all of it wearing a boring old suit.


To celebrate Mother’s Day USA we’re holding a two day giveaway weekend  for our new novel, Looking for La La.  Free Kindle Downloads on Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th at Amazon.Com and Amazon.co.uk.

10 Things That Bring A Smile To Our Faces

reposted from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer.  Click to see full article and giveaway.


1.      Other people smiling

Or better still, other people laughing by themselves, for no apparent reason. Probably thinking back to something funny.  It happened to me this morning when I was out dog walking. Some girl was heading down the path as I was heading up.  Just ten yards from me she suddenly stifled a giggle. I checked my clothes, face etc. when I arrived home.  I don’t think it was me she was giggling at, but even if it was, it made smile. So that’s OK in my book.

2.      Chocolate

Especially when I’ve been scouring the house for some.  I know it’s bad for me, makes me overweight, terrible for skin, etc. etc.  But when you get that craving…  I’ve taken cupboards apart, searched through drawers and texted people late at night begging them to bring some over if I’ve been unable to get out.

3.      Those TV Programmes where they Reunite Loved Ones

I’m a sucker for them.  All that reuniting of friends, long lost sisters and brothers, mothers, fathers.  Those programmes partly inspired our second novel, When Good Friends Go Bad, about three women searching for their missing school friend.  After I smile though, I usually end up blubbing my eyes out. I don’t care that they’re made to wrench at heart strings, my heart strings are still well and truly wrenched.

4.      My Dog Milly

She does stupid things all the time that make me smile.  I walk in and see her wagging her tail in greeting and it makes me smile.  How can it not? She rushes to fetch her “tugger” and nudges it at me so I can play tug of war, and it makes me smile.    I mention my friend’s name (who often accompanies me on dog walks) and immediately she races for the window, leaps onto the sofa and peers out the window to see if she can spot her car. Whenever I’m down or worried about stupid irrational things, I only have to look at her and I smile.

5.      My Family

How could I not include them?  Especially when they’ve been away.  With five of us and the dog in the house, it’s sometimes crowded and usually messy.  And I often crave solitude (to write – not to clean I might add).  This year I didn’t join them on their marathon annual bike ride in freezing weather around France in April (wonder why?). Instead I went with friends to visit Hungary.  It was a fantastic experience but I did miss them. And I did smile when they returned.


6.      My husband, Gary.

He chats to everyone, just like my mother used to, sometimes it’s great and sometimes embarrassing.  I sat behind him on a plane recently because we couldn’t get seated together and had to laugh as I heard him engage the women on either side in non-stop conversation, telling them jokes, finding out their life history.  Of course then he asked if they’d read this new brilliant novel, Looking For La La, and raved about it while I cringed.  (Need I add, he hasn’t read it yet.) I was dreading him pointing back at me and saying ‘there’s the author”.

7.  My beautiful horses: Sylvarr, Sugar and Luna.

I made a 20’ wide exercise track around my pasture and I love to watch them galloping around it, bucking and playing, three white Arabians with flowing manes, tails up and waving like flags.  There is no prettier sight in the world.

8.  My dog Remy.

He’s a woodle – part wheaten terrier, part poodle, even the name is comical. He’s  like a rasta muppet.  I love the way he runs full speed to his bed and collapses instantly into sleep, upside down, paws in the air, legs wide apart.  If you give him something good – a tennis ball or a nice juicy bone – he’ll rush upstairs and bury it in our bed. I once noticed a dead vole (something like a mole or rat) that Remy had dug up lying on top of the duvet next to a blissfully unaware Gary. Threw it out.  Next night Gary slid his hand under the pillows and encountered another, also dead. Two days later his feet touched something cold and furry.  Yep, another corpse.   Our boy was so proud of his hunting skills.

9.  My cat Cotton.

She’s part Manx, tail-less, was supposed to be a barn cat but when she got spayed I had to keep her indoors and she won Gary’s heart – and he’s not even a cat lover.  Funnily enough she’ll sleep in the dog bed in the same inelegant upside down, legs splayed position as the dog.   She loves to attack our feet when we’re in bed, pounding on anything that moves under the covers.  And when I let Sylvarr graze dragging a long lead rope, she’ll attack that too – this tiny cat using all her might to hold back an oblivious 1,000 lb horse.

10.  My Friends

Last but not least…my friends always make me smile and I include my family – sisters, nieces and nephews – among the laugh-makers.  I am lucky that we all share the same sense of fun and aren’t afraid to be silly, whether it’s dressing up for Halloween or a murder mystery dinner, dancing on top of the houseboat at Lake Powell dressed in evening gowns and feather boas (or sarongs and home-made masks), throwing down chips at a Las Vegas craps table, or holding an impromptu party for twenty of our nearest and dearest with about 30 minutes notice.  There is nothing like seeing a friend walk in with a bottle of wine to put a smile on my face.   Or even if they show up without one.

via Looking for La La by Ellie Campbell – Tens List & Giveaway.

Reading Renee: Review: How to Survive Your Sisters by Ellie Campbell

A big thank you to Reading Renee for a fabulous review of How To Survive Your Sisters. She likes it so much she’s even doing her own giveaway of all three of our books!!!  Click the button below to visit her website and sign up.

How To Survive Your Sisters is special to us because the mother in it, Peggy, was based on our own wonderfully wacky eccentric mother – Pam and I wanting to preserve the memories of her originality and humour.  Look out for our post dedicated to her on Mother’s Day, May 12th.

Reading ReneeHow to Survive Your Sisters by Ellie Campbell **review** @ecampbellbooks

First let me say “refreshing” that is how I will describe this book. I was loving the witty take on weddings. Of course the entire family is supposed to be bowing at Natalie’s feet. She wants the perfect wedding and I will compare her to a bridezilla.  Another sister Milly just wants to be out of maternity clothing, and Hazel (love the name) wants everyone to take her serious. Avril could be my fave sister!

The premise is Natalie and Jeremy’s wedding. It is ideal and the fact that this is the reason why they are thrown together. I sometimes think that if I was to spend a week with my sisters we would be in an odd circumstance. Funny how families are family, but they grow apart. After about six years of being engaged, they set a date! So the sisters unite, not easily or truly wanting to reunite. They all come back to Little Hooking. There is a reveal from a sister who gets there with a guest. Her plus 1 blows everyone out of the water. (I hate holding secrets, but I ain’t a plot spoiler.


Milly is the only married one. Her and Ivor (strange name to me) have four kids. They seem to be happy and have a good relationship. While Avril is older and single living in London. So there is a certain event that gets the girls together. There are a few demons, shall I say, that interfere. There are many (I almost think too many) turbulent waves coming to the MacLeod shores.

The conversations between the sisters and Hazel urging her to go to the wedding. Then urging her to get fitted are hilarious. I hope they were meant to be funny, because I laughed!

I totally ate this one up. I know lot’s will say it is a great vacation or beach read. There is a lot of humor, which I liked. There is also an equal amount of family squabbles. A great book for anyone with a sister! Heck you don’t even have to have a sister to get the humor!

via Reading Renee: How to Survive Your Sisters by Ellie Campbell **review** @ecampbellbooks.