Tuesday, 22 October 2019

Blog Tour ~ Reach for a Star by Kathryn Freeman (Giveaway)

 πŸŒ πŸŒ  Delighted to be hosting today's stop on this lovely blog tour πŸŒ πŸŒ 

Choc Lit
24 September 2019

My thanks to the publishers and Rachel's Random Resources for my ecopy of the book
and the invitation to be part of this blog tour

What if your dreams were so close you could reach out and touch them? 

How could anyone resist Michael Tennant, with his hypnotic blue eyes and voice like molten chocolate? Jessie Simmons certainly can’t. But Jessie’s a single mum who can’t sing to save her life there’s no way she’ll ever cross paths with the star tenor.

At least that’s what she thinks until she’s unexpectedly invited to take part in a new reality TV show. 
The premise? Professional singers teach hopeless amateurs how to sing. The surprise? Jessie’s partner is none other than Michael Tennant!

As she becomes better acquainted with the man behind the voice, will Jessie find out the hard way that you should never meet your idols? Or will she get more than she bargained for?

What did I think about it..

They do say that you should be careful about meeting your idols as they can so often be disappointing 'in the flesh'. However, for Jessie Simmons meeting best selling singer Michael Tennant is everything she hoped it would be, he's exceptionally good looking and deliciously sexy, the only 'fly in the ointment' is that Michael is mentoring Jessie in a reality singing competition and unlike the dulcet tones of Michael, Jessie can't sing. What then follows is a real feel-good story in which Jessie discovers that, occasionally, dreams really can come true.

What this author does so well is make you feel involved with both the story and the characters from the very beginning. Jessie is every woman you've ever known. She's a single mum with two boys who love football, she stresses about her job, her lack of love life and her one aim is to make everyone happy, but somewhere along the line she has lost the idea that she's an attractive woman, that is until she meets Michael Tennant.

I devoured this story in one sitting as I really couldn't put the book down and whilst not everything goes smoothly for Jessie, I loved her journey, and laughed with her and, yes sometimes shouted in frustration when the complications in her life seemed to get too much but throughout it all there was a really lighthearted feel to the story which just made me smile.

If you like warmhearted love stories with two wonderful central characters who have more than enough angst to cause trouble between them then I am sure that you will love Reach for a Star as much as I did.

A former pharmacist, I’m now a medical writer who also writes romance. Some days a racing heart is a medical condition, others it’s the reaction to a hunky hero. With two teenage boys and a husband who asks every Valentine’s Day whether he has to buy a card (yes, he does), any romance is all in my head. Then again, his unstinting support of my career change proves love isn't always about hearts and flowers and heroes come in many disguise.

Twitter @KathrynFreeman1

Giveaway to Win a PB copy of Oh Crumbs by Kathryn Freeman (Open INT) 

Worldwide entries welcome.

Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. 

*Terms and Conditions*

The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel's Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch of delivery of the prize.

Monday, 21 October 2019

Blog Tour ~ The Glittering Hour by Iona Grey

✨✨ Jaffareadstoo is thrilled to be part of this exciting Blog Tour ✨✨ 

Paperback 17 October 2019

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book
and to Random Things Tours for my invitation to this blog tour

Selina Lennox is a Bright Young Thing. Her life is a whirl of parties and drinking, pursued by the press and staying just the right side of scandal.

Lawrence Weston is a penniless painter who stumbles into Selina's orbit one night and can never let her go.

Spanning two decades and a seismic shift in British history as World War II approaches, this is an epic novel of passion, heartache and loss.

My thoughts..

In 1925, Selina Lennox is one of the Bright Young Things who scamper from decadent party to decadent party, living life at top speed, and whose champagne lifestyles are distinctly at odds with those who haven’t been born to a life of privilege. There’s a great sense of history within the story and the author recreates those hedonistic years following the Great War to perfection. It was such a sad time when so many young men failed to return, lost in the mud and mire of Northern France, and yet for those left to pick up the pieces, there was also a sense of fragility as if living life at top speed made up for their sense of loss.

However, an inadvertent meeting between society girl, Selina and the impoverished artist/photographer, Lawrence Weston will change the course of both their lives forever. Selina and Lawrence’s story is so beautifully described that right from their very first meeting the poignancy of their situation is revealed, and as the story slips effortlessly between two very different time frames so a story of loss, heartbreak and earth shattering love starts to be revealed. I can’t possibly do justice to the beauty of this story as there’s just so much to share about all the special little details, especially about Selina's young daughter Alice, whose own story, in 1936, forms quite a chunk of the narrative and whose aching vulnerability breaks your heart. ♡

As I have come to expect from this talented author, the writing and historical research in The Glittering Hour is impeccable, but it's not just the strong sense of history that draws me to this author's writing, it is her rare talent to hold the reader in the palm of her hand, and the way that she brings life to characters who, very quickly, become as familiar as friends, and whose loves and losses strike a resonance within your soul. I was so emotionally connected with both the story, and the characters, that I couldn’t put the book down, or stop thinking about it when the story ended.

There’s a shimmering sense of glitter to this story which makes it so very special, and in a year when I have read well over 150 books, The Glittering Hour is right up there at the top of my list and is, without doubt, one of my reads of the year.

About the Author

Iona Grey has a degree in English Literature and Language from Manchester University, an obsession with history and an enduring fascination with the lives of women in the twentieth century. She lives in rural Cheshire with her husband and three daughters. 

Twitter @Iona_Grey #The GlitteringHour



Amazon UK

Saturday, 19 October 2019

Hist Fic Saturday ~ The Women's at Hitler's Table by Rosella Postorino

On Hist Fic Saturday

Let's go back to ...WW2

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Harper Collins
ebook 1 August 2019
Hardback 14 November 2019

Translated by Leah Janeczko

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book

East Prussia, 1943. Hitler hides away in the Wolfsshanze – his hidden headquarters. The tide is turning in the war and his enemies circle ever closer.

Ten women are chosen.
Ten women to taste his food and protect him from poison.

Twenty-six-year-old Rosa has lost everything to this war. Her parents are dead. Her husband is fighting on the front line. Alone and scared, she faces the SS with nothing but the knowledge every bite might be her last.

Caught on the wrong side of history, how far is Rosa willing to go to survive?

What did I think about it..

Towards the latter years of WW2 Hitler was becoming increasingly paranoid and even though he was hiding himself away in the Wolfsshanze in East Prussia, the fear of being poisoned was never very far from his mind. In this fictional account ten women are chosen to act as food tasters and so protect Hitler from poison.

Rosa has recently moved from the city to live with her parents-in-law in a supposedly safer environment but soon after her arrival she is chosen to be one of Hitler's food tasters and Rosa realises that she has merely swapped one danger for another far more insidious threat. The SS collect Rosa from her home in a rural community and take her, and others, to Hitler's lair where they are given high quality vegetarian meals as Hitler didn't eat meat, but sumptuous and plentiful though the food was, Rosa couldn't begin to relax enough to appreciate the food on offer.

This is far more than the story about the food on Hitler's table, it's about the horrors of war and the absolute terror of living life with no idea if each day was to be your last. Rosa's somewhat troubled relationship with the other taster women, who see her as a city girl, and Rosa's very real fear for the life of her soldier husband makes the story all the more poignant.

The Women at Hitler's Table is inspired by the true story of Margot WΓΆlk, who was the only survivor of the 15 original women who were chosen as food tasters. Margot only revealed her story, and her horrific wartime experiences, when she was 95 years old. This fictional account is a fitting tribute to her courage and fortitude, and of the immense pressure that the taster women faced on a daily basis.

About the Author

Rosella Postorino is an internationally bestselling author and an editor. She speaks fluent English, Italian, French, and German. The Women at Hitler’s Table is her first novel to be translated into English.

Twitter @HarperCollins

Friday, 18 October 2019

Blog Tour ~ The Perfect Dress by Louisa Leaman

πŸ‘—I'm thrilled to host today's stop on this perfect blog tourπŸ‘—

e-book 17 October 2019
Paperback 6 February 2020

My thanks to the publishers for my proof copy of this book
and the invitation to be part of this blog tour

The Whispering Dress is no ordinary wedding dress shop. At this shop every gown is different. Every gown has its story. This shop is a treasure trove of history, filled with gowns from every decade for every type of bride. After all, the most important dress of a woman’s life should surely have something distinct to say.

Something bold for the shy and retiring.

Something simple for the woman who is unafraid to stand out.

And something dazzling for the bride who wouldn’t normally dare to be different.

Fran Delaney matches dresses to brides, influenced by the memories, photos and letters she has collected of the dress’s previous owner. But when Fran meets Rafael Colt, who has reluctantly inherited a gorgeous couture gown, his disinterest in the dress and his refusal to talk about his family history means the dress lies unmatched. To find the right bride for the dress, Fran must untangle the mystery surrounding the cynical but captivating Rafael and his dark family history.

What did I think about it..

Fran Delaney has the most beautiful wedding dress shop, called The Whispering Dress, where she lovingly stores her vintage gowns just waiting for the right bride to connect with the perfect dress. Fran sources the dresses from boot sales and house clearances, and does all she can to discover, not just the history of the dress, but also about the bride who once wore it on her special day. The  interior of The Whispering Dress sparkles with glittering tiaras whilst gossamer sleek veils shimmer in the light of an Art Deco chandelier. However, taking centre stage are the beautiful vintage wedding dresses, which are made from tantalising tulle and sensuous silk, all just patiently waiting for the perfect bride.

When Fran finds an exquisite couture wedding dress in a house clearance, not only does it bring her into contact with the less than charming, but incredibly handsome, Rafael Colt, but also the discovery of the dress reveals a very dark secret at the heart of the Colt family.

Inspired by a collection of wedding dresses in an exhibition at the V&A Museum in London, the author has given us a very polished first novel, and from the very start of The Perfect Dress I was lost in the story. I loved learning more about the lure of vintage wedding dresses and reading of the history behind each one, rejoicing when a dress found a new bride. And even though the mystery at the centre of the novel allows a more detailed look into the Colt family, I think it is the magic of the wedding dresses themselves which gives the story its heart and soul.

The story has moments which made me smile ,and others which are unashamedly romantic, I mean who couldn't fall for the handsome Rafael, but most importantly it also reminds us that it's not all about the Wedding Day being perfect. What is so vitally important, beneath all the gloss and glamour, is the relationship between the two people who are being married.

The Perfect Dress is a perfect read for all those who enjoy a good love story.

My Perfect Dress 

© Jaffareadstoo

Matching the dress to the bride is perhaps one of the most romantic aspects of choosing a wedding dress and I can remember going to the bridal store with my mother and even though it's over forty years ago every aspect of that shopping trip is stored away in my memory.

I had a definite idea of how I wanted to look, I'm an incredibly unfussy person, so I knew that I didn't want flounces and endless petticoats, and as this was 1979, not quite the era of the meringue dress,  it was still possible to find simple elegance. I would have loved to have worn my mother's 1940's wedding dress but sadly that wasn't still in one piece as my mother, ever thrifty, had used the silk of her dress to make little girlie dresses for me!

I knew as soon as stepped into this dress, and it was the first I tried, that it was the perfect one for me, I loved the Edwardian style, it was just beautifully elegant, and even now, forty years later, I still love looking at it and remembering the perfect dress I wore on my perfect, snowy Wedding Day in December 1979

The author, Louisa studied Art History at Leeds University before becoming a teacher working with children with special needs. After winning the Times Education Supplement’s New Writer’s Award, she turned her hand to writing books for children. In my opinion she currently has one of the coolest jobs writing content for the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and her first book, The Perfect Dress, was inspired by the V&As large wedding dress collection.

Twitter @louisaleaman #ThePerfectDress


Thursday, 17 October 2019

Blog Tour ~ The Museum of Lost Love by Gary Barker

πŸ“– Delighted to be part of this blog tour today πŸ“–

World Editions
1 October 2019

My thanks to the publisher and Random Things Tours for my copy of this book
and the invitation to be part of this blog tour

In Zagreb is an unusual museum: it displays mementos of broken relationships. Each exhibit describes a unique story of a broken heart, of love gone awry.

When Katia and Goran visit the museum, Goran stumbles upon an exhibit that seems to be addressed to him, from a girl he met in a Sarajevo refugee camp at age fourteen. A reminder of two days spent together while he and his mother and brother waited anxiously for visas to America to escape the war.

Encouraged by Katia, a therapist, to reconnect with his lost past, Goran confronts the youth he lost during the Yugoslav Wars. Similarly Katia, adopted by Americans at one week old after her birth mother was murdered in a gangland killing in Brazil, heads back to Brazil to uncover her own family history.

Meanwhile Tyler, a military veteran and one of Katia’s patients, attempts to put the Afghan war behind him, and finds love in unexpected circumstances.

Drawing upon his own experiences working in conflict zones, Gary Barker’s powerful novels dive deep into human love and longing. Crossing continents, and set against backdrops of war, deprivation, and violence, The Museum of Lost Love is a soulful testament to the resilience of the human heart.

What did I think about it..

This is an interesting idea for a book as not only does it explore the lives of three very different characters but it also gives us a glimpse into the poignant exhibits which are to found in the Museum of Broken Relationships in Zagreb.

I found this to be a story of several parts, initially that of Tyler who is an Afghanistan veteran, struggling with therapy, and trying to come terms with the way his life has evolved, and of his tentative relationship with his young son, Sammy. And then running alongside is the story Katia and Goran who are in a relationship but they each have deep emotional issues in their past which need to be properly addressed.

Whilst the character driven element of the novel works well, especially the author’s exploration of the intricacies of their individual lives, I think what worked best for me was the haunting and very personal exhibits which were found in the museum. Reading of love both lost and won, and of the poignant reminders, be they written or physical, made me realise the importance of keeping special such memories alive.

The Museum of Lost Love is a perceptive story which took me to places I can only visit in my imagination and which reminded me that, if we let it, love can tear us apart.

About the Author

Photo credit: Andy DelGiudice

GARY BARKER is an author, researcher, and human rights activist. He is founder and director of Promundo, an international organization that works with men and boys in more than 25 countries to achieve gender equality and end violence against women. He has been awarded an Ashoka Fellowship and an Open Society Fellowship for his work in conflict zones. His previous novels include Luisa’s Last Words, Mary of Kivu, and The Afghan Vampires Book Club (co-written with Michael Kaufman). Barker lives in Washington, DC. 

Twitter @WORLDEDBOOKS #MuseumOfLostLove

Book Review ~ The Rival by Charlotte Duckworth

 ✨✨ Happy Publication Day ✨✨ 

17 October 2019

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book


Living in her home in the remote countryside - the perfect place to get away from it all - Helena is a career woman with no job and a mother without a baby. She blames Ashley for destroying her life. But is what happened really Ashley's fault?


When Helena hires Ashley to work for her, she's startled but impressed by her fierce ambition. They form a dream team and Helena is proud - maybe this is the protΓ©gΓ©e she's always wanted to have? But soon Helena realizes that nothing will stand in the way of Ashley's drive to get to the top. And when Helena becomes pregnant, everything she has worked so hard for is suddenly threatened, with devastating consequences...

What did I think about it..

Ashley really, really wants the life that Helena has and is determined to get exactly what she wants and the way she tries to get what she wants forms the basis of this clever, psychological suspense novel, which has all the elements needed to keep your attention absolutely gripped from start to finish.

Helena hires Ashley to work for her and at first everything seems to be going well. Ashley's fierce ambition, whilst it doesn't exactly endear her to her colleagues, means that the company goes from strength to strength however, pretty soon substantial cracks start to appear in the partnership and it becomes obvious that there will only be one winner. I've never worked for a corporate company so haven't experienced that cut throat environment where rivalry dominates but the author describes the claustrophobic nature of working as part of a competitive team really well so that I was soon engrossed in the backroom shenanigans. The story moves along at a cracking pace and the tension is invariably cranked up really high especially when the rivals really start to affect each other's work/life balance.

The story is divided well into THEN and NOW and we get the differing points of view of both Helena and Ashley which adds a clever ambiance and which kept my attention focused. I read The Rivals in a couple of sittings as I couldn't put the book down and I wanted to see exactly how it would all play out. I wasn't disappointed by the outcome.😊

Charlotte Duckworth has spent the past fifteen years working as an interiors and lifestyle journalist, writing for a wide range of consumer magazines and websites. She lives in Surrey with her partner and their young daughter. 

Twitter @charduck


Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Book Review ~ The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer

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Headline Review
17 October 2017

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book

2019 Life changed beyond recognition for Alice when her son, Eddie, was born with autism spectrum disorder. She must do everything to support him, but at what cost to her family? When her cherished grandmother is hospitalised, a hidden box of mementoes reveals a tattered photo of a young man, a tiny leather shoe and a letter. Her grandmother begs Alice to return to Poland to see what became of those she held dearest.

WWII Alina and Tomasz are childhood sweethearts. The night before he leaves for college, Tomasz proposes marriage. But when their village falls to the Nazis, Alina doesn't know if Tomasz is alive or dead.

2019 In Poland, separated from her family, Alice begins to uncover the story her grandmother is so desperate to tell, and discovers a love that bloomed in the winter of 1942. As a painful family history comes to light, will the struggles of the past and present finally reach a heartbreaking resolution?

What did I think about it..

Alice's grandmother, Alina, is seriously ill in the hospital when she makes a frantic request for Alice to find her precious memory box. The contents of the box sends Alice off on a journey to modern day Poland in order to discover more more about a man named Tomasz. That this man was once very special to Alina is never in doubt and as their relationship  evolves so a desperate story of survival during wartime starts to be revealed. The story moves forwards and backwards in time so that we get Alina's story during the momentous years of WW2 whilst at the same time getting to know Alice and her own somewhat troubled family challenges.

The Things We cannot Say is a heartbreaking story about wartime and what it was like to live during a time of great hardship and the author makes this feel so much more special because she has used the events of her own family history in order to give the book a very authentic feel and an altogether different perspective on the utter and heartfelt tragedy of wartime separation which captures both your attention and imagination.

To say too much about the way the story evolves would be to do this author a complete disservice as this is one of those special books which needs to be read without spoilers, that way the author's fine attention to detail, meticulous research and skilful story telling can be appreciated to the fullest extent.

There's a very captivating section at the end of the novel which highlights the journey the author made to Poland to see for herself the places where her grandmother once lived, and as is so often the case with this generation who witnessed so many horrific things there are things which cannot be said, however, that doesn't mean that we shouldn't try to hear their words, or forget what they endured for our freedom.

Kelly Rimmer is the USA Today bestselling women’s fiction author of five novels, including Me Without You and The Secret Daughter. Her most recent release is Before I Let You Go. She lives in rural Australia with her husband, 2 children and fantastically naughty dogs, Sully and Basil. Her novels have been translated into more than 20 languages.

Twitter @Kelrimmerwrites #TheThingsWeCannotSay


Tuesday, 15 October 2019

Blog Tour ~ Tangled Roots by Denise D Young

πŸ“– Delighted to be part of this Blog Tour πŸ“–

Tangled Magic series #1

My thanks to the author for my copy of this book
and to Rachel's Random Resources for my invitation to this blog tour

A beautiful witch lost in time. A brooding farm boy with magic in his blood and a chip on his shoulder. Dark secrets and shadowy magic. Paranormal romance with a time slip awaits in the first book of this new series.

Cassie Gearhart casts a spell in the forest in the summer of 1974. The next thing she knows, she wakes up to find the world irrevocably changed.

It’s 2019, for one thing. For another, all of her coven members have vanished, leaving behind only one man who holds the key to their secrets.

Nick Felson has sworn off magic, until a confused Cassie knocks on his door in the middle of the night, somehow missing forty-five years’ worth of time. But Nick knows falling for the captivating witch means letting magic back into his life—and that’s one line he swore he’d never cross.

Can Cassie unravel the mystery that transported her decades into the future? And can Nick resist the powerful magic and heart-pounding passion that swirl in the air whenever he and Cassie are together?

The Tangled Magic Series is intended for readers 18-plus who enjoy fast-paced reads, wild and witchy. 

What did I think about it..

A dash of magic, and a love which transcends time, is the focus for this story which is the first in The Tangled Magic series. In 1974, Cassie Gearhart is running away from something when she gets caught up in powerful magic and for her protection she gets caught in time. When circumstances allow, Cassie returns only to find that it’s no longer 1974, but 2019. Her inadvertent meeting with Nick Felton, a man with more than enough troubles of his own, opens up not just a hint of magic but also a powerful physical attraction which gives the story an altogether different direction.

Paranormal fantasy isn’t my usual genre so it’s been a completely new experience to read of magical spells, deep seated feuds, and long buried secrets, however, the author maintained my interest throughout, and I raced through the novella in just a couple of hours.

I have enjoyed getting to know the characters, and especially liked the way that the author weaved them into the story with enough detail to make them come alive in my imagination. And whilst the relationship between Cassie and Nick initially felt a little rushed, overall throughout the course of the novella,  it works well, and there’s a nice amount of passion sizzling between them.

The author has an obvious passion for story telling and weaves the story together with her own brand of spellbinding magic.

Equal parts bookworm, flower child, and eclectic witch, Denise D. Young writes fantasy and paranormal romance featuring witches, magic, faeries, and the occasional shifter.

Whatever the flavor of the magic, it’s always served with a brisk cup of tea–and the promise of
romance varying from sweet to sensual.

She lives with her husband and their animals in the mountains of Virginia, where small towns and tall
trees inspire her stories. She reads tarot cards, collects crystals, gazes at stars, and believes magic is
the answer (no matter what the question was).

If you’ve ever hoped to find a book of spells in a dusty attic, if you suspect every misty forest contains a hidden portal to another realm, or if you don’t mind a little darkness before your happily-ever-after, her books might be just the thing you’ve been waiting for.

Twitter @ddyoungbooks #TangledRoots


Monday, 14 October 2019

Book review ~ Seven Days by Alex Lake

The twisty new psychological thriller from the Sunday Times bestselling author 

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Harper Collins
ebook 10th October 2019
Paperback 14 November 2019

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book

A race against time to save her child… In seven days, Maggie’s son, Max, turns three. But she’s not planning a party or buying presents or updating his baby book. She’s dreading it. Because in her world, third birthdays are the days on which the unthinkable happens… she loses her child. For the last twelve years Maggie has been imprisoned in a basement. Abducted aged fifteen, she gave birth to two sons before Max, and on their third birthdays her captor came and took them from her. She cannot let it happen again. But she has no idea how to stop it. And the clock is ticking…

What did I think about it..

The story opens with a calendar and with the dire news that there are just seven days to go before something really dreadful happens to Maggie's son, Max who is soon to be three years old. And even as it takes a moment for this awful fact to sink into your mind, so the story plunges into the nightmare which is Maggie's world.

To say Maggie's world is truly horrendous is, I think, quite an understatement and as the true story of her capture and imprisonment comes to life so a twisted story of perversity starts to be revealed. Moving forwards and backward in time snippets of the story are uncovered and its hard not to be moved emotionally by the sheer awfulness of Maggie's predicament. There's immense sympathy for Maggie and Max and right from the start the author builds a strong emotional connection so that you are rooting for them all the way through the story. The clever layers of past and present are gradually revealed which help to, not only build up the tension but also give a glimpse into the life of both the perpetrator and Maggie's lost and bewildered family.

The book took me just a few hours to read, which is testament to the strength of the story as it's quite a detailed one coming at over 400 pages. I found as the tension increased, so I started to turn the pages faster until faster, as I really, really wanted everything to work out well for Maggie, and couldn't put the story down until I discovered her, and Max's fate.

Seven Days is an absolutely fascinating psychological thriller with more than enough details to keep you glued to the page.

 About the Author

Alex Lake is a British novelist who was born in the North West of England. After Anna, the author’s first novel written under this pseudonym, was a No.1 bestselling ebook sensation and a top-ten Sunday Times bestseller. The author now lives in the North East of the US.

Twitter @Alexlakeauthor #SevenDays

@KillerReads @fictionpubteam


Sunday, 13 October 2019

Book Review ~ The Land of Trees by L A Naylor

A gritty and evocative coming-of-age thriller set in the exotic rainforests and cities of Guatemala

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28 September

My thanks to Cameron PR for my copy of this book

Adoptee Lia has followed her Spanish teacher, Rafael, to Guatemala, for romance and adventure. She doesn’t know much about the country but she’s happy because she’s finally living life on her own terms. On their first night together Lia decides to declare her feelings, but before she gets the chance, the unimaginable happens and Rafael is brutally killed.

Devastated, Lia travels to Rafael’s family home in the countryside, determined to find out why. But not everyone is keen on her investigation and Lia has to decide what is more important: living without answers or taking the deadly consequences that come with the truth.

Set against a backdrop of civil unrest and huge political change, Naylor shows the powerful impact the past can have, even decades later.

What did I think about it..

Lia travels to Guatemala to meet up with Rafael , who was once her Spanish teacher, and with whom she has a romantic attachment. Lia barely has time to say hello to Rafael before something really dreadful happens and she is left quite devastated and feeling very alone in an unfamiliar country. Fortunately Lia has other travelling companions to support her however, it is Lia's journey in which she tries to discover what really happened to Rafael which gives the book it's impetus.

Initially off to something of a slow start, the story seems to take a while to get moving but I think the second half of the book which is perhaps the stronger part of the story is what worked best for me. The background to the story that of Guatemala's political and social unrest is well explained and there is an authentic feel to the novel which brings both the country and its people to life in a realistic sort of way. The mystery at the heart of the novel has enough suspense to maintain interest and I enjoyed trying to work out how the story would eventually play out.

The Land of Trees is an interesting coming of age novel  which begins with tragedy but ends with a distinct feeling of hope.

LA NAYLOR has been a fisherwoman, the CEO of a charity, a wreck diver and an English teacher. She was awarded a grant from the Campaign for Learning to write a non-fiction book on miscarriages of justice in the UK. That book, Judge for Yourself, was a bestseller and was praised by The Guardian, Michael Mansfield QC and many more.

Naylor received a lifetime membership to the Millennium Awards Fellowship which recognises, celebrates and records the achievements of individuals working to strengthen and enrich their communities. The Land of Trees is her first novel. She lives in London.

Twitter @Lanaylor11 #ThelandOfTrees


Saturday, 12 October 2019

Hist Fic Saturday ~ Daughters of Liverpool by Kate Eastham

On Hist Fic Saturday

Let's go back to... Liverpool 1871

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Penguin Books
August 2019
Nursing #3

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book

Shrouded in secrecy Alice Sampson gives birth to a beautiful baby girl.

But the former nurse's happiness is blighted by the knowledge that as a penniless, unwed mother, her future, and that of her child, can only be one of shame and disgrace.

Then a knock at the door brings a miracle: she is invited to return to the Liverpool Royal Infirmary and her beloved ward.

With the help of her friends and the welcome attentions of Reverend Seed, the hospital Chaplain, Alice slowly starts to rebuild her life.

But her hopes are shattered when her baby's father unexpectedly shows up to claim the child he knew nothing about.

Suddenly Alice is in danger of losing her baby, her position and her whole future . . .

What did I think about it..

Victorian Liverpool was a dangerous place to be for working girls and no woman was entirely safe from being picked up in the purge which raged through the city in the hopes of cleaning up the more salubrious areas.  Alice Sampson works as a housemaid in one of the brothels, quietly bringing up her baby girl, but when she gets caught up in the city's purge on prostitution, Alice realises that she must look to her own safety and that of her baby girl. Returning to her work as a trainee nurse at Liverpool Royal Infirmary opens up a whole new life for Alice, but her happiness it seems comes at a price.

This is now the third book in this Nursing series of books which follows the fortunes of a group of young women who came to the city in order to train as Nightingale nurses. This third book continues the nursing theme with a compassionate look at the struggles of being an unmarried mother and of the difficulty of finding a place in a society which is far from generous to working women. Even though I haven't read the first two books in the series I picked up the story very easily and those characters who, I think, have been consistent throughout all of the books begin to feel familiar. I was quickly interested in the way the story evolved. 

The author brings Victorian Liverpool alive in the imagination especially the difficulties of being a single woman. The story highlights the wider social issues, particularly about the rights for women and mentions the pioneer, Josephine Butler, who did so much to fight against the violation of women in a society which viewed all working women as being just one short step away from prostitution.

Alice's emotional journey as young unmarried mother, her endeavour to become a good nurse, and the difficulties she faces in her personal life make this a warm and compassionate story.

About the Author

Kate Eastham trained as a nurse and midwife on the Nightingale wards of Preston Royal Infirmary. She has well over thirty years of experience working in hospital, residential and hospice care. Born and bred in Lancashire, she is married with three grown-up children and one grandchild. Always reading, she went on to gain a degree in English Literature and was inspired to write after researching the history of nursing and her own family history, with its roots in Liverpool, northern mill towns and rural Lancashire.

Friday, 11 October 2019

Blog Tour ~ Foxfire, Wolfskin and other stories of Shapeshifting women by Sharon Blackie

Delighted to be taking part in this Blog Tour

September Publishing
2 October 2019

My thanks to the publishers, Ruth Killick Publicity and Random Things Tours for my copy of this book
and the invitation to be part of his blog tour

Charged with drama and beauty, this memorable collection by a master storyteller weaves a magical world of possibility and power from female myths of physical renewal, creation and change. It is an extraordinary immersion into the bodies and voices, mindscapes and landscapes, of the shape-shifting women of our native folklore. We meet the Water Horse of the Isle of Lewis, the huldra, the Scandinavian supernatural forest-dweller, and Baba Yaga of Slavic folklore (but will she help you or kill you?) Here too is the Snow Queen; the wild bird-woman of the Sliabh Mis Mountains; Blodeuedd, the Welsh ‘flower-faced’ woman.

Illustrations by Helen Nicholson

Drawing on myth and fairy tales found across Europe – from Croatia to Sweden, Ireland to Russia – Sharon Blackie brings to life women’s remarkable ability to transform themselves in the face of seemingly impossible circumstances. These stories are about coming to terms with our animal natures, exploring the ways in which we might renegotiate our fractured relationship with the natural world, and uncovering the wildness – and wilderness – within.

What did I think about it..

There’s something quite special about the myths and legends which give a country its identity. Stories which reach through the mists of time, soaking into our subconscious, so that whilst we don’t always know where they originated, we remain emotionally connected to the haunting quality of their particular brand of magic.

In this extraordinary collection we allow our imagination full reign in stories which set fire the soul, which are in turn both mournful and uplifting, hauntingly beautiful and inherently dangerous. Beautifully written and highly original in their delivery, the author’s natural story-telling ability shines through with every well written word, capturing the very essence of our long forgotten myths and folklore.

Every reimagined story has its own unique strength and yet there is something distinctly fascinating to be found in all of them. The thirteen stories vary in length, some are quite short, just a couple of pages, whilst others are a little longer, however, collectively, they form a wonderfully diverse mixture which are supported by stunning black and white illustrations. I have several favourites amongst the thirteen and in particular I would like to mention Wolfskin, Foxfire and Snow Queen as being stand out stories for me. At the back of the book is a fascinating notes section where the author explains the origins, placing the stories in their historical and geographical context.

This is a really special collection of haunting stories which I’m sure will appeal to anyone who has an interest in the old tales of myth and folklore.

Dr Sharon Blackie is a writer, mythologist and psychologist, and an internationally recognised teacher of the mythic imagination. Her bestselling book, If Women Rose Rooted, won a 2016 Nautilus award, and laid out a haunting heroine’s journey for every woman who finds power, inspiration and solace in the natural world. She has an international following through her online communities, and the courses and workshops she offers through ‘The Hedge School’. Her first novel, The Long Delirious Blue, was described by the Independent on Sunday as ‘hugely potent’. She lives in Connemara, Ireland. 

Twitter  #FoxfireWolfskin




Wednesday, 9 October 2019

Blog Tour ~ A Ration Book Childhood by Jean Fullerton

Delighted to host today's Blog Tour stop

3 October 2019
East End Ration#3

My thanks to the publishers and to Rachel's Random Resources for my copy of the book
and the invitation to the blog tour

In the darkest days of the Blitz, family is more important than ever.

With her family struggling amidst the nightly bombing raids in London's East End, Ida Brogan is doing her very best to keep their spirits up. The Blitz has hit the Brogans hard, and rationing is more challenging than ever, but they are doing all they can to help the war effort. 

When Ida's oldest friend Ellen returns to town, sick and in dire need of help, it is to Ida that she turns. But Ellen carries a secret, one that threatens not only Ida's marriage, but the entire foundation of the Brogan family. Can Ida let go of the past and see a way to forgive her friend? And can she overcome her sadness to find a place in her heart for a little boy, one who will need a mother more than ever in these dark times?

What did I think about it..

Set during the troubled years of WW2 the Brogan family live and work in the East End of London. They're a tight knit group, always looking out for each other and helping the community by doing their bit for the war effort. Jerimiah and Ida Brogan have a long and happy marriage and have brought up their family with good old fashioned East End values, they both work their hardest to ensure the family stays together and when times are tough they all pull together. However, when Ida's oldest friend, Ellen, returns to live in the area, her arrival opens up a devastating secret which threatens, not just Ida and Jerimiah's marriage, but also the stability of the entire Brogan family.

Returning to this family, and this is now the third book in the East End Ration series, is always a real delight because not only are the characters as familiar as friends but also the author writes about their lives with such a realistic edge that they quite literally leap off the page.

So many years after WW2 it's now rather difficult to fully understand what it was like to survive in the East End during the worst of the Blitz years. However, reading of the way the Brogans dealt with having to leave home every night to camp out in underground bomb shelters, their struggle to put food on the table and of the stoicism which allowed them to deal with some horrendous conditions, with bombs dropping on them with alarming regularity, brings the true horror of the darkest days of the Blitz alive in the imagination.

Beautifully written with humour and compassion, and meticulously researched, A Ration Book Childhood, continues the series with the author's usual fine eye for detail, and whilst it is perfectly possible to read this as a standalone story, it is better to read the series from the beginning as that way you get to know the different members of the Brogan family and enjoy the way each character progresses. I hope we get to meet up with the Brogans again soon in another WW2 family saga.

Jean Fullerton is the author of twelve novels all set in East London where she was born. She also a retired district nurse and university lecturer. She won the Harry Bowling prize in 2006 and after initially signing for two East London historical series with Orion she moved to Corvus, part of Atlantic Publishing and is half way through her WW2 East London series featuring the Brogan family.

Twitter @JeanFullerton_ #ARationBookChildhood



Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Review ~ A Killing Sin by K H Irvine

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Urbane Publications
4 July 2019
Would you surrender your secrets to save a life? 

London. It could be tomorrow. Amala Hackeem, lapsed Muslim tech entrepreneur and controversial comedian, dons a burqa and heads to the women's group at the Tower Hamlets sharia community. What is she doing there? 

Ella Russell, a struggling journalist leaves home in pursuit of the story of her life. Desperate for the truth, she is about to learn the true cost of the war on terror. 

Millie Stephenson, a university professor and expert in radicalisation arrives at Downing Street to brief the Prime Minister and home secretary. Nervous and excited she finds herself at the centre of a nation taken hostage. And then it gets personal. 

Friends since university, by the end of the day the lives of all three women are changed forever. They will discover if friendship truly can survive secrets and fear.

What did I think about it..

A Killing Sin is a very timely novel as it reveals a world which could so easily be our own especially in the uncertainty of our current political climate. There is much to take in and the abundance of characters and their different roles within the story take a little getting used to but once I had them placed in my imagination the story starting to move along quite quickly.

The author writes well and the plot has an modern day authenticity which helps to keep the pacing quite tight so that the twists and turns when they come feel perfectly placed to grab your attention. I liked the succinctness of the different chapters and the way we heard the different voices coming through very clearly. The three main female protagonists, whilst all friends since university now follow a very different trajectory, and it is the way that these differences coalesce which make up the crux of the novel. To say more about the plot or the outcome of the story would spoil things, but one thing I can say is that the story made me realise just how easily this complex world can spiral out of control.

It must be difficult to write a fictional story about radicalisation and the threat of terrorism without making the plot seems over-sensational and yet the author has succeeded in creating a very believable world whilst at the same time holding together a gripping and imaginative story line.

KH Irvine grew up in Scotland and now lives near London. The book was her 50th birthday gift to herself, believing you are never too old to try something new. Her work has taken her to board rooms, universities and governments all over the world and has included up close and personal access to special forces. A Killing Sin is her first book. The second follows on a few years later as Britain moves to civil unrest with the rise of the far right as the personal and political become intertwined.

Twitter @KHIrvine #AKillingSin


Monday, 7 October 2019

Blog Tour ~ Secrets of the Mist by Kate Ryder

Thrilled to be hosting today's final stop on this Blog Tour

Aria Fiction

My thanks to the publisher, and the author, for my invitation to be part of this blog tour

Maddie is restless in London. She has friends, a job and a sort-of boyfriend, but something in her life is missing. Then she visits the ancient village of Walditch, deep in the Dorset countryside. Something stirs in her, and on a whim she buys a centuries-old cottage and moves there three months later. Her friends think she's crazy, but for Maddie it feels like coming home.

Late at night in the cottage, Maddie hears strange noises and sees mist gathering indoors and out. When she starts investigating the cottage's history, she becomes drawn into the tragic story of a family who lived here 400 years ago. Meanwhile, Maddie starts to fall in love with a local carpenter – but he has a relationship already...

Can Maddie solve the riddle of the past? What is her connection with the family that lived there so many years ago? And can she and her true love ever be together?

(Previously published as The Forgotten Promise)

What did I think about it..

On the surface, Maddie O'Brien seems to have everything she needs, a busy life in London working for a film production company and a semi-serious relationship with her boyfriend, Dan. And yet, there is something nagging away at Maddie, a desire for change, which shimmers just beyond reach.

When a film shoot in a pretty Dorset village leads her to a 17th century blacksmith cottage, Maddie is overcome with the sensation of having come home, and yet she has no logical reason for the emotion she feels when she sees the cottage, she only knows that she is drawn to the place and the story it has to tell. Making a rash decision to give up her job and move into the blacksmith’s cottage, Maddie soon finds that life in The Olde Smithy is far from what she imagined.

Switching effortlessly between time frames, the story looks at Maddie’s connection to The Olde Smithy, and as the shadows of the past start to encroach on Maddie’s modern world we are led inexorably back to the dark and dangerous years of the English Civil War. The contemporary story, of Maddie's move to the cottage and her growing attraction, to the enigmatic Nick Corbin, is delightfully romantic. And yet, the real focus of the story is Maddie’s connection to past events and the retelling of a story, which hidden for centuries, now finally, has the chance to be retold.

The author has done a commendable job in recreating a very believable time slip novel. Very often time slips can feel a little contrived, but not so with this story which seems to blend past and present quite seamlessly. The author clearly loves storytelling and this comes across in the fine attention to detail and the way in which the story is allowed to develop at its own pace. There was just the right amount of tension in the story to keep me engrossed and enough twists and turns in the historical mystery to keep me guessing about its eventual outcome.  The added inclusion of a wonderful black cat called Storm helped to make the story even more enjoyable!

Originally from the Home Counties, Kate now resides in the diverse and inspirational county of Cornwall, which provides a glorious backdrop for much of her writing. Her career has encompassed travel, property and publishing and she currently divides her time between selling fabulous country piles that she can't afford and writing romantic suspense. Together with her ever-supportive husband, a gorgeous Arab horse and a newly acquired 'rescue' cat called Ollie, Kate lives in the beautiful Tamar Valley in a 200 year old cottage that she and her husband painstakingly restored and which provided the inspiration for ‘Secrets of the Mist’.

Twitter @Kate_RyderBooks #SecretsOfTheMist