#BlogTour! #Review – The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer (@KelRimmerWrites) @Headlinepg @AnneCater

It gives me great pleasure to welcome the fantastic, Kelly Rimmer, back to TWG today as I review her new novel, The Things We Cannot Say (published 7th March), as part of the blog tour. Many thanks to Anne Cater for the blog tour invite, and thank you to the publisher for the review copy. Here is my review:

 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 does TWG think?

Be still my beating heart….

Wow – even though I finished reading ‘The Things We Cannot Say’ a few days ago, a lump still forms in my throat whenever I think about it.

I admitted on social media that I had no idea how I was going to write my review, and I still stand by that (no, not in a bad way. Kelly Rimmer’s latest literary gem has a title which takes the words right out of my mouth; ‘The Things We Cannot Say’. There is so much I want to express about the beauty of the storyline and the characters, but for some reason I am struggling to put those thoughts into coherent sentences. I’m trying my best!

Okay so, this storyline is told from the viewpoint of Alina, a young Polish woman who has seen her fair share of heartbreak and devastation courtesy of the Second World War and the Nazi’s, and Alice, a mum who is about to embark on the journey of a lifetime. She just doesn’t know it yet. Both stories are, obviously, incredibly different, yet they are both connected in a way which only makes sense towards the latter half of the book.

Whilst I loved following Alina’s journey and learning more about the devastating effects the war had on Poland in 1942, the reality of the situation absolutely broke my heart. Kelly Rimmer described scenes which no-one should ever have to endure, many of which left me crying my eyes out due to the unfairness of it all. Innocent people. Lives lost. Separated from loved ones. And for what? A power trip? A moment of insanity for the Nazi’s?

The chapters which involved Alina’s journey were hard hitting, emotional, and devastating, yet they were combined beautifully due to the way the author believed in her characters and their love for each other. I genuinely think if Alina didn’t have the love of Tomasz, her life would have had a very different outcome.

Now, where Alice is concerned in the chapters containing ‘the present’, her relationship with her son, Eddie, once again brought tears to my eyes as he seemed like such a lovely little boy who just deserved to be understood. His relationship with Alice’s ‘babcia’ made my heart melt and once again showed the power of love in a different form.

I’m trying my best not to give anything away here, and it’s very hard!!

I adored ‘The Things We Cannot Say’ and the way that the entire storyline showcased the deep routed beauty of love, life and loss. Kelly Rimmer, once again has outdone herself in creating a story which was both beautifully written, and beautifully thought out. The strength of the characters journeys was so powerful, it made the entire storyline have such a wonderful, highly charged vibe to it.

This beautiful, beautiful book blew me away, broke my heart and then pieced it back together again. Babcia showed me that scars are an individual persons battle marks and that they’re something to be proud of. Hell, if Babcia was mine, I would be proud of her as well. Easily my top read of 2019 so far.

Buy now!

Advertisements

#BlogTour! #Review – A Rebel at Pennington’s by Rachel Brimble (@RachelBrimble) @RaRaResources @Aria_Fiction

A Rebel at Penningtons Full Banner
Third and final blog post of the day is for ‘A Rebel at Pennington’s’ by Rachel Brimble. Many thanks, once again to RaRaResources for the blog tour invite and ARC.

Thank you all for joining me today and following my reviews!

A Rebel Cover
1911 Bath. Banished from her ancestral home, passionate suffrage campaigner, Esther Stanbury works as a window dresser in Pennington’s Department Store. She has hopes and dreams for women’s progression and will do anything to help secure the vote. 
Owner of the prestigious Phoenix Hotel, Lawrence Culford has what most would view as a successful life. But Lawrence is harbouring shame, resentment and an anger that threatens his future happiness.

When Esther and Lawrence meet their mutual understanding of life’s challenges unites them and they are drawn to the possibility of a life of love that neither thought existed. 
With the Coronation of King-Emperor George V looming, the atmosphere in Bath is building to fever pitch, as is the suffragists’ determination to secure the vote.

Will Esther’s rebellious nature lead her to ruin or can they overcome their pasts and look to build a future together?

What does TWG think?

Oh my goodness me – this book had my name ALL over it!! Not literally of course, because I couldn’t deface a book, BUT, I am sure you know what I’m meaning! If i know that a storyline contains anything to do with the suffragette movement, you can bet your bottom dollar that i would be in my absolute element and loving every minute of it. And yes, that was certainly the case with ‘A Rebel at Pennington’s’.

Rachel Brimble’s latest novel is the second book in the series, but do not let that worry you as this story can be read as a standalone without having to have read the previous book. that said, if you’re the sort of reader who just has to read books in order then you won’t be disappointed with either read. Of course, that is just my opinion!

Set in 1911 with the coronation of king-emperor George V looming, ‘A Rebel at Pennington’s’ tells the story of one young woman’s journey as she attempts to put women’s rights on the map. As we all know, the suffragettes didn’t exactly have the easiest of time where the vote was concerned, and they certainly put themselves in harm’s way for what they believed in. Now, with someone as, how shall i put this, blunt as Esther, her mouth struggled to connect with her brain. Put it this way – her heart was in the right place but her delivery left a lot to be desired.

I really enjoyed watching Esther’s journey with Lawrence as she tried her best to not let her head rule her heart. On one hand she needed Lawrence’s help to put women’s progression on the map, but then on the other hand she wanted him in her life on a much deeper level. Whether she could manage the two without causing too much disruption to anyone involved on either side, remained to be seen.

Out of both books in the series, i will have to say that ‘A Rebel at Pennington’s’ has got to be my favourite book so far. I just loved the strength behind the storyline and how well the author had brought her characters to life, whilst also keeping history at the heart of her words.

Buy now from Amazon UK
Buy now from Amazon US

About the author.

Rachel lives with her husband and their two daughters in a small town near Bath in the
UK. Since 2007, she has had several novels published by small US presses, eight books published by Harlequin Superromance (Templeton Cove Stories) and four Victorian romances with eKensington/Lyrical.

In January 2018, she signed a four-book deal with Aria Fiction for a new Edwardian series set in Bath’s finest department store. The first book, The Mistress of Pennington’s released July 2018.

Rachel is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and Romance Writers of America, and was selected to mentor the Superromance finalist of So You Think You Can Write 2014 contest. When she isn’t writing, you’ll find Rachel with her head in a book or walking the beautiful English countryside with her family. Her dream place to live is Bourton-on-the-Water in South West England.

Giveaway – Win £15/$15 Amazon Gift Certificate (Open Internationally)

*Terms and Conditions – Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the
Rafflecopter box below.  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 I reserve 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 I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for
despatch or delivery of the prize.

Enter the giveaway now!

#BlogTour! #Review – Finding Jess by Julia Ibbotson (@juliaibbotson) @RaRaResources #DrumbeatsTrilogy

Today is my third and final stop on The Drumbeats Trilogy blog tour, and what a ride it has been! Huge thanks to RaRaResources for the blog tour invite and ARC. Here is my review of the third book in the trilogy, Finding Jess:

Single mother, Jess, has struggled to get her life back on track after the betrayal of her beloved husband and her best friend. When she is on the brink of losing everything, including her family and her job, she feels that she can no longer trust anyone. Then she is sent a mysterious newspaper clipping of a temporary post back in Ghana. Could this be her lifeline? Can Jess turn back time and find herself again? And what, exactly, will she find?

Finding Jess is a passionate story of love, betrayal and second chances – and of one woman’s bid to reclaim her self-belief and trust. It is a feel-good story of a woman’s strength and spirit rising above adversity.

What does TWG think?

Is it weird that I now feel a little bereft that I have reached the end of the trilogy? I’ve literally watched Jess grow up over the space of three books, walked alongside her as she made multiple journeys which carved both her present and her future, as well as feeling an emotional connection towards her and the unfortunate events she became involved in.

Jess has come a long way since the beginning, and in the third instalment of the trilogy, she still finds herself battling with that character who I would not wee on if they were on fire. At times I wanted to shake her because they had no longer had a hold over her so why was she turning into a doormat? I guess confidence is one thing….or lack of, especially as it had been knocked. It was just hard watching her melt as though she was in the wrong. No. The only thing she was in the wrong about was not telling them to go and fornicate oneself!!!

Whilst it was brilliant that the author wanted to keep readers up to date with snippets from previous books, (I’m assuming it was mainly for readers who were reading the books out of order), I did feel a little bit cheated by the fact that there were quite large chunks of a previous storyline merely pasted into the new one. It did feel as though I was just rereading past storylines when I just wanted to read more of ‘Finding Jess’. Like I say, I can see why the author did it and I can’t fault her for that at all, I just think that there could have been smaller references to the two previous books as opposed to substantial blocks.

However, I really did enjoy the storyline of ‘Finding Jess’ – I couldn’t believe how invested I had become! I got so annoyed by certain things that it affected me when I wasn’t even reading. I mean, that just goes to show how powerful Julia Ibbotson’s writing is!

I loved the way that Jess came into her own and flourished as her own person, yet part of me couldn’t help wonder whether we might see a storyline coming from Katy’s viewpoint instead. She seemed like such a troubled individual who needed steering in the right direction – it would be very interesting to see how her personality flourishes, I must admit!

‘Finding Jess’ cements Jess’ journey to self discovery and learning the ability to try to love the skin that you’re in. Jess’ story highlighted the fact that not everyone will like you, love you, want to be around you, and that’s okay because as long as you’re proud of yourself, and as long as you love a part of yourself or are willing to try to love yourself, that is what matters the most.

This storyline, as well as Julia Ibbotson’s poignant narrative, took me on my own little journey. I am so thankful that I was able to get the chance to open my eyes to a path I never would have found otherwise. Jess’ story is one that I will remember for a very long time and, as long as Julia Ibbotson keeps producing novels, I will be reading her meaningful, heartfelt and enchanting words for a very long time to come.

Buy now

About the author.

Award-winning author Julia Ibbotson is fascinated by the medieval world and concepts of time travel. She read English at Keele University, England (after a turbulent but exciting gap year in Ghana, West Africa) specialising in medieval language, literature and history, and has a PhD in socio-linguistics. She wrote her first novel at 10 years of age, but became a school teacher, then a university lecturer and researcher. Finding Jess(2018) is her sixth book and the last of the Drumbeats trilogy (which begins and ends in Ghana). Apart from insatiable reading, she loves travelling the world, singing in choirs, swimming, yoga and walking in the countryside in England and Madeira where she and her husband divide their time.

Acclaimed author of:

Drumbeats (2015), the first of the trilogy set in 1960s Ghana: sometimes you have to escape to find yourself.

Walking in the Rain (2016), the second in the trilogy set in 1970s and 1980s England: never give up on your dreams.

Finding Jess (2018), the last of the trilogy set in 1990s England and Ghana: can the past ever be left behind?

Also by Julia Ibbotson:

A Shape on the Air (2017): historical (Dark Ages/early medieval) timeslip romance. Two women 1,500 years apart, with one aim: to reclaim their dreams and fight the dangers that threaten them both across the ages …

The Old Rectory: Escape to a Country Kitchen, (first published 2011, rereleased 2017) a feel-good story of the renovation of a Victorian rectory interwoven with period recipes to feed the soul, all from the rectory kitchen.

S.C.A.R.S (first published 2012, rereleased 2016) (children’s novel): a troubled boy slips through a tear in the fabric of the universe into a parallel medieval fantasy world of knights, dragons, and a quest for the triumph of Good over Evil. But can he save himself?

 

Social Media Links

Facebook // Twitter // Website // Pinterest //Goodreads // RNA author page

Giveaway – Win a PB copy of Drumbeats (book 1), book marks, post cards, key ring and handbag fob (UK Only)

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  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 or delivery of the prize.

Enter the giveaway now!

#BlogTour! #Review – Walking in the Rain by Julia Ibbotson (@JuliaIbbotson) @RaRaResources

I’m back!! Today is my second stop on the ‘Drumbeats Trilogy’ blog tour, and this time I am reviewing the second book ‘Walking in the Rain’. Thanks again to RaRaResources for the blog tour invite and ARC. Here is my review:


Jess happily marries the love of her life She wants to feel safe, secure and loved. But gradually it becomes clear that her beloved husband is not the man she thought him to be. She survived civil war and injury in Africa, but can she now survive the biggest challenge of her life? 

What does TWG think?

‘Walking in the Rain’ pretty much picks up from where we left off in ‘Drumbeats’, so I do recommend reading the books in order as the trilogy seems to be written as one continuous story just split into three chunks.

Anywhoo, my thoughts; this review is going to be quite challenging to write as I have extremely strong thoughts about one of the characters in particular, so I don’t wish to unintentionally give anything away whilst I badmouth them ;). If you have already read the book then I am positive you will know who I am talking about. If you havent, lets just say that this person is a vile, waste of space that I wouldn’t pee on if they were on fire. Harsh, but true.

Why Jess didn’t stick to her guns was beyond me. She obviously had an inkling that not all was well! I know that things were very different in those days, and it’s a shame that females got treated by the government in the way that they did. Utterly, utterly shocking.

Do I wish that Jess had more backbone? Yes! Do I think that the way in which she would be percieved by outsiders frighened her? Yes – how could it not? Who would have believed her anyway? It was a tough one to gauge, that’s for sure.

‘Walking in the Rain’ very different to the first book of the trilogy as, not only is Jess a lot older, the themes which occur throughout the storylines differ greatly. For example; Africa and poverty/war was the main topic in book one, yet in book two family life and women’s rights were the topic of conversation.

Julia Ibbotson definitely isn’t a one trick pony as she carried the strength of her storytelling from book one into book two seamlessly, and as though there hadn’t been a break inbetween stories. Personally, I found ‘Walking in the Rain’ quite hard to read at times because I just couldn’t fathom the choices of one particular character. Their actions astounded me, yet they created such an emotionally charged atmosphere throughout the book which meant that Jess just had to pull her finger out.

I really enjoyed yet another poignant novel from Julia Ibbotson – her characters would be proud of her for giving them, and many other women, a voice they so desperately needed heard. 

Buy now!

About the author.

Award-winning author Julia Ibbotson is fascinated by the medieval world and concepts of time travel. She read English at Keele University, England (after a turbulent but exciting gap year in Ghana, West Africa) specialising in medieval language, literature and history, and has a PhD in socio-linguistics. She wrote her first novel at 10 years of age, but became a school teacher, then a university lecturer and researcher. Finding Jess (2018) is her sixth book and the last of the Drumbeats trilogy (which begins and ends in Ghana). Apart from insatiable reading, she loves travelling the world, singing in choirs, swimming, yoga and walking in the countryside in England and Madeira where she and her husband divide their time.

Acclaimed author of: 

Drumbeats (2015), the first of the trilogy set in 1960s Ghana: sometimes you have to escape to find yourself.

Walking in the Rain (2016), the second in the trilogy set in 1970s and 1980s England: never give up on your dreams.

Finding Jess (2018), the last of the trilogy set in 1990s England and Ghana: can the past ever be left behind?

Also by Julia Ibbotson:

A Shape on the Air (2017): historical (Dark Ages/early medieval) time-slip romance. Two women 1,500 years apart, with one aim: to reclaim their dreams and fight the dangers that threaten them both across the ages …

The Old Rectory: Escape to a Country Kitchen, (first published 2011, rereleased 2017) a feel-good story of the renovation of a Victorian rectory interwoven with period recipes to feed the soul, all from the rectory kitchen.

S.C.A.R.S (first published 2012, rereleased 2016) (children’s novel): a troubled boy slips through a tear in the fabric of the universe into a parallel medieval fantasy world of knights, dragons, and a quest for the triumph of Good over Evil. But can he save himself?

#BlogTour! #Review – The Forgotten Children by Isabella Muir (@SussexMysteries) @RaRaResources


Next up on the blog this afternoon is my review for ‘The Forgotten Children’ by Isabella Muir. Many thanks to RaRaResources for the blog tour invite and ARC. Here is my review:

A woman’s search to find her son uncovers the shocking truth about one of Britain’s darkest
periods.

Struggling with the demons of her past, Emily is a children’s author with a dark secret, and a guilt
that threatens to consume her.  For twenty years she has lived in Brighton, England, trying to forget
the day they took her baby from her, just hours after he was born.  But now, in the summer of 1987,
she decides to begin the search for her son. 

Emily takes refuge in a small town on the Isle of Anglesey to plan the search, where she meets
Walter, a gentle stranger, who helps her with his words of wisdom and kindness.  But it is when she
decides to return home to Hastings, that she really has to face her demons. 
 
Estranged from her parents when she was just sixteen, Emily is shocked by what her mother has to
tell her about events that occurred before Emily was even born.
 
Beside her, throughout her search, is Emily’s beautiful Irish friend, Geraldine, recovering from her
own sad experiences.  Together they uncover a truth that shocks them all.
 
The Forgotten Children draws the reader into lives affected by narrow-minded beliefs and blinkered
thinking at the highest level. Children who weren’t allowed to be born, children who were
abandoned, and children who were taken, forced to lead a life thousands of miles away from
everyone and everything they knew – leaving scars that may never heal.
 
At its heart, The Forgotten Children is a story of survival, but the journey that Emily has to take is
painful.  Even more so because she knows it was allowed to happen by individuals, religions and
governments, who should have known better.

What does TWG think?

I was expecting ‘The Forgotten Children’ to be laced with intense, historical elements which would get me confused. But, the reality of this book was that it wasn’t like that at all. Yes, the storyline IS inspired by historic events, however due to the way that Isabella Muir has incorporated facts alongside her fiction, made for a really enjoyable and powerful read.

‘The Forgotten Children’ tells the story of a lady who would do anything to try to find her son as, when she was younger, her son was taken from her. A decision her mother made for her. Now, twenty years later, Emily is determined to put things right. However, whether it’s because she wants to ease her own guilt or whether she is feeling maternal and wishes to know that her son is okay, I really don’t know. The answer of that would be down to the individual reader and how they portray the events in the storyline.

This book was quite a hard-hitting read due to the emotional themes involving children. I wasn’t born when forced adoptions/having to give up babies were rife and, to be perfectly honest, I am very glad that I wasn’t. I cannot even begin to imagine how devastating it must have been during those times, especially if they later find out that their child is no longer in the country. How would you even begin to conduct a search for your child outside of the country, knowing full well that their name could have been changed or they may even have died. I know filing systems weren’t as tight-knit as they are now…well….they’re meant to be, but why weren’t adoptions conducted properly? Why did things have to end up being illegal?

It’s pretty evident that ‘The Forgotten Children’ left me with so many questions due to the factual side of things. That in itself was very emotional for me, especially as I am a parent myself. I mean, saying a child shouldn’t be born when it wasn’t their fault they ended up in this world?

Walking alongside Emily in her journey was enlightening, a bit frustrating, and rather enjoyable. I say frustrating because her character got on my nerves a little bit. For an adult, she seemed to throw her teddy out of the pram a lot. I get she was emotionally lost due to the relationship with her mother and other things which came to light, but come on. I thought Walter was a wonderful, wonderful addition to the storyline and, if I’m being totally honest, I thought he was quite underrated. He was my star of the show and I am so glad that we were able to follow his journey a little bit in the storyline.

Isabella Muir is a very descriptive, emotionally charged author who lets you feel the pain alongside the characters, instead of merely brushing over it like you’ve just spilt your cuppa. Not only did ‘The Forgotten Children’ fill me with joy, it also created the hunger to know more about those destructive years. Knowledge is power, just as Isabella Muir clearly knows otherwise she wouldn’t have included such a poignant topic in her novel. I just hope that children today never have to feel such devastation as they did back then.

Uplifting, insightful, and emotionally brilliant – ‘The Forgotten Children’ tells a story that everyone needs to know.

Buy from Amazon UK
Buy from Amazon US

About the author.

Isabella Muir has been surrounded by books her whole life and – after working for
twenty years as a technical editor and having successfully completed her MA in Professional
Writing – she was inspired to focus on fiction writing.

As well as her newest title, The Forgotten Children, Isabella is the author of the Sussex Crime
Mystery series. These Agatha Christie style stories are set in the sixties and seventies and
feature a young librarian and amateur sleuth, Janie Juke, who has a passion for Agatha Christie.
All that Janie has learned from her hero, Hercule Poirot, she is able to put into action as she sets
off to solve a series of crimes and mysteries.

Aside from books, Isabella has a love of all things caravan-like. She has spent many winters
caravanning in Europe and now, together with her husband, she runs a small caravan site in
Sussex. They are ably assisted by their much-loved Scottie, Hamish.

Social Media Links

Facebook // Twitter // Website

Giveaway – Win a signed copy of The Forgotten Children (UK Only)
*Terms and Conditions – UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box
below.  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 or delivery of the prize.

Enter the giveaway!

#BlogTour! #Review – Drumbeats by Julia Ibbotson (@JuliaIbbotson) @RaRaResources

drumbeats trilogy full tour banner
For the eagle-eyed readers amongst you, you may have noticed that The Writing Garnet appears multiple times on the above banner, and you would be correct by noticing that as no, it isn’t an error. You see, this blog tour is for Julia Ibbotson’s ‘The Drumbeats Trilogy’ but, because I am reviewing each of the books individually, I, as well as others, have multiple dates on the tour.

So, whilst this may be my third and final RaRaResources blog tour of the day, it’s my first of three posts for this tour, AND I get to kick off the blog tour as well! Many thanks to Rachel for the blog tour invite and ARC.

First up in the trilogy is ‘Drumbeats’ – here is my review:

drumbeats (new)
It’s 1965 and 18 year old Jess escapes her stifling English background for a gap year in Ghana, West Africa. But it’s a time of political turbulence across the region. Fighting to keep her young love who she believes is waiting back in England, she’s thrown into the physical dangers of civil war, tragedy, and the emotional conflict of a disturbing new relationship. So why do the drumbeats haunt
her dreams?

This is a rite of passage story which takes the reader hand in hand with Jess on her journey towards growing into the adult world.

What does TWG think?

Oh Jess, what have they done to you!!

It didn’t take me long at all to become invested in Jess’ world. At only 18 years of age, Jess had already seen things she shouldn’t have, been made aware of things she shouldn’t have, and be treated in a way that nobody should ever be treated. With all of that in mind, Jess is determined to carve herself a life to be proud of, away from the people who believe her choices to be impossible – so she decides to go to Africa. As you do.

Set in 1965 when things were a lot different to they are now, both in England and overseas, ‘Drumbeats’ explores the tragedies of everyday life in West Africa, as well as the detrimental affects politics had on human life.

Jess’ character is much wiser than her eighteen years suggests. That’s not to say someone of eighteen isn’t wise, but Jess has an extremely old head on young shoulders and her determination to succeed is very endearing and, weirdly, quite frustrating. That’s an odd thing to say really, isn’t it? I was frustrated FOR her. Whilst she wanted to go above and beyond for those in need whether it was during the lessons she taught or whether it was in Accra, she never ever left any of her energy for herself, thus wondering why she ended up being unable to do things for a little while. Her selflessness was her most beautiful trait, yet it was also one which seemed to shoot her in the foot more times than necessary.

When the author took us along on Jess’ journey to Accra, a rock hard lump formed in my throat due to the devastation of how people in Africa, both young and old, lived. I know that they know no different, but why are they being left to die? Left to rot? It certainly opened my eyes to a completely different world outside of the bubble we live in here in the UK. It was hard to read, I won’t lie, but I am very glad that I did as, not only did I become aware of difficulties overseas, my knowledge grew without even realising it.

‘Drumbeats’ is such an intense, thought-provoking novel which puts the emotion of African lives, well under the spotlight. This is a story which was both enjoyable and devastating in equal measures, yet if you were to ask me whether the devastation ruined my enjoyment of the book, I would put my hand on my heart and say definitely not. Because it didn’t. I’m not sitting here saying that I revelled in other people’s heartache, not at all. But the way in which Julia Ibbotson crafted her story to ensure that her readers were both enlightened and entertained, spoke volumes.

I flew through this book and, if this is the strength of the first book in the trilogy, I cannot wait to read the other books and follow Jess’ life. Devastatingly beautiful – what more can I say?

Buy now!

About the author.

Award-winning author Julia Ibbotson is fascinated by the medieval world and concepts of time travel. She read English at Keele University, England (after a turbulent but exciting gap year in Ghana, West Africa) specialising in medieval language, literature and history, and has a PhD in socio-linguistics. She wrote her first novel at 10 years of age, but became a school teacher, then a university lecturer and researcher. Finding Jess (2018) is her sixth book and the last of the Drumbeats trilogy (which begins and ends in Ghana). Apart from insatiable reading, she loves travelling the world, singing in choirs, swimming, yoga and walking in the countryside in England and Madeira where she and her husband divide their time.

Acclaimed author of:

Drumbeats (2015), the first of the trilogy set in 1960s Ghana: sometimes you have to escape to find yourself.

Walking in the Rain (2016), the second in the trilogy set in 1970s and 1980s England: never give up on your dreams.

Finding Jess (2018), the last of the trilogy set in 1990s England and Ghana: can the past ever be left behind?

Also by Julia Ibbotson:

A Shape on the Air (2017): historical (Dark Ages/early medieval) time-slip romance. Two women 1,500 years apart, with one aim: to reclaim their dreams and fight the dangers that threaten them both across the ages …

The Old Rectory: Escape to a Country Kitchen, (first published 2011, rereleased 2017) a feel-good story of the renovation of a Victorian rectory interwoven with period recipes to feed the soul, all from the rectory kitchen.

S.C.A.R.S (first published 2012, rereleased 2016) (children’s novel): a troubled boy slips through a tear in the fabric of the universe into a parallel medieval fantasy world of knights, dragons, and a quest for the triumph of Good over Evil. But can he save himself?

Social Media Links
Facebook Author page
Twitter
 Author website
Pinterest page: includes boards with pics and images that inspired each book
Goodreads author page
RNA (Romantic Novelists Association) website author page

#BlogTour! #Extract – The Foyles Bookshop Girls at War by Elaine Roberts (@RobertsElaine11) @Aria_fiction

Today I am excited to be kicking off the blog tour for Elaine Roberts’ new release; ‘The Foyles Bookshop Girls at War’ with an extract. Many thanks to Aria for having me involved, and congratulations to Elaine on the publication of her new book. Enjoy!

Swapping books for the bomb factory takes courage – and could be dangerous. 

Working at the Foyles bookshop was Molly Cooper’s dream job. But with the country at war she’s determined to do her bit. So Molly gathers her courage, and sets off for the East End and her first day working at Silvertown munitions factory… 

It’s hard manual labour, and Molly must face the trials and tribulations of being the ‘new girl’ at the munitions factory, as well as the relentless physical work. 

The happy-ever-afters Molly read about in the pages of her beloved books have been lost to the war. And yet the munitions girls unite through their sense of duty and friendships that blossom in the most unlikely of settings…

Buy now from Amazon

Extract.

Molly glanced through the large window, into a small square room. The soft grey walls were bare, apart from the round, oak-framed clock, sitting fairly high up, telling her it was quarter to seven. She breathed a sigh of relief. There were three desks in there, each covered with paperwork. A blue book with a red spine was on one of the desks, next to a pad of lined paper. Glasses sat open, on top of the pad. Molly fleetingly wondered if they were his. A calendar sat on a shelf over one desk, with a family photograph standing proudly next to it. Underneath the shelf, stood three cream bottles, each of them a different size, but the largest was no more than six inches tall.

The man opened the office door, stood aside and indicated for her to walk in.

Molly nodded and stepped past him, making sure no contact was made. She had no desire to get off on the wrong foot. She shook her head. He had barely spoken to her and she didn’t know his name, so how could she do anything to upset him?

‘Is everything all right, Miss Cooper?’

The man’s deep voice broke into her wayward thoughts, startling her back to reality. ‘Yes, yes of course.’

He smiled and immediately his face looked younger. She momentarily wondered how old he was, thirty maybe. There was also the niggling question of why he hadn’t signed up to the Great War.

He pulled out a dark wooden chair from under one of the desks and indicated for her to sit down, before quickly pulling out another for himself. ‘It can be difficult for people when they first arrive, because it’s very noisy, with all the machinery and everything.’

Molly noticed the window for the first time. No sunshine was going to break through the thick dirt that coated it. She tilted her head slightly. Was that a crack that ran down the glass? She squinted as she stared at it. It was hard to tell, but maybe it was the dust locked onto the glass. Her mother immediately jumped into her thoughts and a smile formed on her lips. She would have had a bucket of water and a cloth on it within a blink of an eye. That is, once she got over the fact her daughter was sitting in this dingy office.

‘Right, Miss Cooper.’ The man shuffled some paperwork around the desk, before opening one of the drawers and slamming it shut again. ‘We just have some form-filling to do and then I’ll get someone to take you to the lockers, where you can change into the rather fetching uniform of overalls and cap.’

Molly’s blonde ponytail bobbed, flicking the back of her neck as she nodded. Her hand went up to smooth it down and she caught her fingers in the bright red ribbon tied around it. It had been gifted to her mother as a child, when she had nothing. She treasured it, claiming it brought her and her husband, Jack, together. Molly often borrowed it, under the threat of death if she lost it. She regretted her ponytail, wishing she’d taken the time to put it in a bun. It would have been more elegant, as well as making her look older than her twenty-three years. Molly realised she was worrying unnecessarily, as he didn’t look at her. She sighed. There was a time before the war when she would have enjoyed a little innocent flirting with a man of his calibre, but those days were long gone. They had disappeared with Tony.

The man suddenly looked up at her and gave a little cough. ‘When we’ve finished the paperwork, someone will show where to get changed. It’s what we call the dirty area of the factory. You’ll remove your clothing and let your hair down. There can’t be anything metal about your person, including any material covered buttons or jewellery.’ He held out some forms and a pen. ‘If you can just read and sign these, then we’ll get you settled.’

Molly reached out. Their fingers brushed against each other and she snatched her hand away.

He stared at her for a moment, before dropping the papers on the desk.

Molly picked up the pen and quickly signed the forms.

He coughed again and colour rose in his cheeks as he looked down again at his paperwork. ‘If you’re wearing a corset, I’m afraid that will also have to be removed. You will be allocated a locker to store your things, then you will cross over to the clean area, where you will put on your overall and mob cap. Your hair must be completely covered by the cap.’

Her hand immediately reached for the gold heart around her neck and she swished it back and forth. Colour rose in Molly’s cheeks. Her mind started racing at this unexpected information. Would she have to undress in front of people? Her face was burning at the thought.

About the author.

Elaine Roberts had a dream to write for a living. She completed her first novel in her twenties and received her first very nice rejection. Life then got in the way until circumstances made her re-evaluate her life, and she picked up her dream again in 2010. She joined a creative writing class, The Write Place, in 2012 and shortly afterwards had her first short story published. She was thrilled when many more followed and started to believe in herself.

As a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and The Society of Women Writers & Journalists, Elaine attends many conferences, workshops, seminars and wonderful parties. Meeting other writers gives her encouragement, finding most face similar problems.

Elaine and her patient husband, Dave, have five children who have flown the nest. Home is in Dartford, Kent and is always busy with their children, grandchildren, grand dogs and cats visiting. Without her wonderful family and supportive friends, she knows the dream would never have been realised.

#Review – The Quality Street Girls by Penny Thorpe (@PenThorpeBooks) @HarperCollinsUK

518j0hcptol

A seasonal delight, inspired by the true story of the Quality Street factory.

At sixteen years old, Irene ‘Reenie’ Calder is leaving school with little in the way of qualifications. She is delighted to land a seasonal job at Mackintosh’s Quality Street factory. Reenie feels like a kid let loose in a sweet shop, but trouble seems to follow her around and it isn’t long before she falls foul of the strict rules.

Diana Moore runs the Toffee Penny line and has worked hard to secure her position. Beautiful and smart, the other girls in the factory are in awe of her, but Diana has a dark secret which if exposed, could cost her not only her job at the factory but her reputation as well.

When a terrible accident puts supply of Quality Street at risk, Reenie has a chance to prove herself. The shops are full of Quality Street lovers who have saved up all year for their must-have Christmas treat. Reenie and Diana know that everything rests on them, if they are to give everyone a Christmas to remember…

What does TWG think?

We have all heard of and no doubt eaten, the iconic brand of ‘Quality Street’, right? I don’t know about you but whenever I hear those two words, I instantly think of Christmas and being able to delve into the purple tin of goodness, trying to find the green triangles and orange crunches before someone else fills the tin up with wrappers. We have all been there I’m sure! Although saying that, I remember the Quality Street tins to be much bigger than what they are now! Well, either that or I was a very, very small young person at the time of my memory….

Reenie Calder has, in her eyes, been given the gift of a lifetime when she’s told that she will be starting work in the factory which makes the Quality Street sweets, Mackintosh’s. With so many ideas filling her head before her feet even cross the threshold, Reenie’s mum has to reign her in very quickly before she finds herself getting too big for her boots and without a job. To be Frank, I could see why Reenie was getting agitated though – why should she be punished for bringing ideas to the table?

‘The Quality Street Girls’ doesn’t just follow the life of Reenie Calder, it also follows the life of another Quality Street girl, Diana Moore. A young lady whose face could turn milk sour if she stared at it too long. Before you start shaking your head at my analogy, there is a reason for it and it all becomes clear further on in the book. Poor Diana has multiple reasons as to why her face could make anyone run a mile. But, just like Reenie, why should Diana be punished for trying to protect her family?

Oh my heart did go out to those two young girls! Two very different, impressionable personalities who led two, very different lifestyles with two rather questionable outlooks on life. I don’t mean that rudely, but that’s how it was. I loved Reenie’s enthusiasm when it came to work. Heck, the job centres could use someone like her in this day and age, that’s for sure! I thought that Diana’s strength was incredible, but for someone who isn’t afraid to speak her mind when things are wrong, she sure seemed to keep her mouth shut at a time she, in my opinion, needed to open it the most. Obviously I won’t delve into the details of that reason as I don’t wish to give away spoilers.

I loved finding out how the iconic brand of Quality Street started, especially with the fact of ‘The Purple One’. I had absolutely no idea that that was the case, and I loved being able to tell my family that on Christmas Day….knowing full well I hadn’t just Googled it! Thanks Penny Thorpe!!

Historical fiction novels are one of my favourite type of genres to read, yet after reading Penny Thorpe’s ‘The Quality Street Girls’, I think I have now found myself a brand new, go to, historical fiction author!

I absolutely adored the energy that the entire storyline was laced with! It kept me on my toes and allowed me to speed read the book as though someone was dangling multiple orange crunches in front of my face. The history element was absolutely brilliant and kept my brain fed with knowledge from start to finish (even though, just like the author admits, some parts were stretched to fit in with the overall storyline). That didn’t even bother me, instead it just added a lot more character to the overall vibe of the story.

‘The Quality Street Girls’ tickled my taste buds, made me giggle, and allowed me to lose myself in Penny Thorpe’s chocolatey goodness (no, that isn’t a euphemism!). My only regret where this book is concerned, is that I wish I had started it sooner! I cannot wait to see what’s next for the girls at Mackintosh’s, and I hope that Reenie and Diana fill another story with their emotional and highly addictive drama.

Such a classic, cosy, and wonderfully written book which puts the nations favourite chocolates in everyone’s hearts once again.

If ‘The Purple One’ told me before I read the book, that I would need to point my ‘chocolate toffee finger’ at this ‘strawberry delight’, I would have told them ‘fudge’, and to jog around the ‘milk choc block’ because I, hand on ‘orange crunch’, think that ‘The Quality Street Girls’ is an absolute ‘toffee deluxe’.

Buy now from Amazon

#BlogTour! #Review – #TheLineWeLeaveBehind by Eliza Graham (@eliza_graham) @ed_pr @AmazonPub

Apologies for my slight delay with this blog post, however I am delighted to share my review of Eliza Graham’s, ‘The Lines We Leave Behind’. Many thanks to EdPr for the blog tour invite and the ARC. Here is my review:

The Lines We Leave Behind cover

England, 1947: A young woman finds herself under close observation in an insane asylum, charged with a violent crime she has no memory of committing. As she tries to make sense of her recent past, she recalls very little.

But she still remembers wartime in Yugoslavia. There she and her lover risked everything to carry out dangerous work resisting the Germans—a heroic campaign in which many brave comrades were lost. After that, the trail disappears into confusion. How did she come to be trapped in a living nightmare?

As she struggles to piece together the missing years of her life, she will have to confront the harrowing experiences of her special-operations work and peacetime marriage. Only then can she hope to regain the vital memories that will uncover the truth: is she really a violent criminal…or was she betrayed?

What does TWG think?

I am going to put my hands up and say that, at first, I really didn’t think that I would like this book. I know that sounds slightly negative, but hear me out. I am a massive fan of WWII novels, but my experience of reading wartime novels set anywhere other than Britain is very limited. Would I struggle to understand the crimes which happened in other places during the war? Would I be able to keep up with the storyline in a country I have had pretty much nothing to do with in real life, let alone fiction? I couldn’t help but ask myself those questions as I read the first few chapters of ‘The Lines We Leave Behind’. So, going back to my earlier comment, I didn’t think that I would like this book at first because I guess I didn’t feel intelligent enough to read it. Every page of ‘The Lines We Leave Behind’ is full of in-depth situations, detailed discussions, and quite a bit of to-ing and fro-ing between the main character’s past and present.

After attempting to dismiss my earlier thoughts, I got stuck into Maud’s life and the awful predicament she has unfortunately found herself in. How did she end up living in an asylum? Why can she remember some parts of her life, yet draws a blank when she attempts to think of other events?

Once again I am holding my hands up to say that, after several chapters of eye-opening material, I ended up surrounding to the book in its entirety. Wow – yes, this book is very, very deep and often dark, but oh my goodness me, what a brilliant, brilliant novel this is. I cannot believe I even thought that I wouldn’t like it at first! It was certainly hard-hitting to read what Maud’s life was like during the war and the devastating things she came across. I had absolutely no idea that times in Yugoslavia were so devastating, but I am so very glad that Eliza Graham has written the theme into her storyline to educate people on wartime events outside of Britain.

‘The Lines We Leave Behind’ blew me away from the attention to detail whilst Maud was in service, to the psychologically damaging events later on down the line which I couldn’t help but feel emotional about. Poor Maud had lost years and years of her life due to somebody else’s actions, or did she? The text may be black and white (literally), yet the author has given her readers free reign to interpret Maud’s situation in the latter half of the book. Well, at least that’s what I felt that I was able to do!

I am so pleased that I didn’t pay too much attention to my first impression of ‘The Lines We Leave Behind’ as it has turned into one of my all-time favourite books of 2018 due to its incredible level of intensity, magnetic storytelling by Eliza Graham, as well as its poignant and highly emotive attention to detail. I cannot recommend it enough.

Buy now!

#BlogTour! #Review – Christmas With the East End Angels by Rosie Hendry (@hendry_rosie) @RaRaResources

I am delighted to be on the blog tour for Rosie Hendry’s latest novel today, as I share my review. Many thanks to RaRaResources for the blog tour invite, and many thanks to the publisher for the ARC. Here is my review:

It’s the most wonderful time of the year – and the East End Angels are working hard to keep Londoners safe.

Frankie is trying hard to keep everything together. She can count on the support of the East End Angels, even in the face of family trouble.

Winnie‘s beloved husband, Mac, is putting himself at risk every day in the bomb disposal unit and she’s finding it hard while he’s away.

Bella is growing in confidence and happiness. Her friendship with Winnie’s brother, James, is getting closer all the time.

Christmas on the Home Front is a hard time with loved ones far away – but the women of the Auxiliary Ambulance service are making do and mending.

What does TWG think?

I am a huge fan of wartime sagas/historical fiction, especially those that have a unique bite to them. That probably sounds quite a daft thing to say, but whilst novels set in the war are worth their weight in gold, if a storyline showcases a different side to the war or different jobs, it makes me feel very excited, aka that ‘unique bite’. Just like Rosie Hendry’s novel.

Set during World War II, ‘Christmas With the East End Angels’ puts the Auxiliary Ambulance service in the spotlight by allowing readers to ‘be’ in amongst the going’s on like main characters, Frankie, Winnie, and Bella.

Whilst this book is number 3 in the series, I was able to read it fine as a stand-alone but I would suggest reading the books in order due to older characters popping up again. That said, if not knowing all of the details about characters lives doesn’t bother you then reading these books out of order would make no difference.

I thought the topic of the ambulance service was very well researched and a joy to read, even though I found myself becoming quite emotional at times due to the poignancy of it all, and I loved the close knit relationship between the main characters as they came together despite being from different walks of life.

Now, this book is a ‘Christmas’ book yet the oneness wasn’t on the festive season at all, understandable to a point. Personally, I would have loved it if the storyline contained more of the Christmas element as it states just that in the title. However in the grand scheme of things, with such a strong and emotive storyline as the one in ‘Christmas With the East End Angels’, my heart was captured anyway, regardless of how little Christmas was spoken about.

All in all I thoroughly enjoyed Rosie Hendry’s latest book and would definitely recommend it to anyone who loves wartime sagas, or those you wish to try something new.

Buy now from Amazon UK

Buy now from Amazon US

About the author.

 Rosie Hendry lives by the sea in Norfolk with her husband, two children, chickens and a snake. She’s worked in a variety of jobs from fruit picking, waitressing, teaching and as a research scientist but has always loving reading and writing. Starting off writing short stories for women’s magazines, her stories have gradually become longer as her children have grown bigger.

Listening to her father’s tales of life during the Second World War sparked Rosie’s interest in this period and she’s especially intrigued by how women’s lives changed during the war years. She loves researching further, searching out gems of real-life events which inspire her writing. 

When she’s not working, Rosie enjoys walking along the beach, reading and is grateful for the fact that her husband is a much better cook than her.

Websitewww.rosiehendry.com

Facebook  https://www.facebook.com/RosieHendrybooks/

Twitter  https://twitter.com/hendry_rosie