#BlogTour! #Review – Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys (@MsTamarCohen) @PenguinRHUK

Dangerous Crossing Blog Tour Poster
Huge thanks to Anne Cater and Penguin Books for inviting me to be involved with the paperback blog tour for ‘Dangerous Crossing’ by Rachel Rhys! I’m thrilled to be sharing my review with you all today:

Dangerous Crossing Cover
*NOW A RICHARD AND JUDY BOOK CLUB PICK 2017* ‘The pages turn themselves!’

Shortlisted for the HWA Gold Crown 2017

A stunning, atmospheric novel in the great tradition of Death on the Nile and Patricia Highsmith, which tells of a young girl’s terrifying journey trapped on a cruise liner to Australia at the brink of the Second World War.

England, September 1939
Lily Shepherd boards a cruise liner for a new life in Australia and is plunged into a world of cocktails, jazz and glamorous friends. But as the sun beats down, poisonous secrets begin to surface. Suddenly Lily finds herself trapped with nowhere to go …

Australia, six-weeks later
The world is at war, the cruise liner docks, and a beautiful young woman is escorted onto dry land in handcuffs.

What has she done?

What does TWG think?

As a HUGE fan of historical fiction novels, ‘Dangerous Crossing’ had been on my radar for a while –  I was SO glad that being involved in the blog tour would give me the well needed kick up the youknowwhat to finally get it read. It worked, obviously.

Set in 1939 around the time of the Second World War, ‘Dangerous Crossing’ is an intense novel about one woman’s journey to a fresh start. However, due to the Second World War making itself known anytime soon, ‘fresh start’ couldn’t be further from the truth if it tried.

The storyline captured my attention almost straight away as I felt like I was being summoned into an unknown realm. To be honest the main character, Lily, came across as if she didn’t have a clue either. I felt as though the storyline was keeping its cards close to its chest for multiple chapters which meant that the storyline just oozed complexity. The author was determined to set the scene which, as we all know, is not a bad thing, but due to the high levels of information given in such a short space of time, I did feel a little bit overwhelmed by it all. I really do enjoy savouring novels, especially when the storyline has an air of mystery to it like ‘Dangerous Crossing’ does, and I truly feel that this novel needs to have the readers full attention from the first page until the last. I wouldn’t advise beginning this book in-between feeding time at the zoo, purely because every single detail needs to be digested at the time just so you can fully appreciate the authors work and the atmospheric storyline.

What I loved most about this novel was how the entire storyline was built on secrets. Every character seemed to have a secret. Every scenario within the storyline seemed to be reliant on a secret. Even though I knew fine well that I should have been savouring ‘Dangerous Crossing’ so that I could stop feeling so overwhelmed, I ended up turning the pages at record speed, JUST so I could find out what the secrets were, why there was a woman taken away in handcuffs and so forth. As stupid as this sounds, I didn’t know who to trust, but I was determined as hell to get to the bottom of the goings on, regardless of how confused I became.

Overall, ‘Dangerous Crossing’ is such a fascinating and mysterious read which kept me guessing until the very end. Full of rollercoaster moments, more secrets than an episode of Jeremy Kyle, and the feeling of actually being in 1939; ‘Dangerous Crossing’ is guaranteed to keep your attention peaked in one way or another. Whilst I did find the sheer force of information a bit confusing at times, nothing can fault Rachel Rhys on writing such an intense and magnetic storyline.

Huge thanks to the author, Penguin Books & Anne Cater.

Buy now from Amazon UK

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#BlogTour! #Review – A Time To Change by Callie Langridge (@CLangridgewrite) @bombshellpub

BLOG TOUR
I am absolutely delighted to be one of the blogs hosting Callie Langridge today,  and her debut novel; ‘A Time To Change’, which was published by Bombshell Books on the 24th September. Usually I can write my thoughts about a book no bother, however this novel has left me tongue tied and possible incapable of making any sort of sense. So, if that ends up being the case, I apologise in advance and I hope you like my review regardless!

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“I would rather love passionately for an hour than benignly for a lifetime.”

In a house full of history and secrets, the past will not stay where it belongs…

Lou has always loved Hill House, the derelict manor on the abandoned land near her home. As a child, the tragic history of its owners, the Mandevilles, inspired her dream to become a history teacher. But in her late twenties, and working in a shop to pay off student debts, life is passing her by.

That changes when a family disaster sends Lou’s life into a downward spiral and she seeks comfort in the ruined corridors of Hill House. The house transforms around her and Lou is transported back to Christmas 1913. Convinced she has been in an accident and is in a coma, Lou immerses herself in her Edwardian dream. With the Mandevilles oblivious to her true identity, Lou becomes their houseguest and befriends the eldest son, Captain Thomas Mandeville, a man she knows is destined to die in the First World War.

Lou feels more at home in the past than the present and when she realises the experience is real she sets out to do everything in her power to save her new friends.

Lou passes between 1913 and 2013, unearthing plots of murder and blackmail, which she must stop no matter the cost.

On her quest to save the Mandevilles by saving Thomas, Lou will face the hardest decision of her life. She will learn that love cannot be separated by a century.

What does TWG think?

I wish that there were enough adjectives in the Oxford dictionary to help me describe my thoughts about Callie Langridge’s debut novel. Now seeing as there are over 171k words currently in use in the Oxford dictionary, I am genuinely surprised that none of the adjectives seem to fit this book. Weird maybe, but it’s the truth. I could sit here and say that ‘A Time To Change’ is a ‘beautiful and enchanting read which is phenomenally written’ and, whilst that is the truth, it doesn’t seem complimentary enough. It doesn’t seem to fit the calibre of the storyline, even if it is the truth and I do mean it. Nothing I could write would ever seem enough for this storyline.

Why?

Because it took my breath away in a way I never thought was possible.
It took me under its spell, making everything else around me obsolete and worthless for the duration of the novel.
It filled my arms with copious amounts of goosebumps, whilst also pricking my eyes with unshed tears.
It broke my heart, then it fixed it again with good ol’ PVA glue before breaking it again in the most earth shattering and beautiful way.

Hell, if I can describe a heart-break as beautiful; Callie Langridge really and truly MUST have had me under her spell.

Like always I would love to sit here and have a conversation about the storyline, uncovering all the nooks and crannies, secrets and goodness knows what else – but I can’t because it wouldn’t be fair. For that reason alone, I’m not even going over the outline of the storyline again like I usually do. I just can’t, because this book needs to be read ‘blind’ as it were. You need to read this novel with your eyes open, heart protected, and the biggest box of tissues. If I chose to outline the storyline from my own personal view, it would be like me telling you how to the read the storyline in the same way as I had read it. You can’t.

I adored the unique angle for the storyline, so much so that it caught me off guard multiple times (don’t worry, I’m not complaining). Every single one of the characters were written with poise, grace, and incredible amounts of personality that even the not-so-nice characters came across a teeny bit nicer. Teeny bit….

I loved the historical feel that the author managed to create with her storyline and enchanting use of language. Everything just seemed to fit and when time frames needed to overlap, it was done with incredible precision, thus making the to-ing and fro-ing utterly seamless.

I can honestly say, hand on heart, that there is nothing about ‘A Time To Change’ which I dislike. From start to finish, Callie Langridge’s novel captured my heart, my soul; rendering me useless when it came to any form of adulting. The storyline isn’t all rainbows and moonbeams, yet even during the most tragic and heartbreaking parts of the storyline I felt as though I had something incredibly priceless in my hands; ‘A Time To Change’ itself.

I’m not going to lie, there did come a point in the storyline where the tears just fell out of my eyes and refused to evaporate, but you know what? As heartbreaking as that moment was, I wouldn’t change my reaction to it for the world.

‘A Time To Change’ is the most enchanting, heartbreakingly beautiful and soulful novel that I have read so far this year. Never have I ever read a book like it before, and never will I ever read a book like it again. Callie Langridge has an exceptional way with words as she manages to capture the true essence of each individual character, whilst also making the reader feel as though they’re the chosen ones.

A definite must read by an author to watch; ‘A Time To Change’ needs to be put under the spotlight by every single person. You need to feel the magic within ‘A Time To Change’ because, believe me, your world will feel a lot more nourished for doing so.

Stunning, absolutely stunning.

Thanks Bombshell Books.

Buy now from Amazon UK

Author Bio:

Callie was born and brought up in Berkshire. After a brief teenage spell in the depths of Lancashire, she moved back to London.

Having left school at 16, she studied drama before embarking on a career in marketing. This saw her work in music marketing in the heady days of Britpop in the nineties. She unleashed her creativity in the design of window displays and marketing campaigns for the leading music retailer. More recently she has followed her passion for social history and currently works in marketing for a national historical institution, promoting projects and running events.

On hitting her thirtieth birthday, she decided finally to take her A levels and gained A’s in English Literature and Language, and Film Studies – not bad when working full time! – and this spurred her on to take the first of many creative writing course. A few years later and she has had a number of short stories published and plays performed at theatres and venues across London.

Callie lives in London with her long-term partner and an ever-growing collection of antique curiosities.

Twitter: @CLangridgeWrite

Facebook: Callie Langridge  https://www.facebook.com/people/Callie-Langridge/100017408860162

 

#BlogTour! #Review #TheNewMrsClifton by @elizabethbuchan @PenguinUKBooks

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Wrapped in the roots of the sycamore was a skeleton; the remains of a woman, between twenty-five and thirty. She had carried a child . . .’

At the close of the Second World War, Intelligence Officer Gus Clifton returns to London. On his arm is Krista, the German wife he married secretly in Berlin. For his sisters, this broken woman is nothing more than the enemy. For Nella, Gus’s loyal fiancée, it is a terrible betrayal. These three friends wonder what hold Krista has over decent, honourable Gus. And, they ask themselves, how far will they have to go to permanently get her out of their home, their future, their England?

What does TWG think?

Seeing as ‘historical fiction’ is one of my all-time favourite genres, I was super excited to have the opportunity to read ‘The New Mrs Clifton’ by Elizabeth Buchan. Despite having not read any of Elizabeth Buchan’s previous novels, I still was rather eager to get stuck into a book which has been all over social media in recent weeks. What was all the fuss? Why was everyone talking about #TheNewMrsClifton?

I need to be brutally honest; at first I couldn’t work out what all the fuss was about. The storyline didn’t grab me straight away, nor did it ignite any fire in my belly. Usually when that happens with any other book, I make the decision to stop reading and pick up my next book. However with #TheNewMrsClifton, my gut instinct was telling me not to stop reading, to carry on and give the book chance. So I listened.

Set during the aftermath of World War II when emotions are rife, lives have changed and the people of London (and all over the world) are dealing with the catastrophic circumstances surrounding the war. Gus Clifton returned to London with a new wife on his arm, despite having a fiancée at home. As far as his family are concerned, Gus has committed the ultimate betrayal. As far as Gus and his new wife are concerned, Gus has only done what he had to do. But, did he really have to do it?

As I’ve already mentioned above, my first impressions of Elizabeth Buchan’s novel weren’t ideal and, because of that, I knew that I needed to read the rest of the novel with an open mind, and a lot of patience.

Did it pay off? Yes, it did.

The further into the book I read, the more invested in Gus Clifton’s life and the repercussions of his actions, especially as the three main women of the story (Krista, Julia and Tilly) emotions were severely realistic and often emotional. I was intrigued by the devastation that the Second World War had left and how people managed to pick up the pieces of their now broken life. Don’t get me wrong, it certainly wasn’t as easy as picking up and brush and sweeping up the dust and grime. No. People had lost family members and were grieving for those they knew had died in the war. People were also grieving for loved ones who were deemed MIA, uncertain as to whether their paths would cross again. Can you imagine living through that? Living through the cultural divides, the strict opinions of other country’s leaders.

For me, the realistic portrayal of London post-war was heart-breaking yet beautifully written. Even though the author was well aware that the topic would be extremely emotional and devastating to write about, she still wrote about it without fluffing it up and making it look a lot better than it was. The author wrote in characters who made it clear where bombs hit London as though it was the same as talking about the postman these days. It’s writing styles like that which, in my opinion, make historical fiction authors worth their weight in gold.

Even though I did end up thoroughly enjoying #TheNewMrsClifton, there were certain parts which didn’t really do it for me in terms of the storyline and certain viewpoints. However, Elizabeth Buchan has told the story of World War II in such a way, my whole body was covered in goosebumps. As far as I am concerned, the parts of the novel which didn’t work for me personally, aren’t worth thinking about if the author can make me come out in goosebumps and fill my eyes with tears, based on her historical story telling alone. Personally, the more historically aimed parts of the book were my absolute favourite and she wrote them in a way which will forever be imprinted in my mind.

Heart-breaking, eye-opening, and historically divulging, #TheNewMrsClifton really is worth taking the time to read, digest, enjoy and remember. Just like the victims of Second World War.

Thanks Elizabeth Buchan.

Buy now from Amazon UK

mrs clifton

#BlogTour! #Review – Another Woman’s Husband by Gill Paul (@gillpaulAUTHOR) @headlinepg

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I am absolutely delighted to be today’s stop on Gill Paul’s blog tour for, ‘Another Woman’s Husband’. Huge thank you to Phoebe Swinburn for accommodating me on the tour! If you can’t tell already, I am so very excited to be reviewing ‘Another Woman’s Husband’ on my blog today. Keep on reading and you’ll find out what got me so excited. Enjoy!

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From the #1 bestselling author of The Secret Wife comes a gripping novel that commences with the tragic death of Diana, Princess of Wales, and journeys back to the fascinating world of Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor. ‘A triumph’ Dinah Jefferies on The Secret Wife by Gill Paul

Two women who challenged the Crown.
Divided by time. Bound by a secret…

1911
At the age of fifteen, carefree Mary Kirk and indomitable Wallis Warfield meet at summer camp. Their friendship will survive heartbreaks, separation and the demands of the British Crown until it is shattered by one unforgivable betrayal.

1997
Rachel’s romantic break in Paris with her fiancé ends in tragedy when the car ahead crashes. Inside was Princess Diana. Back in Brighton, Rachel is haunted by the accident, and intrigued to learn the princess had visited the last home of Wallis, Duchess of Windsor, only hours before the crash. Soon, the discovery of a long-forgotten link to Wallis Simpson leads Rachel to the truth behind a scandal that shook the world…

Richly imagined and beautifully written, ANOTHER WOMAN’S HUSBAND is a gripping, moving novel about two women thrust into the spotlight, followed by scandal, touched by loss.

What does TWG think?

As a huge history fan, I struggled to contain my excitement when the opportunity arose to read Gill Paul’s new novel. Even if you’re not a complete history buff, there is a high chance you’ll have heard of the name, ‘Wallis Simpson’. Also, if you remember a certain date in 1997 when ‘The People’s Princess’ lost her life, you may already find yourself knowing several of the key points of the storyline without even realising it.

Told from two different viewpoints – 86 years apart, ‘Another Woman’s Husband’ shines the spotlight on the two women whose names, and lives, will forever be imprinted in our historical timeline; Wallis Simpson and Princess Diana. Both women found themselves hugely popular with the media, with Princess Diana even being dubbed as ‘The People’s Princess’. Let’s be honest, we all know how Wallis Simpson managed to create a media frenzy, even in those days!

Whilst ‘Another Woman’s Husband’ is a work of fiction, the storyline IS supported by factual information surrounding Princess Diana and Wallis Simpson, as well as several other historical figures/socialites from 1911 onwards. Before I started Gill Paul’s novel, I was aware of Wallis Simpson and her not so glowing reputation in the world of history. I’m not going to lie, I did have Google handy on my phone so that I could double-check some of the storyline as I went along. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe the author’s research, it was because I became so invested in every word of the storyline, I ended up not knowing the difference between the facts, and the author’s fictional additions.  Everything just flowed seamlessly. Even though the story is told by Rachel in 1997, the time of Diana’s death, the years didn’t move forward which meant that particular part of the storyline was easier to dip in and out of, ideal for when the viewpoint changed to Mary Kirk’s from 1911 onwards.

What I found clever was how the book began in 1997, was set in Paris at first with Princess Diana being the main topic of conversation, in a book that is being published during the 20th anniversary of Diana’s death – when the topic of ‘The People’s Princess’ will be back in the media once again. Of course it’s going to be a subject at the forefront of royalists and Princess Diana fans all over the world, at this moment in time. So, to read the devastating event in black and white sent shivers up and down my spine. There’s one thing hearing the about it on the news or watching it on T.V, but then there’s another thing reading it in a book and letting your subconscious take heed of that piece of information, whilst mulling it over and digesting it in the only way your clever mind can; dramatically.

Don’t get me wrong, I was engrossed in the 1997 parts of the storyline but, for me, my most favourite parts were from 1911 onwards which were written with Wallis Simpson’s best friend in mind, Mary Kirk. I knew Ms.Simpson was scandalous, but eeeeesh! I loved being able to read the story as though I was back in 1911, watching the drama unfold with my very own eyes. Obviously, being predominately a work of fiction it can be quite difficult to differentiate between the fictional points of view and the facts, but luckily the author was one step ahead and included which parts were facts, right at the end of the book. I was incredibly intrigued by how one woman managed to make such a mark on history, yet she seemed to manage it as though it was the norm. I wouldn’t be me if I wasn’t blunt, so I will admit that Wallis did get my back up on a number of occasions. It just goes to show how different society and ethics were back in those days with the way people responded to Wallis’ misdemeanours. Although, back then it was the case of ‘it’s not what you know, it’s WHO you know’, which is also true for today’s society unfortunately. Maybe it was Wallis Simpson who coined that particular viewpoint? Who knows.

There were times where I was quite glad to have google at hand, such as when a certain event shocked me to the core and I had to google it to see whether it was indeed fact, or whether the author had written it in herself. The author really is THAT good at combining all viewpoints and timelines flawlessly.

As weird as this sounds, I wasn’t emotionally ready to say goodbye to those moments in time which have put us on this path today. It’s crazy how one person’s choices can create such a damaging ripple for anyone or anything that ends up in its path. The thing about history is that people will remember it as it’s documented a million times over. Granted a lot of the people involved will no longer be alive, but their distant relatives might be. Can you imagine?

‘Another Woman’s Husband’ has given me the biggest book hangover I think I have ever had. I became annoyed when I had to stop reading due to having to embark on adult things, and I was absolutely devastated when the book came to end. Gill Paul’s storytelling was beautifully engaging, often leaving me in a state of trepidation as I became incredibly invested in several characters and their lives. Gill Paul invited me on a historical journey with ‘Another Woman’s Husband’ – a journey which made me feel as though I was constantly being fed such rich and succulent knowledge, changing my viewpoint of the world without me even knowing it at the time. I was hypnotised by the authors wonderful writing skills, her magnificent story-telling, and her second to none research skills.

I adored everything about this book. Utterly, utterly brilliant.
After reading 193 books already this year, I can say that ‘Another Woman’s Husband’ has managed to become my most favourite book of the year so far, whilst also being in my top three most favourite books of all time.

This my friends, is a work of art. Any reader (and non reader!) should be proud and fulfilled to have ‘Another Woman’s Husband’ on their bookshelf.

Phenomenal.

Thank you SO much Headline Books.

Buy now from Amazon UK

 

#BlogTour! #GuestPost from author of Woman in the Shadows; @CarolMcGrath @AccentPress

A powerful, evocative new novel by the critically acclaimed author of The Handfasted Wife, The Woman in the Shadows tells the rise of Thomas Cromwell, Tudor England's most powerful statesman, through the eyes of his wife Elizabeth.

When beautiful cloth merchant’s daughter Elizabeth Williams is widowed at the age of twenty-two, she is determined to make herself a success in the business she has learned from her father. But there are those who oppose a woman making her own way in the world, and soon Elizabeth realises she may have some powerful enemies – enemies who also know the truth about her late husband.

Security – and happiness – comes when Elizabeth is introduced to kindly, ambitious merchant turned lawyer, Thomas Cromwell. Their marriage is one based on mutual love and respect…but it isn’t always easy being the wife of an influential, headstrong man in Henry VIII’s London.

The city is filled with ruthless people and strange delights – and Elizabeth realises she must adjust to the life she has chosen…or risk losing e she has chosen…or risk losing everything.

Author Guest Post

Thank you for inviting me to speak about Elizabeth Cromwell and my experience writing about this little known Tudor woman.
Elizabeth Cromwell was the wife of one of Tudor England’s most famous statesmen, Thomas Cromwell who is recently immortalised in Hilary Mantel’s novels Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies. I was curious about a woman married to such a personage and wanted to bring her out of the shadows and give this Tudor wife and mother of three children, Anne, Grace and Gregory, her own story.

My first challenge was finding out what was known about her. There was not a lot. She had been married before to a Yeoman of the King’s Guard and was a widow. Her father was a cloth merchant and she had a sister, Joan, and a brother, Henry. It seems that Thomas Cromwell may have known the family as they all hailed from Putney. I don’t think Cromwell came from an impoverished background either as his father owned land and a fulling mill. He had a brewery and a blacksmith’s concern. Cromwell hailed from a middling sort of background, though he later claimed that his father was drunken and violent.

It is important to get into the mind-set of the period you are writing. It was not really about stepping into Elizabeth Cromwell’s shoes and inhabiting her. It was more about trying to see life and her world as she might have seen it. That is difficult for a twenty-first century writer looking back. I do believe people throughout history experience emotions in common but the way these are played out is different and an historical writer must pay attention to this. My challenge was to give Elizabeth a plausible story and to work out situations containing conflicts to engage a reader and draw reader into her character and her world. I had to research this world first and then conceal all that knowledge within the narrative and the way I constructed her personality and character. No one wants to read information dump.

Elizabeth was a widow. Widows during this period had a degree of legal and financial independence within a society controlled by men.  It might be a shock to us now to think of English women as commodities and, indeed, there were women who disliked the total control family and society exerted over their lives, but there were very few. Running their own households would afford a degree of freedom within the domestic sphere so, unless they wished to enter a convent, women aspired to marriage, accepting the protection of often much older men, or unfaithful young men. The idea was that love or at least respect would follow the marriage. Marriage was rarely romantic. However, a widow could choose her own second husband and I use that fact to make Elizabeth’s character appealing to the modern reader without her seeming too free. Her desire to marry Thomas Cromwell sets up conflict along with the fact that Elizabeth inherited a failing cloth business and wants to make it successful despite her father’s objections and his attempts to remarry her.
I knew that Thomas Cromwell was interested in the new learning known as Humanism– humanists were interested in interrogating the past through discussion and in new translations of old works by Latin and Greek writers, and that Thomas was also a ‘Renaissance Man’ who adored all things Italian and beautiful objects. There is indication that by around 1517 he was a realist who disliked reliquary and indulgences. He never remarried after Elizabeth’s death in 1528/29 and he was a family man. I think I can conclude that it may have been a solid marriage. All this made it easier for me to make Elizabeth, a Tudor woman accessible for today’s reader. I hope that when you read the book you will agree.

Huge thanks to Carol McGrath for the interesting and highly informative guest post! If you wish to purchase her nice, The Woman in the Shadows, you can do so Here!

About the author

Carol McGrath has an MA in Creative Writing from The Seamus Heaney Centre, Queens University Belfast, followed by an MPhil in Creative Writing from University of London. The Handfasted Wife, first in a trilogy about the royal women of 1066 was shortlisted for the RoNAs in 2014. The Swan-Daughter and The Betrothed Sister complete this best-selling trilogy. The Woman in the Shadows, a novel that considers Henry VIII’s statesman, Thomas Cromwell, through the eyes of Elizabeth his wife, will be published on August 4th, 2017. Carol is working on a new medieval Trilogy, The Rose Trilogy, set in the High Middle Ages.  It subject matter is three linked medieval queens, sometimes considered ‘She Wolves’. She speaks at events and conferences on the subject of medieval women, writing Historical Fiction, The Bayeux Tapestry, and Fabrics, Tapestry and Embroidery as incorporated into fiction. Carol was the co-ordinator of the Historical Novels Association Conference, Oxford in September 2016 and reviews for the HNS.  Find Carol on her website:
www.carolcmcgrath.co.uk.

#BlogTour! #Review – It Was Only Ever You by @KateKerrigan @HoZ_Books

Kate kerrigan
WINNER OF RNA HISTORICAL ROMANCE NOVEL OF THE YEAR.

This is the story of three women and one charismatic man. A glamorous historical romance, perfect for fans of Maeve Binchy.

It is 1950s New York, the time of dance halls, swing bands and the beginning of rock and roll. In The Emerald, Ava Brogan dances the night away, knowing that she will never be pretty like the other Irish girls there, wishing her mother wouldn’t keep plotting to find her a husband.

Here, too, Sheila Klein, Holocaust orphan, dreams of finding a star and making her name in the music industry. Tough and cynical, she has never let her heart be broken by any man.

Enter Patrick Murphy, with a sublime voice, a hit song in his back pocket and charisma to burn. Ava and Sheila‘s worlds are about to be turned upside down. They do not know that Patrick‘s first great love from Ireland is on her way to New York – determined to find and get her man at all costs. Beautiful Rose is used to getting what she wants in life and that’s not about to change any time soon.

What does TWG think?

I need to start this review by giving the cover some love; just look at how gorgeous it is! The picture does not do it justice at all! On the paperback version of this book, the lettering is embossed and the colouring makes the graphic pop; all that is quite difficult to see on a Jpeg version, granted. ‘It Was Only Ever You’ is my most favourite book cover of 2017, absolutely beautiful! It’s safe to say that as soon as I held the book in my hands and saw the cover, my excitement for the storyline grew immensely.

Kate Kerrigan is a new author for TWG, shamefully I had never heard of her before now so I never realised that she has quite a few books in her published backlog. On a positive note I now have a lot of new titles to binge read!

‘It Was Only Ever You’ is set in 1950’s New York & Ireland, when rock and roll was at its prime, and romance was fully appreciated. Patrick Murphy is our main character, with Sheila and Ava being two ladies on his radar. However, a certain ‘first love’ is about to get acquainted with Patrick’s new friends, much to the annoyance of everyone involved.

There is a lot to this storyline to get your teeth sunk into, which makes this review a little bit harder than usual as it means that a lot of the storyline is entwined and I don’t wish to accidentally give anything way.

All I will say is that the romance in this novel is beautifully described, enchanting and severely old-school. By ‘old school’ I mean old-fashioned; flowers, sweet words, gentlemanly behaviour and so on, instead of swiping right on Tinder and feeling like the most romantic person on the Earth. As a completely un-romantic sort of person, ‘It Was Only Ever You’ even managed to make ME feel nostalgic and ‘awwwww!!!!’ at the levels of heart-warming moments between certain characters. Readers; take note!

I love reading historical fiction/historical romance, and Kate Kerrigan’s novel was no different. I adored the fact that the storyline was set in the 1950’s as that is my favourite era (swing!). I thought Kate Kerrigan’s mesmerising writing gave the storyline such glittering depth, a depth that can only be achieved when, in my opinion, the author writes from the heart, truly believing in their characters and their lives.

People usually associate ‘Titanic’ (Kate Winslet etc) as being a truly romantic novel but, in my opinion, I believe that ‘It Was Only Ever You’ needs to get film rights or something, as it blew me away in such a way that ‘Titanic’ the movie never did.

Kate Kerrigan is such a wonderful story-teller, who can bring her characters to life at the blink of an eye. Enchanting, beautifully written, and perfect to lose yourself in; ‘It Was Only Ever You’ truly is a romantic, glistening gem of literary beauty.

Thanks HoZ.

Buy now from Amazon UK

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#BlogTour! #Review – The Forgotten Family of Liverpool by Pam Howes (@PamHowes1) @Bookouture

The-Forgotten-Family-of-Liverpool-Kindle
The fighting has finished – but are their troubles just beginning?

It’s 1951 and rationing is finally coming to an end. But while Liverpool is recovering from the ferocity of war, a family is about to be torn apart…

Dora Rodgers is settling into a new life with her daughters Carol and Jackie, moving on from the betrayal of her husband. But then an unexpected knock at the door rips her family in two. Carol is taken away by a welfare officer to live with Dora’s estranged husband Joe. 

Dora is determined to fight for her child, but she struggles to cope when a tragic accident leaves her mother in hospital, and shocking news from Joe breaks her heart once more. 

With her family in pieces and her marriage over for good, will Dora ever manage to get her daughter Carol home where she belongs?

The Forgotten Family of Liverpool is a brave and tear-jerking story of one woman’s quest to protect her family. Perfect for fans of Nadine Dorries, Annie Murray and Kitty Neale. Discover Pam’s Mersey Trilogy today.

What does TWG think?

‘The Forgotten Family of Liverpool’ is book two in Pam Howes’ Mersey trilogy and, in my honest opinion, I believe that it can be read as a standalone. However, I would recommend reading the first book in the series, ‘The Lost Daughter of Liverpool’ beforehand, just so that you haven’t missed out on any vital information from the main characters back stories, before delving into the a new chapter of their lifestyles.

Having really enjoyed the first book in the series, I was super excited to read this novel. I couldn’t wait to catch up with some of the old characters, as well as creating new ‘friendships’ with new characters. Well, except Ivy of course, I would be lying if I said that I was yearning to meet up with her for a cup of builders tea.

Set in 1950’s Liverpool, Dora’s life showed signs of becoming even more complicated, especially where her estranged husband, Joe, was concerned. Reading about Dora’s struggles opened my eyes to the reality of the past, especially how differently situations were dealt with in those days compared to now. There were times where my heart ached for Dora and the challenges she had to face once again. That said, luck most definitely wasn’t on her side throughout the majority of the storyline, I was getting a bit exasperated at how her character always seemed to have the negativity thrown at her. Why, for two novels, did Dora face such hardships? Why wasn’t she given a break? Don’t get me wrong I know that life isn’t all rainbows and kisses, but still, I couldn’t understand it.

I did enjoy ‘The Forgotten Family of Liverpool’; it had a plot which kept me engrossed, as well as being able to make me take a walk down memory lane in terms of the historical feel. I loved the community spirit of the storyline, it was so lovely to see people coming together in times of need, and even at short notice. For me, that was the most heart-warming part of the novel.

Whilst I did enjoy being back in Liverpool with Dora and her family, I didn’t warm to the overall storyline as much as I did the first book due to what I said previously about Dora,  and how I felt that the storyline was seemed to be missing something. What that missing something was, however, I’m not overly sure, all I can pinpoint is that I needed a bit more to sink my teeth into.

As ever, Pam Howes’ delectable writing style left me wanting more; I’m looking forward to seeing what happens in the next part of the series.

Thanks Bookouture.

UK 🇬🇧 http://amzn.to/2qIcCya

US 🇺🇸 http://amzn.to/2pOgsrD

Forgotten Family of Liverpool Blog Tour

#BlogTour! #Review – The Silk Weaver’s Wife by Debbie Rix (@debbierix) @bookouture

silk_2

The unforgettable stories of two women crossing centuries as past and present weave together in this beautifully moving summer read.

2017: Millie wants more from her relationship and more from her life. So when her boss Max abruptly ends their affair, she takes the opportunity to write a feature in Italy.

Staying in a gorgeous villa, Millie unexpectedly falls in love with the owner, Lorenzo. Together they begin to unravel an incredible story, threaded through generations of silk weavers.

And Millie finds herself compelled to discover the identity of a mysterious woman in a portrait…

1704: Anastasia is desperate to escape her controlling and volatile father and plans to marry in secret. But instead of the life she has dreamed of, she finds herself trapped in Venice, the unwilling wife of a silk weaver.

Despite her circumstances, Anastasia is determined to change her fate…

What does TWG think?

Being perfectly honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect with ‘The Silk Weaver’s Wife’ as, whilst I have heard of Debbie Rix, I had never read any of her novels before this one. To begin with, it took me a couple of chapters to warm up to the storyline as there was a lot of information to digest, and the pace was quite slow. When I reached halfway, I felt like bowing to the slow pace as it is such an important part of the overall novel structure, which is severely misunderstood.

Set during two different times, The Silk Weaver’s Wife explorers silk weaving in 1704, and 2017. In 1704 our main character is Anastasia, she has fallen in love yet her father seems to have different plans for her love life. It’s either his way, or the high way. Anastasia was forced into a lifestyle which compromised her safety, dignity, and independence. Reading Anastasia’s story was absolutely devastating. Whilst the character came across incredibly strong and independent, she was actually quite fearful and longed for her own life back. During the chapters of 1704, Debbie Rix takes us on a journey through time, an eye-opening one at that, especially when the storyline took us to different countries. Planes weren’t invented then, so how do you think the characters managed to get to those different countries? Imagine the length of time it must have taken them! I was in awe. I adore history. Debbie Rix has incorporated some wonderful historical facts alongside her fictional work – all of which blew me away.

During the chapters of 2017, the main character is Millie, a journalist who’s love life isn’t exactly above-board. That aside, Millie was given the opportunity to write a feature in Italy, exploring the history surrounding silk weaver’s as a whole. Well, she also got to explore a certain local Italian stallion….

I adored watching the past and present come together throughout the storyline, finding out the history behind the silk weaver’s, as well as seeing certain items from the past in the present chapters. Outstanding!

I absolutely LOVED this book! Yes, it was a little heavy in some parts but, due to the nature of the storyline, it just meant that I had to take my time over the storyline. Not really a hardship! Debbie Rix has blown me away with her enchanting and flawless writing style. Honestly, I have never read anything like it before.

Debbie Rix is an outstanding storyteller with such beautiful and iconic writing, which captured my heart and soul. The historical features in The Silk Weaver’s Wife, were written impeccably. The fictional parts of the storyline were written in such a mesmerising, and addictive manner; I was excited to change each page. Put the two parts together, and you have one memorable and alluring novel.

I believe I have found a new favourite author, and a new set of books to buy online. I need more of Debbie Rix on my bookshelf after this.

The Silk Weaver’s Wife is an authentic portrayal of silk weaving history meeting silk weaving present, whilst also being entwined with the authors distinctive and outstanding writing style. Overall, I cannot recommend this book enough, you must read this one!

Thanks Bookouture.

Buy now from Amazon UK

the-silk-weaver-s-wife-tour

#BlogTour! #Review & #Extract – The Mothers of Lovely Lane by @NadineDorries @HoZ_Books

Dorries_LL03_THE MOTHERS OF LOVELY LANE
From the bestselling author of The Angels of Lovely Lane, The Four Streets and Ruby Flynn.

Noleen Delaney is one of an army of night cleaners at St Angelus hospital in Liverpool. Since her husband was injured in the war, she has supported her five children. With help from her eldest, Bryan – a porter’s lad – the family just about gets by.

When Finn, her youngest, passes the eleven plus exam, Noleen feels faint. Allowing Finn to attend the grammar will stretch her purse too far.

When Bryan steps in to help, the results rock the St Angelus community. As the nurses of Lovely Lane near their final exams, Noleen will find herself tested, and her heart broken. Just how far can a mother’s love stretch?

What does TWG think?

I don’t think I had ever read a Nadine Dorries book before this one. I had heard of the author and I was aware of her literary success, but still I hadn’t picked up one of her books. Shameful. Utterly shameful. 
Because ‘The Mothers of Lovely Lane’ is book number three of the ‘lovely lane’ series, I was a bit anxious about reading it just incase I should have read the previous books beforehand. Luckily there didn’t seem to be an issue, which meant that I was able to enjoy the storyline without feeling like I was missing something important. That said, there were a lot of characters to keep track of, and just like any other storyline with a lot of people, I did end up confused. Not that hard to do, to be honest!

Recently, sagas and historical fiction novels have been high on my list of favourite genres due to the complexity of knowledge that just oozes from every page. Reading ‘The Mothers of Lovely Lane’ made me feel as though I was constantly learning something due to the fantastic attention to detail, and the level of historical knowledge.

Set in Liverpool just after the war, ‘The Mothers of Lovely Lane’ is mostly  centred around the national health service, and the various changes surrounding the health care during the war and after. I found those parts quite hard to read as they were so raw and incredibly poignant. When you sit back and think about it, it’s crazy to think that our country was once like that. It really hit home. Just by reading the book, it made me realise exactly how difficult and emotional those times were.

On the other side of the coin, I was moved by the level of community spirit within this novel. I have never, ever, seen anything like it. It really made me quite emotional that the characters went to such lengths to protect their own, and support who they loved. Absolutely incredible.

Hats off to Nadine Dorries for creating such an incredible main character in Noleen. When you read this book, you’ll see exactly what I mean, but, hand on heart, Noleen is the type of person who would walk around naked just to ensure her children had clothes. Even now, days after finishing the book, Noleen still has a hold over me. If you have someone in your life like Noleen, treasure them.

Such a heart-breaking, poignant, and emotional read which will no doubt stay in your heart for a very, very long time. Wow.

Thanks HoZ.

Buy now from Amazon UK

Extract.

‘There’s a change, Lorraine. Is there any reason why you spend more time in the Delaneys’ kitchen these days than you do in your own?’ 

Lorraine had the good grace to blush. ‘Mam, Mary is my best friend, that’s why I go there. She has to help her mam a lot with all they have going on and her mam working nights.’ 

‘Don’t give me that, Lorraine. I gave birth to you, I know you. I think your attraction down at the Delaney house has more to do with their Bryan than your mate Mary.’ 

 ‘Mam!’ Lorraine almost shouted. ‘Don’t say that so little Stan can hear.’ 

Maisie wrung out her dishcloth and began clearing away the detritus of the Tanner breakfast table. She piled the bowls in the sink then took a packet of cigarettes out of her apron pocket. It might only be eight thirty but her hair was neat – hard from six days’ application of Get Set hairspray – and her lipstick fully applied. ‘Don’t be daft, love, I won’t. But I am right, aren’t I?’ 

She leant her back against the range and, tipping her cigarette packet upside down, tapped the bottom until one fell out. She lit it on the ame from the pilot light. Blowing the smoke upwards, she said, ‘Look, love, all I would say is take care. You are only young. Bryan has a lot of responsibilities and he is keen to get on. I don’t want you to be having a broken heart.’ She blew her smoke into the air. 

Lorraine placed her school books into her wicker basket. ‘Do you like him though, Mam?’ 

‘Lorraine, I’ve changed his nappy and wiped his nose enough times, of course I like him. I like all the kids around here. We are really just one big family. It’s not that. You are still at school and he is working now, up at the hospital, and he has his da to look after. I just don’t want you to go getting hurt, that’s all. Have you told Mary?’ 

Lorraine nodded. 

‘Well, love, if I can give you any advice, it is this, never let a fella know you fancy him. Even one who pushed your pram when you were in it.’ 

‘Oh, God, he didn’t, did he, Mam?’ 

‘Of course he did. We used to put you and Mary next to each other and send Bryan off to push you up and down Vince 

Street so we could get the washing done. Play hard to get, it’s the only way.’ Maisie turned back to the sink to ick her ash down the plug hole and looked out of the window. ‘Oh, here we go, your hairband is walking up the path. I bet little Stan swapped it for little Finn’s comic. Now let’s see what a good mate Mary Delaney is.’ 

Lorraine looked up from her basket and out of the kitchen window, into the back yard. ‘Stanley!’ she screamed at the top of her voice, as Mary Delaney walked in through the back gate, proudly wearing Lorraine’s hairband.

Mothers of Lovely Lane blog tour (1)

#GuestPost by ‘A Secret Sisterhood’ authors @Emmacsweeney & @EmilyMidorikawa #literary

To celebrate the release of their new literary inspired novel, A Secret Sisterhood, authors Emma Claire Sweeney and Emily Midorikawa have written a guest post about their own ‘sisterhood’ style friendship. It is a pleasure to welcome Emma Claire Sweeney back to TWG, alongside Emily Midorikawa.

Before I share the guest post, swoon over the stunning cover of their book and read the blurb below;

Secret Sisterhood revised cover

Male literary friendships are the stuff of legend; think Byron and Shelley, Fitzgerald and Hemingway. But the world’s best-loved female authors are usually portrayed as isolated eccentrics. Emily Midorikawa and Emma Claire Sweeney seek to dispel this myth with a wealth of hidden yet startling collaborations.

A Secret Sisterhood looks at Jane Austen’s bond with a family servant, the amateur playwright Anne Sharp; how Charlotte Brontë was inspired by the daring feminist Mary Taylor; the transatlantic relationship between George Eliot and the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe; and the underlying erotic charge that lit the friendship of Virginia Woolf and Katherine Mansfield – a pair too often dismissed as bitter foes.

Through letters and diaries which have never been published before, this fascinating book resurrects these hitherto forgotten stories of female friendships that were sometimes illicit, scandalous and volatile; sometimes supportive, radical or inspiring; but always, until now, tantalisingly consigned to the shadows.

A Secret Sisterhood evolved from the authors’ own friendship. Their blog, Something Rhymed, charts female literary bonds and has been covered in the media and promoted by Margaret Atwood, Sheila Hancock and Kate Mosse, showing that the literary sisterhood is still alive today.

Guest Post.
Travellers on the Same Road
By
Emma Claire Sweeney and Emily Midorikawa

We got to know each other sixteen years ago, during a time when we were both living carefree lives as young English teachers in rural Japan. Emily lived in a tiny apartment surrounded by car parks and convenience stores; Emma in a tatami-floored house that looked out onto rice paddies and groves of bamboo. Here, each of us secretly picked up our pens.

We soon began to take the three-hour round trip between urban flat and country home, forging our friendship in both the ice cream parlours of the neon-choked city and in bath houses hidden up dark mountain lanes.

But it took almost a year of friendship before we shared our hopes of becoming published writers. Emma had decided by then to leave her mountain village, while Emily would be remaining for another twelve months.

When we arranged to meet for a farewell dinner, we had no idea that we’d come to look back on this evening as a key moment in our friendship. We chose a garlic-themed restaurant in Emily’s local shopping mall, which had become by then an eccentric favourite of ours. Seated at a table covered in a chequered plastic cloth, we talked about news from home, plans for the future, the books we loved. 

And then, over the course of the next hour, while twisting strands of spaghetti around our forks, we ‘came out’ to each other as aspiring authors. Neither of us had much to show for these aims just yet: diaries kept this past year, a few short stories. We understood next to nothing about the book industry either. Nonetheless, by the time we laid our cutlery down, we had something perhaps more precious: we knew that we had a friend with the same dream, and that by supporting each other, we could follow it together.

But we could hardly have predicted that our paths over the coming years would take such parallel routes. We got places on graduate creative writing programmes and secured agents at around the same time. 

While we felt grateful that we could share these celebratory moments with a friend, we each had a niggling worry that the literary success of one of us before the other might threaten the friendship we both held so dear.

 This proved a fear we would not end up having to face any time soon, since we’d spend a decade-and-a-half submitting books to publishers, and watching as the rejection slips racked up. 

Remembering that long-ago meal in a Japanese shopping mall, Emily wondered whether we’d have embarked on this literary journey at all had we known how little further forward we’d have come by now. Though equally downcast, Emma reminded us both that it wasn’t the writing itself that was getting us down, but the lack of improvement in our writerly prospects. 

Before the month was out, though, Emily would receive the news that she’d won a major competition for unpublished novels, and, to our delighted surprise, just days later, a publisher made an offer to bring out Emma’s novel, Owl Song at Dawn. 

Our early fears had proven unfounded. What’s more, not only did we join in with our friend’s celebrations, these felt less like individual achievements and more like moments of shared triumph.

We’d long wondered whether our favourite authors of the past had enjoyed such a sense of collaboration. Wordsworth and Coleridge came to mind, Byron and Shelley, Hemingway and Fitzgerald. But we struggled to name many friendships between female writers. 

Did Jane Austen forge a friendship with another female writer? Was there another woman to whom George Eliot turned to for literary support?

We discovered that Jane Austen benefitted from an unlikely friendship with a family servant, the amateur playwright Anne Sharp; Charlotte Brontë was inspired by the daring feminist Mary Taylor; George Eliot shared her experience of stratospheric literary fame with Harriet Beecher Stowe, the author of internationally bestselling anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin; and Virginia Woolf was spurred on to produce her best work by her rivalrous friendship with fellow modernist Katherine Mansfield.

We decided that the richness of these stories deserved to be written up in a book. And so, when publishers offered to bring out A Secret Sisterhood, we were offered the chance to celebrate a truly joint endeavor – the sort of collaboration that the two young writers who ‘came out’ to each other in that Japanese shopping mall could hardly have dared dream.

Joint bio:

Writer friends Emily Midorikawa and Emma Claire Sweeney are the authors of A Secret Sisterhood: The hidden friendships of Austen, Brontë, Eliot and Woolf. They also co-run SomethingRhymed.com, a website that celebrates female literary friendship. They have written for the likes of the Guardian, the Independent on Sunday and The Times. Emily is a winner of the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize, Emma is the author of the award-winning novel Owl Song at Dawn, and they both teach at New York University London. 

You can follow them on Twitter via @emilymidorikawa and @emmacsweeney, and Emma has an author page on Facebook.


I have their book ready and waiting on my TBR pile for review, which I aim to read as soon as I can so that you can swoon over the front cover year again! Or, seeing as the Jpeg doesn’t do it justice in the slightest (the real deal is shiny), you can buy your very own copy right now from: Amazon UK // Waterstones // Book Depository.