#Review – Beyond The Green Line by Marc Goldberg (@Marcswords)

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I went to Israel looking for glory and instead found the Al Aqsa Intifada. I made Aliyah (immigrated to Israel) at a time when suicide bombers were immolating themselves and others on Israel’s streets. Almost exactly a year after my arrival I was in the Israel Defence Force. 

They sent me over the Green Line into Nablus and Jenin and other Palestinian cities. I came face to face with suicide bombers, kids throwing stones, civilians wanting only to get through the day and a couple of the big terrorists who dispatched bombers to Israel. 

What I saw, what I did and what I saw others do will stay with me forever. Not enough has been written about the Al Aqsa Intifada. A period of time that left a wound on Israeli society that may never heal.

If you ever wondered what a suicide bomber looks like, or how terror chiefs act when they’re arrested or how it feels to live in a world where the bus you’re travelling on might blow up then come with me Beyond the Green Line and see it through my eyes.

What does TWG think?

I’m probably not the first person to say this, and I’m probably not going to be the last either – I have often wondered what happens in the army apart from the obvious assumptions us civilians reach based on information on the ‘News at 10’. I realise that probably sounds a bit weird, I mean, who wonders about things like that? Well, thanks to countless newspapers, we only see how many people got killed in a war, or we get alerted to when certain armed forces get called into certain areas. However, what we don’t get told is what REALLY happens. What REALLY goes through the recruits heads when they get called into action.

Now, I have never been in the army and to be honest, the chances of that ever happening are incredibly slim. Don’t get me wrong I wholeheartedly admire all armed forces for putting other people’s lives before their own. Going into the army just isn’t something I have ever aspired to. However, Marc Goldberg – a British born Jew, was adamant that the army life was for him and that he would do whatever it took to serve in the army in Israel. Whilst some people may have looked at him thinking ‘why on Earth would you want to do that?’, I take my hat off to Marc for such high levels of determination.

I thought this book would be a little more hard reading than what it actually was, especially with the descriptions of certain events Marc and his team were up against. That said, I still found ‘Beyond The Green Line’ to be a very in-depth read which, for its short amount of pages, didn’t seem so short. It was handy that I was interested in the overall theme of the book to be honest, as it meant that I became awfully engrossed in what Marc was telling me, incredibly quickly.

‘Beyond The Green Line’ isn’t a book that tells you what you WANT to hear. No. It’s one mans experience of his own life in the army from beginning to end. His emotions during training. His emotions and thoughts during arrests and callouts. His emotions after leaving the army. Marc Goldberg doesn’t paint his time in the army as a watercolour picture with no flaws, instead he is honest and isn’t afraid to admit how difficult he found it at times. This book really is an eye-opening and thought-provoking read. I can’t sit here and judge or critique a situation I have never been in, nor can I put a negative spin on the way in which Marc Goldberg has told his story. After all, it’s HIS story at the end of the day.

Without sounding macabre, I enjoyed reading about the ‘other side’ as it were as it certainly made me think whilst I was reading it. I haven’t been able to get ‘Beyond The Green Line’ out of my head since I finishing it. An eye-opener indeed.

I applaud Marc Goldberg for telling his story in such a refreshingly honest way.

Thanks TBCReview.

Buy now from Amazon UK

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How ‘why are you only saying it NOW?’ is #notokay to respond to #sexualabuse posts with #MeToo

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Dear men and women of the world,

You may have seen the news overflowing with reports of abuse and harassment involving Harvey Weinstein. I mean really, who hasn’t? It really is everywhere.

You may have also seen the hashtag ‘#MeToo’ crop up once or twice on your social media, where some victims of sexual abuse or harassment try to come together under one heading whilst showing the world that it IS okay to speak out. Of course there probably was thousands of people who chose not to take part in that hashtag due to it reminding the victims of their abuse – that is okay too!

What’s NOT okay is the victim shaming.

What’s NOT okay is people commenting on posts with; ‘it was only just a kiss, stop throwing your teddy out the pram’.

What’s NOT okay is comment after comment with words along the lines of; ‘why are they just coming out with it now? or ‘yet another one jumping on the bandwagon to accuse someone of abuse – attention seeker!’ or ‘why didn’t they report it at the time instead of waiting years to say something?’.

I am hoping that if you’re reading this post, you know fine well why the above are far from okay. But if you don’t know why, then just this once I will humour you by saying:

Firstly, victim shaming is not okay. When people respond to a post asking what the victim was wearing, or what they did to attract the abusers attention in the first place etc, that’s pretty much telling the victim that they DESERVED their abuse/harassment.

Let me ask you this – if I were to walk down the street with a short skirt, high heels and a strappy top on and a man/woman decided to make non consensual advances towards me (e.g. groping, sexual talk, requesting sexual favours, rape, kissing etc), would you tell me that I DESERVED that because of what I was wearing? Would you tell me that I was ‘asking for it’ because I chose to not wear jeans and flat shoes and cover up every inch of my body?

It doesn’t matter whether you’re wearing religious clothes, party wear, your pyjama’s or even your birthday suit; if you have NOT consented to another person touching you or making advances towards you then it IS deemed harassment/abuse. No MEANS no. No-one is ever asking to be abused or harassed by another person, regardless of whether a 4×4 piece of skin is on show. No…just NO.

Secondly, my next point is what prompted me to write this post actually. A newspaper reported that a lady has made an allegation about Patrick Swayze. Now we all know that he is dead so no, she wasn’t meaning that he abused/harassed her from the grave. This lady said how Swayze forcefully kissed her without her consent, just moments after discussing his wife on the show. The lady then proceeded to explain how she DID mention it to her boss (who was a woman) at the time and she was fired. Yes, you heard me correctly. SHE was fired. Whilst that story didn’t exactly prompt my post, it was a comment on that news report which did. A comment which said ‘it was only a kiss! stop throwing your teddy out the pram and let the man RIP’. Really? Tell me folks, how is that okay? How is making someone’s situation out to be trivial and ‘just a kiss’ deemed a suitable response? Yes the man is dead, and no he cannot defend himself. But should his death and status in Hollywood at the time, make the alleged abuse any less serious? If it was only ‘just a kiss’, does that mean anyone can walk into the street and forcefully kiss someone on the lips as it’s ‘just a kiss’, whether they wanted it or not? NO! If one person dictates a situation where it makes you any way uncomfortable, the other person should respect that and stop. One person agreeing to do something does not make the action consensual. So no random stranger, it isn’t ‘just a kiss’.

Thirdly, this one is getting my back up something chronic. In regards to the Weinstein case, there has been a flurry of victims coming out saying that they have suffered some form of abuse or harassment by that man. Many of those victims have openly said how their careers were then affected once Weinstein was told ‘no’. Many of those victims have said that they felt as though they couldn’t tell anyone because they were frightened, lonely and afraid of losing everything they have worked for. Many of those victims have admitted to burying their heads in the sand in fear that they wouldn’t be believed due to how influential Weinstein was in Hollywood. So of course the keyboard warriors came out in force, trying to outshine DreamWorks ‘Trolls’ movie in 0.5 seconds. (Note – they failed. Trolls is WAYYYYY better movie than their 0.5 seconds of fame).

At first I saw comments of solidarity, empathy and anger towards the victims and the situation itself. Then in no time at all I came across comments which began to make me feel incredibly sick. Comments such as ‘attention seeker! why are you coming out with it now?’ and ‘jump on the bandwagon why don’t you!’ and ‘why didn’t you say anything at the time instead of waiting years to say something just to get into the news?’. Those comments were found on the Reese Witherspoon abuse news report so I dread to think what others I had missed!

Let me tell you why comments like that make me feel sick. After getting sexually abused/harassed a victim is more than likely feeling ashamed, frightened, nauseous, emotional…you name it, they’re probably feeling it. Funnily enough, one of the top things on a victims list to do after being abused is going and telling someone. Your mouth becomes dry. You lose all feeling in your legs. You’re unable to form coherent sentences. All you want to do is hide away and sleep, hoping that when you wake up it all turns out to be a dream. Some victims may find themselves (depending on the level of abuse/harassment) having to get coached/therapy to build up the courage to tell someone about what happened. Multiple questions are likely to float around a victims head – ‘what if no-one believes me?’ or ‘what if they say I’m lying?’ or ‘what if they say I deserved it?’ or ‘what DID I do to deserve it?’, just to name a few. It is extremely scary to sit down with someone and say that you have been a victim of sexual abuse or sexual harassment. If in the unfortunate event the victim was raped, it’s not just a case of popping to your local police station for a brew and casually telling them what happened. They have a job to do and unfortunately, the victim’s body is their ‘proof’ as it were, so not only do they have to go through the chat, they also have to endure a physical examination after being non consensually ‘examined’ by an abuser.

When I read those comments asking why said person ‘didn’t come out with it sooner?’ it really did make my skin crawl because 1) for all we know the victim may have already done that and wasn’t believed at the time, therefore speaking out about it where a group of victims has already formed. Strength in numbers. And 2) we have absolutely no idea how the victim is feeling, what they went through and how emotionally (or physically) scarred they are from the event. Who are we to question someone’s abuse? Who are we to demand answers from a victim? Who are we to dictate when a victim should tell an authoritative figure about their abuse? Who are we to judge full stop?

Before anyone asks how I know all of the above, or decides to make an uneducated comment about what I have written; I am a #MeToo three times over. Not once. Not twice. But THRICE. Sexually abused at age 11 & 14, raped at age 21. The first two times I was a minor. Did I deserve it? No. Did I feel as though I deserved it? Of course I did. Do the scars still remain? Emotionally, yes.

Victims of abuse/harassment need empathy not judgement. If you have no idea what to say to a victim, admit that but give them a hug. Never, EVER pass judgement or victim shame a person who has found the courage to speak out their abuse, whether it was 1 year ago, 10 years ago, or 50 years ago. Abuse has no time limit. Abuse has no age limit. Judgement has a time limit and the time limit is up.

No means no. It really isn’t that difficult.

Love,

A victim of sexual abuse.

#BlogTour! #Review – Groomed by Casey Watson (@caseywatson1) @HarperNonFic

Twitter Blogger Tour Casey Watson Groomed
Happy publication day to Casey Watson and her new novel, Groomed. As always, Casey Watson doesn’t disappoint with yet another eye-opening read. Here is my review, and thank you to Jasmine Gordon for inviting me on the tour:

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It’s late on Friday night when Casey’s mobile starts to ring. She is expecting it to be her daughter Riley. But it isn’t Riley. It’s a woman from the Emergency Duty Team. So begins Casey and Mike’s latest fostering challenge – a fifteen-year-old girl called Keeley who’s run away from her long-term foster home 25 miles away.

The Jonathan Ross Show has just started when Casey gets the call. She thinks it will be Riley – telling her that her favourite actor is going to be on TV. But it’s something far more urgent: a fifteen-year-old girl who has run away from her foster family and accused her foster father of sexual abuse. The family deny in vehemently, but such an allegation can never be taken lightly, so a new home must be found for Keeley.

Keeley is polite, but she’s sharp, and she has all the hallmarks of a child who has been in the system a long time, and knows how to play it. Whether the allegation is true or not, Casey knows there will be no winners here. If it is true, then a young girl’s life has been torn asunder. If not, then the heartache for the family will only be surpassed by the bleak outlook for Keeley.

In the short term, it’s a case of providing a safe, supportive home for a vulnerable child. But with the dangerous world of the internet at her disposal, it seems this strong-minded youngster has her own ideas of where that safe place should be…

What does TWG think?

I’ll be keeping this review short and sweet, purely because of the personal interpretation element that this book will highlight more so. Plus, the overall theme of ‘Groomed’ is one which needs to be digested from the black and white words of the author themselves, as opposed to second-hand black and white words from my own personal viewpoint.

I know of people who have been fostered and, whilst their experiences aren’t at all positive, it’s clear to see from this book that time has moved on a lot since then in regards to the care system itself. Whilst I have a lot of respect for foster carers with the selfless choice they make to bring a stranger into their home, care for them and nine times out of ten, try to get them back on the straight and narrow; I am more in awe than anything at the sheer level of determination and balls, foster carers seem to have. I know OF the system, yet I don’t know the ins and outs of the system. I guess both are incredibly different kettles of fish.

Keeley has run away from home. Keeley has brought something to light which is guaranteed to break the lives of everyone directly involved. Her long-term foster care home doesn’t seem to be the safe haven everyone imagined it would be. But, with a personality like Keeley’s, is it just her word against everyone else’s, or is she actually telling the truth?

It was pretty clear from the onset that this novel would be quite a challenging read, due to the overall theme of the storyline. Challenging – yes. Uncomfortable to read – yes. Regardless of how uncomfortable I felt, topics like these need to be discussed and brought out into the open so people can fully understand how devastating such actions can be. Unfortunately, I can relate extremely well to this novel based on the theme itself, and not the foster care part. It was a situation I never in a million years thought that I would be in, but when does anyone wake up and think; ‘oh you know what, today I am going to be….’, and so on. As for Keeley’s reaction further in the book when she is in her new foster home and left alone with a mobile phone; all I’m going to say to the system there is ‘REALLY?????’.

Casey Watson has such a captivating way of writing, regardless of what topic she decides to write about. The author made me sit up and listen with her words, and empathise with her ‘characters’ actions. Not that I had any trouble doing so anyway, but the fact I noticed the slight change in the writing style as the story progressed, really made me think.

Books like these are what the world needs to help explain things which vulnerable children can’t. Books like these put heart-breaking, devastating, and horrendous situations in the spotlight, purely to help rid the stigma associated with the victims of said events. Books like these are vital to help judgemental people to stop judging something that they have no idea about, until someone puts it in black and white and feeds it to them with a spoon.

Thanks Harper Non Fiction.

Buy now from Amazon UK

#BlogTour! #Guestpost from author of ‘How I Motivated Myself to Succeed’ @Shelleywilson72

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Blog Tour Schedule - HIMMTS
Delighted to have Shelley Wilson, author of ‘How I Motivated Myself to Succeed’, on TWG today as she celebrates the release of her brand new book! We all know that we lack in motivation sometimes, we are only human after all and, because of that, Shelley Wilson has written a guest post about why she is a sucker for a good inspirational meme. Hands up who feels raring to go after reading one of those? Me!
Hands up who is going to buy Shelley Wilson’s new book to keep the inspirational and motivational momentum going? ME!

Keep on reading after Shelley’s guest post as I will give you the all important ‘to buy’ links at the end. Over to you Shelley!

Why I’m a Sucker for an Inspirational Meme. Guest Post by Shelley Wilson
(@ShelleyWilson72)

Following inspirational bloggers, authors, and gurus is part of the ‘day job’ when you write self-help books. I have learned so much from my teachers that I love to pass on to my readers in a way that they can relate to. Even though I call myself a spiritual person, I don’t wear a floaty kaftan or bells on my fingers. You’ll only find me running through a meadow of tall grass with flowers in my hair if there’s an ice-cream van at the other side!
There are billions of us on this beautiful planet, all with our own unique hang-ups, issues, and battle scars from life. What I love most about the personal development industry is the abundance of quotes that can heal, calm, and inspire someone in the space of ten or twenty words. Some quotes are motivational, some humorous, and others are very thought provoking.

My books encourage a sense of positivity, and well-being and I’m normally quick to share an inspirational meme with my social media audience. I don’t do this because it fits my personal needs, although, some days these affirmations have been spot on. I share them in the hope that they’ll help someone else in the same way my books can motivate or inspire readers. When I ran my holistic health business, my clients were always at the forefront of my mind. If I read an inspiring article, I would save it as I knew it might resonate with one of my ladies. When I heard about a new meditation class or spiritual workshop, I would forward the details to the people I knew would enjoy these events. Today, social media is the perfect platform to share our good intentions far and wide as you just don’t know who you might help along the way.

So, the next time you spot an inspirational meme, don’t scroll by and dismiss it, think about who you know in your circle of friends and colleagues who might just need to hear that message today.

In my new release, How I Motivated Myself to Succeed I’ve included a series of lists at the
end of the book; 52 Things to Do, 52 Uplifting Quotes, 52 Affirmations for Success, and 52
Power Words – one each for every week of the year. I’m a great believer in ‘thoughts
become things’ and have witnessed a client spiral out of control when concentrating on the negative aspects of her life. On the flip side, I’ve also seen how a friend turned her life around by absorbing the positivity around her and choosing to embrace this. If one
inspirational meme can trigger a moment of optimism, hope, or confidence then I’ll keep
sharing and I hope you will too.

I’d like to finish with a huge thank you to my delightful host, Kaisha. Having won the Most Inspirational Blogger Award at the Bloggers Bash this year, I’m pretty sure she’ll be as obsessed with inspirational memes as me! Thank you for reading and be sure to check out the other host spots for more inspiration, motivation, and a sprinkle of fun.

Awww thank you Shelley! Yes! I am all for the thought-provoking meme’s that make you stop and feel as though something has clicked. A bit like this one here;

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If you would like to read more about Shelley’s inspirational tips then take a look at her new release, How I Motivated Myself to Succeed, out now in paperback and eBook, and packed full of information on self-care, freeing yourself from fear, organising your life, and much more.

Amazon UK
Amazon US

Find out more about Shelley on her author blog http://www.shelleywilsonauthor.com or via her personal development blog http://www.motivatemenow.co.uk.
She is also on Twitter www.twitter.com/ShelleyWilson72, Facebook
www.facebook.com/MotivateMeBlog and Instagram www.instagram.com/authorslwilson

Author Bio:

Shelley is a multi-genre author of non-fiction self-help and young adult fantasy fiction. Her latest release, How I Motivated Myself to Succeed is being dubbed as the sequel-that’s- not-a-sequel to her bestselling book, How I Changed My Life in a Year. She writes a personal development blog (www.motivatemenow.co.uk) as well as an author blog
(www.shelleywilsonauthor.com) where she shares book reviews, author interviews, and
random musings about writing. Shelley was thrilled to win the Most Inspirational Blogger Award at the Bloggers Bash in 2016, and to scoop second place in the same category in 2017. She is a single mum to three teenagers and a black cat, loves pizza, vampires, and The Walking Dead, and has a slight obsession with list writing.

#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

 

#Review – #DareToDream by Izzy Judd (@Mrs_izzyjudd) @Transworldbooks #letstalkfertility

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Izzy Judd shares the story of her and her husband Harry’s fertility journey in this honest and heartfelt memoir.

‘All I ever wanted was to be a mum – I couldn’t wait and it felt as though my time was so close. But the months started to tick by, with each one ending in disappointment and frustration. And then the inevitable panic started to set in …’

Having been told by doctors that, due to Izzy’s polycystic ovarian syndrome, they would have difficulty conceiving – and after two years of trying – Izzy and Harry turned to IVF.

Izzy’s aim, drawing on her own experience, is to break through some of the taboos surrounding miscarriage, IVF and fertility issues. This brutally honest and deeply personal account will acknowledge the struggles that so many couples go through but will ultimately focus on the positive, life-changing and remarkable results that IVF can yield. One in seven couples in the UK have difficulty conceiving and although many babies are now born through IVF, there is still a sense of awkwardness around the subject.

Izzy hopes that this book will be a companion to those going through similar challenges to those she has experienced. As she herself says, ‘No couple should have to go through it alone and in silence.’

What does TWG think?

When it comes to books written about a real life person and their ACTUAL life, how on Earth do we begin to review the book? In other book reviews we may discuss the pace of the book, or how it was written…things like that. But let’s be honest, it would take someone with the character of a female dog to start reviewing this book in terms of ‘storyline’, ‘plot’, and how ‘believable’ the entire book was. So, whilst I am still calling this post a review, I sure as hell won’t be pulling apart anything except the thoughts from my mind. After all, who are we to judge someone else lifestyle and the harrowing situations which they had to face?

As most people are aware, Izzy Judd is in the public eye (just like her husband Mcfly drummer – Harry Judd). Because of that, certain parts of their lifestyle will make the media before they have had time to finish their morning cuppa, or, in Izzy’s case, write a book about it. We all know that the media can stretch things. We all know that the media can put two and two together to make five. However, the media is was brought Izzy’s journey to light in passing and luckily, all of us would have the chance of reading her story in her very own words thanks to this book.

Why did I choose to read ‘Dare to Dream’? Well, as a huge fan of Mcfly and Escala (Izzy’s old group), I wanted to know more about their real lives away from the spotlight. Plus, seeing as ‘Dare to Dream’ is about such a personal and sensitive topic, I knew that whilst Izzy’s journey was a different one, I knew that I would be able to relate with the overall topic of fertility itself. Back in 2011 I was diagnosed with a chronic illness which ended up making me think that I would never be able to have children or, if I did fall pregnant, I knew that the risks of miscarriage and such, were all extremely high. I may not have had IVF, but I have fertility struggles. For me, ‘Dare to Dream’ became the voice of unborn babies and ready wombs everywhere.

Naively, I always thought that IVF worked every time, literally being a case of doctors putting the fertilised egg back in the womb and away you go. Oh my goodness I couldn’t have been more wrong! Based on Izzy’s own personal experience, getting her body emotionally and physically ready for IVF seemed to be an extremely challenging experience, and that was before the IVF even started! Not only were the Judd’s dealing with a lot of negative emotions due to conceiving not happening naturally as it were, they found themselves (Izzy more so) having to completely change their mindset when it came to pregnancy. Having dealt with multiple blows, I am in awe at how Izzy turned her emotional wellbeing upside down, gave herself a little shake and climbed through the mud, despite not knowing what could be waiting for her on the other side. Whilst some people may say that if you truly want something you’ll walk to the end of the Earth to get it, I truly believe that it takes a certain amount of strength to keep going along a path when all you want to do is hide. Through the fear. Through the emotional turbulence. Through the hormonal and physical changes outwit your control. THAT takes, in my eyes, severe courage, strength, and power to be able to get you and your body through that. I am completely in awe at what I read –  I admire Izzy Judd so much after reading this.

Obviously, if you haven’t been through something yourself, or been indirectly involved with someone who has, understanding that situation can be quite difficult, if not impossible. How can you know how someone feels after having needles stuck into their stomachs? How can you understand someone’s pain that their body isn’t working how they thought it should? How can you begin to understand someone’s journey one hundred percent, if you’re not THEM? You…..can’t. Izzy made it perfectly clear on more than one occasion that, whilst multiple people go down the IVF route, her journey and everyone else’s journey are completely separate and personal to each person. That said, Izzy also included some rather lovely hints and tips should anyone feel that they wish to try something which they hadn’t thought of before, whilst embarking on their IVF journey.

What made me quite emotional (aside from Izzy and Harry’s journey), was how Izzy thought of other people whilst going through her own situations. It’s clear from the onset that Izzy wanted to write this book to bring awareness to fertility issues via her own story, however, I found my eyes leaking when I read how Izzy also wrote this book with other people in mind, whilst wanting to ensure that nobody ever felt alone whilst going through their fertility struggles.

I’ve said it before in this post, but I’ll say it again; Izzy Judd is such a remarkable woman with an extremely big heart. I loved how in ‘Dare to Dream’, we got to read Harry’s side of the story as well, especially as it’s clear that the women can only house the baby, their partners are involved in the emotional side from a soon-to-be father point of view, as well as a loving partner. Even though I am a single mum, it was refreshing to see the journey from both angles.

‘Dare to Dream’ hit home in many ways from the emotional struggles, to the fertility struggles, to the feelings of self-doubt and failure. ‘Dare to Dream’ made me feel as though there is hope. I was lucky enough to become a mum the one time, however my fertility issues still continue and my body (and future babies) are forever at risk. Reading Izzy Judd’s honest and emotional story made me feel as though there was now a little angel sitting on my shoulder, ready to be the voice of hope, love, positivity and friendship. Honestly? I wish I had a friend in my life like Izzy Judd, I’m not going to lie.

A beautifully written, heartbreakingly poignant story about love, life, loss, but most importantly – faith.

‘Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain’ – my all time favourite quote.

‘Dare to Dream’ is available now from Amazon.

#BlogTour! #Review – #IsMonogamyDead by @RosieWilby @AccentPress

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In early 2013, comedian Rosie Wilby found herself at a crossroads with everything she’d ever believed about romantic relationships. When people asked, ‘who’s the love of your life?’ there was no simple answer. Did they mean her former flatmate who she’d experienced the most ecstatic, heady, yet ultimately doomed, fling with? Or did they mean the deep, lasting companionate partnerships that gave her a sense of belonging and family? Surely, most human beings need both. 

Mixing humour, heartache and science, Is Monogamy Dead? details Rosie’s very personal quest to find out why Western society is clinging to a concept that doesn’t work that well for some of us and is laden with ambiguous assumptions.

What does TWG think?

What an intriguing question; is monogamy dead? Do you think it is? What is the definition of cheating? Can you go through life just loving one person? What about when you enter into a relationship with another person, can’t you commit due to your commitment to your previous partner?

So many questions, so many answers. Whilst all of us will have different answers to such questions, author & comedienne, Rosie Wilby, sheds light with her opinion of relationships in her non-fiction book, ‘Is Monogamy Dead?’

Rosie Wilby’s honesty, and black and white approach to the her sexual orientation, as well as relationships themselves, is rather endearing. The topic of monogamy is an interesting, yet quite complex, subject which as a 27-year-old single female, still confuses the bejeezus out of me. Reading Rosie Wilby’s opinions of the subject made me feel as though I was less alone whilst battling with my confusion as she explored romantic relationships in great detail, whilst admitting that she too was confused by its entirety.

I have to be honest, the scientific element of this novel went over my head, whilst cementing the fact that ‘Is Monogamy Dead’ is a novel which requires a lot of dedication and minimal distractions. This isn’t a book that can be read as a ‘quick read’ – the subject is far too complex and detailed that attempting to sprint through to the end, could make your head go ‘boom!’. I was exceptionally glad that Rosie Wilby included her trademark humour alongside the technical wording as without it, I don’t think that I would have made it to the end of the book comfortably.

I am pretty certain that ‘Is Monogamy Dead?’ will get a lot of people conversing and debating about the subject in hand. However, in my opinion, monogamy is a subject that only a few people will wholeheartedly understand and, whilst Rosie Wilby’s novel didn’t change my level of understanding, I love the fact that she has put this topic out there for discussion instead of hiding it away in case the marshmallow man got offended.

‘Is Monogamy Dead?’ is bang on trend and perfect for the modern world right here, right now. Monogamy should be discussed. Relationships should be discussed. After all, if you’re about to embark on a romantic relationship, surely it’s better if you were both on the same page; monogamous or not?

Highly recommended, Rosie Wilby’s – Is Monogamy Dead? is refreshing, modern and totally engaging, as long as you read it with an open mind.

Thanks Accent Press.

Is Monogamy Dead? will be published on the 3rd August and you can pre-order your copy now from Amazon UK.

#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.

#Review – Nobody’s Son by Cathy Glass (@CathyGlassUK) @HarperNonFic @Jasmine_hl #fostercare

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Born in a prison and removed from his drug-dependent mother, rejection is all that 7-year-old Alex knows.

When Cathy is asked to foster little Alex, aged 7, her immediate reaction is: Why can’t he stay with his present carers for the last month? He’s already had many moves since coming into care as a toddler and he’ll only be with her a short while before he goes to live with his permanent adoptive family. But the present carers are expecting a baby and the foster mother isn’t coping, so Alex goes to live with Cathy.

He settles easily and is very much looking forward to having a forever family of his own. The introductions and move to his adoptive family go well. But Alex is only with them for a week when problems begin. What happens next is both shocking and upsetting, and calls into question the whole adoption process.

What does TWG think?

Receiving an e-mail from the lovely Jasmine Gordon from HarperNonFic, asking if little ol’ me wanted to review Cathy Glass’ new book, just happened to be one of THE most surreal moments…EVER. Of course I was shocked, it’s CATHY GLASS. I have been a HUGE fan of Cathy’s for as long as I can remember and seeing as I already have a few of her titles in my small (COUGH LIE COUGH) book collection, I jumped at the chance to review Cathy’s brand new novel, Nobody’s Son. I’m a little bit late with my review as it was released a month ago (I did read it on time!), I do apologise. Hopefully my review will make up for the lateness, but, be warned, this book will not be reviewed the same as fictitious books. I am not a foster carer, nor have I been directly involved with the subject itself. Therefore, how can I review this book on its ‘storyline’, ’emotional value’, ‘writing style’, when it is based on real life events? I can’t. So I won’t. Instead, I will review Cathy Glass’ novel from my heart, and my heart only.

I read ‘Nobody’s Son’ in one day. Now, before you think I’m bragging about how quickly I read books, I’m not (even though I do read them quickly). I was determined not to put Cathy’s book down until I had found out what happened to Alex, because I felt like I would be letting him down by not reading his story. Maybe that sounds daft, I don’t know. Or, maybe it’s my maternal instinct reaching out, into the storyline. I had to give him and his story my time, and the only was that I was able to do that, was by reading his journey from start to finish.

When Alex turned up to Cathy’s house and seeing how her children interacted with this little boy, made my heart swell. Cathy’s two children came across as such selfless little bundles, with hearts made of gold. Yes, they may have been used to foster children coming and going from their home and having to see their mum share her love, yet those two children could have been the complete opposite and bounced around like little firecrackers. They could have though, couldn’t they? But they didn’t. After settling in his new, temporary home, Alex’s personality began to shine like a beacon, as his enthusiasm and joy at knowing the next home he would be living in was going to be his ‘forever home’, was quite similar to a child being in a sweet shop. And, to be honest, could you blame him? The poor boy came into this world in such heart breaking circumstances, obviously (and luckily) blissfully aware as he was too young to understand, and now he was so close to having people who love him and want him. It really isn’t too much to ask really, is it?

Now, we all know that the best laid plans aren’t always as straight forward as we would like to think; the foster care system isn’t exempt from that either. Have you ever felt your heart swell due to reading something incredibly touching, being overcome with such love and emotion towards people who you don’t even know; just to have the rug pulled from under you and your happy bubble popped? If any of you are sitting and shaking your head to that question, I want to know your secret behind keeping yourself out of harms way. Hell, I can’t even walk from one room to another without causing myself pain. But the thing is, this is life and as adults we become more accustomed to pain and how to approach it; yet as children, really? Children are resilient, we all know that; but when a child’s life comes crashing down yet again, everything just…stops.

My reaction to the storyline changing direction along its journey, caught me off guard, and immediately I felt incredibly, incredibly guilty. Why? Because it wasn’t me that was going through that pain, it was Alex. I can’t even begin to imagine what pain that little boy felt, or what thoughts entered his mind.  Cathy painted a pretty vivid description of the domino effect surrounding Alex and everyone involved, so I was able to guess what Alex may have been thinking at that time. Truthfully, could you blame him? Cathy Glass is, as we all know, a well-respected foster carer, and yet I wanted to give her a big hug too. What Cathy and her family went through at the same time, on an emotional level, was incredibly hard to read as I could see every single person’s reactions in my head. As I mentioned above, I am not a foster carer, nor have I had any involvement in that particular system, however, the circumstances surrounding the care system left me feeling physically sick.

HOW?!

Cathy Glass writes in such a delicate yet black and white manner as she describes each turn of event the way it happened. No fluffing around it. No patting the children on the head going ‘there there’. No hiding behind the cracks in the system, nothing; Cathy told it how it was. My respect for Cathy went through the roof due to her honest and heart-felt descriptions of such a heart breaking circumstance. You know what surprised me even more? Cathy’s writing was held up by logical thinking and not by emotion. Don’t get me wrong, it was extremely clear that Cathy’s emotions were incredibly raw (and rightly so!), yet she didn’t let her emotions rule her head. Instead, she knew what she had to do and she did what she could for the happiness of one boy, and one boy only. Alex.

After I read ‘Nobody’s Son’, I went to have a little read of the reviews that had already been posted on Goodreads. Now, whilst I am one of the first people to say that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, (especially where reviews are concerned), something in a couple of those reviews caught my eye and for Cathy’s and Alex’s sake, I need to say this..

Since when has a novel, written about real life events and emotions and based on real human beings, been ‘too emotional’? OF COURSE it’s going to be emotional! The events within this book, actually happened! It’s not the story of a made up character called, ‘Phoebe’, who lives down the road and broke up with her boyfriend after he didn’t want her to nurse him and his broken leg. IT’S REAL LIFE.

I cried so much whilst reading ‘Nobody’s Son’, it really was hard to keep my emotions under the surface.
Cathy Glass has written such a beautiful, beautiful book that is full of both heart breaking AND heart warming moments. It’s also full of courage, strength, trust, family; a lot of things that we take for granted in our individual lives. I wish I could do more, but I am just glad that Alex had someone like Cathy Glass in his corner.

Thank you for opening my eyes to a topic often seen as ‘taboo’. Thank you for telling me about the raw, devastating events that a lot of people would have kept to themselves. Thank you for telling me Alex’s story, I really hope he’s happy now.

Thank you Jasmine Gordon and HarperNonFic.

Buy ‘Nobody’s Son’ from Amazon UK, now.