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The Writing Garnet turns 5! Happy birthday TWG! #blogger #blogbirthday #TWGTurns5 #Awardwinningblogger

The Writing Garnet is officially 5 years old TODAY! When I started my blog back in 2016, I never envisioned it turning out the way that it has. It never even crossed my mind that my blog could turn into a multi award winning blog (yes, multi), nor did it cross my mind that my review quotes would make their way into physical copies of books or even on the cover of some. Without blowing my own trumpet, I am unbelievably proud of all of that. At the very beginning, my blog was created as my way of saying thank you to authors for writing their books which has allowed me to escape via their words, when things in my personal life have been difficult. It wasn’t created as a popularity tool (because clearly I wouldn’t have lasted 5 minutes had that have been the case), nor was it created merely to get free things because, in all honesty, I had no idea that that was even a thing when I first started.

Over the last 5 years I have met a wide variety of authors, met fellow bloggers, other like minded bookish folk, and found myself involved in a world that went beyond just loving books. I had never really had that before. I had never been able to sit and discuss books with people who had read the same book as I, nor would I have ever found the confidence to cart myself off to events such as Edinburgh Book Festival, Aye Write in Glasgow, or even more intimate events such as meeting the Orenda gang in Edinburgh (to name a few), if it wasn’t for a select few of people who, after ‘meeting’ through the online book world, have gone on to becoming real life friends (Jen, Mandie, Kelly, Joanne, Lainy, DC to name a few). Not only that, despite not having met them in real life yet, I have come to know even more people who I consider to be friends now, who one day I would love to be able to give them a hug (COVID permitting, obvs – special shout out to Liz B for being as true as they come). If I named each and every one of the people who I called friends and who I would do anything for, I would be here a while and would no doubt miss someone off so, to put it simply, if we talk, I adore you. Simple as, and I thank you for your kindness and support over the last 5 years.

For me, the highlight so far has got to be meeting Sue Perkins and Tom Fletcher as those were the times where I unintentionally embarrassed my little girl with my high pitched squealing and trampoline bounces. I think I was fair excited……. Would I have been able to meet them had it not been for my blog? Honestly? Probably not as I never knew events like that existed until I became a blogger. I have so many other authors, bloggers, publicists etc, that I would love to meet and I have everything crossed that that will become a reality.

I know blogging isn’t all about stats, but for the first time in ages I had a quick nose at the stats of TWG. In the last 5 years TWG has had:

160,424 views.
84,689 visitors.
1837 blog posts have been posted.


Also, I even worked out roughly how many books I have read over that time…..1270!!! Ermmmmmmmm, say what?

As I may have mentioned previously, 2020 for TWG wasn’t the greatest as, putting it quite bluntly, I was treated like dirt via the bookish community (not all of you, just to clarify), and it hurt me so much that I ended up retreating because I didn’t know what else to do because, as I have also said many times, I’m not the most popular of people and I don’t fit into the tight knit groups. I suppose my face doesn’t fit, so I knew that regardless of what I said and what I did, I wouldn’t have been believed which is unfair and incredibly hurtful. Because of that, my posts within the last year have been few and far between, however I still have been ‘here’ from afar and still able to keep my feet in the door so to speak. Again, I want to thank those who have stood by me, supported me, and been true friends during that time and continue to do so. I see you.

I am super shocked that my little, multi award winning blog turns 5 today. Yes there have been some ups and downs and confidence knocks along the way, and yes, at times I bit off more than I can chew and left myself over stretched. However the joys of anything in life is that you can learn from your mistakes and realise where you went wrong or what needs to change. There is only me running this blog and, even though I like to think that I can do everything, I physically can’t….I just wish it hadn’t taken me 5 years to realise that! Well, in all fairness it’s probably taken me over 20 years to realise that as I recently turned 31 but y’know, semantics.

Creating The Writing Garnet was probably one of the best, on the spur decisions I have ever made and I just want to thank every single author, publisher and publicist who have sent me countless books over the years and trusted me to review your books. I want to thank the organisers of book events of their hard work and dedication in bringing likeminded bookish folk together. I also want to thank each and every person I have come to know and admire for being true to themselves and becoming good friends of mine. I have your backs – you are all awesome. Major shout out to my fellow bloggers, and anyone who is thinking about starting a blog – you’ve got this! Just remember it’s okay to say no….

On that note, happy birthday to TWG! Heres to another year full of weird and wonderful books, intriguing debuts, and a truck load of reviews.

TWG x

#psychological · #suspense · arc · blog tour · book blogger · Book of the month · Book Review · BOTBSPublicity · lifestyle · netgalley · Non Fiction · real life

#TheBoyBetween by Amanda Prowse and Josiah Hartley (@MrsAmandaProwse) @BOTBSPublicity #mentalhealthawareness #depression

Before I go any further I just want to say sorry to Amanda, Josiah and Sarah for the delay in posting my review, and thank you to Sarah and Netgalley for the ARC.

Bestselling novelist Amanda Prowse knew how to resolve a fictional family crisis. But then her son came to her with a real one…

Josiah was nineteen with the world at his feet when things changed. Without warning, the new university student’s mental health deteriorated to the point that he planned his own death. His mother, bestselling author Amanda Prowse, found herself grappling for ways to help him, with no clear sense of where that could be found. This is the book they wish had been there for them during those dark times.

Josiah’s situation is not unusual: the statistics on student mental health are terrifying. And he was not the only one suffering; his family was also hijacked by his illness, watching him struggle and fearing the day he might succeed in taking his life.

In this book, Josiah and Amanda hope to give a voice to those who suffer, and to show them that help can be found. It is Josiah’s raw, at times bleak, sometimes humorous, but always honest account of what it is like to live with depression. It is Amanda’s heart-rending account of her pain at watching him suffer, speaking from the heart about a mother’s love for her child.

For anyone with depression and anyone who loves someone with depression, Amanda and Josiah have a clear message—you are not alone, and there is hope.

What does TWG think?

Firstly, having the courage to openly discuss a time in your life where you felt suicide was the only option, with complete strangers and in the form of a book, is such a brave thing to do. I take my hat off to Josiah for choosing to put awareness above everything else. Its not an easy thing to do at all. I don’t know you, but I’m proud of you.

Secondly, Amanda….its hard enough being a parent, let alone being a parent who has to watch from the sidelines whilst her child goes through a situation only they can get themself out of. I cannot even begin to imagine how hard it must have been to go through that with Josiah, or the toll it took on your own mental health. Not only that, the courage it must have taken you openly dissect and ‘admit’ where you felt you went wrong as a parent, and to talk about such a heartbreaking time in your life. Your strength astounds me and I am so proud of you.

Depression is STILL seen as a taboo thing because you cannot see what is broken so, if you cannot see what is broken then nothing must be broken…..right? Completely and utterly wrong. In the book Josiah stated that he wished he had broken his arm or his leg because then he and others could see what was broken and what was needed to fix it. With depression or other mental illnesses, it isn’t a case of one thing fixes all.

How do I know this? Because like millions of other people, and like Josiah himself, I have depression and I also have a form of EDS too (hEDS in fact). As soon as I read about that diagnosis, my breath caught in my throat because I could relate to him on yet another level. I wanted to shout into the book that Josiah wasn’t alone because I could, and can, empathise with him.

This isn’t an easy read by any means. Its raw. Its hard hitting. Its emotional. Its dark. But above all else, its honest. Choosing to openly admit you were close to suicide, and choosing to talk about extremely personal things in order to bring awareness to the topic, is, as I’ve already said, such a brave thing to do. Unfortunately it can also bring a lot of judgement which, whilst its part of human nature to comment on the situations of the world and his wife, we have no right to do so as each and every one of us are different. Each and every one of us react to things in a different way, and what upsets one person may not upset another.

For example; in her chapters, Amanda spoke about how she felt she had let her son down with her parenting. Personally, I feel that she acted from the heart and in a way only a mumma bear knows how. I don’t think that she did anything wrong as a parent, because she was only acting out of love and fear. But Amanda does/did think those things. Is she wrong to feel like that? Hell no. Is my opinion wrong? No. Im an outsider looking in, there’s a huge difference.

Josiah’s story is a very relatable one and I would love to say that it’s unique in the fact that it doesn’t happen very often, but it does. What doesn’t happen very often is someone being so open about it instead of choosing to act like everything was all fluffy clouds and rainbows.

The honesty throughout this book, from both Amanda and Josiah, was incredibly moving and at times shook me to the core because I understood. Now me saying that isn’t taking the onus off them, not at all.

I am so proud of Amanda and Josiah for their strength and courage as they wrote this book together. It is such an important topic to discuss, more so as a one size doesn’t fit all and different things work for different people. I want to thank them both for sharing their stories with the world, and I wish I could hug them both. However my ramblings will have to do!

I cannot recommend this book enough. Its beautifully harrowing, tenderly heartbreaking, but poignant and severely honest. Its a little ray of hope when the skies turn grey. Its the one shining star in the night sky to help you on your way. Its a ‘friend’ when you feel like you have absolutely no one to turn to.

Buy now.

#extract · #suspense · blog tour · book blogger · extract · historical fiction · Non Fiction · Spy

#Extract from #CodeNameLise by Larry Loftis @LarryLoftis @MirrorBooks #spy #WWII

I was planning on reading this book but unfortunately I haven’t been able to get a copy yet so i will be sharing an extract from ‘Code Name: Lise’ instead. Many thanks to Mirror Books for having me on the tour!

The year is 1942, and World War II is in full swing.

Odette Sansom decides to follow in her war hero father’s footsteps by becoming an SOE agent to aid Britain and her beloved homeland, France. Five failed attempts and one plane crash later, she finally lands in occupied France to begin her mission.

It is here that she meets her commanding officer Captain Peter Churchill. As they successfully complete mission after mission, Peter and Odette fall in love. All the while, they are being hunted by the cunning German secret police sergeant, Hugo Bleicher, who finally succeeds in capturing them.

They are sent to Paris’s Fresnes prison, and on to concentration camps in Germany, where they are starved, beaten, and tortured. But in the face of despair, they never give up hope, their love for each other, or the whereabouts of their colleagues.

Buy now from Amazon UK

Extract.

THE FOLLOWING DAY, ANXIOUS to see her beloved France and begin
her work, Odette boarded a Whitley bomber. The plane taxied
to the end of the runway and stopped to wait for the landing of an
incoming aircraft. Odette peered through the window and started.
The landing plane was coming straight at them.

There was a violent collision of metal as the plane clipped the
Whitley’s starboard wing. The pilot immediately cut both engines
and the shouting began. Someone opened the door and Odette
tumbled out. Fortunately, the plane didn’t ignite and no one was
injured.

On September 27 a Lysander became available and Odette
again headed to the airfield. As the plane was warming up, however,
Baker Street received a cable stating that the Gestapo had
arrested her contacts; three had been summarily executed, the rest
soon to be.

Odette returned home, and Buckmaster told her to sit tight
while he coordinated other contacts and searched for another plane.
A week later he called and Odette caught a train to Plymouth,
where she was to depart by seaplane for Gibraltar. As she sat in the
Mountbatten Airport, she watched the Catalina bobbing in the water
as high winds jerked its moorings. Sheets of rain followed, and
it appeared that this mission, too, would be jinxed. After several
hours, an officer from the Royal Air Force came in and confirmed
what Odette expected: the weather would not allow departure.

She returned to London.
The War Office scheduled another flight five days later and instructed
Odette to report to Redruth in Cornwall. From there she
was escorted to a hotel and told to get any sleep she could. An attendant
would wake her at 0100, they said, for a 2 a.m. departure
from Newquay Cornwall Airport. Odette drifted off, and promptly
at one someone knocked on her door with a cup of hot tea.
It was raining.

At the airport she was told there was a slight delay: the Whitley’s
starboard engine had a fuel stoppage, someone said, and mechanics
were addressing it while the luggage was stowed. They’d be under
way shortly.

Finally, the craft was cleared and Odette climbed aboard. There
were no seats, she saw, and the fuselage was crammed to the hilt
with cargo. Finding a small spot on the metal floor, she arranged
herself against a wooden crate and tried to stretch her legs. It
wouldn’t be the most comfortable ride, but at least she was finally
leaving.

The engines revved up and they taxied to the runway. Odette sat
back. It had been a long process: the guilt at Somerset, worry about
leaving her children, the training, the injuries, the false starts. Now
at last she could fulfill the duty her grandfather had encouraged so
many years before.

The Whitley lifted off, dipping for a moment and then resuming
its trajectory. Another dip. Odette swung her eyes to the cockpit.
The pilot was trying to gain altitude, but the bomber was responding
by rising and sinking. Up and down, up and down it went, a
sluggish battle with gravity.
The airframe began to shudder.
Cargo creaked as it slid, then a thunderous burst as the starboard
engine went.
Odette braced herself.
They were going to crash.

#suspense · arc · blog tour · Book Review · Crime/thriller · lifestyle · Non Fiction

#OnlyLivingWitness #TedBundy @MirrorBooks #TrueCrime #serialkiller #blogtour

Many thanks to Mirror Books for asking me to take part in the blog tour for ‘The Only Living Witness’ by Hugh Aynesworth and Stephen.G.Michaud, and for the ARC. Here is my review:

Two journalists with unprecedented direct access speak to Ted Bundy and those closest to him – friends and family.

What follows is a candid and chilling full account of the life and crimes of the most notorious serial killer in history.

What Bundy had to say in over 150 hours of face-to-face interviews is as relevant today as it was at the time.

What does TWG think?

Ted Bundy was a very profilic killer. He died on death row in 1989 after being convicted of multiple murders but, due to the nature of those murders and the ‘treasure hunt’ he sent the police on, the actual amount of people he killed couldnt be confirmed. So, because of this, two journalists were given access to Ted Bundy as he wished to tell his story in a book. Would they get him to confess to other murders? Would they be able to find out what made him destroy the lives of many families?

In short, the answer is no. Ted Bundy was an extremely clever man and refused to give the police extra confessions as he knew what would happen. Hugh and Stephen describe the intimate discussions they both had with Bundy, and the way in which he responded to certain questions.

The detail discussed in the book is chilling and definitely not for the faint hearted. Information about the murders is laid bare, with the victims last movements put down on paper to give people the bigger picture, instead of simply saying Bundy murdered someone in Arizona for example.

This book is a heavy one to read and, in all honesty, what I read was not what I had expected at all. I guess I was expecting Bundy to be a bit more black and white than what he was, but then I also had to remember that his mind worked very differently to the mind of someone who hasn’t murdered.

Due to the fact that I am currently studying Criminology, ‘The Only Living Witness’ was such an eye opening and compelling read. Hugh and Stephen had so much patience and what they achieved with Bundy was incredible. I cant even begin to imagine what their own mental health was like coming face to face with such a dangerous man.

If you love true crime then this will definitely feed your appetite!

Buy now.

#suspense · arc · blog tour · book blogger · Book Review · lifestyle · Non Fiction

Breaking Mum? No, #BreakingDad! @lubokian @Warren_Fitzg @TheMirrorBooks #nonfiction #blogtour #review

Hugest of thanks to Mirror Books for the blog tour invite for ‘Breaking Dad’ by James Lubbock, and for the ARC. I am delighted to be closing the blog tour with my review:

Think you’ve got a dysfunctional family?

Meet mine.

For 18 years, my family lived a normal life in a respectable suburb…

Until one day, my dad gave up his successful career, and unexpectedly became Britain’s most wanted crystal meth dealer.

This is our story. At times shocking, often unbelievable, and all 100% true.

What does TWG think?

I’m usually quite good at giving my opinion on things, however after reading ‘Breaking Dad’, i fear that my opinion skills are being put to the test! How am I meant to review this?!

I’m going to give it my best shot though, although I hope I do better than Mr Lubbock’s time keeping skills!

James Lubbock has had more blows to his life than an episode of Eastenders! Its going to be a shock when one of your parents rock your life boat with their life changing news, but what the hell do you do when BOTH of your parents share news which completely changes your life?

Well, that is exactly what happened to James Lubbock when his parents took him aside to tell him that things would never be the same again. No, I dont mean like the Mel C song but, seeing as James has waved to said person, you never know!

Before reading this book, I was aware of drugs, i mean who isn’t? I haven’t tried them mind, but I just couldnt believe the extent of the drugs and the after effect that they can have on people. We are all aware of the devastation alcohol can cause, and whilst drugs do get some airtime, we are only ever aware of them in extreme circumstances, after things have happened.

Whilst drugs fill up a large portion of this storyline, the insight to James’ own personal life and his mums illness were incredibly emotional to read. Even now, I could tell that the heartbreak is still quite raw for James, and rightly so. I cant even begin to imagine what that must have been life for him, watching his mother fade away before his very eyes. I, myself, have lost a parent in completely different circumstances, however James not only lost his mum to cancer, he also ended up losing his dad due to the choices he made. I just wanted to give James a hug! What a man!

‘Breaking Dad’ is such an eye opening, poignant read which highlights the sheer devastation that drugs can have on a person’s life. Not only that, James Lubbock’s story is one that is probably more common than people realise, and that in itself is even more heartbreaking to digest. Despite the emotional elements, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The honesty throughout this book is inspiring yet shocking in equal measures, yet I am sure a lot of people will be able to relate to James, or empathise with him. This is definitely a unique, thought provoking read that had me empathising one minute, and then laughing out loud the next. I cannot recommend this enough!

Buy now.

#suspense · arc · blog tour · book blogger · Book Review · Crime/thriller · Non Fiction

Write your list of murders on a postcard! #ThePostCardMurder #PaulWorsley @MidasPR #Blogtour #Review #bookblogger

Paul Worsley QC (1)
Last but not least on this very busy day here at TWG HQ, is something rather different! ‘The Postcard Murder’ is a historical, true crime novel written by judge, Paul Worsley QC, and I am delighted to be reviewing it today as part of the blog tour! Many thanks to the team at Midas for the blog tour invite and review copy.

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It may be of some satisfaction to you, Gentlemen of the Jury, to know that you have been engaged in one of the most remarkable trials that is to be found in the annals of the Criminal Courts of England. Mr Justice Grantham, Judge at the Old Bailey

This is a vintage whodunit set in Edwardian London at a crossroads in time, as social revolution and psychiatry posed new questions for the Law and for the first time the Media were co-opted to run a killer to ground.

The year is 1907: 22-year-old Emily Dimmock lies murdered in her Camden Town flat, her head all but severed from her body. With not a thread or stain or fingerprint to point to the perpetrator, a young artist is manoeuvred into the shadow of the scaffold.

The tale is told verbatim by witnesses presided over by the author, who draws on his own experience as a Judge at the Old Bailey to get inside the mind of the outspoken but irresolute Mr Justice Grantham. The result is as compelling today as it is definitive of the era in which the murder was committed.

The book is illustrated with two maps and 27 photographs, 10 of which are in full colour.

What does TWG think?

If you’re after something rather gritty to sink your teeth into this winter, look no further as ‘The Postcard Murder’ is the one for you!

I cannot believe that I never used to be a fan of true crime, or crime novels in general – I would have hated to have missed out on this! That does sound a bit macabre given the nature of the book, but I have everything crossed that you all know what I mean!

‘The Postcard Murder’ is the first book in the series where Paul Worsley, an ex-judge at the Old Bailey, gets into the mindset of the judge at the time of the crime, enabling readers to step back in time to when the crime was committed, thus giving us the experience of being ‘there’ and feeling the suspense.

The crime itself was shocking, without a doubt, yet the era the crime was committed in was equally as shocking because it highlighted just how differently women are perceived now, and just how different the justice system is. The fact that the crime was done ‘neatly’ so to speak, certainly made my mind work overtime and I was very thankful, in a weird way, that we, as readers, got to really get into the psyche of the times and the mindset of the judge, thanks to Paul Worsley.

I have never been part of a jury before, yet with ‘A Postcard Murder’, you end up taking on the role of a 13th juror without possibly even realising it. Trust me when I say this; you will form your own opinions about the crime, and there is a high chance that you will do what I did and end up shouting blue murder (pardon the pun) about the situation. I was able to really sink my teeth into this book, although due to the historical nature of the era the crime was set, I couldn’t help but be extremely frustrated for the victim and the line of work women in the Edwardian times, found themselves in and the domino effect it had on just how strongly accusations stuck because of that.

I am so excited to read more from Paul Worsley, and I look forward to sinking my teeth into the next book in the series too. I thoroughly enjoyed this unique, gritty, intense and incredibly shocking read, and I really do recommend it!

‘The Postcard Murder’ will be published on the 14th November, but can be pre-ordered now from Amazon.

arc · blog tour · book blogger · Book Review · lifestyle · Non Fiction · real life

#Review – #TheFirstBreath by Olivia Gordon (@OliviaGordon) @Booksbybluebird @Panmacmillan #nonfiction #medicalmemoir

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(ARC received from the publisher, many thanks).

This is a story about the cutting-edge medicine that has saved a generation of babies.

It’s about the love and fear a parent feels for a child they haven’t yet met.

It’s about doctors, mothers, fathers and babies as together they fight for the first breath.

The First Breath is the first popular science book about the pioneering fetal and neonatal medicine bringing a new generation into the world – a generation of babies without precedent, who would not have lived if they had been born only a few decades ago.

Olivia Gordon explores the female experience of medicine through her own personal story and sensitive, intimate case histories of other mothers’ high-risk births. She details the relationship mothers develop with doctors who hold not only life and death in their hands, but also the very possibility of birth.

From the dawn of fetal medicine to neonatal surgery and the exploding field of perinatal genetics, The First Breath tells of fear, bravery and love. Olivia Gordon takes the reader behind the closed doors of the fetal and neonatal intensive care units, resuscitation rooms and operating theatres at some of the world’s leading children’s hospitals, unveiling the untold story of how doctors save the sickest babies.

What does TWG think?

2019 is the year I decided to lose myself in medical memoirs. I used to be quite afraid of reading books about such sensitive and often harrowing subjects that non-fiction books cover, however those topics are what people have personally endured. Those books tell readers about a journey that they would love other people to understand, or to be aware of. ‘The First Breath’ is one of those books. In fact, it’s one of those types of books which make a lump the size of a crater, form in your throat, hoping that no-one will talk to you until that lump disappears, in fear of personally turning into a puddle.

If you’re a parent of a child who ended up in NICU, required surgery through the womb, or anything like that, a lot of what Olivia Gordon discusses will obviously hit home. If you haven’t been directly affected by such uncertain times, you’ll no doubt find yourself moved by Olivia Gordon’s honest and harrowing account. I was. I was astounded by what the medical profession can do to try and assist a sick baby both inside the womb, and out. I had no idea about half of the things mentioned in this book, and at times I was a little overwhelmed by the sheer extent of the medical jargon and what not.

There are a lot of medical facts throughout this book, of course, and there is also a lot of medical jargon which, to be perfectly honest, went over my head at times. Thankfully I had Google to help me to understand such terminology, and the author did give the definitions some of the time which helped, however there was still a lot that didn’t make sense for someone who hadn’t been in the position that Olivia Gordon had.

Like I say, I was blown away by the work of the surgeons, genetics teams and, the strength of the female body. I have had one child, a 9lb baby girl in 2013 and, even though I was classed as a high risk pregnancy due to my own illnesses, I to this day cannot quite believe what the human body can do. Seriously, females have 2 hearts in their bodies when they’re pregnant, and then they have to try and expel the baby once the placenta says ‘right, get out’. I mean, us ladies need to dilate to the size of a bagel. A BAGEL. Shocking really, isn’t it. So yeah, I think the female body is an exceptional thing and, like ‘First Breath’ describes, there are many times where babies unfortunately do not make it into this world and my heart goes out to every single person who has had to go through that.

The science behind this book is utterly fascinating, medical jargon aside, and the way in which Olivia Gordon incorporates her own personal experience alongside it, was both mind-blowing and incredibly emotional. Not only did the author relieve her own heartache and give the other families (and their babies mentioned in the book) a voice, she also showed the reality of the aftermath so to speak. She didn’t gloss over how difficult it was to have a child in NICU, or to have a child who ended up poorly with various challenges, for the rest of their life. She didn’t pretend that everything was rosy, nor did she hide the devastation of the procedures the surgeons carried out through the womb, because that’s just not life. It’s not realistic and, as much as we would love no-one to endure the heartbreak of losing a child, multiple children, or even their spouse/family member due to pregnancy or giving birth, it happens. But then on the other hand, there could be an extremely sick baby yet due to advanced medical science and the knowledge of surgeons and other members of the medical team, that baby may pull through.

I’m not going to sit here and say that ‘The First Breath’ was an easy read, because it wasn’t. It was very difficult to read most of the time, due to the sheer amount of emotion throughout, yet it was also a read which opened my eyes to the incredible work of the medical profession. It also opened my eyes to the challenges that parents of sick babies face, as well as the emotional turmoil and stress throughout the whole process. It was very clear that the not knowing, or the uncertainty of the future was one of the hardest things to come to terms with, as was the putting the life of your child in someone else’s hands.

‘The First Breath’ is a poignant, powerful, and devastating read which covers a topic a lot of mothers, fathers, and families will be able to relate with. I can only thank the author for sharing her own personal story, and I would like to send love to anyone who has ever been in this position.

Buy now!

#suspense · arc · blog tour · book blogger · Book Review · historical fiction · lifestyle · Non Fiction · On location

#BlogTour! #Review – #TheRabbitGirls by Anna Ellory (@AnnaEllory) @LakeUnion @Ed_pr #Auschwitz

Rabbit Girls Blog Tour Banner
It is an honour to be on the blog tour today for ‘The Rabbit Girls’ by Anna Ellory – thank you to EdPr for the blog tour invite and ARC. Here is my review:

The Rabbit Girls high res cover

Berlin, 1989. As the wall between East and West falls, Miriam Winter cares for her dying father, Henryk. When he cries out for someone named Frieda – and Miriam discovers an Auschwitz tattoo hidden under his watch strap – Henryk’s secret history begins to unravel.

Searching for more clues of her father’s past, Miriam finds an inmate uniform from the Ravensbrück women’s camp concealed among her mother’s things. Within its seams are dozens of letters to Henryk written by Frieda. The letters reveal the disturbing truth about the ‘Rabbit Girls’, young women experimented on at the camp. And amid their tales of sacrifice and endurance, Miriam pieces together a love story that has been hidden away in Henryk’s heart for almost fifty years.

Inspired by these extraordinary women, Miriam strives to break through the walls she has built around herself. Because even in the darkest of times, hope can survive.

What does TWG think?

Where to begin? On subject matter alone due to a large portion of the story being set in Auschwitz, ‘The Rabbit Girls’ is a devastating read. Yet on the other hand, Anna Ellory’s novel is heartbreakingly beautiful because of the characters poignant memories.

Set in Berlin in the late 1980’s, ‘The Rabbit Girls’ follows the life of Miriam as she cares for her dying father. Unfortunately, the impending death of her father, Henryk, isn’t the only devastation Miriam has in her life. Without giving too much away, Miriam’s own personal tale is enough to break anyone and, as the story progresses, it is abundantly clear that it has nearly broken her, until a stranger steps in and gives her the strength to realise otherwise, that is.

Miriam’s father is in a bad way, clearly, he is dying. At times he is conscious and aware of Miriam there, and other times all he can do is shout out the name ‘Frieda’. But that wasn’t Miriam’s mothers name, was it? Who is Frieda, and why is Henryk so set on this person?

‘The Rabbit Girls’ is a dual timeline read as it steps back in time, courtesy of letters Miriam has found, and it’s because of those letters that we find out who ‘The Rabbit Girls’ actually were, and why they were called that (amongst other things of course, but spoilers!). I hadn’t heard that terminology before and due to it being related to Auschwitz, I just knew that it wasn’t going to be a case of something cuddly and cute like rabbits are usually associated with. It broke my heart which, is quite a selfish thing to say because I wasn’t the one enduring the heart ache, the pain, the devastation of watching people die and hearing their screams. Why do I, a mere 29 year old who wasn’t even around then, have any right to feel upset about a moment in history which didn’t directly affect me?

It’s simple; because that moment in history was one which moves people, even to this day, because of the sheer atrocities. The people who were in that camp need to have the recognition they deserve, even if they are no longer here to see it, which is why their stories are getting told both fictionally and non fictionally, at the hands of various different authors.

So, not only is this book a poignant, historical piece, it is also a romantic and insightful novel about love once loss and the deep routed power of that four lettered word. I may not have witnessed the pain directly, yet due to Anna Ellory’s beautiful story telling and her emotionally charged historical elements, I was able to feel a snippet of the heartache felt in both Auschwitz, and the world in which Miriam lived in at that time.

Miriam’s story, as I said above, is heartbreaking, harrowing, and simple quite scary. However, it is also a story which was probably extremely common during that time. The sacrifice of ‘The Rabbit Girls’ was jaw dropping and, even though my emotions regarding this book are still very fragile, it was an honour to be able to read such an incredible, incredible novel.

Anna Ellory and ‘The Rabbit Girls’ are forces to be reckoned with, as are all of the victims of Auschwitz. I was blown away by every single word in this novel, and I urge you all to take the time to be in the hands of a story which will leave you absolutely broken, yet hopeful and spellbound, all at the same time.

Buy now from Amazon.

#Harpercollins · arc · book blogger · Book Review · lifestyle · netgalley · Non Fiction

#Review – Not Ready To Adult Yet by Iain Stirling (@IainDoesJokes) @HarpercollinsUK @fictionpubteam

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(Many thanks to HarperCollins for the ARC via Netgalley).

Comedian Iain Stirling is best known as the brilliantly funny voice of the BAFTA-award winning smash hit Love Island. Despite his many accolades, and his mum telling him he s her special little soldier every day, Iain still struggles with everyday adult life. What a textbook millennial.

Looking back at his journey to adulthood, Iain explores why millennials are the way they are and whether that makes us self-obsessed, work-shy, mollycoddled, egomaniacs; or just a misunderstood generation with a crippling fear of failure.

Millennials have been celebrated and scorned; they re the envy, fascination and disgrace of the world. But is there more to this #selfie and avocado-obsessed generation that can t grow up than meets the eye?

Throughout life millennials have been taught that they are perfect and should live a perfect life. They ve been told, whatever happens, don t mess up. And then they enter the real world. And failure quickly rears its ugly head. A head millennials weren t warned about and definitely aren t ready for.

Iain knows a lot about messing up. And he s ready to share.

Funny, provocative and full of his trademark razor-sharp wit, this is Iain s guide to what life is really like for millennials and how they can navigate it better.

What does TWG think?

Tonightttttt……..

Sorry, forgot for a second there that I’m not the Love Island voiceover man, Iain Stirling is! I had the absolute pleasure of meeting Iain in Glasgow last year to get my book signed, and I have to say that, after hearing his voice a lot without seeing him talk due to Love Island, his voice really doesn’t match the person! For a time I genuinely thought that someone was dubbing his voice and that he was doing a Britney by lip-syncing speaking!

I jest.

Or do I?

Iain Stirling is known for several things; his comedy, his Love Island voiceover….and the dodgy pictures on Google from his time as a CBBC presenter. Honestly, google it if you don’t believe me!

I was really looking forward to reading ‘Not Ready To Adult Yet’ because of how relatable the title was. How many of us wake up in the morning and are all like, ‘F off, I don’t want to be an adult, not today, not ever’? It happens, we’re human. This book is incredibly relatable, and incredibly funny. If you wanted a recap of life in the early nineties when Saturday morning T.V. was the absolute BOMB, or if you wanted to get into the mindset of a millennial, you would be in your element with this read, that’s for sure.

Not only that, HE EVEN GETS HIS MUM INVOLVED!! I thought his conversation with Mummy Stirling was so bloomin’ funny! So down to earth and it was clear to see where he got that side of his personality from. Even though this book does talk a lot about the dark side of social media, peer pressure, and the impending doom of adulthood itself, Iain also delves into his own personal life as he looks back on the challenges he faced whilst growing up, as well as the hurdles he had to jump when first starting out as a comedian. Eye-opening for sure, especially when you learn that he told an 8 year old where to go! It makes my sticking my middle finger up at a kid, extremely tame!

I’m not a politics person. I don’t understand it, even though it is incredibly important. So, I will hold my hands up and say that I found the parts regarding politics incredibly sluggish and I felt that they didn’t really belong alongside the hilarity of Stirling’s life. Just my opinion, obviously.

All in all, ‘Not Ready To Adult Yet’ is a honest, eye-opening, and snort inducing read about the things nobody else dares to talk about. The honesty of Iain Stirling is both commendable and ‘HE SAID WHAT?!’ – a brilliant combination from such a down to Earth man. Seriously, you get what it says on the tin with him!

Buy now from Amazon

#extract · #suspense · blog tour · book blogger · BOTBSPublicity · Crime/thriller · extract · Non Fiction

#BlogTour! #Extract from ‘A Cruel Deception’ by Kim Booth (@K_B_Author) @BOTBSPublicity

Many thanks to Sarah for inviting me to take part in the blog tour for ‘A Cruel Deception’ by Kim Booth. Here is an extract from the book, as well as the blurb and the all important ‘buy’ link:

For Joan and Ted Warner, an innocent and trusting couple, a chance encounter with Barbara Hendry, a cunning con-woman who turned their settled lives into a living nightmare

The Warners were not victims of a remote scam, carried out over the internet by fraudsters from afar. For six years, faking a friendship face-to-face, this plausible woman carried off the impersonation of a member of the nobility fallen on hard times, manipulating the emotions of her victims, deceitfully draining them of every penny they had set aside for their retirement, and plunging them into debt.

Hendrys intention was to slip away, having sucked the Warners dry of all their hard-earned savings. But for some dogged investigative work by a determined detective she would have succeeded- and remained free to prey on other vulnerable victims.

Follow this journey of fraud and depravity in the company of the one man who knows the full story – the British detective who cracked the case and brought Barbara Hendry to justice.

Buy now from Amazon

Extract.

During the following months and after having spent a large amount away on the fraud enquiry it was time to return to getting on with my local work and wait for justice to take its course. I had left requests for statements to be recorded from witnesses that I had been unable to see and was waiting for any replies. In my absence there had been a number of burglaries at large houses on the patch that needed looking into, I still had the enquiry to pursue where an “additional” grave had been discovered by a gardener in a local graveyard and I had also been given an enquiry to look into about some very suspicious “goings-on” and a very large country house in the north of the patch. Gossip was rife about women being chased around the very large gardens of the premises scantily clad, chauffer driven cars arriving at all hours of the day and night being let into the premises which were guarded by very large metal gates. I decided to go and take a look to see what was going on, and when I approached the gate was met by a very large male with no neck who when I enquired as to who lived there was told in no uncertain terms to “Piss off!” not a good move really by the man on the gate it only served to feed my appetite as to what was going on.

I had not introduced myself for fear of compromising any future enquiries but as it turned out the premises were owned and being used by a multi-national company as a “knocking shop” where executives would no doubt take advantage of the pleasures on offer to ease the process of any business negotiations! The premises later featured in a national corruption enquiry involving a well-known national company.