#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.

#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.

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.

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.

#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!

#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.

#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

#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.

#BlogTour! #Review – #FiveStepsToHappy by Ella Dove (@EllaRoseDove) @TrapezeBooks @Tr4cyF3nt0n

I hope I do this book justice today! Huge thanks to Tracy Fenton and Trapeze for the blog tour invite and ARC, I am delighted to be today’s stop on the blog tour for ‘Five Steps To Happy’.

Life can change in a heartbeat…

When struggling actress Heidi has a life-changing accident aged 32, her world falls apart. Stuck in hospital and unable to walk, her only companion is Maud, the elderly lady in the bed next to hers. Heidi misses her flatmate, her life, her freedom – surely 32 is too young to be an amputee?

But when Maud’s aloof but attractive grandson Jack pays a visit to the ward, Heidi realises that her life isn’t over just because it’s different. It might not look like the life she dreamed of, but it’s the one she’s got – and there’s a lot she still wants to tick off her bucket list. With Jack at her side, will Heidi take the first step back to happiness? Or is there one more surprise still in store…?

A feel-good read based on the inspiring true story of journalist Ella Dove. Sometimes all it takes is one small step..

What does TWG think?

How the hell do you review this?! ‘Five Steps To Happy’ may be fiction, however it is based on the true story of the authors own life, and all I can say it……wow.

Ella Dove is one helluva woman, and one helluva author. I knew, after racing through 10% of the book in a matter of minutes, that it was going to be a good’un. You know when you just get that feeling about something? I had that and then some. I mean, how does anyone even come back from a situation like this? I know that some people have no choice but to carry on, and others feel as though they cannot cope, but can you honestly blame them for being upset by what’s happened? I can’t. I felt like shouting at the book; ‘don’t tell Heidi to cheer up, you have no idea how she feels!’.

‘Five Steps To Happy’ tells the story of Heidi and her journey as she finds her ‘new normal’ after becoming an amputee after a freak accident. As well as Heidi’s emotions, the storyline sheds light on the domino effect of the accident and how Heidi’s loved ones are struggling to cope with what’s happened.

This was such an eye-opening and poignant read – I had no idea about the journey which amputees go on, nor how long the ‘rehab’ is before they can go back to living in their home. On a personal level, I was able to resonate with some of Heidi’s emotions as I am losing the ability to walk myself, with the prospect of being unable to walk completely by the time I’m 40. Now I’m not taking the owniss off Ella or Heidi by saying that, it’s just I felt comfort by the rollercoaster of emotions, the worry at finding a ‘new normal’, feeling guilty and such. Walking is something we take for granted and it’s not until that ability is hindered, do we realise just how much a part of us walking actually is.

Being based on a true story, the emotion and frustration was very genuine and, because I was aware of the authors story, I felt that Heidi’s emotions hit me a lot harder because someone had actually been in that position if you get what I mean. It wasn’t as though Ella Dove was writing the scenes based on second hand knowledge via other people’s stories.

Talking of other people, I LOVED Maud!!! I just wanted to wrap her in a huge hug and take care of her. Such a lovely, lovely character.

Towards the end of the book, I’m not ashamed to admit that I cried. I honestly couldn’t hold in my emotion any longer. ‘Five Steps To Happy’ is one of the most beautiful, uplifting, honest, and empowering novels i think I have ever had the pleasure of reading. You don’t need to be an amputee to appreciate the powerful words in this story, you just need to have a heart and be willing to listen. People who have found their whole life change over night aren’t expecting people to understand, they’re just wanting people to take the time to listen and be present.

Such a wonderful, wonderful book with a very important message within. I adored its beauty, and I adored the authors magnetic storytelling – I am jealous of everyone who gets to read this for the very first time.

Buy now.

#BlogTour! #Review – The To-Do List by Amy Jones (@jimsyjampots) @EburyPublishing @AnneCater

Many thanks to Anne Cater and Ebury for inviting me to take part in the blog tour for ‘The To-Do List’ by Amy Jones. Also, thank you to the publisher for my ARC – I am delighted to share my review today.

How not to be good? Let me list the ways…

Are you a woman? Do you make to-do lists to stop you losing your mind? Have you ever cried in the toilets at work, had a meltdown in the supermarket, or gone off the rails at a hen party?

And have you ever been saved from any of the above by your truly brilliant friends?

If you’ve answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, then this is the book for you. A moving, funny and brutally honest memoir of one woman’s millennial misadventures, The To-Do List and Other Disastersfollows Amy Jones on her journeys through friendship, marriage and mental health disasters in a story that’s as relatable as it is riotous.

What does TWG think?

Have you ever walked through the street, comparing yourself to every person you went past? Have you ever assumed that someone else’s life is perfect simply because they’re not you?

‘The To-Do List’ is Amy Jones’ own personal journey with mental health. Not only does the author share her honesty regarding how she feels about her body, she also admits her sensitivities when other people look at her. Are they mad because of something she has done? Are they annoyed with her? How can she fix it? Even if Amy didn’t have a clue as to whether the person had an actual issue with her, her insecurities niggled at her to make her feel like the world and its wife was against her.

You may read this book and struggle to understand why the author is ‘creating’ problems that aren’t even there, but the thing is, that’s what mental health is all about. People with depression, anxiety, stress disorders etc, struggle to rationalise things like someone without mental health issues. We battle day in, day out, with every little thing. It doesn’t matter if we don’t want the battle because the sneaky little bastard that is mental health, takes over everything.

I do think that Amy Jones was incredibly brave to put her struggles out there, especially seeing as we are in a world where ignorance is bliss and people are too quick to assume. I found her humour enlightening and I loved how she wasn’t afraid to make light of situations even when she didn’t have the energy to do much else.

A book like ‘The To-Do List’ is a difficult book to review because the hook of the book, so to speak, is actually the authors life and it’s not like anyone can sit there and say ‘nah your life was boring’ because that’s not fair. Yeah, this book had a prominent theme, but it didn’t have the bog standard ‘grit’. Not that it should have to be honest, after all, the topic of mental health has it’s own amount of intensity to it.

I was able to relate to a lot of what Amy discussed, and I truly believe that anyone with mental health struggles, body image issues, or anything in between, would totally benefit from the authors optimism and poignant honesty.

Buy now.