#BlogTour! #Review – Pawlife Guide: Dog Care at Home by Gina Harding (@pawlifeau) @rararesources

PawLife Guide Dog Care at Home Full Tour Banner

Something a little bit different for you all today! I am delighted to be on today’s stop on the blog tour for ‘Dog Care at Home’ by Gina Harding. Many thanks to RaRaResources for the blog tour invite and review copy. Here is my review:

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DOG CARE AT HOME gives you the information you need to have a happy and healthy dog no matter what your dog’s current stage in life, in just 10 minutes a day. Over 200 hours of research including interviews with veterinarians and fellow dog owners around the world, Dog Care at Home is the all-in-one book to have at home, with six veterinarians that have contributed to this ultimate guide, rest assured you are in reliable hands.Inside you will discover:- Choosing the right breed- The basic steps of raising a puppy- What vaccinations are for and why your dog needs them- Travelling with your dog- How to perform CPR on your dog- Health and hygiene including dental care- Choosing the right veterinarian- When it’s time to say goodbye- And much more!PawLife’s Dog Care at Home is the answer for all your dog parenting needs in one comprehensive guide that ensures your dog lives a long, healthy and happy life.

What does TWG think?

Whether you have a dog currently, or you are looking to welcome a new four legged friend into your home, Gina Harding’s ‘Paw Life Guide’ has the information you need to ensure you are making the right decisions for you, your family, and your potential (or current) furry friend. As I already have a dog, I was already aware of a lot of information printed in this guide. However, you need to be aware that the author has written prices and processes based on she lives in Australia. Whilst a lot of the information is unlikely to differ, just ensure that you follow the processes required for your country or local authority, especially as prices differ due to exchange rate and veterinarians.

Aside from that, this guide is an informative starter read which would be ideal for someone thinking about welcoming a dog into their family. I do think that it was put together very well with the focus being on the animal in question as opposed to humans, but it didn’t flow as much as I would have liked it to.

I think beginner pet owners would benefit from Gina Harding’s book for sure, and I especially loved how the guide stipulates how important it is to pick up after your own dog in public places.

Buy now!

Author Bio

Gina is an enthusiastic dog lover, so much so that she founded her own dog blog business called PawLife, which has been awarded top 10 Australian Dog Blog. This wouldn’t be possible without her best friend Harley, who is a toy poodle mix. They are continually going on new adventures, testing out new squeaky toys.

Gina recently discovered her writing passion and wanted to create the ultimate guidebook that would support, educate and inspire pet parents and yet to be pet parents around the world. Gina and Harley are originally from Australia, where the weather is always beautiful. This is Gina’s first book and looks forward to writing many more to help fellow pet-parents; with her fur-baby Harley by her side.

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Giveaway – Win a 12 Piece Dog Toy Starter Box from Zenify (Open Internationally)

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*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

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#BlogTour! #Review – #ALetterFromParis by Louisa Deasey (@LouisaDeasey) @ScribeUKBooks

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Second and final blog tour of the day is ‘A Letter From Paris’ by Louisa Deasey. Many thanks to Scribe for the blog tour invite and the ARC of the book. Here is my review:

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When Louisa Deasey receives a message from a French woman called Coralie, who has found a cachet of letters in an attic, written by Louisa’s father, neither woman can imagine the events it will set in motion.

The letters, dated 1949, detail a passionate affair between Louisa’s father, Denison, and Coralie’s grandmother, Michelle, in post-war London. They spark Louisa to find out more about her father, who died when she was six. From the seemingly simple question ‘Who was Denison Deasey?’ follows a trail of discovery that leads Louisa to the libraries of Melbourne and the streets of London, to the cafes and restaurants of Paris and a poet’s villa in the south of France. From her father’s secret service in World War II to his relationships with some of the most famous bohemian artists in post-war Europe, Louisa unearths a portrait of a fascinating man, both at the epicenter and the mercy of the social and political currents of his time.

A Letter from Paris is about the stories we tell ourselves, and the secrets the past can uncover. A compelling tale of inheritance and creativity, loss and reunion, it shows the power of the written word to cross the bridges of time.

What does TWG think?

Isn’t that book cover simply stunning?! I know we often get told ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’, but I’m going to hold my hands up and say that the cover is the reason why I decided to read this book. I have never been to Paris , I want to though, and I love the simplistic Parisian element to the cover which made me want to visit the iconic city even more.

So, what do I think of the contents of the book? Well, ‘A Letter From Paris’ is completely different to anything I have ever read before. I have read memoirs (and loved them), yet there was something so unique about the style of this book. Maybe it’s because it was written by the daughter of the person, instead of the person themselves. Or, maybe it was because I had never read a memoir which seemed so together yet so broken. And no, I don’t mean that in a bad way.

Seeing as Louisa’s father passed away when she was just six years old, her memories of her father were quite jaded and the past became incredibly distant the more time went on. With no-one to talk to about her father, Louisa ended up resorting to a library in Melbourne where her research ended up knocking her for six emotionally. It soon became clear that Louisa was struggling with no knowing who her father truly was but, thanks to a Facebook message, her luck soon changed.

‘A Letter From Paris’ is an incredibly deep and meaningful read, which goes to great lengths to highlight just how far one person would go to uncover the truth. Louisa’s father had an incredibly complex life, and I must say that it was a great pleasure to read about a man who had served in the war. It was always an honour to accompany Louisa in the journey of self discovery as she attempted to find all of the missing puzzle pieces where her father was concerned, so that she could rest knowing exactly where and who she came from.

Whilst I did enjoy reading this moving book, I did find myself becoming a little bit overwhelmed by the journey as it was so intense and jam-packed with pieces of information. I know that is definitely a good thing when it comes to a book, but when its a non-fiction read, too much at once can be a little bit daunting which is what happened with me here. My issue.

All in all, I am so glad that I took a chance on this memoir based on my love of the cover. An enchanting, insightful and heartwarming read which just makes you realise how important the puzzle pieces of life are.

Buy now!

#BlogTour! #review – Where Has Mummy Gone? by Cathy Glass (@CathyGlassUK) @RosieMargesson @HarperNonFic

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As a massive fan of Cathy Glass’ novels, I was over the moon to be asked to take part in the blog by the lovely Rosie from HarperCollins. Thank you so much for having me, and thank you for the ARC. Here is my review:

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The true story of Melody, aged 8, the last of five siblings to be taken from her drug dependent single mother and brought into care.

When Cathy is told about Melody’s terrible childhood, she is sure she’s heard it all before. But it isn’t long before she feels there is more going on than she or the social services are aware of. Although Melody is angry at having to leave her mother, as many children coming into care are, she also worries about her obsessively – far more than is usual. Amanda, Melody’s mother, is also angry and takes it out on Cathy at contact, which again is something Cathy has experienced before. Yet there is a lost and vulnerable look about Amanda, and Cathy starts to see why Melody worries about her and feels she needs looking after.

When Amanda misses contact, it is assumed she has forgotten, but nothing could have been further from the truth…

What does TWG think?

I have read many novels written by this author, and each time I read them I have to mentally prepare myself for what might be waiting for me underneath the front cover. Now, some people might take that as a criticism, however, if you have read a ‘Cathy Glass’ novel before, you will be well aware that every one of her books is based on the true story of a child she has fostered. It doesn’t take a visit to Google to cement the fact that fostering can be very emotional to read about (and very emotional to actually do), and Melody’s story is no different. With a title of ‘Where Has Mummy Gone?’, I could hazard a guess that a child would be asking where their mummy had gone, but what I didn’t expect, however, was just how eye opening that innocent question was.

Where did her mummy go?

I warmed to Melody straight away, even though she came across a little aggressive. There was obviously something deep-rooted within her to feel like that, but again, nothing could have prepared me for the storyline that unfolded.

‘Where Has Mummy Gone?’ is such an emotionally charged, heart-breaking and raw novel which highlights drug dependency, as well as the very emotional and devastating life changes which children in care have to endure. Bear in mind that Melody is only eight years old. Yes, children can be taken into care at any age, but even so, eight is still a very young age to have to deal with what Melody did. She really is a little gem and I am sure that all of the people around her are extremely proud of her. I know I am and I haven’t even met her!

Don’t worry if you haven’t picked up a Cathy Glass novel before, or if you have never read a book with foster care as the core theme, as Cathy Glass keeps the language very simple without coming across as patronising. For example, if a social work term is used, Cathy Glass ensures that that term is explained as an ‘off the cuff’ sort of comment instead of making the reader feel like they should know what those terms mean. You aren’t supposed to. Plus, I think the way in which Cathy Glass explains things is probably ingrained in her due to her many years as a foster carer.

Obviously I don’t want to bad mouth the system as they’re there for a reason, however I couldn’t help feel frustrated at one of the social workers attitude to certain aspects of this book. I understand that they have a right of care to the child and have certain boxes to tick, but I just think this person in particular could have been a bit….how can I put this…compassionate.

Once again, Cathy Glass has blown me away with a poignant story about Melody’s life, allowing her readers to watch the little girl spread her wings and have a life that all children should have. I won’t lie, this is incredibly emotional and pulled at my heartstrings something chronic, even the parts which were focused on Melody’s mum, Amanda. I couldn’t help but feel very touched by her story and how that was concluded.

A beautiful, heartwarming, and devastatingly raw novel – I would recommend it in a heartbeat.

Buy now!

#BlogBlitz! #Guestpost from author of Chasing Black Gold, Robert Stone (@rstonecbg) @RaRaResources


It is a pleasure to welcome to TWG, author of ‘Chasing Black Gold’, Robert Stone! As part of the one day blog blitz, I have a guest post to share with you all today. But first, here is a little bit more information about Robert’s book, as well as the chance to win a signed copy of Robert’s book!


ROBERT STONE was a serial entrepreneur – an enterprising individual, mostly on the wrong
side of the law, who spent twenty-five years operating all over the world, before being
arrested in Switzerland as a result of an international manhunt led by an Organised Crime
Drug Enforcement Task Force. Over the course of his career, Stone earned and lost several
lifetimes’ worth of fortunes, went to prison on three continents, used dozens of aliases, saw
men die, and masterminded one of the biggest marijuana smuggling operations in criminal
history. Fuel smuggling in Africa, trading fuel with generals, rebels and businessman, was
both his career high and, ultimately, what brought him down.

Purchase from:

The History Press
Amazon UK
Waterstones
Barnes and Noble
Amazon US

Giveaway!

Prize – Win 10 x signed copies of Chasing Black Gold (Open Internationally)
*Terms and Conditions – Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the
Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all
valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all
entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is
used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of
the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for
fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data. I am not responsible for
despatch or delivery of the prize.

Enter the giveaway!

Guest post from author, Robert Stone.

I’m currently working on Chasing Deep Gold. It is a nonfiction tale of my career in the Commercial Oil
Field Diving Industry and a prequel to Chasing Black Gold

When I was working The North Sea I ended up being mainly involved in Hyperbaric Welding. There
were only a few of us in the world certified to do it. Taylor Diving and Comex were the leaders in this
field.

Hyperbaric Welding is welding (mainly pipelines) in a dry atmosphere on the ocean floor. The dry
atmosphere was created by lowering a SPAR or Submersible Pipe Alignment Rig with a welding
habitat in the centre. The SPAR was maybe 60 foot long and 20 foot wide weighing in around 80 –
100 tons.

You were either replacing flanged connections, joining newly laid pipelines together or repairing
damaged sections of an existing pipeline.
Because pipe welding was extremely difficult and took years of experience to get it right the bosses
at Taylor decided they would train pipe welders from the lay barges how to dive. The logic was any
monkey could learn how to dive but it took a skilled man to weld pipe.
The first winter they taught the welders how to dive in a 30 foot deep tank in Belle Chase Louisiana.
Clear water- breathe in breathe out – wearing a helmet- easy peasy- what was all the fuss about?
They then were put in saturation at a special hyperbaric facility where the depth and the welding
could be simulated. This was slightly more difficult for them to get used to as living in a 7 foot
diameter 20 foot long chamber with 5 other guys for a couple of weeks takes some getting used to but
they did. Welding arcs behaved differently under pressure as well but they were experienced hands
and adapted to it.

Everything went well, the welding procedures were certified and we mobilized in The North Sea
early Spring to go do some tie-ins in The Ekofisk Field in Norway.
The Offshore Industry and the diving business in general is much different today than it was in the
1970’s. Today personnel work shift of 2 weeks on 2 weeks off or 2 weeks on 3 weeks off. Divers have
to have double time off so two weeks in saturation means four weeks off. Back then our contracts
were for a minimum of 4 months. Ask to leave before that you would lose your 10% bonus.
You went into sat and basically didn’t come out until the year was done. You could opt out if
weather was on or they were doing a crew change if you wanted but I never did. This particular year
I spent 210 days offshore straight with 207 of them in saturation. It was 72 days in (my longest sat) 1
day out, 69 days in, 2 days out and the next 66 in before de-mobilising in Rotterdam.
(In my diving career I spent a total of 2265 days in saturation. That is over 6 years in a small tank
with 8 other guys. No wonder the time I later spent in prison was such a doddle.)
The regular diving crew went into sat and prepared the job for the welder divers. We lined up the
pipes, broke the concrete weight coating off using sledge hammers. Busting concrete for 4 hours on
the ocean floor is hard work. They estimated we burned up 7-8000 calories per dive. We set the
SPAR and lowered the habitat over the pipes and sealed it off then blew it down with a breathable
atmosphere. In this case a mixture of O2 and Helium.

Now it was time for the welders to come in and go to work. 3 divers went into the decompression
lock and the 6 welder divers came in. I was in the first bell run. The outside bell lights had fused and
were not working so when we got to the bottom and equalised all these divers saw in the mist was a
cold black hole and told me no F’n way and refused to go out. We ended up going up and changing
out the team. Next guys said the same thing. What we had was a barge costing $500,000 USD / day
doing nothing.

We ended up going down, running a line over to the habitat and taking the guys one by one by hand
over to the habitat. Wouldn’t be allowed today as we had to leave the bell unattended. They
managed to get the welds done but that winter the company taught a few of us divers how to weld
pipe!

#Review – My Mad Dad by Robyn Hollingworth (@MyMadDadStory) @trapezebooks @orionbooks

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Inadvertent cross-dressing
Attempted murder
Jail break
A waltz at a funeral
A hernia the size of Guernsey

Heartbreaking and darkly comic, these are the moments that litter the messy road from cared-for to carer, a journey that Robyn Hollingworth finds herself on when she’s only twenty-five years old.

Leaving London to return home to rural South Wales, Robyn finds that it’s her old life – same teddy bears resting on her pillow, their bodies tucked under the duvet; same view of the garages behind which she’d had her first cigarette and first kiss – but so much has changed.

Her dad, the proud, charmingly intelligent, self-made man who made people laugh, is in the grip of early onset Alzheimer’s. His brilliant mind, which saw him building power stations and literally bringing light into the lives of others, has succumbed to darkness.

As Robyn settles back in the rhythms of life in the rain-soaked vast Welsh valleys, she keeps a diary charting her journey as the dad she knew disappears before her eyes. Lyrical, poignant and with flashes of brilliant humour, My Mad Dad explores how in helping others we can heal ourselves.

‘At some point the cared for become the carers…this isn’t a shame and it isn’t a tragedy and it isn’t a chore. It is an honour. To be able to return the gift of love that someone bestows upon you is a gift in itself. This is a story of caring…’

*Thank you to Netgalley and Trapeze for the ARC which I have reviewed voluntarily*

What does TWG think?

I’ll be honest (when am I not?); I have no idea where to start with my review of ‘My Mad Dad’. I’m not struggling with my words because I disliked the book, not at all. In fact I feel the complete opposite – I adored it. Move over Catwoman, Batwoman and whoever else Marvel have womanised, there’s a new superhero in town, and she goes by the name of SuperRobynHollingworth!! I’m not even exaggerating. ‘My Mad Dad’ moved me to tears more than once. I would have done anything to give Robyn a big, big hug. Not to make her feel bad or anything, but the tears weren’t dripping out of my eyes because of the type of sadness you feel when you stub your toe or you watch a video on Facebook with a dog in it, they were water falling out of my eyes because I was utterly heartbroken and it wasn’t even me going through it.

When it comes to reviewing non-fiction/memoir type novels, I always say that I will review the book purely based on the content as non-fiction books can be written in a different manner to fictional novels. However, I am breaking my rule with this book as I thought the way Robyn told her story was incredible. Not only did she manage to convey her thoughts in a structured manner, ensuring that her readers aren’t confused by any medical jargon throughout the book, but she also wrote it as though she was sitting with one person and talking to them face to face. There were no airs and graces, no pregnant pauses or fake emotion, Robyn seemed to keep it real.

‘My Mad Dad’ tells the story of Robyn’s dads diagnosis with Alzheimer’s and how that one word changed not only his life, but his family’s as well. Whilst that topic is the main focus of this book, Robyn has also written about many other emotional events around the time of the diagnosis. I won’t give anything away, but I wasn’t prepared at all for my eyes were digesting. How one person can not only deal with caring for her father, but also come to terms with the permanent disappearance of something or someone else, is astounding. There were times throughout the book where Robyn admitted that this wasn’t what she signed up for at the age of twenty five, whilst also making it clear that she found it incredibly difficult at times, yet she still did what she did out of love for her family. What caught me a lot was how Robyn didn’t believe just how incredibly special she is, stating that a lot of other people’s lives are worse than hers, or that people go through worse things than her. Of course, everyone thinks that when they’re dealing with tough events because it becomes a barrier for what emotions we have left, yet if you look at the bigger picture on that thought, it’s clear that we end up devaluing our own actions when in fact we have been to hell and back. That is what I thought about what Robyn said. Maybe it’s because I am an outsider looking in at her past, seeing things that only someone who isn’t directly involved in the situation can see, I don’t know. What I do know is, is that Robyn went through utter hell, emotionally and physically, as she watched her beloved father disappear before her very eyes. Gone were his sarcastic one liners and high intelligence, instead being replaced by a man who was no longer sure of anything, even his own daughter.

I know that I have mentioned how Robyn went through hell, many times, but please don’t think that I am disregarding her other family members who endured severe pain at the time too. I cannot even begin to imagine how her father felt as he watched himself fall into an uncertain state. Or how Robyn’s mother felt when she ended up enduring her own fair share of heartache and devastation. Or even Robyn’s brother, the only person at that time who knew what Robyn was thinking, without even saying anything, fighting his own grief yet still protecting his sister. I mean, just wow.

‘My Mad Dad’ is a raw, poignant, emotional, inspirational, and relatable read which completely blew my mind in every direction. Even whilst writing scenes which would bring a stone to tears, Robyn was still able to find a piece of humour to hold onto. I sometimes felt bad that I was creased with laughter despite sobbing my heart out five minutes previous. Robyn has an incredible way of getting her message across as though it’s the most natural thing in the world. Because it is. This is her message, this is her life and having seen the devastation first hand, this is natural to Robyn.


I cried like a baby in the foetus position, laughed like a hyena, and increased my knowledge a lot quicker reading this book than if I had consulted my best bud, Google. Personally, ‘My Mad Dad’ is a book which I think every single person on this planet should read, even if they haven’t been directly affected by Alzheimer’s.

I need to stop rabbiting on now as I feel like the waterfall is ready to get going again. I will leave you with this though; sometimes in life we find ourselves in a dark tunnel without any light to guide our way and, contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t matter how long we stay in that tunnel or whether we get told that we ‘should be out of it by now’, as long as we manage to find the way at some point, we are winning at life without even realising it. And, Robyn Hollingworth is winning a life for having the courage to get her thoughts out on paper, even if they weren’t all rainbows and sunbeams. She is an inspiration in every form possible, and this book is truly outstanding.

Buy now from Amazon

#BlogTour! #Review – #IFoundMyTribe by Ruth Fitzmaurice (@RuthONeillFitz) @VintageBooks @AnneCater

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Last but not least, the final blog tour of the evening is for a book that I found very touching; ‘I Found My Tribe’ by Ruth Fitzmaurice. Thank you, as always, to Anne Cater from #RandomThingsTours for the blog tour invite, and to Vintage Books for the ARC. Here is my review:

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Ruth Fitzmaurice has two extraordinary families.

She has her husband Simon, a filmmaker with advanced Motor Neurone Disease who
can only communicate with his eyes via a computer. Together they have five children
under the age of 10, as well as Pappy, a cantankerous Basset Hound. They are kept
afloat by relentless army of nurses and carers that flows through their house in
Greystones, on the East Coast of Ireland.

And then there is Ruth’s other family – her Tribe of amazing women. Amidst the chaos
and the pain that rules their lives, The Tragic Wives Swimming Club congregate together
– in summer and winter, on golden afternoons and by the light of the moon – on the sea
steps at Women’s Cove. Day after day, they throw themselves into the freezing Irish sea.
In that moment, they are free. Later, they will share a thermos of tea, teeth chattering,
hands shaking, ready to take on the world once more.

An invocation to all of us to love as hard as we can, and live even harder, I Found My
Tribe is an urgent and uplifting letter to a husband, family, friends, the natural world and the brightness of life.

What does TWG think?

What can I say about ‘I Found My Tribe’? No, seriously, I’m genuinely asking! This is a book about one lady’s life as she watches the love of her life, her husband, lose his independence and ability to move, thanks to the nasty bastard that is Motor Neurone Disease. Having only heard of this illness and never really having the need to expand my knowledge on the subject, hearing about it first hand from someone whose life revolves around said disease is both eye-opening and devastating at the same time.

However, it isn’t just Ruth and Simon travelling on their MND journey, their five children (all very young) join them too. Whilst I believe that it must be such a difficult subject to discuss with young children who may not quite understand exactly what it is happening, I still feel that they’re all incredibly strong. Part of me feels patronising saying that, but it’s true. I cannot even begin to imagine what the family, and of course Simon, must go through on a day to day basis both physically, and emotionally. Even though the delivery of this novel wasn’t as flawlessly brought together like other memoirs I have read, it weirdly didn’t bother me as it was very clear that Ruth needed this book as her escape and her way of being able to bring awareness to such a devastating illness.

‘I Found My Tribe’ doesn’t just focus on Ruth’s husband, Simon, it highlights what Ruth was able to turn to in her hour of need. I know that Simon is the one with MND, but the psychological and emotional hurdles must knock Ruth for six.

The fact that Ruth had found her way to let off steam at such an emotional time, really did make my heart swell. Not only does she have to be strong for her husband, she also has to be strong for her children, making her abundantly aware that she cannot be strong if she doesn’t take the time out to re-energise, and what a way to do it.

‘I Found My Tribe’ left me with a lot to think about. This is an incredibly honest and moving memoir which not only manages to highlight the devastation one disease can bring, it also highlights how important it is to find something to hold onto when the seas get stormy. Or in Ruth’s case, finding her tribe so that they can swim together in those stormy seas.

I Found My Tribe will be published in paperback on the 28th June. You can pre-order and buy the e-copy here.

About the author.

Ruth Fitzmaurice was born in 1976 and grew up in Co. Louth,
Ireland. She was a radio researcher and producer when she married film director and
writer, Simon, in 2004 and had three children. In 2008, Simon was diagnosed with Motor
Neurone Disease and given three years to live. Simon went into respiratory failure in
2010 and was accidentally placed on a ventilator during an emergency procedure. He
decided, against medical advice, to keep the ventilator; Ruth and Simon went on to have
twins in 2012. In January 2016, Ruth wrote her first piece for the Irish Times about family life and a new passion, sea swimming. She lives in Greystones, Co. Wicklow, with her five children Jack, Raife, Arden, Sadie, Hunter, a dog and a cat. Simon passed away in
October 2017.

Twitter @RuthONeillFitz

#BlogTour! #Review – #AloneTime by Stephanie Rosenbloom (@Stephronyt) @TransworldBooks @HJ_Barnes #SoloTraveler

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I am delighted to be hosting the second (and final) blog post for the Paris portion of the blog tour for Stephanie Rosenbloom’s ‘Alone Time’! Huge thanks to Transworld Books for the blog tour invite and ARC. Make sure you check out tomorrow’s stop on the tour as their focus is on Istanbul!

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Travelling with friends and family is usually thought of as a privilege. In theory, anyway. In practice, it’s more often about debating which sights to see, panicking over diminishing phone batteries and bickering over what to eat. Not much joy in that. But alone you can do as you please. You can wander markets, relish silence, go to a park. Go to Paris. Why not?

In Alone Time, New York Times travel columnist Stephanie Rosenbloom travels alone in four seasons to four remarkable cities – Paris, Istanbul, Florence and New York – exploring the sensory experience of solitude. Along the way she illuminates the psychological arguments for alone time, revealing that whether you recognize it or not, it’s good to be alone now and then.

This is a book about the pleasures and benefits of savouring the moment, examining things closely, using all your senses to take in your surroundings, whether travelling to faraway places or walking the streets of your own city. Through on-the-ground observations and anecdotes, and drawing on the thinking of artists, writers and innovators who have cherished solitude, Alone Time lays bare the magic of going solo.

What does TWG think?

Four different cities, four different seasons, and one solo traveller. Is travelling alone considered brave, or a disaster waiting to happen? Personally, I think it’s a brave thing to do. I have never been to any of the four cities mentioned in this book (booooo) and, whilst I would take someone’s arm off to do so, I would poop my pants if I had to travel out of country, all on my own. Stephanie Rosenbloom however, decided to embark on a solo travel to various parts of the world, highlighting the importance of ‘Alone Time’. So yes, I do think that she is brave because being ‘alone’ has always been considered as a negative thing. A lot of people dislike spending time on their own. A lot of people feel happier when they’re surrounded by a lot of people. Me? I’m used to being on my own, but that doesn’t mean that I am brave enough to travel to a foreign country on my own!

As I said above, people consider being on their own as a negative thing, so when someone is out and about in a restaurant grabbing dinner by themselves, people look at them like they have two heads. Why do people think its weird if someone eats out alone? Should we make people feel bad for grabbing their spaghetti carbonara in an Italian restaurant on their lonesome? No, we shouldn’t. I love the fact that Rosenbloom sticks two fingers up (in the most politest way) to the belief that dining out alone isn’t right. She proves that its right! She’s gone and done it in four different cities! Although saying that, maybe their outlooks are different compared to ours?

I enjoyed the premise of ‘Alone Time’, and I thought that it was rather interesting following Stephanie’s journey of self discovery as it gave me a lot of food for thought, making me view things in a completely different manner. I do appreciate that this is a memoir, but I found that the addition of the quotes took me away from Stephanie’s personal experience. Even though ‘Alone Time’ is an honest account, part of me thinks that it could have gone a little bit deeper in terms of Stephanie’s personality.

‘Alone Time’ is an enlightening, thought-provoking read that will give you the kick up the backside to go and do something on your own, that you wouldn’t normally do. It’s about time that someone took the negativity away from being alone, and I can’t think of a better way to do it than this. Job well done, Stephanie!

‘Alone Time’ will be published on the 14th June, but it can be pre-ordered now from Amazon

#BlogTour! #Review – A Long Way From Home by Cathy Glass (@CathyGlassUK) @HarperNonFic @RosieMargesson

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It is such an honour to be taking part in yet another one of Cathy Glass’ blog tours – thank you to the team at HarperNonFic for the blog tour invite, it really does mean the world to me! Unfortunately, we have reached the end of the blog tour and it gives me great pleasure to close the tour with my review of Cathy Glass’ brand new novel, ‘A Long Way From Home’.

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The true story of 2 year-old Anna, abandoned by her natural parents, left alone in a neglected orphanage.

Elaine and Ian had travelled half way round the world to adopt little Anna. She couldn’t have been more wanted, loved and cherished. So why was she now in foster care and living with me? It didn’t make sense.

Until I learned what had happened. …

Dressed only in nappies and ragged T-shirts the children were incarcerated in their cots. Their large eyes stared out blankly from emaciated faces. Some were obviously disabled, others not, but all were badly undernourished. Flies circled around the broken ceiling fans and buzzed against the grids covering the windows. The only toys were a few balls and a handful of building bricks, but no child played with them. The silence was deafening and unnatural. Not one of the thirty or so infants cried, let alone spoke.

What does TWG think?

Just like every other Cathy Glass novel, what is written is a true story with all of the important details (names, places etc) changed to protect the identity of those involved. If you think that you’re going to be reading a novel that tells you what you want to hear when it comes to adoption – think again. Whilst Cathy Glass does state multiple times throughout that adoption is fantastic, and how many adoptions are completed with no issues whatsoever, there are situations where adoption becomes the polar opposite to what you had originally thought. Unfortunately, this story is one of them.

Elaine and Ian were a couple who were determined to have a family of their own. You can’t really fault them for that now, can you? After going through all of the legal documentation, dotting their I’s and crossing their T’s, the couple chose to adopt outside of the UK. Naively, I had absolutely no idea that children were left to suffer in such neglected conditions due to the high level of poverty in various countries. Was this an eye-opener? Most definitely. By page 6 of the book, a lump had already formed in my throat – if children can go through such heartbreaking times, I can read the book until the end. The lump in my throat was nothing compared to what those children had to endure.

Elaine and Ian believed that they were doing the right thing by adopting out of the UK, potentially saving a child from a bleak future if they were to be left in the orphanage. Judging by the couples reactions to what they saw that day, I truly believe that their eyes were opened as well. I think that they knew things were bad overseas, but I don’t think that they were quite expecting what they saw with their very own eyes. To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t expecting it either. Obviously, adoption overseas comes with a lot of barriers, with the most important one being language – would the staff in the orphanage understand what the couple were trying to say? Would the child they were going to adopt, learn to understand this new funny language? It isn’t as easy as filling out a few forms, ticking a few boxes and then going to pick up your new child like you were going to pick up a click and collect order from your local Argos. There is so much involved and what really opened my eyes, was the fact that bringing your new addition to the family home is just the tip of the iceberg.

When the storyline changed to Cathy’s viewpoint, my heart sank as I knew what was going to happen, but I couldn’t believe it. I think my heart broke for the child and everyone involved. I applaud Cathy for what she did with Anna and how she managed to turn a questionable situation into something more manageable. That said, part of me felt quite deflated in regards to the adoptive parents. Granted I wasn’t in their situation, nor was I there to witness Anna’s personality, but I couldn’t quite understand their reaction to an older Anna. Here was a child, screaming out to be loved in the only way she knew how, with her new mummy looking at her like a blank piece of paper. I am not judging the parents because like I say, I wasn’t in their situation so I cannot form an opinion on how they acted. However, I can form an opinion from what I read and I would be lying if I said it didn’t catch me, because it did.

‘A Long Way From Home’ really opened my eyes to the side of adoption which people fail to mention. Yes it broke my heart, and yes I found it quite difficult to read, but I needed to be educated about that sort of thing and I am glad that Cathy Glass was the person to do that. As a huge fan of this author for many years, Cathy Glass’ work never fails to let me down, nor does any new release make me less inclined to read another of her books – in fact, with every book I read of hers, I have to go and buy a new one straight away just so that I can get into the mindset of children who find themselves in a situation no child should ever be in.

This book is heart-wrenching, I’m not going to lie, but it is also beautifully written and something which everyone needs to learn about. Not everything is all sunshine and roses, but with Cathy Glass supporting children, I really do think that she is a special type of angel.

Buy now from Amazon

#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

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.