#BlogTour! #GuestPost from author of #WartimeAtWoolworths, Elaine Everest (@@ElaineEverest) @ed_pr @Panmacmillan

Wartime at Woolworths blog tour banner
Oh I miss Woolworths!! Author of ‘Wartime at Woolworths’, Elaine Everest, has kindly written a guest post for my stop on her blog tour today! Thank you to Bethan for asking me to be involved in the blog tour, and I hope you all enjoy the guest post!

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The Woolworths girls have come a long way together . . .

Fun loving Maisie, is devoted to her young family and her work at Woolworths. But her happy life with her RAF officer husband, their baby daughter leads her to think of the family she left behind . . . With the war now into its fourth year, what will she find when she sets about searching for them?

Sarah and her husband, Alan, are blissfully happy and long for a sibling for their daughter. But dark days lay ahead for this close family.

Freda heads home to Birmingham, to go in search of her family, back to the life she fled – far from the safety of Woolworths and her new friends.

With families’ separated by war, will the Woolworths girls be able to pull together?

Wartime at Woolworths is the third moving installment in the much-loved Woolworths series by bestselling author Elaine Everest.

Guest Post.

A Day in the Life of a Woolworths Girl
Elaine Everest

When researching the working life of Woolworths workers in World War Two I was
surprised to find little had changed from when I joined the company as a Saturday girl
in 1969 at the age of fifteen and three months which was then the legal age for
youngsters to start work.

My memories of those Saturdays are tinged with the excitement of youth and earning
my own money – the princely sum of one pound before thruppence (old money) was
deducted for National Insurance. That day in March, when I proudly took home my
brown pay packet with the thin strip of paper showing deductions was also the day my
pocket money stopped; but that’s a story for another time.

My day started early when I caught the train from Slade Green for the short one stop
journey to Dartford. We had to be in our uniforms and on the shop floor for the bell
that sounded throughout the store announcing the doors were opening to the public at
8.30 am. As a Saturday girl I could be moved around to where I was needed most and
I often found myself in the windowless basement on the toilet roll dpartment. Toilet
rolls had their own department? Yes, and as soft tissues were still fairly new there
were also boxes of the excruciatingly rough paper with the ‘medicated’ smell that we
used as tracing paper when kids. When not busy you would find all assistants dusting
the stock. I have fond memories of dusting boxes of toilet paper using a feather
duster.

At the beginning of our working day we would be informed whether we were first,
second or third lunch and tea breaks – there was never a chance to slip off to the
bathrooms in between breaks or head outside for a cigarette as workers seem to think
is their rights these days. First lunch break started at 11.30 am and meant the
afternoon would drag whereas third lunch meant we had a short afternoon but had a
long wait for that first tea break of the day. Yes, my favourite was third break as I
could make myself busy until 10.45 as I waited to hear the bell that told me I could
down tools and head up to the staff canteen.

The canteen was always a welcoming place and the staff supplied with freshly baked
goods for tea breaks as well as a cooked lunch. We were well looked after. We would
sign a book showing what we’d had for our meals and this was deducted from our
pay.

The bells ruled our lives and they rung for the start and ends of breaks as well as
lunch. Five minutes before the store closed that bell rang again before the doors were
locked. Until then we were not allowed to leave our counters and had to ensure that
everything was tidy and counters covered for the night. If we tried to slip away early
the supervisors who roamed the store would have had our guts for garters.

A quick dash upstairs to change out of our sludgy green overalls and then we queued
to sign and collect our pay packet – minus anything spent in the canteen that day.
Heading for the station we would stop to look in the window of a boutique or perhaps
pop into the record shop to look at the charts and buy a 45 rpm single then head to the
chip shop for a portion of chips, liberally sprinkled with salt and vinegar, to eat on the
train going home.

Life was good when we were fifteen and even better when we escaped the sound of
those bells! Such was my memory of my life at the Dartford store that many years
later I set my books in the iconic Woolies and had Maisie moaning about those bells
whilst Sarah’s mother-in- law, Maureen, was feeding the staff up in the canteen.
Happy days!

Wartime at Woolworths by Elaine Everest is published on 3 rd May by Pan Mac
(available in paperback and ebook, price £6.99)
Buy now from Amazon

 

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#BlogTour! #Review – #LittleBigMan by Katy Regan (@katyreganwrites) @panmacmillan @MantleBooks @ChablisPoulet

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It gives me great pleasure to welcome Katy Regan to TWG today as I review her latest novel, ‘Little Big Man’ as part of the blog tour. Big thanks to Katie James for the blog tour invite and the ARC of the book. Here is my review:

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Meet 10-year-old Zac – a boy on a mission – in Katy Regan’s new novel Little Big Man . . .

You can’t see the truth from the outside, that’s what I’ve worked out.

Ten-year-old Zac has never met his dad, who allegedly did a runner before he was born. But when his mum lets slip that he’s the only man she’s ever loved, Zac turns detective and, roping in his best friend, hatches a plan to find his father and give his mum the happy-ever-after she deserves. What he doesn’t realize, though, is that sometimes people have good reasons for disappearing . . .

Little Big Man is a story about family secrets and fierce, familial love. It’s about growing up and being accepted; grief and lies, and the damage they can do. Most of all though, it’s about a little boy determined to hunt down the truth; a boy who wants to give the Dad he’s never met a second chance to be a father – and his mum a second chance at love.

What does TWG think?

This review is going to be a personal one and, whilst I would usually apologise for that, this time I won’t because it relates so much to the story.

Have you ever wondered what life would be like if people told the truth?
Have you ever wondered what life would be like if, growing up in a single parent family, you instead grew up in a two parent family?

I have. All Zac has ever known is life with his mum, Grandad and Grandma. With his uncle and dad no longer on the scene, Zac can’t really miss what he hasn’t had. Or can he? With Zac at the age where inquisitiveness takes over from logic, all that little boy wants to do is make his mum happy again by trying to reunite his mum with a dad he’s been told that he has never met. What actually happened all those years ago? Where did Zac’s dad go and why will no-one tell him the truth?

I was three years old when my mum walked away from my dad, taking my brother and I with her, growing up with family members who refused to talk about my father and allowing me to believe that I was better off without him. Maybe I was, maybe I wasn’t – I wish I was given the chance to make that decision for myself instead of being fed pieces of information which later turned out to be a bunch of codswallop. I never got to find that out as, due to the lies I was told, I ended up hating my father and the time we spent together over the years was few and far between, with the last ever time I saw him being 2006 when I was 16. I couldn’t tell my family that I wanted to get to know my dad and spend time with him, because every time I did, hatred flew out of their mouths and I only had one side of the story. Unfortunately, I will spend the rest of my life wondering about the truth, wondering if my dad and I would ever have that ‘father daughter relationship’ I see so many others having, as 2 years ago my dad killed himself.

I related to Zac emotionally, keeping everything crossed that he will get the ending in life he so badly craves. I could see that his mum was doing the best that she could, but my heart broke into a thousand pieces when it came to light that Zac was suffering at the hands of some vile people. All I wanted to do was hold Zac and keep him safe from all the harm in his life, he deserved that. He deserved to be happy, but most importantly, he deserved the truth. Did his family really think so little of him if they weren’t prepared to tell him the truth?

Every family has secrets. Every family tells lies. Every family attempts to keep their loved ones safe from harm, even if it means doing the wrong thing. For a ten year old boy, Zac has such a wise head on young shoulders, taking the cards he had been dealt into his own hands to try to find out what happened, even if it meant upsetting the people who had been there for him his entire life.

‘Little Big Man’ is a gem just waiting to be discovered. A Pandora’s box of guilt, shame, secrets and lies, wrapped up in love, second chances, truths and strength. This is a book which just kept on giving, breaking my heart one moment, whilst sticking it back together with love the next. A story which brought my own hardship to light, yet allowing me to resonate with the main character on such a deep and memorable level. A story which highlighted the emotional sides to families and friendships, yet brought home the true values of those as well.

‘Little Big Man’ is a beautifully written, enchanting, and touching novel which seems to have found a permanent place in my heart. Katy Regan is an author with such majestic, literary skills that made me feel as though I was soaring through the sky on a cloud of hope. I am actually crying writing this review as it really has touched me very deeply. Whilst I can wish that no-one else will go through what Zac went through, I know deep down that he won’t be the first, nor will he be the last, yet his story will be imprinted in my mind, and my heart, for eternity.

This is a book that needs as much love given to it as it gives out to its readers. Love it, embrace it, cherish it and hold ‘Little Big Man’ close to your heart for it deserves it. It deserves it a lot.

Buy now!

#TWGDiscusses – Please STOP saying that e-books aren’t REAL books – it’s offensive! #authors #publishers #ebooks #paperbacks #lovebooks

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I feel like I’m stuck on repeat where this topic is concerned, yet STILL people continue to offend hundreds of authors, and readers, out there with comments such as ‘e-books aren’t real books’. How aren’t they real? An author spends the same amount if time writing a book whether it’s published in e-book, paperback, hardback or on a slate -eye roll-, so why do people continue to say that other formats of books aren’t real?

Let me ask you this….

You know those ‘friends’ you’ve made online yet haven’t currently met offline, would you say that they weren’t ‘real friends’ because they were made online? Probably not, so why is it okay to say that a book, published in a digital format, isn’t as real as those friends you have made using technology?

Think about it.

Authors can spend anything from a few months to a few years, perfecting their manuscript ready for publication, going through various steps such as multiple edits, restructures and so forth – it’s not like they wake up one morning, sit at their computer for an hour and produce a book. It takes time and a lot of patience. Once that manuscript is given to their publisher, it’s then digitalised and printed. Yes, contrary to popular belief, the same manuscript is used for a digital book AND a print book. Who would have thought it?! Obviously with a paperback/hardback you are physically turning the pages and holding the book with two hands, yet with a kindle you’re holding it differently and using one finger to change a page. BUT, have you thought about the different types of readers that are out there in the world? No?

Well you should.

Some readers can’t hold paperbacks/hardbacks due to illnesses.
Some readers can’t read books full stop because they’re blind and rely on audio.
Some readers are chronically ill and they require various different options, depending on their pain on that particular day.
Some readers have various different reasons as to why they would choose one format over another.

All of the above have one thing in common – they all want to read!!

I’ll be honest with you here. Several years ago I would have given you a filthy look if you had said about reading an e-book, but after realising that I was missing out on such fabulous books, I decided to give it a go. Not only that, several years ago I became a lot more ill and holding things for a long period of time was becoming impossible. E-books helped me to feel ‘normal’ and read books just like everyone else, on days where I felt like I couldn’t do anything like everyone else.

I appreciate that not everyone likes e-books and that they prefer paperbacks/hardbacks – that is totally fine! But what isn’t okay is when people say that they prefer ‘real’ books which is insinuating that a digital version of an authors book, is in fact fake. Can’t you see how offensive that is to the author? Just because a book is digitalised instead of being printed on paper, it doesn’t make it any less of a book!

Those ‘real book’ comments are not only offensive to the author who has written them, it’s also offensive to a reader reading them as if the 100 kindle books read last year shouldn’t be included in their Goodreads challenge because they’re ‘not real’. And yes, someone has said that before. If you don’t like e-books, fine! If you don’t like paperbacks, that’s also fine!

But please, please, please STOP saying that e-books aren’t real when they’re as real as the money you paid for them.

Oh, and as those comments are being made on a DIGITAL website, I can’t help but think ‘well isn’t that ironic’. Put your nose where it belongs, remove your snobbery and let people read the books they choose, in the format that they choose without offending a truck load of people in the process.

ALL books are real.
Instead of bashing people with the stupid ‘they aren’t real books’ comments, be happy that people are actually reading and supporting authors in any way they can. Surely that is more important than your snobbery?

#BlogTour! #Review – The Allotment Girls by Kate Thompson (@KateThompson380) @panmacmillan @JessDuffyy #Publicationday

Allotment Girls Blog Tour
Happy paperback publication day to Kate Thompson and ‘The Allotment Girls’! It is such an honour to be given the publication day slot on the blog tour, so I hope I do the author and PanMacmillan proud with my review. You may remember me reviewing Kate’s previous novel, ‘The Wedding Girls’, on my blog last year (#Tour! #Review – The Wedding Girls -Kate Thompson (@katethompson380) @panmacmillan @jessduffyy) which also made my ‘Top Books of 2017’ list, so of course I jumped at the chance to review her latest offerings. Please read on to see what I thought of ‘The Allotment Girls’, and whether this book will be making any lists of mine again this year:

THE ALLOTMENT GIRLS

The Allotment Girls is an inspiring and heartwarming novel of wartime hardship, friendship and fortitude from Kate Thompson, author of the Secrets of the Sewing Bee.

During the Second World War, life in the iconic Bryant & May match factory is grimy and tough. Annie, Rose, Pearl and Millie carry on making matches for the British Army, with bombs raining down around them.

Inspired by the Dig for Victory campaign, Annie persuades the owners to start Bryant & May allotment in the factory grounds. With plenty of sweat and toil, the girls eventually carve out a corner of the yard into a green plot full of life and colour.

In the darkest of times, the girls find their allotment a tranquil, happy escape. Using pierced dustbin lids to sieve through the shrapnel and debris, they bring about a powerful change, not just in the factory, but their own lives.

As the war rages on, the garden becomes a place of community, friendship – and deceit. As the garden thrives and grows, so do the girls’ secrets . . .

What does TWG think?

‘The Allotment Girls’ had me hooked straight away when the story begins with a jaw dropping situation which, if you’re into history, you will find that it is actually based on a real life event. Considering the nature of said circumstance, because I knew it was based on an event which happened many years ago, I found my heart hurting just that little bit more.

If you think this book is just about sowing seeds and tending to carrots, I would think again quite quickly. Whilst it is clear that several characters wish to sow their own ‘seeds’, there is a lot more to this storyline than fertiliser and potatoes. Set during the Second World War in a match factory, the author tells the story of the lives of four girls, Annie, Millie, Rose and Pearl. All girls with such different outlooks on life, yet all connected by one incredibly important thing – friendship. During the war, rationing was incredibly important, which meant that growing your own crops to help feed other families worse off than your own, became the focus of a lot of businesses around London at that time. How can growing your own crops change your life? Well, when it becomes the middle man between eating or starving, you would probably find that you would do anything for food. Or, in the four girls’ case, doing anything for friendship.

Out of all of them, I found myself warming to Millie a lot quicker than the others, as I am a lot like her in terms of her loose mouth! I couldn’t help but feel sorry for Rose and, once you read the book, you’ll understand why. As for Annie, I found her a lot more guarded than the other characters, yet she came across as the one with more common sense. Millie’s situation made me feel nauseous, I won’t lie! Then there’s Pearl – a character who I am having to sit on the fence for!

When I was reading this book, I became incredibly invested in all of the ‘minor’ details, allowing myself to be transported back to such a memorable moment in history. Because of those ‘minor’ details, when the book nearly finished I couldn’t help but wonder what happened to a certain item in the storyline. I have no idea why I thought about that particular item, but I did and I knew I wouldn’t rest until I had found out what happened. Thankfully, when all of the loose ends were tied up in the story, the item turned up which left me with a huge smile on my face. Even though it was such a small detail in the big scheme of things, it was a detail which brought such warmth to my soul when it became apparent what had happened to it. Very, very clever.

I honestly thought that Kate Thompson couldn’t outdo her previous novel, ‘The Wedding Girls’, with this book, but you know what? She absolutely did. The attention to detail throughout the entire storyline was absolutely incredible – I felt like I could smell what the characters were smelling. I felt like I could see the allotment where the girls had been working. I felt like I could sense the terror amongst the families, wondering whether their houses would get bombed in the night. There were times throughout the book where I felt that I could have cut the tension with a knife, and rightly so! A lot of this story was heartbreaking to read – I couldn’t even begin to imagine what those people went through during the war, yet Kate Thompson keeps the memory alive without making a mockery of it.

‘The Allotment Girls’, in my eyes, is exactly how books in this genre should be written. Full of intense situations, emotional moments, flashbacks to the past whilst hoping for the future, Kate Thompson has completely outdone herself where this book is concerned.  I am so tempted to plant something in my garden, just so that I can watch it blossom like the author has blossomed in front of my very own eyes.

‘The Allotment Girls’ is a phenomenal portrayal of lives once lost, futures being crafted, and memories living on. Beautiful, poignant, heart-breaking yet exceptionally written, this book is by far one of my most favourite books of all time.

And you know what? I would give Kate Thompson a big hug if I could, but most importantly, I would give her the most beautiful packet of seeds….just because.

Buy now from Amazon

#TWGTurnsTwo! Happy 2nd birthday The Writing Garnet! #blogbirthday #blogaversary #blogger #TheWritingGarnet

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Happy birthday to TWG!!!! I cannot believe that my little blog turns two years old today, what a corker of a year it has been! When I started The Writing Garnet back in 2016, never in a million years did I think it would blow up like this, nor did I think I would win awards for my blog. I started my blog as a way of saying thank you to authors who continue to allow me to escape my every day hell with stories that make me laugh, make me cry, give me chills – you name it. I’m not even being dramatic when I say that off the blog, my life is a challenge. In this last year, my health has taken even more of a nosedive, with little things like standing up in a queue, starting to become impossible. But, aside from my daughter (obviously), the only other ‘thing’ that helps me keep going is my blog and the community which surrounds it.

In 2016, I was a newbie. I knew nobody yet everyone else knew somebody and, whilst there are still cliques around, I have the most supportive bloggers, publishers, publicists etc around me, I feel like I can do anything with these people beside me. This last year has seen friendships blossom even more so and I am so, SO grateful that I can call these people my friends. I just want to say a massive thank you to Lucy Vine, Katie Marsh, Darcie Boleyn, Jo Robertson, Clair Boor, Katherine Sunderland, Mary Jayne Baker, Vicki Dickinson, Jules Wake, Sarah Hardy, Anne Cater, Noelle Holten, Betsy Reavley, Isabelle Broom, SJV, JB, Linda Green, Sam Carrington, Mairead O’Driscoll Hearne, Nica Hawkins de Koenigswarter, and many, many more, for always having my back, giving me advice, supporting me and giving me a well needed pep talk when I feel like I’m about to give up. I also want to say a massive thank you to all of the publishers and publicists I work with on a day to day basis, for allowing me to read such wonderful books and embark on a journey with them and the author. I also want to say thank you to all of the bloggers who share my posts daily and who continue to make me laugh with their squirrel antics and goodness what else! Also, a big thank you to everyone else who continues to share my posts, like my posts on the facebook page/instagram, and supports me. All of you mean the world to me and I wouldn’t be here without your support. Thank you all for believing in me and being the light at the end of a dark tunnel. I will forever be grateful for your friendship.

So, what has happened this last year? Well, SO MUCH! I was crowned the winner of ‘Most Inspirational Blog’ at the 2017 Annual Blogger Bash Awards – thank you so much to everyone who voted for me! Such an honour!

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I also turned into a mushy mess at the Edinburgh Book Festival where I got to meet one of my idols, Jenny Colgan (yes, I nearly cried). Jenny has been one of my favourite authors for as long as I can remember so it really was a dream come true to finally meet her, AND be quoted on a graphic in support of her new book!

Last year I also got to meet one of my blogger besties, Jo Robertson! You might know her as ‘MyChestnutReadingTree’, and my daughter now knows her as the person who plays Shopkins!

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You know on book covers there is usually a quote from a best selling author? Yeah? Well, HarperImpulse and Mary Jayne Baker made my dream come true last year by putting my quote on the front of MJB’s book. Yes, ON THE FRONT!

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Another highlight from the last year was getting an e-mail from a member of the RNA, stating that I was a nominee for ‘Media/Blog Star of the Year’ in the RNA Industry Awards. Yes, me. I had to double check the e-mail to check that they had sent it to the right person! Unfortunately I didn’t win, but it was still an honour to be nominated and then receive a ‘Runner up’ award – thank you so much.

The Writing Garnet seems to get busier and busier, the more time that passes and, whilst a lot of people think I’m bonkers for taking on over 40 blog tours a month (haha), I am in my element. I really do hope that this year is the year when all of my hard work pays off and I can find a job working from home – that really would be a dream come true.

Whilst all of the above are just highlights, there has been so many things which I am proud of – getting quoted on multiple graphics, having Fern Briton follow me on Twitter, winning multiple competitions via social media, receiving signed books in the post (as well as other amazing book post), and soooo much more. Sometimes I feel like I am dreaming, I really do. I really didn’t expect all of this when I first started my blog and, if I’m being perfectly honest, there are moments where I find that I don’t fit in with the community, and I worry that my words will never be enough, but my passion for books outweighs everything else and even though those worries continue to be there, I just think about how far I have come and why I started this blog in the first place.

Thank you for supporting me and TWG!!

You can ‘like’ my facebook page here!
You can ‘follow’ me on Instagram here!
Or you can ‘follow’ me on Twitter here!

#BlogTour! #Review – #OnlyChild by Rhiannon Navin (@RhiannonNavin) @JessDuffyy @Panmacmillan

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Today on TWG I am reviewing Rhiannon Navin’s heart-wrenching novel, ‘Only Child’. Big thank you to Jess Duffy from PanMacmillan for the blog tour invite, as well as the ARC of the book. Here is my review:

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We went to school that Tuesday like normal.
Not all of us came home . . .

Huddled in a cloakroom with his classmates and teacher, six-year-old Zach can hear shots ringing through the corridors of his school. A gunman has entered the building and, in a matter of minutes, will have taken nineteen lives.

In the aftermath of the shooting, the close knit community and its families are devastated. Everyone deals with the tragedy differently. Zach’s father absents himself; his mother pursues a quest for justice — while Zach retreats into his super-secret hideout and loses himself in a world of books and drawing.

Ultimately though, it is Zach who will show the adults in his life the way forward — as, sometimes, only a child can.

What does TWG think?

Reading ‘Only Child’ was like opening a book with the latest news bulletins in it. No, I don’t mean that the book was written in the style of a newspaper or the ‘News at 10’ program. I simply mean that the theme of Rhiannon Navin’s book is one that is so close to real life, you would expect to see it on the news.

Oh wait. We already have…

Whilst some readers may find this book too close to the bone due to recent events covered in the news over in America, I silently applaud the author for being brave enough to write a book about something which just should not be happening in everyday life. But it is. I know that people choose to read books to escape the harsh reality of day-to-day life, and don’t wish to lose themselves in a book which highlights devastating events across the globe as they could have watched the news. I appreciate that, I really do. But when something happens which makes national news, breaking families in two with the reality of having to plan funerals for their own CHILDREN, why should we hide away from the truth? I’m not saying that this book is easy to read, because it isn’t. In fact, it’s far from easy to read – it is actually heart-breaking. Families like Zach’s, have had to live through the worst news of their life and, whilst I cannot even begin to imagine what they went through, nor can I rectify the situation for them, the least that I can do is read a book which is inspired by every day events. A book which has the chance to open my eyes to what actually happened to multiple families, and will no doubt happen again.

Told via six-year-old, Zach’s, point of view, ‘Only Child’ tells the story of a day which changed lives forever. A gunman has taken over the school. Children and teachers are staying as quiet as a mouse in their hideaway, ensuring that the gunman doesn’t hear them and come for them. Lives have been lost – nineteen lives in fact. Zach is afraid – he just wants to go home. But, when the children are escorted from the school building after the gunman had been detained, Zach’s nightmare is only just beginning…

Zach is a mere six-year-old boy. Six! Even though he can understand a lot of things, he can’t quite seem to understand why his mummy isn’t with him, or why his daddy is telling him to go and play on his own, or why somebody else is taking him to bed without singing the song he usually sings with his mummy….every single night.

Zach’s parent’s are going through a nightmare, working out how to cope with their life which now has a missing piece. I might sound incredibly harsh here, especially as I haven’t been in Zach’s parent’s situation, but the way they treated Zach was heart-breaking. I understand what they have lost and that they need to deal with their emotions, but I found it hard to watch their reactions to the son they have right next to them. It really was no wonder that little Zach went off the rails. How can a six-year-old understand anything if their parents aren’t giving them the time of day?

At around three-quarters of the book, I was sitting in bed wondering why I wasn’t crying. I know I am an ice queen but I didn’t realise I was THAT much of an ice queen. Why wasn’t I crying? Other people did. Then it hit me. Sometimes something can be far too emotional for tears. Sometimes a storyline can devastate you beyond belief, and tears just wouldn’t be enough to convey your emotion. That was exactly how I felt whilst reading ‘Only Child’. My heart was breaking over and over again for the parents, the families, Zach, loved ones – AND for those this had actually happened to in real life.

But then, nearing the end of the book, the flood gates opened due to a comment which Zach had said. The innocence of that comment, broke my heart all over again and I still can’t explain why..

‘Only Child’ is devastating. It’s heart-breaking, it’s emotional, it’s realistic, it’s every parent’s worst nightmare. But, it is also beautiful. It’s also heart-warming. It’s also incredibly eye-opening. Yes, I had issues with Zach’s parents, and yes I did become angry on behalf of that little boy as he had no-one in his corner. It hurt me greatly, but I truly think that whilst ‘Only Child’ is destined to be a marmite read, it’s a story which has to be told to educate people all over the world.

‘Only Child’ is real life. ‘Only Child’ is raw. ‘Only Child’ is devastatingly beautiful and I am in awe at the authors strength and determination when it came to writing this book.

Buy now from Amazon
Buy now from Amazon US

#BlogTour! #Review – The Mother’s Secret by Clare Swatman (@ClareSwatman) @Panmacmillan @Rosiewilsreads

The Mother's Secret Blog Tour Feb 2018
Having fallen head over heels in love with Clare Swatman’s debut novel, ‘Before You Go’, I am delighted to be sharing my review of the authors much awaited second novel, ‘The Mother’s Secret’, which will be published by PanMacmillan on the 22nd February. Huge thanks to the publisher for the blog tour invite as well as the ARC of the book. Here is my review as part of the blog tour:

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The Mother’s Secret is a powerful story about family, secrets and devastating lies

Love keeps us together

Sisters Kate and Georgie have always shared a close bond. While Kate enjoyed the freedoms of youth, Georgie remained at home. But now Georgie is grown up, it’s time she started exploring.

Love can tear us apart

Their mother Jan loves her daughters with all her heart. So what if she kept them out of sight when they were young? She just cared for them so much. She wanted to protect them.

What if your life was based on a lie?

Maybe there was another reason for Jan’s protective behaviour? If they ventured too far afield, it might destroy the facade of their childhood. This family’s about to discover that while lies can cause pain, the truth could destroy them all.

What does TWG think?

We all expect our mothers to tell us the truth no matter what, right? We also put our faith into them from the moment we entered this world, relying on them to guide us and help us blossom as we grow up. But what if you found out that your entire life had been a lie? What if you found out that your mother had been keeping a secret from you all of your life? What if everything you’ve always known, ends up revealing that in actual fact, you’ve known absolutely nothing?

It doesn’t bear thinking about really, does it? I mean, our mothers wouldn’t do that to us….would they?

It feels like I’ve been waiting AGES for Clare Swatman to release her second novel, especially seeing as her debut was one of my top reads of 2017 – how was she going to top that?! Reader, she topped it in a completely different way. Whilst both books are exceptional stories, they are also written completely differently which means that comparing them would be highly unfair. I have fallen in love with both books for various reasons, and by golly Clare Swatman certainly does NOT disappoint with her highly anticipated second novel.

I am genuinely surprised that my heart is now in one piece, given the amount of times it broke in two whilst reading this book! Even though it was pretty clear from the onset where the storyline was heading, including what the big ‘dun dun dun’ moment was that was going to be revealed in due course, it didn’t change my opinion of the book at all. It soon became clear that whilst the heartbreak was made clear early on, the author wrote the book in such a way which was guaranteed to make the reader wish the heartbreak wasn’t true at all. It was as though the entire situation had a big question mark looming overhead – was it true? Or was one of the sisters making a mountain out of a molehill?

I had no idea what to think or what to believe. If the situation ended up being true after all, why did it happen? What reason did they have to go to such lengths to cause long-lasting devastation? I was surprised at a couple of the character’s reactions when the truth came out because of how lenient their response appeared. I even asked myself whether I would respond in the same way if I were in their shoes and, to be perfectly honest, whilst my gut and heart says ‘no’, my mind is saying something completely different.

‘The Mother’s Secret’ has such a high level of complexity throughout the entire storyline, lasting until the very last page. Each individual character had its place within the book, adding another dimension to an already colourful storyline with their vivacious personalities. Unfortunately, those vivacious personalities didn’t last long, though I saw it as a positive as I was able to see an alternative side to the character, finding out a little bit more about what made them tick. For me, the change in the characters meant that I was able to see them as realistic, two-dimensional characters instead of one with a chip on their shoulder. I knew Clare Swatman could write her characters well, but goodness me – this author has really outdone herself.

I absolutely loved this book, even with its shocking, devastating and emotional scenes, it still managed to warm my heart in a way I had never thought possible. ‘The Mother’s Secret’ may be based around one big event, but it also contains a lot of themes which I believe multiple readers will be able to relate to and find comfort in. I really don’t wish to divulge what those themes are in fear of spoilers, so please do trust me.

‘The Mother’s Secret’ opened my eyes to a world of endless possibilities, showing me how to get to the sunshine through the rain. My emotions were tested, my strength was challenged, yet my trust in Clare Swatman’s writing grew even more.

This author can write that’s for sure; she certainly proves that with this heart-wrenching, beautifully written, thought-provoking and absolutely stunning novel about life, loss, lies, trust, and forgiveness, teaching her readers that whilst not everything is ever as it seems, a flower can blossom even during a storm.

Probably one of the best books I have read so far this year, I am in awe at Clare Swatman’s literary skills and the way in which she not only writes to feed the mind, she also writes to feed the soul.

Devastatingly beautiful – I urge each and every one of you to read this book.

Pre-order now.

#BlogTour! #GuestPost from author of ‘In Love and War’ @LizTrenow @Panmacmillan

In Love and War blog tour graphic
Closing Liz Trenow’s blog tour today is me, TWG! Big thank you PanMacmillan for the blog tour invite! It’s a pleasure to be alongside some truly wonderful bloggers, for a smashing author.

I am delighted to bring you a written piece from the lady herself, Liz Trenow. Enjoy!
(oh, and if you wanted to buy her new book, all the details will be after the guest post. Shhhh)

My writing day
by
Liz Trenow

 I write in the mornings when my mind is freshest – usually starting around 8.30ish and continuing till my stomach rumbles for lunch. In the afternoon my imagination seems to close down so then I do research, admin, replying to emails, blogging and, when I’ve got to that stage, proof reading.

I always write in my study, a small room at the front of the house where there are not too many distractions! Out of the window are trees and birds which sometimes distract me, as well as the comings and goings in the front drive. I also keep the door open so I can hear what is going on in the rest of the house. 

 I usually spend twenty minutes or so checking social media and answering emails. This helps me, mentally, to ‘clear the decks’ and gives me permission, somehow, to open the novel. But I don’t start writing new material right away. At least a hour is spent editing and if necessary rewriting the passage I was working on the previous day, easing myself back into the heads of my characters and the trajectory of the plot. Unlike other writers who talk about keeping card indexes on each character I’m lazy about keeping records so frequently have to track back to make sure these are consistent.  

The hardest part is avoiding a soggy middle. At some point I usually experience what Ian Rankin describes as ‘the fear’ when I am some way into the novel. That is when you start to think you are writing complete rubbish that will never get published, and even if it did, that reviewers would slate and readers hate. You just have to work your way through it and hold faith that it will come right in time. 

The other difficult moment, for me, is when I reach the end of the first draft. By this time I’ve lost any perspective on the novel, about whether it is good or bad, which bits work and which don’t. So I try to leave it for a week or so, then print it out and read in another room, straight through, without making any pencil edits if possible. At that point I quite often find myself in despair once more at the amount of work that I think is needed to make it work. However, once I get going on the edits, I begin to enjoy it once more.

Writing a novel is a huge task. It requires months or even years of solitary confinement, and families must be very tolerant of your divided attention. But I love it, and wouldn’t want any other kind of job.

If you have ever wondered what Liz Trenow’s writing day looked like, well, now you know! I must apologise as the guest post stated that there was a photo, however it did not appear after the download.

Here is the all important information about Liz’s new book, ‘In Love and War’, which was published on the 25th January.

51pVy28P5ML._SY346_
Three women, once enemies. Their secrets will unite them.

The First World War is over. The war-torn area of Flanders near Ypres is no longer home to troops, but groups of tourists. Controversial battlefield tourism now brings hundreds of people to the area, all desperate to witness first-hand where their loved ones fell.

At the Hotel de la Paix in the small village of Hoppestadt, three women arrive, searching for traces of the men they have loved and lost.

Ruby is just twenty-one, a shy Englishwoman looking for the grave of her husband. Alice is only a little older but brimming with confidence; she has travelled all the way from America, convinced her brother is in fact still alive. Then there’s Martha, and her son Otto, who are not all they seem to be . . .

The three women in Liz Trenow’s In Love and War may have very different backgrounds, but they are united in their search for reconciliation: to resolve themselves to what the war took from them, but also to what life might still promise for the future . . .

Buy now from Amazon UK

TWG’s #TopBooksof2017! @Bookouture @TeamBATC @Headlinepg @HQDigitalUK @AvonBooksUK @ChoclitUK

The Writing Garnet's
It’s that time of year again when most publishers, bloggers, readers, publicists, (you catch my drift) go through their ‘read’ books of the year, ready to compile a list of their most favourite books. A yearly ritual which sees ‘TBR’ piles growing even bigger, lists being compared, and readers finding new books they wouldn’t have dared to pick up until they read that particular list. A ritual where all the fabulous books us readers/bloggers have fallen in love with over the past year, get celebrated once again.

In lament terms, we get to gush. Having read a total of 318 books in 2017, I knew my #TopBooks list wasn’t going to be small. Have you SEEN the books published this year!? 2017 has been an outstanding year for books. So many debut authors have shone with their debut novels, whilst other authors many already love have upped their game with yet another novel. I have managed to get my list down to a Top 40 otherwise we would have been here until next year going through them, but, in all honesty, I could have happily put most of those 318 books on this list!

In absolutely NO particular order, here are TWG’s #TopBooksof2017!

 

1. A Song for Tomorrow by Alice Peterson
(You can read my review here)
2. The Legacy of Lucy Harte by Emma Heatherington
(You can read my review here)
3. Before You Go by Clare Swatman
(You can read my review here)
4. Sister, Sister by Sue Fortin
(You can read my review here)
5. The Quiet Man by James Carol
(You can read my review here)
6. The Second Chance Tea Shop by Fay Kennan
(You can read my review here)
7. The Year of Saying Yes by Hannah Doyle
(I am still due a full review for all parts of this book – watch this space!)
8. Lost For Words by Stephanie Butland
(You can read my review here)
9. The Woman at Number 24 by Juliet Ashton
(You can read my review here)
10. The Wedding Girls by Kate Thompson.
(You can read my review here)

11. Blink by K.L.Slater
(You can read my review here)
12. A Time to Change by Callie Langridge
(You can read my review here)
13. The Doll House by Phoebe Morgan
(You can read my review here)
14. Too Damn Nice by Kathryn Freeman
(You can read my review here)
15. Another Woman’s Husband by Gill Paul
(You can read my review here)
16. The Law of Attraction by Roxie Cooper
(You can read my review here)
17. I’m Still Standing (previously titled ‘Reach For the Stars) by Colleen Coleman
(You can read my review here)
18. 37 Hours by J.F.Kirwan
(You can read my review here)
19. If You Could See Me Now by Keris Stainton
(You can read my review here)
20. Til The Dust Settles by Pat Young
(You can read my review here)

21. The Betrayed by Casey Kelleher
(You can read my review here)
22. The Detriment by David Videcette
(You can read my review here)
23. The Chateau of Happily Ever Afters by Jaimie Admans
(You can read my review here)
24. Skin Deep by Laura Wilkinson
(You can read my review here)
25. Trust Me by Angela Clarke
(You can read my review here)
26. Summer at the Dog and Duck by Jill Steeples
(You can read my review here)
27. Hot Mess by Lucy Vine
(You can read my review here)
28. It Started With a Tweet by Anna Bell
(You can read my review here)
29. A Little Christmas Faith by Kathryn Freeman
(You can read my review here)
30. A Little Luck, A Lot of Faith by Linn.B.Halton
(You can read my review here)

31. Dying Breath by Helen Phifer
(You can read my review here)
32. Dying Day by Stephen Edgar
(You can read my review here)
33. Scream Blue Murder by Tony.J.Forder
(You can read my review here)
34. The Little Clock House series (book 1&2) by Eve Devon
(Reviews can be found here and here)
35. Murder Game by Caroline Mitchell
(You can find my review here)
36. The Lost Child by Patricia Gibney
(You can find my review here)
37. The Man Who Died by Antti Tuomainen
(You can read my review here)
38. How To Be Champion by Sarah Millican
(I still need to write my review for this book – watch this space!)
39. Bad Sister by Sam Carrington
(You can read my review here)
40. The Other Mother by Judith Baker
(You can read my review here)

Phew! I’m knackered now! If any of the above books tickle your fancy, all purchase links can be found on the review link below each title. So many incredible books written by such fantastic authors – it has been an absolute honour to have been given ARC’s of a majority of the above books. I would like to say a huge thank you to:

Simon&Shuster // ChocLitUK // Harper Impulse // PanMacMillan // Bookouture // Aria
Headline // Bombshell Books/Bloodhound Books // HQDigitalUK // Faber Books 
Accent Press // Avon // Orion // Orenda & Bonnier Zaffre

for giving me the opportunity to read all of the above books. I would also like to thank all of the authors above for writing such jaw dropping and emotional reads! I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again – this year has been a fantastic year for books and I want to extend another thank you to every author and publisher behind each and every one of the 318 books I have read this year. Just like many readers, I use books to escape and without you writing/publishing those books, I truly don’t think that I would be able to cope.

Whilst 2017 has blown me away, 2018 is set to be another brilliant year for books as well – my number one novel to watch out for in 2018 is ‘Anatomy of a Scandal’ by Sarah Vaughan which is due to be published on the 11th January 2018. I was very lucky to receive an ARC of this book before publication and you can read my review (as well as pre-order the book) by clicking here.

Did any of YOUR favourites pop up in my #TopBooksof2017? Let me know in the comments if any have, or whether you have decided to nab a few of these books for your own TBR piles!

2017, it has been a bookish pleasure. I cannot WAIT to see what 2018 brings in terms of books!

#BlogTour! #Review – A Winter Love Song by Rita Bradshaw @panmacmillan @ed_pr

Blog Tour Artwork for A Winter Love Song

A WINTER LOVE SONG cover.jpg
A Winter Love Song is a heartwarming and moving story of survival and love from bestselling author Rita Bradshaw.

Bonnie Lindsay is born into a travelling fair community in the north-east in 1918, and when her mother dies just months later, Bonnie’s beloved father becomes everything to her. Then at the tender age of ten years old, disaster strikes. Heartbroken, Bonnie’s left at the mercy of her embittered grandmother and her lecherous step-grandfather.

Five years later, the events of one terrible night cause Bonnie to flee to London where she starts to earn her living as a singer. She changes her name and cuts all links with the past.

Time passes. Bonnie falls in love, but just when she dares to hope for a rosy future, WW2 is declared. She does her bit for the war effort, singing for the troops and travelling to Burma to boost morale, but heartache and pain are just around the corner, and she begins to ask herself if she will ever find happiness again?

What does TWG think?

Without sounding too macabre, I absolutely love read a saga which is set during war time. Obviously I don’t find other people’s misfortune entertaining at all, it’s just the whole vibe of a wartime setting mixed with fictional characters and fictional stories, all inspired by a real life situation, makes me feel as though I can sink my teeth into the storyline without too much of an issue. I have always been fascinated with history so to then mix an interest of mine into novel reading – I’m sure you can see why I get so excited about this genre!

Anyway, back to the book.

Bonnie has had her own fair share of heartache over the years. Not only did Bonnie lose her mother at a young age, she was then faced with the devastating situation of then losing her last remaining parent. Nobody understood Bonnie like her father did. Nobody wanted to understand Bonnie. Instead, she’s left misunderstood with a knee-jerk reaction to flee. Will Bonnie ever get her happy every after? Will Bonnie finally be loved for who she is and everything she stands for?

I felt so sorry for Bonnie as it was like she constantly got the short end of the stick. Everywhere she turned there seemed to be something bad about to happen, or she would end up faced with memories of the bad times past. I had my fingers crossed that she would find true happiness, but without sounding too pessimistic, I wasn’t entirely convinced that she would. I felt that Bonnie was exceptionally hard on herself in a lot of ways, which unfortunately made it harder for me to gel with her as a character as I couldn’t find a way to get through to her.

As the story progresses we see Bonnie’s life take a very different turn, although the feeling of sadness was waiting around every corner, ready to strike again.

I felt that the historic nature of the storyline shone through really well, which in turn made me able to see various characters in very different lights.

I am being really vague with this review as the storyline is rather complex and I would hate to give anything away. Even though I felt that the complexity was definitely a positive, I did find myself becoming a little bogged down by the overall heaviness of the novel itself. Don’t get me wrong ‘A Winter Love Song’ really is a lovely read, but the fact I had trouble keeping up with every situation in the book meant that I couldn’t enjoy the storyline as much as I would have liked.

Overall I did enjoy ‘A Winter Love Song’ – it ignited multiple emotions from deep within whilst also keeping the historic element poignant all the way through.

Thanks Pacmacmillan.

Buy now from Amazon UK