#Review – How to Walk Away by Katherine Center (@katherinecenter) @Panmacmillan @EllisKeene

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Maggie Jacobsen is just about to step into the bright future she’s worked so hard and so long for: her dream job, a fiancé she adores and the promise of a perfect life just around the corner. But on what should have been the happiest day of her life, everything she worked for is taken away in a single catastrophic moment.

In hospital Maggie is forced to confront the unthinkable. First there is her fiancé, Charlie, wallowing in self-pity while demanding forgiveness. Then there’s her sister Kit, who shows up after pulling a three-year vanishing act. Finally there’s Iain, her physical therapist, the one the nurses said was too tough for her. Iain, who won’t let her give in to her despair, who makes her cry, but also manages to make her laugh . . .

Maggie’s new life is nothing like she expected. But could it be more than she had ever dared hope for?

What does TWG think?

I just want to say a quick sorry to the publishers for taking a little while to read the book they so kindly sent me (thank you Panmacmillan!).

When I picked up Katherine Center’s novel, ‘How To Walk Away’, I had received news that I was likely to end up being unable to move my left leg permanently, due to chronic health issues. I think there was something deep within my subconscious that was telling me to read this novel for a very good reason. I don’t read blurbs beforehand you see, so I was completely unaware of the theme of the book, but with the title of ‘How To Walk Away’, I merely assumed that maybe a main character needed to find the strength to walk away from something that wasn’t meant to be. Was I right?

Good question – both yes and no will answer that, and I will tell you why.

Maggie has the life she has longed for right at the end of her fingertips, ready for her to make it her own, ready for her to enjoy with every ounce of her being. Until one night where everything changes, where Maggie has to found the courage to walk away from something that will no longer never be, whilst also trying to find the strength to walk into a new life. It sounds so simple when its written down, doesn’t it?

Obviously I won’t go into detail about what happened that night, nor will I divulge what Maggie had to walk away from, however, the reason why my subconscious told me to read this book was due to how I would end up relating to the main character. Don’t get me wrong, what Maggie endured was absolutely catastrophic, and my own issues will never take that away from the character. That said, after receiving my own devastating news as I mentioned at the beginning, Maggie’s feelings ended up mirroring my own and in a weird sort of way, I found that quite therapeutic. I mean, I couldn’t exactly speak to random people and explain my situation as they wouldn’t have a clue what to say, yet because myself and Maggie had some similarities, I was able to tune myself into her feelings by having the courage in my own mind to sit there and go ‘omg, me too’ alongside someone going through a situation that was (very loosely), similar to my own.

I couldn’t help but feel extremely emotional whilst reading ‘How To Walk Away’, as the way in which Katherine Center wrote her characters lives was breathtakingly devastating. Their lives were written from the mind of someone who knows how to feel, and I can only assume that the author has endured her own fair share of heartbreak because the emotion covered in this book was natural, whilst also being written with such poise and power.

Maggie’s story highlighted how drastically relationships and friendships can change in the blink of an eye, with those changes making your place in someone else’s world extremely evident. You see, sometimes when things happen, the person involved may find themselves no longer fitting in to how somebody else views their future because of what has happened. I know, it hard, but it certainly shows the colours of those you thought you knew. Unfortunately for Maggie, that is what happened and my heart broke for her all over again. Surely if you love a person deeply, it won’t really matter whether they lose their arms/legs/hair etc, as they’re still the same person deep within. Right?

As you already are aware, ‘How To Walk Away’ brought extreme emotion out of my eyeballs and onto my pjs and bed – in other words, I sobbed. How could I not? Maggie’s journey is heart wrenching yet totally life affirming. For me, I read this book at the right time without even knowing it, and by golly am I glad that I listened to my subconscious.

‘How To Walk Away’ is a beautiful, beautiful story about learning how to live life again, whilst also learning how to love yourself despite the heartbreaking challenges you have had to face, or currently do face, without those who you thought would be by your side until the very end. This life affirming, powerful read will strip back your emotions, lower your guard, and take you on a journey of self discovery.

I was severely blown away by this book, and I genuinely cannot recommend it enough.

Buy now!

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#BlogTour! #Review – False Witness by Michelle Davies (@M_Davieswrites) @PanMacmillan @AnneCater

Delighted to be kicking off the blog tour for Michelle Davies’ ‘False Witness’. Apologies for the delay, Storm Ali has been mucking about with my power. Thank you to Anne Cater for the blog tour invite and the ARC. Here is my review:


7.15am: Two children are seen on top of a wall in a school.
Shortly later one of them lies fatally injured at the bottom.
Did the boy fall or was he pushed?

As a family liaison offer, DC Maggie Neville has seen parents crumble under the weight of their
child’s death. Imogen Tyler is no different. Her son’s fall was witnessed by the school caretaker,
a pupil is under suspicion, and Imogen is paralysed by grief and questions.
For Maggie, finding the truth is paramount if she is to help the mother. But as she investigates,
further doubts emerge and the truth suddenly seems far from certain. Could the witness be
mistaken about what happened, and if he is, then who is responsible? And how far will they go to
cover up the boy’s death?

What does TWG think?

‘False Witness’ may be the third book in the series (a series which I am yet to catch up with), but I had no problem with reading this book as a standalone.

Have you ever been in a position where you have thought, ‘ahhhhh, one little lie won’t hurt?’ To be honest with you, I’d be more surprised if anyone says no to that question! But what if it was your child that was at the end of the ‘did they lie?’ question? Would you think that one little lie wouldn’t hurt then, or would you stick by your child no matter what? Or, what if other people are lying, yet choose to point fingers at the weakest link in the situation, the child who watched the devastation unfold?

I know, I know – so many questions. I was like a deer caught in the headlights until about half way through this book as all of the questions I asked above, went through my head multiple times. I didn’t know where to turn. I didn’t know who to believe. All I knew was that Maggie Neville was at the core of the investigation, holding the key to unlock the truth about the unfortunate death of a young child.

The theme of this book is incredibly hard-hitting, and it doesn’t make for easy reading at all. However, Michelle Davies kept the theme dignified without making it come across as insensitive free for all. I was rather impressed by the way in which the author wrote the situation as it must have taken a lot of careful research to not only do the subject justice, but to also keep it as realistic as possible.

Even though I had faith in Maggie Neville despite not knowing her previously, I couldn’t help but feel a little bit uncertain regarding her priorities which left me a little bit nervous.

‘False Witness’ is definitely a book which will keep you in suspense, whilst also making you feel as though your mind is in a constant state of fast forward. I’m looking forward to reading more from this author!

Buy from Amazon

About the author.

Michelle Davies was born in Middlesex in 1972, raised in Buckinghamshire and now lives in
north London.

Her debut crime novel, Gone Astray, was published in Hardback in March 2016 and features
Family Liaison Officer DC Maggie Neville as its central police character. The paperback version
is due for publication on 20th October 2016. Gone Astray was part of a two-book deal with Pan
Macmillan and the follow-up, Wrong Place, also featuring DC Neville, is due for release on 27th
February 2017.

When she’s not turning her hand to crime, Michelle writes as a freelance journalist for women’s
magazines including Marie Claire, Essentials, YOU and Stylist. Her last staff job before going
freelance was as Editor-at-Large at Grazia and she was previously Features Editor at heat. She
began her career straight from school at 18, working as a trainee reporter on her home-town
newspaper, the Bucks Free Press.

#BlogTour! #Review – #SomewhereBeyondTheSea by Miranda Dickinson (@wurdsmyth) #TeamSparkly @PanMacmillan @Ed_pr

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Let’s get sparkly!! I am so, SO excited to be today’s stop on Miranda Dickinson’s blog tour for her latest sparkly novel, ‘Somewhere Beyond The Sea’. Thank you so much to ED Pr for the blog tour invite, and a big thank you to Miranda and PanMacmillan for the ARC. Here is my review:

Somewhere Beyond the Sea

Can you fall in love with someone before you’ve even met?

Seren MacArthur is living a life she never intended. Trying to save the Cornish seaside business her late father built – while grieving for his loss – she has put her own dreams on hold and is struggling. Until she discovers a half-finished seaglass star on her favourite beach during an early morning walk. When she completes the star, she sets into motion a chain of events that will steal her heart and challenge everything she believes.

Jack Dixon is trying to secure a better life for daughter Nessie and himself. Left a widower and homeless when his wife died, he’s just about keeping their heads above water. Finding seaglass stars completed on Gwithian beach is a bright spark that slowly rekindles his hope.

Seren and Jack are searching for their missing pieces. But when they meet in real life, it’s on the opposing sides of a battle. Jack is managing the redevelopment of a local landmark, and Seren is leading the community campaign to save it.

Both have reason to fight – Seren for the cause her father believed in, Jack for his livelihood. But only one can win. With so much at stake, will they ever find what they are really looking for?

Miranda Dickinson’s Somewhere Beyond the Sea is a sparkling tale of love, life and finding magic where you least expect it.

What does TWG think?

Having been a huge fan of Miranda Dickinson’s since her ‘Take A Look At Me Now’ days, I nearly cried with excitement when this beauty came through the letterbox! As weird as this sounds, Miranda Dickinson writes the types of novels that you so desperately want to read, yet you keep putting it off because you just know that you will be bereft when the book comes to an end. It’s crazy how super fans can tell that just from looking at the cover! I’m so just so pleased that I wasn’t wrong as ‘Somewhere Beyond The Sea’ is an incredibly special read – I am envious of every single reader out there who gets to read this book for the first time.

Seren is dealing with the grief of losing her father, as well as dealing with the mess that was left after his passing. Whilst Seren knows that her mother would want her to carry on her father’s legacy in the village, she knows deep down that taking over his shop isn’t her dream, just like it is no longer her father’s.

Poor Seren isn’t the only character who is dealing with grief, local builder and single parent, Jack, is as well. Although after reading between the lines, it makes me wonder whether Jack is indeed dealing with grief, or whether he is dealing with a lot more.

Can I just say that Jack’s daughter, Nessie, is a HOOT! The things that that girl came out with had me in hysterics! She sounded so much like my own daughter, it was uncanny.

Obviously Jack and Seren aren’t the only character’s living it up in this novel, just wait until you get to know Aggie! What a flamboyant and brilliant character she is, love her!

I think I underestimated just how magical ‘Somewhere Beyond The Sea’ was. From the very first page I felt as though I was given a pair of wings. By the time I reached the middle of the book, I felt as though I was given a magic wand to go with the wings. Then, by the time I nearly reached the end of the book, I felt as though every inch of me was covered in fairy dust, preparing me for the beauty that was going to come before I closed the book completely. No other book has made me feel as though I was a magical fairy, and no other book has made me feel emotional due to how beautifully written the storyline was.

I wish I could do the book justice with my review, but I just know that nothing I  can say would come close to conveying just how captivated I was by Seren and Jack’s story. It’s very clear that the author has written every single piece of this book from her heart, as the overall vibe of the story is something that can only be learnt via own personal hardships, and not from googling how certain situations can make you feel.

‘Somewhere Beyond The Sea’ highlighted how important it is to chase after your dreams before it’s too late. It taught me that unless you have taken time out to breathe, you will not be any use to anyone else. Not only that, this book showed me that even though there are times in our lives which are incredibly dark, just like the night sky, somewhere, something will always be shining just for you, even if you cannot see it there and then. You just have to believe in yourself, your abilities, and your dreams.

I am getting quite choked up writing this review as I am writing it from my heart and then some. Just when I thought Miranda Dickinson couldn’t write any better than she does already, she goes and writes a novel which ends up becoming my most favourite book that she has ever written, as well as being my most favourite book of 2018 so far (and I have read 194!).

Captivating, heartfelt, poignant, and incredibly powerful, ‘Somewhere Beyond The Sea’ is THE book to read right now – THIS is perfection. Simply stunning.

Buy now!

What a difference, a day makes – or in this case, the month of May! #MonthlyRoundUp #TopBook (@NoelleHarrison @bwpublishing)

The Writing Garnet's Book of the Month is......
It isn’t often that I do a monthly roundup, purely because I often forget. However, I felt the urge to do one for the month of May because I feel that I have to speak out about a few things, and what better way to do it than in a roundup post! #KillTwoBirdsWithOneStone

So, what happened in May?

The highlights!

– TWG was involved in 52 blog tours, the highest amount of blog tours in one month, ever!
– I met up with author, Mary-Jayne Baker, in Edinburgh for bookish chat.
– My TWG Facebook page  hit 1602 likes!
– I went over 5000 followers on Twitter, despite starting with around 100 or so when I started blogging two years ago.
– I found myself being quoted yet another book cover (thanks Bookouture!), as well as being quoted on Amazon itself!
– I received so many wonderful proof copies through the post, as well as being approved for other many awesome books on Netgalley. Big thank you to the publishers/publicists who have either sent me books or approved me. You’re all amazing!
– I have had many wonderful bookish chats with my fellow book buddies on social media – love you all!

There have been, I’m sure, many other highlights but it is quite difficult to remember them all when you make yourself do so! Like most things, there is always a downside:

The Lowlights.

May was the month where I was trolled on social media not once, but twice in the matter of one week. Now, despite being told that other people have had similar and just to ignore, for me that isn’t easy and I’ll tell you why. From the age of five, I was horrifically bullied, tormented for the hair on my arms to how I spoke, being pushed into brick walls to then having a metal sellotape holder slammed down on my knuckles. I was even told that I was fat day in, day out, where I ended up battling with anorexia and bulimia. Whilst I would love to say that the bullied ended quickly, it didn’t. For some, comments on social media are like water off a ducks back. But for me, when they come across as personal attacks, similar circumstances or not, I find them to be a trigger. It isn’t nice because it then sets off my mental health which in turn sets off my chronic illnesses. Thankfully I have drawn a line under that, but I just wanted to speak about that.

Another lowlight in May involved the entire blogging community and the idea of ‘paid reviews’. I won’t get into it again, but I am sick and tired of hard working bloggers getting thrown under the bus by people who can waltz in without giving a damn about integrity or hard work. I don’t charge for my book reviews, and I don’t intend on doing so. I review because I love books and because I feel that I am forever in authors debts for writing books which allow me to escape my daily hell. And yes, it is often hell.

Again, another one which involved the entire book blogging community was when it became known that someone was selling ARCs/proof copies on Ebay. The fact that it says somewhere on the proof ‘not to be resold or used for quotation’, is neither here nor there…..clearly. Seriously, receiving proof copies from publishers/publicists is an honour and I feel privileged to be able to receive some amazing books through my letter box. Would I then go on to sell them on Ebay? Like fuck would I. Respect is earned, not given. Respect isn’t an entitlement, it’s a privilege.

The following lowlight is a personal one for me and one which I have ummed and ahhed about saying. Those who know me personally, or those who have read my previous posts, will know that I am rather lacking in the ‘healthy’ area, with illnesses such as fibromyalgia, hypothyroidism, joint hypermobility syndrome, carpal tunnel syndrome, IBS, anxiety and depression, under my belt. It’s bad enough dealing with all of that, but now, after years of battling with doctors who told me it was ‘all in my head’ and being looked at like I had two heads, I am now being treated for CFS otherwise known as ME. I was also put on a new medication, one which isn’t going to become my bestie anytime soon that’s for sure (amitriptyline). Coming to terms with yet another illness at the ripe ‘old’ age of 28 is heart-breaking, and once again I’m left feeling like I am grieving a part of me now gone. Although to be fair, I’m surprised that there is anything left of ‘me’ to grieve but y’know! I want to say a personal thank you to a person who has been checking in with my every few days despite going through their own issues, and that big thank you is for Abbie Rutherford – your friendship means a lot to me, thank you for being there for me <3.

Enough of the lowlights, lets talk books!

With 52 blog tours in one month, I got through quite a lot of books in May such as:

#Review – The Things We Need to Say by Rachel Burton (@bookish_yogi) @RaRaResources @HQDigitalUK

#BlogBlitz! #Review – One Summer in Rome by Samantha Tonge (@SamTongeWriter) @RaRaResources @HQDigitalUK

#BlogBlitz! #Review – What Holly’s Husband Did by Debbie Viggiano (@DebbieViggiano) @Bookouture

#BlogBlitz! #Review – Lead Me Home by CS Savage (@sarahsavage26) @BloodhoundBook

#BlogTour! #Review – The Wedding Date by Zara Stoneley (@ZaraStoneley) @RaRaResources @HarperImpulse

#BlogTour! #Review – #SunshineandSweetPeas in Nightingale Square by Heidi Swain (@Heidi_Swain) @simonschusteruk

& many, many more.

It is such an honour to be involved in the blog tours/blog blitzes for incredible books, so thank you to the publishers who invite me to take part!

If I did have to choose just one book from May, it would have to be ‘The Gravity of Love’ by Noelle Harrison. That book blew my mind like nothing before, plus I managed to make the author AND the publishing team cry with my review. I loved everything about the book and everything it stood for, and I am sure that you will too. In case you missed my review the first time round, you can read it again here:

#BlogTour! #Review – The Gravity of Love by Noelle Harrison (@NoelleHarrison) @bwpublishing

The Writing Garnet is going from strength to strength and I can only thank you all for supporting me along my journey, sharing my blog posts/tweets, inviting me on tours, and involving me in a community that sometimes I don’t feel worthy enough to be in. It is such a joy to be able to share my love of books with you all, so thank you <3.

What’s coming up in June?

As it stands, I have 40 blog tours in my diary for this month already. I expect that to go up when I realise that I have included all of the tours by forgetting to write some of them down (it happens, but I do post them on time!). We are on the 5th June and I will have taken part in 11 blog tours by the end of today. Insane, but amazing. I don’t have many other bookish plans for June at the moment, well, apart from the usual, but I am looking forward to reading some fabulous books!

Lots of love and books,

TWG x

#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

 

#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

Which books are REAL books?-2
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

The Writing Garnet-5
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!

inspirational

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!

Jopic
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!

coverquote
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

Only_Child_Blog_Tour_v4
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:

9781509855582

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