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

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

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

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

Until I learned what had happened. …

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

What does TWG think?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Buy now from Amazon

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#BlogTour! #Review – #IfIFall by Ella Harper (@Ella_Harper) @canelo_co

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Two years ago I read my first Ella Harper novel before I was even a blogger! Fast forward two years and I am now on the blog tour for one of my most favourite authors. It is an absolute honour to share my review of ‘If I Fall’ by Ella Harper, today, as part of the blog tour organised by publisher Canelo. Big thank you to Canelo for the blog tour invite and the ARC of the book. Here is my review:

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I’m really sorry for what I’m about to do…

It’s fifteen years since graduation, and Connie, Jonas, JJ and Layla have managed to remain close despite the odds. They’ve supported each other, but are some things too big for friendship?

Connie is desperate to maintain the veneer of perfect family life.

Jonas is feeling the pressure at work.

Layla’s career is unravelling thanks to her ill mother

JJ’s past is catching up with him.

When they stumble and fall, who will be there to catch them?

What does TWG think?

I really don’t think my review will do this book justice in the slightest, I really don’t. Whatever I write, really wouldn’t showcase the storyline in the way that it needs to be showcased. Seriously. I will try my very best to get my thoughts across but trust me on this; you NEED to read this book, like right now.

Four friends. Four different personalities. Four completely different lives. Fifteen years are a long time for someone who you once knew, to become someone you no longer know. These four friends really do highlight the saying of ‘nobody knows what happens behind closed doors’. Just because you’re a best friend to somebody, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you know every single thing about them. What if they’re too ashamed to tell you their deepest, darkest secret? What if they’re holding something back because they have absolutely no idea how to deal with? What if they think their problem is theirs and theirs alone, despite knowing that their friends are there for them if needed?

Are they REALLY there for them?

Without going into too much detail; Connie, Jonas, JJ, and Layla have gone through so much together. Marriages. Births. Deaths. Health concerns. Family issues. You name it, they have probably given one another their shoulder to cry on. Yet, each of the four characters are going through such difficult times which they attempt to deal with on their own. Obviously, without telling you what happens in the book, you’re probably sitting there a bit confused as you have no idea what I am talking about. However, please do trust me (again) when I say that you need to read this book – everything will become much clearer.

If a heart was physically able to break multiple times in the space of 400 or so book pages, you’ll be able to see how much this book affected me. My heart genuinely felt like it was constantly breaking. Not for all of the characters though, there was character in particular which I’m sorry to say, I couldn’t muster up any empathy or sympathy towards. Yes, this character was going through a difficult time, but in all honesty, does that excuse actions which lead to devastating results? Personally, no. No it doesn’t.

Whilst reading ‘If I Fall’, I remember struggling to breath as I was so upset for one character. I wanted to scream ‘NOOOOO’ out loud because of another character. I found tears pricking my eyes alongside an urge to hug yet another one of the characters. I found myself blubbering because of the emotional journey the author took me on with every single one of her characters, what they dealt with, as well as the repercussions of every single of their actions. My heart broke because a younger character saw something that they will never be able to rid their mind of. My heart broke because their innocence was taken away from them far too early. A lot of the characters pasts struck a chord with me which made this even more of an emotional read.

Even though the storyline was full of heart-breaking situations, emotional tales and gut-wrenching events, ‘If I Fall’ absolutely blew me away with its extremely powerful storyline. I have absolutely no idea how the author managed to write such an emotive read, whilst also delivering it absolutely flawlessly.

Full of devastation, emotion, heart-warming moments, belief and strength, ‘If I Fall’ is definitely a top contender for a top book of 2018, whilst also jumping its way into my ‘most favourite books of all time’ list.

I absolutely cannot recommend this enough, but I would advise you to keep the tissues beside you just in case.

Such a beautifully heart-breaking novel, written with such poise, strength and power; If I Fall is a read which needs to be devoured by every single person. If you were to do one thing for me today, it would be to buy this book and read it, before the time comes when you need to ask yourself; ‘who would be there for me If I Fall?’.

Amazon UK // Kobo UK // GoogleBooks UK // Apple Books UK

Author Bio:

Ella Harper learned foreign languages, and imagined she might eventually get a glamorous job speaking French. After climbing her way up the banking ladder, Ella started idly mapping out the beginnings of a novel on an old laptop. When she realised her characters were more real to her than dividends and corporate actions ever could be, she left her job to become a writer.

#Review – How to be Happy by Eva Woods (@inkstainsclaire) @littlebookcafe

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The smallest things can make the biggest difference.

Annie has been sad for so long that she’s forgotten how to be any other way. Until she meets Polly.

Polly is everything that Annie is not. She’s colourful, joyful, happy. Because if recent events have taught Polly anything, it’s that your time is too short to waste a single day.

Polly has one hundred days to help Annie find happiness. Annie’s convinced it’s impossible, but so is saying no to Polly. And on an unforgettable journey, Annie begins to realise that maybe, just maybe, there’s still colour to be found in the world.

But then it becomes clear that Polly’s about to need her new friend more than ever…and Annie will have to decide once and for all whether letting others in is a risk worth taking.

What does TWG think?

Oh for goodness sake! Does anyone know a plumber…for eyes, as my eyes seem to have sprung a leak. No, I’m being serious. If you’re needing proof just take a look at my pillow!   It’s still damp (yes, it was a big leak, ahem).

Polly, Polly Polly – whatever will we do with you!

I bet my very last chocolate chip cookie (brave!) that there will be a lot of readers relating to Annie and, if you’re anything like me, you’ll be singing ‘Annie are you okay, are you okay Annie?’.

Poor Annie has had a heart-breaking time of it, but the nitty-gritty details don’t start becoming clear until further on in the book. Of course we get to know a little bit about what has happened to Annie and, to be perfectly honest, you probably could work out the rest of it yourself. Regardless of how Annie’s past becomes clear to you, it doesn’t make it any less heart-breaking. If anything, it probably made my heart break all over again, each time Annie delved into her past. You can’t forget things like this in a hurry.

On the off-chance, Annie meets a lady who seems to be determined to show people how to wear orange, red, bright purple….and cowboy boots, ALL at the same time. I know, I know – aren’t you jealous?! In all seriousness, Polly does a little bit more than that. ‘Little’ being a huge understatement. Polly turns out to be a lady whose shoes nobody will ever fill.

You’ve probably heard of the ‘100 Happy days’ tag on social media, yes? Well author, Eva Woods, has incorporated that hashtag into her storyline, giving it the attention it deserves in one small swoop. We all get days where being happy ends up being such a mammoth task. We all go through things which make us think ‘will I ever be happy again’ and, you know what? That is life and that is totally fine. However, whats special about this storyline and the characters in it, is how every chapter shows you how the little things in life really do make a difference. Obviously it won’t fix the problem, but for those ten minutes (or however long it takes to do something that makes you happy), you get to find the true meaning of happiness in such a simple task. If you’re all for spring cleaning and decide that cleaning your windows will make you happy – who is anyone to judge? If you think that laying on the sofa reading a book will make you happy – GO FOR IT! Everyone finds happiness in different things and ‘How to be Happy’ highlights that in such a beautiful, beautiful manner.

Not only that, this book highlights how important it is to just ‘be’, that it is perfectly okay to feel sad and feel like you can’t go on. For one an author has written a storyline which hasn’t made ‘sadness’ into a ‘must not do’ kind of thing, and for that I take my hat off to her.

There was nothing about this book I didn’t like, but Polly stole the show ten times over. I have never met a character with such presence, colourful nature, and a heart of gold  like Polly. I don’t think I will be forgetting this character in a hurry either. Why would I want to?

Yes, this book is extremely emotional and yes, the storyline covers topics which are very, very difficult to read. But you know what? Eva Woods hasn’t written anything in her book which life itself doesn’t cover. Can you close your life? No. Can you forget about a situation in the blink of an eye? No. You have to keep moving whether you like it or not, just like Annie and Polly. Through the tears, through the laughter, and through the endless nights of pain, these two characters found the type of strength that can only be found from deep within, but they never knew it existed if it wasn’t for what they had to go through beforehand.

I related to Annie a lot, even if I hadn’t gone through the same things as her. She has the type of personality which will become a voice for readers who are too afraid, too ashamed, or even too scared to speak up about certain things. That in itself is like MasterCard – PRICELESS.

‘How to be Happy’ is a book which just keeps on giving, every time you turn the page. It’s a book which is guaranteed to make you laugh, make you cry, probably make you think ‘you’re talking rubbish’, whilst also making you think ‘hang on, you might be onto something here’. A little bit of everything in one place; and they say the little things in life are the most important.

There is a lot of this storyline that I will be taking away with me and using to give the well needed kick up the youknowwhat. There is also a lot of this book which will forever be held in my heart.

‘How to be Happy’ is one of the most beautiful books I think I have ever read as it has taught me a very important lesson – to live.

From the bottom of my heart I thank the author for writing such an enchanting, beautiful and mesmerising read. A read which has become one of my most favourite books of all time. A book which made my eyes spring a leak. A book which I will remember for a long time to come. A book which teaches you life lessons in the most jaw-droppingly beautiful way.

Absolutely beautiful, I cannot recommend this book enough. You just have to go and grab yourself a copy right now.

Buy now from Amazon UK

#BlogTour! #Review – #AnatomyofaScandal by Sarah Vaughan (@Svaughanauthor) @simonschusterUK

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I am beyond delighted to welcome author, Sarah Vaughan, to TWG today as I review her highly anticipated novel, ‘Anatomy of a Scandal’. Sarah Vaughan’s novel is set to be one of the biggest reads of 2018, which you can find that out for yourself when the book is published on the 11th January 2018. Huge thanks go to Simon Schuster & Jess Barratt for not only allowing me to read this book early, but for also inviting me to take part in the blog tour. Here is my review:

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‘The best courtroom drama since Apple Tree Yard … sensational’ Clare Mackintosh

A high-profile marriage thrust into the spotlight. A wife, determined to keep her family safe, must face a prosecutor who believes justice has been a long time coming. A scandal that will rock Westminster. And the women caught at the heart of it.

Anatomy of a Scandal centres on a high-profile marriage that begins to unravel when the husband is accused of a terrible crime. Sophie is sure her husband, James, is innocent and desperately hopes to protect her precious family from the lies which might ruin them. Kate is the barrister who will prosecute the case – she is equally certain that James is guilty and determined he will pay for his crimes.

What does TWG think?

When a book has a lot of hype surrounding it on social media, I usually sit back and worry ever so slightly, multiple questions running through my mind.
‘Will this book live up to the hype?’ ‘Would I be the only one to dislike the book?’ ‘What IF I dislike the book, would people come after me holding burning torches?’.

I am sure that a lot of bookworms, like myself, have been known to think that and yes, I’ll be honest, those questions above did run through my mind when I saw Sarah Vaughan’s, ‘Anatomy of a Scandal’ in the spotlight on social media. But, despite my worries, I felt a large surge of intrigue build up inside of me. I just knew that I had to read this book before it made it into the big wide world. I needed to see for myself what this book was all about and, you know what? In my opinion, ‘Anatomy of a Scandal’ not only lives up to the hype, it also surpasses it a million times over. This book blew me away and left me wanting more. Never have I ever read a book which not only ticks every box surrounding modern-day society, it also ignited a fire in my belly which hadn’t been lit for many, many years.

Without giving too much away, ‘Anatomy of a Scandal’ has a theme which is highly in tune with society right now. Yes, certain parts of the theme make for uncomfortable reading, but seeing as this sort of thing happens to thousands upon thousands of people, I am certain that us readers feeling a smidge uncomfortable reading it, is nothing compared to what the people involved felt.

There’s a scandal in Westminster (shock). A person who has a high status and probably thousands of pounds in the bank, alongside a person whose life has been governed by certain eventualities. Who would they believe? A person with status, or a person who was being perceived in a certain way due to looks and lower status? Of course, not every single person can work in Westminster, can they?

I could relate to so much of this novel. I can’t say WHAT I related to as that would give the story away, but let’s just say that I related to the overall theme itself, especially how one character in particular felt.

To be perfectly honest, I think that Sarah Vaughan is incredibly brave for writing a book about a subject which is staring everyone straight in the face, knowing full well that it could bring some rather questionable comments to light. Not only that, I think that this author is inspirational for writing this book as well as, probably without even knowing it, she has become the voice of reason for many people in a similar situation due to what she has written her book about.

Sarah Vaughan has hit the (albeit sickening) nail on the head with ‘Anatomy of a Scandal’ because everything about this storyline screams reality. It doesn’t seem to matter what the truth is anymore, all that seems to matter is how much money people can throw at a situation, regardless of whether they’re in the wrong or not. Since when did honesty come with such a disgusting price tag?

I am going to put this out there and say that yes, ‘Anatomy of a Scandal’ is a guaranteed must read for 2018 and beyond. I absolutely loved every single thing about this storyline. It was addictive. Intriguing. Honest. Real. Hard hitting. Emotional. Raw. Gritty. This is a book that I would be prepared to walk around my town with in the freezing cold, shouting loud and proud whilst also demanding people to buy it. I’m being serious!

‘Anatomy of a Scandal’ is everything I could have wished for and more. The storyline flowed like a waterfall – perfectly and utterly beautifully. I’ll even go as far to say that Sarah Vaughan’s novel should be made into a T.V. drama without a doubt. This book really needs to be on everyone’s book shelves, in everyone’s minds, in everyone’s hearts. Just…everywhere.

I’ve said it once but I’ll say it again – this book blew me away in more ways than I could ever imagine. Just, wow. It goes to show that I adored this book if I am struggling to convey my thoughts!

A phenomenal, beautifully written, hard-hitting and poignant novel which will leave a mark not only on your mind, but also your soul. A novel which highlights what is wrong with this world and some of the people in it, whilst also highlighting the strength of a lot of people in this world and how they go through life despite being on the receiving end of devastating situations.

If you need a confidence boost – this book is for you. If you’re needing a reality check – this book is for you. If you’re needing a book to lose yourself in – this book is for you. I really can’t recommending ‘Anatomy of a Scandal’ enough. Everyone should go and pre-order this book right now because I’m telling you now, I am most definitely buying the hardback of this book when it’s released, because it is a book which everyone should put on their bookshelves with pride.

Out-flipping-standing. Sarah Vaughan is an author to watch in 2018.

Huge thanks to Simon and Schuster.

Pre-order right now from Amazon

#BlogTour! #Review – The Runaway Children by Sandy Taylor (@SandyTaylorAuth) @Bookouture

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Stepping back in time today as I review Sandy Taylor’s latest novel, ‘The Runaway Children’, for the last stop on the blog tour! Huge thanks to Bookouture for the blog tour invite, as well as the ARC of the book. Here is my review:

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London, 1942: Thirteen-year-old Nell and five-year-old Olive are being sent away from the devastation of the East End. They are leaving the terror of the Blitz and nights spent shivering in air raid shelters behind them, but will the strangers they are billeted with be kind and loving, or are there different hardships ahead?
 
As the sisters struggle to adjust to life as evacuees, they soon discover that living in the countryside isn’t always idyllic. Nell misses her mother and brothers more than anything but she has to stay strong for Olive. Then, when little Olive’s safety is threatened by a boy on a farm, Nell has to make a decision that will change their lives forever…
 
They must run from danger and try to find their way home.
 
Together the two girls hold each other’s hands as they begin their perilous journey across bombed-out Britain. But when Nell falls ill, can she still protect her little sister from the war raging around them? And will they ever be reunited from the family they’ve been torn from?

What does TWG think?

Wow. I struggled to read this book, I’m not going to lie. No, I don’t mean that I struggled to read it because of how it was written, or that I struggled reading it due to any other negative reason. Not at all. I struggled reading ‘The Runaway Children’ because of how emotive and poignant the storyline was. We are taught at school about how things were during the war and, whilst those pieces of information are still quite difficult to digest, a lot of the time it doesn’t seem to work its way to our core. We either shrug it off because ‘it doesn’t affect us’, or we have no idea how to approach history itself. With Sandy Taylor’s novel, that is where everything changed for me personally. I have always loved history, but for the duration of this book, I was able to see things from a completely different point of view. Gone were the historical dates which everyone had to learn just because. Sandy Taylor wrote a story about what happened to people. Whilst the storyline itself is fictional, a lot of it is based on history, after all, children DID have to get evacuated during the war. ‘The Runaway Children’ is a story which is guaranteed to grab hold of your heart and not let it go.

Set in London during the early 1940’s, two sisters are being sent away from the devastation which the war has caused to their beloved city. Why? For safety of course. The opposition didn’t want to throw bombs down in a middle of an empty field, they wanted to attack cities full of monuments and thousands of people. So they did. Unfortunately for Nell, Olive and thousands of other children, London was no longer a safe place to live and their only hope of staying safe would be to leave. Poor Nell has the task of being in charge of her little sister come rain or shine. Okay, for many of us, that would seem like an okay thing to do. For Nell however, the responsibility was extremely large, especially when they found themselves moving from pillar to post on more than one occasion.

It’s not that I was ignorant when it came to learning about evacuees, I just hadn’t had a reason to delve into that period of history to a level which Sandy Taylor has in this story. And, because of that, the entire storyline hit home on a completely unexpected level. I’m not sure whether it was my motherly instincts or the fact that I am indeed human with my own set of emotions, but ‘The Runaway Children’ gave me the feels. It really was like reading a book which made you happy one moment, angry the next, and then realising your face is sodden with tears. How do I know this? Because it happened.

Sandy Taylor has taken a memorable, historical event, and laid it bare to make all of her readers sit up and listen. It certainly made me sit up and listen, that’s for sure! I was absolutely blown away by the intense level of emotion, mixed with the poignancy only a story of this calibre could bring. I shouldn’t sit here and say that I loved this book because of what it contained, however, I really did love this book because it reached my soul in a way I could never really describe. This story highlighted the fact that the little things in life are important, and there is no use wasting your time on stupid things when there are far more important people (and things) to concerned yourself with.

The characters in this book are inspiration beyond belief, and have taught me so much in such a short space of time. ‘The Runaway Children’ is one of the best historical fiction/saga novels I have ever read. You really would be a fool not to grab a copy and travel back in time with Nell and Olive. For me, Olive stole the show and her innocence made the rest of the storyline shine bright like a diamond (whilst also making me laugh out loud more than once).

Written absolutely beautiful and straight from the heart, ‘The Runaway Children’ will forever have a place in my heart alongside Nell, Olive, and Ms Timony. A delightful, heart-warming story from start to finish.

Thanks Bookouture.

Buy now from Amazon UK
Buy now from Amazon US

About the author: 
Sandy Taylor grew up on a council estate near Brighton. There were no books in the house, so Sandy’s love of the written word was nurtured in the little local library. Leaving school at fifteen, Sandy worked in a series of factories before landing a job at Butlins in Minehead. This career change led her to becoming a singer, a stand up comic and eventually a playwright and novelist.


#BlogBlitz! #Review – Finding Myself by Victoria Brown (@victoriajbrown) @bombshellpub

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Delighted to welcome author, Victoria J Brown, back to TWG as I review the final book in the ‘Chaos’ series, ‘Finding Myself’. Huge thanks to Bombshellpub for asking me to take part in the blog blitz, as well as sending an ARC of the book. Here is my review:

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Kat’s life has become a blur of dirty nappies and sleepless nights. She has moved into the flat above the salon she owns, alone and without Max the father of her children.

To make matters worse, Max has revealed he plans to remarry.

Constantly on edge, her babies are taking up all of her time and Max is never around to help.

Diagnosed with post-natal depression, Kat feels more alone than ever.

Will Kat be able to manage alone? Can she find hope and rebuild her life?

What does TWG think?

In the previous book, ‘Losing Myself’, we left Kat during a highly emotional time, yet it was great to see the author pick that back up at the start of her new book, ‘Finding Myself’. I had had a horrible feeling before reading this, that time would have fast forward quite drastically, meaning that we would have missed out on the raw emotions carrying over from the previous book.

Thankfully that wasn’t the case at all. In all honesty, as soon as I started reading ‘Finding Myself’, it didn’t feel like there had been a break between the two books as the author picked the character back up from where she left off. Now THAT it what I call fantastic writing.

Once again I don’t wish to give anything away, even though I would love to sit here and discuss certain characters in length!! Poor Kat is struggling to find her feet after the birth of her two babies, Rosie and Poppy. Her life is no longer her own and whilst she adores her little girls with all of her heart, Kat can’t help feeling a little bit of resentment towards her new life. Her home is not her own as people keep walking in and out, completely oblivious to a thing called, oh I don’t know – PERSONAL SPACE! The girls’ father has pretty much given himself a zero hour contract, whilst still being a grade A loser. Sorry, but he is.

There is a lot of stigma surrounding post natal depression. Mums’ are either too ashamed to admit that they’re suffering, or they just keep telling themselves that they’re coping fine. I mean really, you’ve just had a baby – why aren’t you as happy as pig in poo! As a mummy myself, I thought exactly the same. Why was I sitting on the sofa feeling as though I was the worst mum in the world for not dancing around on cloud nine, despite having no sleep for 2 days straight! I didn’t have post natal depression but I did have the baby blues. I feel that Victoria J Brown’s writing is not only poignant, it is exceptionally raw, whilst bringing a misunderstood, mental illness into the limelight, whilst also showing people that not everything is rainbows and daisies when a baby is born. What Kat went through is real life. It can happen to anyone and everyone after giving birth. Why should that be ignored?

So many times I wished I could just reach into the storyline, grab Kat and give her a big hug. I feel like I’ve come to know the character well in such a short space of time, so seeing her emotional made my emotions come pouring out.

I’ve never liked Max and this book cemented that fact ten times over. I was SO glad to read that someone else agreed with me. About time too! Well, in all honesty, his mother wasn’t exactly my most favourite person either. I actually know people in real life like Max and Clare – I don’t like them in real life either!!!

The overall theme of this book is girl power, finding your emotions and learning to grab life by the baby bag for YOU and nobody else. It’s far too easy to get swept up in ‘can you do this for me?’ or ‘you’re coming out tonight with us, right?’ and so on, without actually taking into consideration your own true feelings on said matters. You don’t HAVE to go to a mother and baby group if YOU don’t want to. You don’t HAVE to breastfeed your baby because someone else TOLD you to. You do what YOU feel is right for YOU and YOUR baby. After all, you’re the one waking up with them every single night, caring for their individual needs, right? The same goes for any other life situation. Don’t do things because someone told you to. Obviously if it’s a police man then that is different, but I’m sure you knew that.

I related to Kat in so many ways, but without Victoria J Brown’s honest, inspiring and thought-provoking story telling, I wouldn’t have been able to relate to Kat at all. This author is an absolute genius and just like Kat, I would love to give her a big hug and thank her for write books which are so real and relatable, that they’ve given me strength to say the all important word of ‘NO!’. I admire Kat and I also admire Victoria J Brown. Even though this storyline does shout about independence to a degree, it also highlighted the importance of support and finding your safety net. Girl power all the way.

A highly emotive, beautifully written, and inspiring read, Victoria J Brown has done it once again. I am super sad that we have now reached the end of this series, but it is a series which will forever have an important place in my heart.

Thanks BombshellPub.

Buy now from Amazon UK

Author Bio:

Victoria J.Brown has always had a passion for writing. When asked at the age of 9 years old, what she wanted to be when she grew up, her reply ‘an author’ was met with a disheartened response, ‘that jobs like that, don’t happen to people like us!’

 Luckily, Victoria didn’t listen to this advice and never gave up on her passion.  She continued to write while perusing a career in Marketing after gaining a BA (Hons) in Business and Marketing.

 In 2006 her eldest daughter was born and then two years later her 2nd daughter came along. Victoria realised in the midst of the mummy madness, that she’d let her writing dwindle and that nappy-changing, sleepless nights and not being able to go to the toilet in peace could not stop her       fulfilling her writing dreams. So when her girls were 3 years old and 18 months old, she decided that sleep was over-rated and enrolled at Teesside University. A year later she proudly left with a MA in Creative Writing, some wonderful friendships and a passion for therapeutic writing. While studying for her MA she was also delighted to win a short-story competition judged by Adele Parks, to which she received publication and mentoring from Adele.

 After her MA, Victoria concentrated on writing women’s fiction. She loves writing stories that women can relate to. The Chaos Series grew from her own experience of pregnancy, motherhood and life.

 Victoria is also passionate about mental health and likes to write of such issues in her stories. Her dedication to mental health and living life to the full has led her down a spiritual path. Through her learning of spirituality she qualified as a Law of Attraction and NLP Practitioner, which she integrates into her writing. Her inspirational blog includes an A-Z motivational journey with weekly therapeutic creative writing exercises. She has developed this further and will soon launch her inspirational shop. The shop has been created to pass on positivity and love to others … you never know when someone may need to see those messages.

 Being accepted by Bombshell Books is a dream come true for Victoria, she hopes that her mantra for giving love always and never giving up will inspire others to follow their dreams and passion.

 If you’re interested in finding out more about Victoria, her inspirational blog and shop you can visit www.victoriabrown.com, plus you can follow her on:

FB: www.facebook.com/vicjbrown/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/victoriajbrown

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/victoriaj.brown/

Pintrest: https://uk.pinterest.com/victoriajbrown/

#Review – #TheBigEvent Part 1 – by Ann John-Legali (@AnneJohnLigali) @rararesources

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You are cordially invited to the party of the season where you’ll meet Constance and friends in action. 

Constance Jeffries is excited when she gets the chance to meet up with virtual friends at a get- together in a London hotel. She’s been tweeting and messaging her lovely friends for years and feels they must be just as excited to finally meet her in person too. Or so she hopes. 

The Big Event is first part in a short story series about the importance of ‘real’ friendships and how it’s the little things that matter the most.

A Gorgeous Venue, A Room Full of Friends, What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

What does TWG think?

Can I just state that this review for ‘The Big Event’, is actually for part one as the book is being released in the format of several short stories. Therefore, this book isn’t a full length novel as it is in actual fact, a short story which can be read in approximately ten minutes.

For such a short story, ‘The Big Event’ certainly left a mark on my soul. Using social media as the overall theme throughout the story, ”The Big Event’ follows Constance as she meets her social media buddies offline, for the first time. Of course there is a chance that the life her online buddies have led via Instagram for example, may be completely different to the physical persona which Constance comes face to face with. Naively maybe, but Constance was hopeful that people would be who they said they were. She was hopeful that they weren’t stringing her along by stretching the truth via social media. Ahem.

I thought the theme was brilliant as it fit in with the here and now, especially as a lot of people live their lives via social media, without realising (or remembering) that other people can see what they write. Even though a lot happened in such a short space of time, I was a little bit defeated by the fact that this book was a short story due to how thought-provoking the situation regarding ‘real friendships’ came across. I would have loved to have been able to read and enjoy such a poignant story, without worrying that the story was going to finish at any time.

There is such a lovely, hidden message in this story and, if you’re like Constance and have some really good online friends you would do anything to meet in the flesh, ‘The Big Event’ is going to warm your heart big time whilst also making you realise that having friends isn’t just about who comes to your house most. No. It’s about who was there when you needed it – online, or offline.

I am really looking forward to reading the next part in this series.

Thanks Rararesources.

Buy now from Amazon UK

About The Author

Anne John-Ligali is a writer and the founder of Books and Authors UK, a popular website featuring author interviews and book reviews.  She loves all things books: reading, writing, going to book events, and meeting other book lovers. She has written a series of short stories and is currently writing her first novel.

When Anne is not writing, she is likely to be at soft play with her kids, taking long evening walks in Hyde Park, making green smoothies, window shopping, or having a pampering session at her local beauty salon (whenever she gets the chance). She can also be found watching box sets (albeit with a bit of shame at still having to catch up on Scandal, Grey’s, and Downton).

Originally from Peterborough, Anne now lives in London. After moving to London, she studied graphic design at the University of Arts and has held a number IT administration jobs in the city. Anne continues writing and aspires to write more women’s fiction books, a non-fiction book and several children’s books.

Social Media Links –

AUTHOR BLOG: http://annejohnligali.com/
AUTHOR TWITTER: https://twitter.com/AnneJohnLigali
AUTHOR FB: https://www.facebook.com/annejohnligali/

INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/booksnauthorsuk/
BLOGSITE: www.booksandauthors.co.uk
BLOG TWITTER: https://twitter.com/BooksNAuthorsUK
BLOG FB: https://www.facebook.com/Books-and- Authors-UK- 674729805905507/

Giveaway

Win Sparkly Afternoon Tea for Two at Vertigo 42 in central London and one e-copy of The Big Event.

To enter and for full terms and conditions, please follow the link for everything you need to know.
http://annejohnligali.com/651-2/

#Review – Beyond The Green Line by Marc Goldberg (@Marcswords)

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I went to Israel looking for glory and instead found the Al Aqsa Intifada. I made Aliyah (immigrated to Israel) at a time when suicide bombers were immolating themselves and others on Israel’s streets. Almost exactly a year after my arrival I was in the Israel Defence Force. 

They sent me over the Green Line into Nablus and Jenin and other Palestinian cities. I came face to face with suicide bombers, kids throwing stones, civilians wanting only to get through the day and a couple of the big terrorists who dispatched bombers to Israel. 

What I saw, what I did and what I saw others do will stay with me forever. Not enough has been written about the Al Aqsa Intifada. A period of time that left a wound on Israeli society that may never heal.

If you ever wondered what a suicide bomber looks like, or how terror chiefs act when they’re arrested or how it feels to live in a world where the bus you’re travelling on might blow up then come with me Beyond the Green Line and see it through my eyes.

What does TWG think?

I’m probably not the first person to say this, and I’m probably not going to be the last either – I have often wondered what happens in the army apart from the obvious assumptions us civilians reach based on information on the ‘News at 10’. I realise that probably sounds a bit weird, I mean, who wonders about things like that? Well, thanks to countless newspapers, we only see how many people got killed in a war, or we get alerted to when certain armed forces get called into certain areas. However, what we don’t get told is what REALLY happens. What REALLY goes through the recruits heads when they get called into action.

Now, I have never been in the army and to be honest, the chances of that ever happening are incredibly slim. Don’t get me wrong I wholeheartedly admire all armed forces for putting other people’s lives before their own. Going into the army just isn’t something I have ever aspired to. However, Marc Goldberg – a British born Jew, was adamant that the army life was for him and that he would do whatever it took to serve in the army in Israel. Whilst some people may have looked at him thinking ‘why on Earth would you want to do that?’, I take my hat off to Marc for such high levels of determination.

I thought this book would be a little more hard reading than what it actually was, especially with the descriptions of certain events Marc and his team were up against. That said, I still found ‘Beyond The Green Line’ to be a very in-depth read which, for its short amount of pages, didn’t seem so short. It was handy that I was interested in the overall theme of the book to be honest, as it meant that I became awfully engrossed in what Marc was telling me, incredibly quickly.

‘Beyond The Green Line’ isn’t a book that tells you what you WANT to hear. No. It’s one mans experience of his own life in the army from beginning to end. His emotions during training. His emotions and thoughts during arrests and callouts. His emotions after leaving the army. Marc Goldberg doesn’t paint his time in the army as a watercolour picture with no flaws, instead he is honest and isn’t afraid to admit how difficult he found it at times. This book really is an eye-opening and thought-provoking read. I can’t sit here and judge or critique a situation I have never been in, nor can I put a negative spin on the way in which Marc Goldberg has told his story. After all, it’s HIS story at the end of the day.

Without sounding macabre, I enjoyed reading about the ‘other side’ as it were as it certainly made me think whilst I was reading it. I haven’t been able to get ‘Beyond The Green Line’ out of my head since I finishing it. An eye-opener indeed.

I applaud Marc Goldberg for telling his story in such a refreshingly honest way.

Thanks TBCReview.

Buy now from Amazon UK

#BlogTour! #Review – All The Colours In Between by @EvaJordanWriter @UrbaneBooks

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Delighted to be taking part in Eva Jordan’s blog tour for her latest release – ‘All The Colours In Between’. After hearing about this book from social media time and time again, it was lovely to finally be able to sit down and read it. Huge thanks to Urbane for the ARC of the book. Here is my review:

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It’s not a life, it’s an adventure!

Lizzie is fast approaching 50. Her once angst ridden teenage daughters, now grown and in their twenties, have flown the nest, Cassie to London and Maisy to Australia. And,
although Connor, Lizzie’s sulky, surly teenage son, is now on his own tormented passage
to adulthood, his quest to get there, for the most part, is a far quieter journey than that of
his sisters. The hard years, Lizzie believes, are behind her. Only, things are never quite as
black and white as they seem…

A visit to her daughter in London leaves Lizzie troubled.
And that is just the start. Add to that an unexpected visitor, a disturbing phone call, a son
acting suspiciously, a run in with her ex husband plus a new man in her life who quite
simply takes her breath away; Lizzie quickly realises life is something that happens while plans are being made. Gritty but tender, thought provoking but light-hearted, dark but brilliantly funny, this is a story of contemporary family life in all its 21st century glory. A story of mothers and sons, of fathers and daughters, of brothers and sisters, and friends. A tale of love and loss, of friendships and betrayals, and coming of age.

Nobody said it would be easy and as Lizzie knows only too well, life is never straightforward when you see all the colours in between.

What does TWG think?

After seeing post after post regarding ‘All The Colours In Between’ on social media, I finally began reading the book with two things in my mind. 1) it was going to be emotional and 2) it was going to be emotional. Do you have slight inkling that it was going to be an emotional read? A lot of those posts on social media said exactly that, so I couldn’t help but wait for the emotional moments to appear.

Lizzie’s life doesn’t seem to be going exactly to plan. Not only is she approaching the big FIVE-OH, her motherly intuition is beeping like goodness knows what and doesn’t seem want to settle despite constant reassuring from her partner, Simon. Lizzie’s isn’t the only life not going exactly to plan, her children’s aren’t either.

There is A LOT of storyline to this book. Each of the characters seem to play a vital role in the story, thus making the background information treble before you’ve gotten to the heart of the novel. I did feel a little overwhelmed by the extremely busy storyline, especially as I felt that it was a little bit patchy – like situations were missing. I couldn’t quite work out what had happened when the storyline seemed to do an almighty jump to a different part or a different character, whilst still having unfinished business with another character at that moment in time.

Several situations were incredibly difficult to read I have to say. The author approached those topics with the utmost sensitivity and professionalism, whilst also keeping everything as realistic as possible. Uncomfortable to read, but brilliantly written.

Despite there being a lot of characters, I found myself relating to one of them in particular; Cassie. Now I don’t know whether that’s because my nickname is ‘Cassie’, or whether her entire persona called out to me. Thinking about it, I would actually say both. There was just something so raw, yet gentle about Cassie which made me sit up and take notice. Well, that and her hilarious responses to certain things.

I did get emotional reading ‘All The Colours In Between’, but I didn’t get as emotional as I thought I would because of the preempting posts on social media. Nevertheless, I read the last few chapters of the book feeling as though I had a golf ball stuck in my throat. You’d have to be made of stone to not react to Eva Jordan’s novel one way or another.

I love how relatable the entire storyline was with the family dynamics, multiple problems and the real life situations. I thought it was clever how the author changed her writing style with each character chapter swap – I managed to learn some new words from a teenager! How peng! I don’t think I have ever seen an author change their style so dramatically for another character before, but it really was brilliantly done that’s for sure.

Overall? ‘All The Colours In Between’ really did make me giggle and nod in agreement when certain situations arose. Lizzie’s family is such a loveable bunch with a huge heart, which Eva Jordan has captured absolutely beautifully.

Full of relatable anecdotes and emotional situations; ‘All The Colours In Between’ is a thought-provoking read about every day life and making the most of every single minute you have on this planet. A heart-warming, poignant and unforgettable read from the delightful, Eva Jordan.

Thanks Urbane Books.

Buy: UrbanePublication // Amazon UK // Amazon US

About the author.

Eva Jordan, born in Kent but living most of her life in a small Cambridgeshire town,
describes herself as a lover of words, books, travel and chocolate. She is also partial to
the odd glass or two of wine. Providing her with some of the inspiration for her novels, Eva is both a mum and step mum to four grown-up children. Her career has been varied
including working within the library service and at a women’s refuge. She writes a monthly column for a local magazine and currently works as a volunteer for a charity based organisation that teaches adults to read. However, storytelling through the art of writing is her passion. All The Colours In Between is Eva’s second novel.

If you want to know more you can find Eva at all the usual places. She loves to hear
from readers and reviewers so please feel free to contact her.
Website: evajordanwriter.com
Twitter: @evajordanwriter
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EvaJordanWriter/

Giveaway!

Prizes: 2 x signed paperbacks and 2 kindle ebooks of All The Colours In Between (UK only)

Enter now! Good luck!

How ‘why are you only saying it NOW?’ is #notokay to respond to #sexualabuse posts with #MeToo

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Dear men and women of the world,

You may have seen the news overflowing with reports of abuse and harassment involving Harvey Weinstein. I mean really, who hasn’t? It really is everywhere.

You may have also seen the hashtag ‘#MeToo’ crop up once or twice on your social media, where some victims of sexual abuse or harassment try to come together under one heading whilst showing the world that it IS okay to speak out. Of course there probably was thousands of people who chose not to take part in that hashtag due to it reminding the victims of their abuse – that is okay too!

What’s NOT okay is the victim shaming.

What’s NOT okay is people commenting on posts with; ‘it was only just a kiss, stop throwing your teddy out the pram’.

What’s NOT okay is comment after comment with words along the lines of; ‘why are they just coming out with it now? or ‘yet another one jumping on the bandwagon to accuse someone of abuse – attention seeker!’ or ‘why didn’t they report it at the time instead of waiting years to say something?’.

I am hoping that if you’re reading this post, you know fine well why the above are far from okay. But if you don’t know why, then just this once I will humour you by saying:

Firstly, victim shaming is not okay. When people respond to a post asking what the victim was wearing, or what they did to attract the abusers attention in the first place etc, that’s pretty much telling the victim that they DESERVED their abuse/harassment.

Let me ask you this – if I were to walk down the street with a short skirt, high heels and a strappy top on and a man/woman decided to make non consensual advances towards me (e.g. groping, sexual talk, requesting sexual favours, rape, kissing etc), would you tell me that I DESERVED that because of what I was wearing? Would you tell me that I was ‘asking for it’ because I chose to not wear jeans and flat shoes and cover up every inch of my body?

It doesn’t matter whether you’re wearing religious clothes, party wear, your pyjama’s or even your birthday suit; if you have NOT consented to another person touching you or making advances towards you then it IS deemed harassment/abuse. No MEANS no. No-one is ever asking to be abused or harassed by another person, regardless of whether a 4×4 piece of skin is on show. No…just NO.

Secondly, my next point is what prompted me to write this post actually. A newspaper reported that a lady has made an allegation about Patrick Swayze. Now we all know that he is dead so no, she wasn’t meaning that he abused/harassed her from the grave. This lady said how Swayze forcefully kissed her without her consent, just moments after discussing his wife on the show. The lady then proceeded to explain how she DID mention it to her boss (who was a woman) at the time and she was fired. Yes, you heard me correctly. SHE was fired. Whilst that story didn’t exactly prompt my post, it was a comment on that news report which did. A comment which said ‘it was only a kiss! stop throwing your teddy out the pram and let the man RIP’. Really? Tell me folks, how is that okay? How is making someone’s situation out to be trivial and ‘just a kiss’ deemed a suitable response? Yes the man is dead, and no he cannot defend himself. But should his death and status in Hollywood at the time, make the alleged abuse any less serious? If it was only ‘just a kiss’, does that mean anyone can walk into the street and forcefully kiss someone on the lips as it’s ‘just a kiss’, whether they wanted it or not? NO! If one person dictates a situation where it makes you any way uncomfortable, the other person should respect that and stop. One person agreeing to do something does not make the action consensual. So no random stranger, it isn’t ‘just a kiss’.

Thirdly, this one is getting my back up something chronic. In regards to the Weinstein case, there has been a flurry of victims coming out saying that they have suffered some form of abuse or harassment by that man. Many of those victims have openly said how their careers were then affected once Weinstein was told ‘no’. Many of those victims have said that they felt as though they couldn’t tell anyone because they were frightened, lonely and afraid of losing everything they have worked for. Many of those victims have admitted to burying their heads in the sand in fear that they wouldn’t be believed due to how influential Weinstein was in Hollywood. So of course the keyboard warriors came out in force, trying to outshine DreamWorks ‘Trolls’ movie in 0.5 seconds. (Note – they failed. Trolls is WAYYYYY better movie than their 0.5 seconds of fame).

At first I saw comments of solidarity, empathy and anger towards the victims and the situation itself. Then in no time at all I came across comments which began to make me feel incredibly sick. Comments such as ‘attention seeker! why are you coming out with it now?’ and ‘jump on the bandwagon why don’t you!’ and ‘why didn’t you say anything at the time instead of waiting years to say something just to get into the news?’. Those comments were found on the Reese Witherspoon abuse news report so I dread to think what others I had missed!

Let me tell you why comments like that make me feel sick. After getting sexually abused/harassed a victim is more than likely feeling ashamed, frightened, nauseous, emotional…you name it, they’re probably feeling it. Funnily enough, one of the top things on a victims list to do after being abused is going and telling someone. Your mouth becomes dry. You lose all feeling in your legs. You’re unable to form coherent sentences. All you want to do is hide away and sleep, hoping that when you wake up it all turns out to be a dream. Some victims may find themselves (depending on the level of abuse/harassment) having to get coached/therapy to build up the courage to tell someone about what happened. Multiple questions are likely to float around a victims head – ‘what if no-one believes me?’ or ‘what if they say I’m lying?’ or ‘what if they say I deserved it?’ or ‘what DID I do to deserve it?’, just to name a few. It is extremely scary to sit down with someone and say that you have been a victim of sexual abuse or sexual harassment. If in the unfortunate event the victim was raped, it’s not just a case of popping to your local police station for a brew and casually telling them what happened. They have a job to do and unfortunately, the victim’s body is their ‘proof’ as it were, so not only do they have to go through the chat, they also have to endure a physical examination after being non consensually ‘examined’ by an abuser.

When I read those comments asking why said person ‘didn’t come out with it sooner?’ it really did make my skin crawl because 1) for all we know the victim may have already done that and wasn’t believed at the time, therefore speaking out about it where a group of victims has already formed. Strength in numbers. And 2) we have absolutely no idea how the victim is feeling, what they went through and how emotionally (or physically) scarred they are from the event. Who are we to question someone’s abuse? Who are we to demand answers from a victim? Who are we to dictate when a victim should tell an authoritative figure about their abuse? Who are we to judge full stop?

Before anyone asks how I know all of the above, or decides to make an uneducated comment about what I have written; I am a #MeToo three times over. Not once. Not twice. But THRICE. Sexually abused at age 11 & 14, raped at age 21. The first two times I was a minor. Did I deserve it? No. Did I feel as though I deserved it? Of course I did. Do the scars still remain? Emotionally, yes.

Victims of abuse/harassment need empathy not judgement. If you have no idea what to say to a victim, admit that but give them a hug. Never, EVER pass judgement or victim shame a person who has found the courage to speak out their abuse, whether it was 1 year ago, 10 years ago, or 50 years ago. Abuse has no time limit. Abuse has no age limit. Judgement has a time limit and the time limit is up.

No means no. It really isn’t that difficult.

Love,

A victim of sexual abuse.