Happy birthday, The Writing Garnet! #TWGTurnsThree #TheWritingGarnet #BlogBirthday #ThankYou

Happy 3rd birthday The Writing Garnet! #TWGTurnsThree
Happy birthday TWG,
Happy birthday TWG,
Happy birthday to TWGGGGGG,
Happy birthday TWG!!

I cannot believe my little blog turns THREE today! Never in a million years did I think, three years ago, that I would be sitting here celebrating my blogs third birthday. I started TWG one night because I wanted to say thank you to the authors who continue to allow me to escape by reading their books, and because I adore books!

I am completely overwhelmed (yes, still) by the response to my blog and I would like to thank each and every one of you for supporting me, being my friend, cheerleading the good things, and being there through the bad. I have met such wonderful people through blogging and the book community, and yes, there have been times where I have thought to myself ‘is it worth it?’ in amongst the blogger bashing and what not. I’m only human. But, I adore my books and my blog too much to disappear now. Sorry – you’re stuck with me!

So, the last 12 months have been insane! I have found myself being quoted on the FRONT cover of a book, quoted in paperbacks and e-books, and found myself in multiple acknowledgements. Thank you to the authors, publishers and publicists for making that happen!

I have had the pleasure of meeting authors and bloggers at various book events, with the most recent one being the Orenda Roadshow in Edinburgh. I am a very anxious person but I am so proud of myself for taking myself out of my comfort zone to meet up with some truly wonderful people. Thank you, Karen!

Last November TWG won an award, making the blog a multi-award WINNING blog! Now I didn’t blog about it at the time because I was at the receiving end of a few not so nice things, which meant that I chose to hide away. In hindsight I totally regret doing that – why shouldn’t I be proud?! I was amazed to win Media/Blog Star of the Year at the RNA (Romantics Novelist Association) Industry Awards, and I won a glass award with my name on it. I cried. I was in complete shock. I never expected to win as I was up against two of the biggest names in the blogging community, so when Mandy Baggot facetimed me with the news I just couldn’t believe it. Thank you to everyone at the RNA for nominating me, making your winner and for being utterly fabulous. Thank you to Sue Heath for picking up my award on my behalf. I still look at the award on the window sill and think that they’ve made a mistake. Such an honour!

What else has happened in the last 12 months? Well, TWG became a fully fledged published writer, courtesy of the online Honeymoon Book Club and Brides Magazine (again, pinch me!). You can check it out here!

Blogging aside, the last year has been a rollercoaster for me and my health. I have had bad news after bad news, scan after scan….and I have still got a long road ahead of me as I push for diagnosis’ for more things. Don’t get me wrong, I’m fully aware ‘it could be worse’, but contrary to popular belief – I don’t post ALL of my health things on Facebook! I am very self-conscious by the fact that I am losing my mobility even more thanks to more muscle wastage in my legs, but because I am such a stubborn ass, limping is my thang. It gets me down, which is exactly why I turned to blogging. Of course, back then, I was nowhere near as poorly as what I am now, which is why you’ll probably find me with my nose in multiple books at one time!

So yes, TWG has now turned three and once again I want to thank you all for helping me make TWG what it is. Without you reading my posts, sharing them, commenting, liking my Facebook page, giving me book recommendations and so on, there would be a high chance of me sitting here talking to myself. Thank you for believing in me!

It’s crazy to think that next year when the blog turns four, I would have just turned 30!

Here’s to another year of fabulous books, fabulous book events, and just being ourselves – Happy birthday TWG!!

Advertisements

#BlogTour! #Review – This Child of Ours by Sadie Pearse (@SadiePearse) @LittleBookCafe


Massive thank you to Millie Seaward from Little Brown Books for inviting me to take part in the blog tour for ‘This Child of Ours’ by Sadie Pearse. I am delighted to have the opportunity to share my thoughts on this thought provoking book – here is my review:

You know what’s best for your child.
Don’t you?

Riley Pieterson is an adventurous girl with lots of questions. There’s plenty she doesn’t know yet; what a human brain looks like. All the constellations in the night sky. Why others can’t see her the way she sees herself.

When Riley confides in her parents – Sally and Theo – that she feels uncomfortable in her own skin, a chain of events begins that changes their lives forever. Sally wants to support her daughter by helping her be who she dreams of being. Theo resists; he thinks Riley is a seven-year-old child pushing boundaries. Both believe theirs is the only way to protect Riley and keep her safe.

With the wellbeing of their child at stake, Sally and Theo’s relationship is pushed to breaking point. To save their family, each of them must look deeply at who they really are.

What does TWG think?

‘This Child of Ours’ is an incredibly eye-opening and poignant novel which delves deeply into the topic of being comfortable in your own skin. Whilst the media reports on males and females being uncomfortable in the skin that they were born in, especially in the New Year, it is incredibly rare and often seen as ‘taboo’ if the media reports on a child not feeling right in the body that they were given. I’ve seen people say ‘how does a child know that they’re in the wrong body?’, and to be brutally honest, before I read ‘This Child of Ours’, I asked the same sort of question. Did Sadie Pearse’s majestic and beautifully written story enlighten me? Of course it did! Did it help me understand that just because we are born one way, it doesn’t mean it’s the RIGHT way? Honestly? Yes AND no. Now that isn’t me choosing to be ignorant about the subject, not at all. In fact, weirdly enough, it’s the complete opposite.

Riley bravely admits to her parents that she isn’t comfortable being a little girl. Her parents, her father especially, can’t help but think that it’s a ‘phase’, as though she’s decided she no longer wants to play with My Little Pony toys and wishes to play with Shopkins toys instead. But is it that simple? How do you know that your seven-year old isn’t just wanting to try a new thing? How do you KNOW that when your child comes to tell you that being a girl has her devastated, that she isn’t merely ‘throwing her teddies out of the pram’. She’s seven. But then on the other side of the coin, how can you brush something like that aside? Likening it to a phase that she will ‘grow out of’? Children put their trust in their parents to do right by them. They expect their parents to be on their side no matter what. ‘This Child of Ours’ highlights the importance of having someone on your side. Having someone to sit there and say ‘I believe you’. In this case, that person is Riley’s mum, Sally. Her dad on the other hand, Theo, is struggling to digest what his little girl has told him. Can you blame him? No, not really. But could I blame his actions further on in the story? Yes, I could. I know I shouldn’t judge a situation that I’m not in myself, and I guess I’m not really doing that, however I found the way that Theo reacted highly emotional. I couldn’t understand why he chose to do what he did, especially as he didn’t stop to think about how his choices would affect his daughter. Being a parent is difficult. We are often stuck between the devil and the deep blue sea when it comes to conflicting emotions between ourselves and our loved ones – but when a child is concerned, surely the adult has to be the bigger person? The child is looking for direction, is it fair if the adult palms off their concerns like it’s an odd job to fix on a Saturday morning after the football?

I could see where Theo was coming from – what Riley came out with IS a big deal, and her age was a big thing in the situation. I could understand his upset, confusion, and uncertainty about the future. However, I couldn’t help but feel angry with the way he was pointing the finger. It was heartbreaking to watch his daughter battle with her own, confusing emotions, as well as watching her father react to them in such a cutthroat manner. As for Sally, I felt that her approach was more level as she tried to find solutions to ensure her daughter’s happiness was their number one priority. Sally was confused by the situation, but she dealt with that by finding people to speak to and not by unintentionally blaming her daughter for something she couldn’t control.

I will be honest and say that I don’t understand how a young child can say that they wish to be a different gender to the one that they were born. I won’t go as far to say that I mirrored Theo in his views, because I don’t and didn’t. I just don’t understand. Maybe if I was in that situation myself my outlook would be different. I’m not saying that children CAN’T feel that way, because it’s clear that they can.

I thought that Sadie Pearse’s storytelling was incredibly honest and thought-provoking, both emotionally and mentally. Pearse has looked at the topic from every angle, incorporating multiple, real reactions to the subject in her story, highlighting the fact that yes, a lot of people are going to view things differently where something like this is concerned. I am glad that the author chose to tell the story from both a positive and negative viewpoint as its realistic. Not everyone is going to throw a party to celebrate the lifestyle change, and not everyone is going to feel as though their lives are being torn apart. ‘This Child of Ours’ explores the true reality of admitting to yourself that you aren’t comfortable in your own skin, alongside the true reality of just how people, even loved ones, can react to an admission like that.

I didn’t know what to expect before I started reading ‘This Child of Ours’, but I can honestly say that now, having read and digested the storyline, my life feels enriched by the beautiful story I was able to read. I had the chance to delve into a situation I couldn’t understand, in turn finding my eyes opening widely to the black and white notions of each character in the story. I may still struggle to understand the bigger picture, but the fact that I can empathise emotionally with the situation just goes to show how much of an impact this story has had on me.

A beautifully told, enriching, emotional and thought-provoking story which will stay in my heart for a very long time to come.

Buy now.

#BlogTour! #Review – The Cornish Village School – Second Chances by Kitty Wilson (@KittyWilson23) @canelo_co

Huge apologies to Kitty Wilson for the delay in posting my review for her ‘Second Chances’, the second book in ‘The Cornish Village School’ series. I am playing catch up once again this evening! Many thanks to Canelo for the blog tour invite and ARC. Here is my review:

The Cornish Village School Second Chances Cover
Ex-ballerina and single mum Sylvie is in trouble. Juggling her ballet classes in
the nearest town, preparing shy Sam for his first day at Penmenna Village school and trying to finally move out from the farm she shares with her cantankerous Uncle Tom means life is anything but easy.

Television Journalist Alex is facing challenges of his own. Seeking a calmer environment for his newly adopted daughter, Ellie, he’s swapped reporting in war zones for the school PTA in quiet Penmenna, where his best friend Chase has persuaded him to start laying some roots.

Fireworks ignite when Sylvie and Alex meet but as Ellie and Sam become instant best
friends, will they be able to keep things strictly platonic for the sake of the children?

What does TWG think?

You have NO idea how relevant those fireworks are on the cover! Holy schmoly!!! If you’re after a novel which allows you to ignite a very well hidden passion, helps you realise that just because your heart has been broken once it doesn’t mean that it is guaranteed to happen again, AND makes you laugh out loud due to the sheer brilliance of the under 18’s in the book, then if I could I would shove this book right under your nose and go ‘THERE!’.

I’m sometimes weary about books which have a single mum as their main character because, more often than not, us single mums aren’t really portrayed in a positive light. Don’t get me wrong, there are clearly some out there who like their negative light and would do anything to keep it that way, but for those of us who like to think we aren’t doing so bad, books which show us negatively knock our confidence. Thankfully, Kitty Wilson didn’t do that at all and yes, I did breathe a gigantic sigh of relief!

Sylvie is a very hands on mum to her little boy, Sam. With ‘big school’ just around the corner, Sylvie does all she can to prepare her son for independence in a school environment when in fact, poor Sylvie is the one who needs to prepare as it doesn’t seem to sink in what Sam going to ‘big school’ actually means. Sylvie and Sam are used to life just them….until Alex comes to town. For such a shy boy, Sam hits it off with Alex’s daughter almost instantly, making Sylvie realise that her little dude is spreading his little wings!

Ohhhhhhhhhh, Alex’s daughter, Ellie, is a LEGEND! Omg, the things that came out of her mouth were absolutely brilliant! ‘Out the mouths of babes’ came to mind on more than one occasion! Honestly, I’m not even exaggerating! Ellie has such a powerful personality which puts a lot of adults to shame actually, and not because she isn’t afraid to speak her mind. Well, the mind that she does have considering she is around the age of five! In actual fact, Ellie reminded me a lot of my little girl who is exactly the same age. It’s just the innocence which makes the things they shouldn’t say, end up seeming a lot funnier because they don’t fully understand what they’re spraffing. Anyway, I won’t ruin it for you, but definitely watch out for little miss firework!

I LOVED the first book in the series, ‘Breaking the Rules’, and ‘Second Chances’ is a brilliant addition. I was instantly hooked by the energetic yet thoughtful vibe of the storyline, especially as I was able to relate to the main character what with being a single mum myself. I thought that Kitty Wilson delivered her characters flaws in such a tender and relatable manner, and I felt that it actually added incredible depth to each individual character as well as the overall storyline.

I had everything crossed for Sylvie as I just wanted her to get the ‘happily ever after’ she deserved, so I am sure you can understand my frustration when the storyline did a bit of to-ing and fro-ing! Again, I won’t ruin it for anyone but this isn’t a case of girl meets boy and they live happily ever after. Not at all. ‘Second Chances’ is a book which may be fiction, yet is incredibly close to reality due to the actions and emotions of the characters. Life isn’t straightforward and I am so pleased that Kitty Wilson got that across in her story without making it as depressing as real life can actually be.

I thoroughly enjoyed ‘Second Chances’ and I believe that you will too – this book had me in absolute stitches one minute, with my heart soaring and having a mind of its own the next. A relatable, thought-provoking read which has characters anyone will fall in love with. Yes, even the not so great characters you’ll no doubt end up loving – Kitty Wilson just has that knack, and what a knack it is. I loved it!

Buy now from Amazon

About the author.

Kitty Wilson lived in Cornwall for twenty-five years having been dragged
there, against her will, as a stroppy teen. She is now remarkably grateful to her parents for their foresight and wisdom – and that her own children aren’t as hideous. Recently she has moved to Bristol, but only for love and on the understanding that she and her partner will be returning to Cornwall to live very soon. She spends most of her time welded to the keyboard, dreaming of the beach or bombing back down the motorway for a quick visit! She has a penchant for very loud music, equally loud dresses and romantic heroines who speak their mind.

#BlogTour! #Review – Some Old Bloke by Robert Llewellyn (@bobbyllew) @unbounders @annecater

Apologies for another late post, but today was spent with mumma TWG so I’m catching up now! Tonight I am delighted to be reviewing ‘Some Old Bloke’ by Robert Llewellyn, as part of the blog tour. Many thanks to Anne Cater for the blog tour invite and ARC. Here is my review:

When writer, comedian and Red Dwarf actor Robert Llewellyn’s son scrawled a picture of him at Christmas and titled it ‘Some Old Bloke’, Robert was cast deep into thought about life and what it means to be a bloke – and an old one at that. In this lighthearted, revealing and occasionally philosophical autobiography, we take a meandering route through Robert’s life and career: from the sensitive young boy at odds with his ex-military father, through his stint as a hippy and his years of arrested development in the world of fringe comedy, all the way up to the full-body medicals and hard-earned insights of middle age.

Whether he is waxing lyrical about fresh laundry, making an impassioned case for the importance of alternative energy or recounting a detailed history of the dogs in his life, Robert presents a refreshingly open and un-cynical look at the world at large and, of course, the joys of being a bloke.

What does TWG think?

I’m not a bloke, nor am I in the same age bracket, nor have I watched much of ‘Red Dwarf’ – with that in mind, I’m sure you’re probably wondering why I would read ‘Some Old Bloke’, right? Well weirdly enough, you don’t need to be a bloke to enjoy Robert Llewellyn witty book! Who would’ve thought it!

I thoroughly enjoyed Robert Llewellyn’s honest and hilarious portrayal of his life and life in general, plus the fact the book contained many eyebrow topics that would no doubt make a lot of people’s eyes go wide in terror. I on the other hand was in hysterics and felt that his delivery was incredibly refreshing.

Even though I haven’t watched many of the programs Robert has been associated with, it didn’t stop me from enjoying reading about his adventures, his misdemeanours, and his insight on a four legged animal. I may not not be an ‘old bloke’ but Robert Llewellyn is definitely ‘Some Old Bloke’ I loved getting to know.

Buy now!

#BlogTour! #Review -Before I Let You Go by Kelly Rimmer (@kelrimmerwrites) @headlinepg @phoebe_swinburn @annecater

Before I let you go (1)

I did promise you all another Kelly Rimmer post and, even though I’m a bitter than I would have liked (sorry!), I am delighted to share my review of ‘Before I Let You Go’. Huge thanks to Anne Cater for the blog tour invite, and Headline books for the proof copy. Here is my review:

 

Before I Let You Go Cover

As children, Lexie and Annie were incredibly close. Bonded by the death of their beloved father, they weathered the storms of life together. When Lexie leaves home to follow her dream, Annie is forced to turn to her leatherbound journal as the only place she can confide her deepest secrets and fears…

As adults, sisters Lexie and Annie could not be more different. Lexie is a successful doctor and happily engaged. Annie is an addict – a thief, a liar and unable to remain clean. When Annie’s newborn baby is in danger of being placed in foster care, Annie picks up the phone to beg her sister for help. Will Lexie agree to take in her young niece? And how will Annie survive, losing the only thing in her life worth living for?

 

What does TWG think?

Oh wow, Ms.Rimmer has done it again!! ‘Before I Let You Go’ is a devastating, eye-opening novel which made me feel things I had never thought before – and no, just to clarify, that isn’t a bad thing at all.

Annie and Lexie used to be extremely close before the big, wide world made its mark on them as human beings. Their earlier life was full of love from their mum and dad, as well as typical sibling rivalry. But, when one night changed their lives forever, the sisters knew that they needed to support each other even more, especially when a certain man walked through their door.

It’s clear that Annie’s past plays a big part in the outcome of her current life and the decisions she had made leading up to ‘now’, however the author doesn’t let us into the finer details all at once, instead being drip fed pieces of information as the storyline progressed. Whilst there was a part of me deep down which had a feeling about certain events once Lexie had left her childhood home, the black and white truth sent shivers up and down my spine. Annie is an addict and, seeing as she is living in a state where addictions whilst pregnant is a felony, her luck isn’t likely to change anytime soon.

It may seem as though the storyline is governed by Annie’s situation and bad decisions, yet Lexie’s character and her relationship with fiance, Sam, also get their fair share of the spotlight. Let me just say that people aren’t always as they seem – both Annie and Lexie prove that throughout the book.

‘Before I Let You Go’ has such a serious theme running through it, and once again Kelly Rimmer has shown just how versatile her story telling is as she highlights a topic which, whilst may be seen as ‘taboo’, is a subject which could be a lot more ‘popular’ than people may have thought. It was very easy for me to sit and judge Annie, even though I didn’t know her full story, purely because of her being an addict. It’s shameful on my part to an extent, but my reaction just proves that addiction is extremely serious illness and without knowing the full facts or how to deal with addiction, feigning ignorance will get us nowhere.

This book blew me away, and not just because of the addiction situation. There is a lot more to this book than that – I’m just refusing to give anything away! Kelly Rimmer is a phenomenal author who delivers storyline after storyline in such a majestic, poignant and seriously beautiful manner. I’m probably not conveying my opinions of the book properly, so please forgive me, just trust me when I say that the emotion in the storyline is raw, solid, yet incredibly tender. Feelings which magnified my whole experience of the book from start to finish, a book which I will NOT be forgetting in a hurry.

Spellbinding, heart breaking, and absolutely breath-taking, ‘Before I Let You Go’ will put relationships to the test, making even the simplest of decisions the hardest of them all. Outstanding!

 

Buy now from Amazon

#BlogTour! #Review – A Ration Book Christmas by Jean Fullerton (@JeanFullerton_) @Rararesources @CorvusBooks

Swooon!!!! Day two of the blog tour for ‘A Ration Book Christmas’ is here and I am so excited to be a part of it! Many thanks to RaRaResources for the blog tour invite, here is my review:

With Christmas approaching, the Brogan family of London’s East End are braving the horrors of the Blitz. With the men away fighting for King and Country and the ever-present dangers of the German Luftwaffe’s nightly reign of death and destruction, the family must do all they can to keep a stiff upper lip.

For Jo, the youngest of the Brogan sisters, the perils of war also offer a new-found freedom. Jo falls in love with Tommy, a man known for his dangerous reputation as much as his charm. But as the falling bombs devastate their neighbourhood and rationing begins to bite, will the Brogans manage to pull together a traditional family Christmas? And will Jo find the love and security she seeks in a time of such grave peril?

What does TWG think?

If you aren’t aware of this fact already, I LOVE historical fiction novels, and I have always been fixated with ration books and the unfortunate circumstances which led to those books becoming a way of life. So you see, my excitement for this book was through the roof; history, romance, more history, ration books….what’s not to like?

The cover of ‘A Ration Book Christmas’ is rather pretty, but please don’t be sitting there thinking that the storyline is going to be all pristine and happy because it’s not. It’s far from it, and I do not mean that in a bad way at all. Yes, the storyline does contain happiness, but not the sort that comes with ease. It’s the type of happiness which breaks your heart because you have been championing a character to finally have some good luck, or you have witnessed a family reach their breaking point yet when something positive comes their way the sun seems to shine brighter than ever before.

This book is deep. Very deep. I mean, the storyline is based on events during the Blitz; an emotional, powerful time which saw thousands of people lose their lives. How couldn’t it be deep? It needed to be to convey that strong historical element. Okay, I did find it hard going at times because it is thickly laced with facts versus fiction, harrowing circumstances, and characters you wish you could do things for, yet all of that put together just worked.

I can’t even begin to imagine what life was like during that time, trying to save people in amongst rubble yet finding out later that they would be making their way to the mortuary instead of back with their families. Watching Jo and Mattie tend to those people made my heart sore in such an emotional manner. The community spirit in this book was second to none and would definitely put a lot of people in this day and age, to shame.

I loved how raw and poignant Jean Fullerton’s story telling was, as it brought the storyline to life on so many different levels and captured my heart at the same time.

‘A Ration Book Christmas’ is a book to be savoured, but it’s also a book which highlights the importance of ‘being’ and being able to find happiness in the little things in life despite the strong storms which may loom overhead.

A wonderfully written, heartwarming and poignant story. I cannot wait to read more from this author.

Buy now!

About the author.

Jean Fullerton is the author of eleven novels all set in East London where she was born. She also a retired district nurse and university lecturer.  She won the Harry Bowling prise in 2006 and after initially signing for two East London historical series with Orion she moved to Corvus, part of Atlantic Publishing and is half way through her WW2 East London series featuring the Brogan family.

Social Media Links

Website: http://jeanfullerton.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Jean-Fullerton-202631736433230/?ref=bookmarks

Twitter:  @JeanFullerton_

 

#BirthdayBookBlitz! #Review – Oh! What a Pavlova by Isabella May (@IsabellaMayBks) @RaRaResources

We do like a celebration here at TWG! We take birthdays very seriously!! Happy book birthday to ‘Oh! What a Pavlova’ by Isabella May! Massive congratulations. To celebrate, I am super excited to be reviewing the book as part of the book birthday blitz organised by RaRaResources – many thanks for having me on board!

Kate Clothier is leading a double life: a successful jet-setting businesswoman to the outside world, but behind closed doors, life with Daniel and his volcanic temper is anything but rosy.

Some days – heck, make that EVERY day – cake is her only salvation. 

Slowly but surely, the cities she visits – and the men she meets – help her to realise there IS a better future.

And the ley lines of Glastonbury are certainly doing their best to impart their mystical wisdom…

But will she escape before it’s too late?

What does TWG think?

With the theme of domestic abuse running through this storyline, there were times where I felt a little bad for enjoying the book because of what Kate was dealing with. I would like to take my hat off (well, if I was wearing one) to the author for covering a topic which is both devastating and relatable, without losing the vulnerability of the situation. I won’t lie, it is incredibly difficult to read at times because I ended up relating to it due to my own past, but I was glad for the upbeat and humorous one liners to break up that dark vibe.

Isabella May is brilliant at playing on words, and what better to showcase that talent than with food!

For me personally, I did enjoy the storyline and found myself giggling multiple times, however, the dark vibe was incredibly difficult to shuggle off and I couldn’t seem to go with the flow of the storyline as much as I would have liked. Like I said before, maybe that’s down to the fact that I was able to relate to Kate’s situation because I had been through similar, therefore becoming deeper invested than a reader who may not have experienced the similarities first hand. Either way, I was glad that the topic had been put in the spotlight!

‘Oh! What a Pavlova’ is a tantalising treat which mixes pleasure and pain together like a rocky road traybake.

Buy now!

Giveaway!! Win a signed copy of The Cocktail Bar (Open Internationally) 

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

Enter the giveaway now!

About the author.

Isabella May lives in (mostly) sunny Andalucia, Spain with her husband, daughter and son, creatively inspired by the sea and the mountains. When she isn’t having her cake and eating it, sampling a new cocktail on the beach, or ferrying her children to and from after school activities, she can usually be found writing. As a co-founder and a former contributing writer for the popular online women’s magazine, The Glass House Girls – www.theglasshousegirls.com – she has also been lucky enough to subject the digital world to her other favourite pastimes, travel, the Law of Attraction, and Prince (The Purple One). She has recently become a Book Fairy, andis having lots of fun with her imaginative ‘drops’! Costa del Churros is her third novel with Crooked Cat Books, following on from the hit sensations, Oh! What a Pavlova and The Cocktail Bar. 

Social Media Links

www.isabellamayauthor.com

Twitter – @IsabellaMayBks

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/IsabellaMayAuthor/

Instagram – @isabella_may_author

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

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

51CSpIYAgrL

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

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

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

What does TWG think?

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

Where did her mummy go?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Buy now!

#BlogTour! #Review – I Give You My Heart by SarahJane Ford (@sjfordauthor) @RaRaResources


Oh my….I have no idea if my review for SarahJane Ford’s novel, ‘I Give You My Heart’ will make any sense, but I will give it my best shot. Today I am one of the bloggers reviewing this absolutely stunning book as part of the blog tour organised by RaRaResources. As always, big thank you for asking me to be involved in the blog tour and for the ARC. Here is my review:

Alice Richards looked forward to watching the seeds of love she and her husband planted bloom and
grow well into their old age. But her plans for the future shrivel up and die when she learns she has
an inoperable brain tumour.

Determined that she won’t die in vain, she decides to become an organ donor. With a few precious
months left, Alice begins documenting her fairytale romance—from their first meeting to the
children they dreamed of having. She’ll pass on every detail to her heart’s next owner… along with
careful instructions to send her husband reminders of her undying love. Before her time runs out,
Alice must find the perfect candidate to guide her husband through unimaginable grief and hold the
memory of their love in her heart.

What does TWG think?

‘If I just lay here, would you lie with me and, just forget the world….’

Yes Snow Patrol, I would indeed just forget the world because, after reading ‘I Give You My Heart’, I did not have the strength to think about anything else except this book. Period. Look, I don’t read blurbs and once again I am glad that I don’t because I went into reading this book with only my own assumption of what the book was going to be about. I mean c’mon, look at the title. For me personally, that was enough to whet my appetite for what I might stumble across as I read the book. However, I genuinely don’t think that anything could have prepared me for what lay beneath the cover of SarahJane Ford’s novel. Nothing at all. Yes, with a book about organ donation you would think the emotional parts of the storyline would be all mapped out, right? Wrong. I think I might be ill or something because my eyes kept POURING with water….what’s that all about?!

Due to what I assumed the storyline to be about (and being right), I had a slight inkling that ‘I Give You My Heart’ was going to be a very emotional read. I wasn’t wrong. However, what I didn’t realise was just how emotional the book was going to be. It wasn’t just VERY emotional, it was heartbreakingly beautiful, eyes pouring, limbs trembling, heart shattering emotional. Am I complaining? Not in the slightest. Why? Because it just goes to show that the author wrote every single word right from the heart. It proved that the author didn’t just google organ donation, she  researched it to the inch of its life. The emotion also proved that the author believed in her characters, that she believed in what Alice was doing, that she believed in the power of the heart. Love. Romance. Unforgettable memories. An author who writes like this cannot be taught – they either have IT, or they don’t, and SarahJane Ford certainly has IT.

I won’t go into detail regarding the storyline, however, as someone who has always looked at romance like a dog would look at a cat, this book made me want to feel love like Alice and Alex did. I want to be loved by someone so much that you emotions become in tune with the other ones. I want to feel the excitement of being in a relationship and loving someone with every ounce of my being. Daft eh?

Ryan is such a wonderful, genuine character who made me laugh out loud by injecting some much needed humour into the storyline. His strength throughout the novel was extremely admirable, yet it broke my heart to see him so vulnerable and in a position where he couldn’t expel his sadness because he needed to do right by his best friend. What an incredible human being he is.

As for Alice. I don’t think that I would be able to write my thoughts on her without bursting into tears once again. She may have given her heart in a time of need, but she made her way into my heart to stay.

‘I Give You My Heart’ is an incredible, beautifully written novel which took me on a journey I will never forget. From start to finish, Alice took over my thoughts, my emotions, and my logical thinking. There were times where I felt like screaming out, ‘NOOOOOO!!!!’ because I didn’t want her to die. Alice may have been a fictional character, but in the short amount of time I got to know her and her story, I felt like I had a newfound best friend and her death devastated me. Obviously I was relieved that she would no longer be suffering, but the journey surrounding her death was so vivid. So real. So…..life-like. I struggled to find the line between fictional and reality as it had become so blurred.

SarahJane Ford is an author to watch due to her phenomenal storytelling, and her outstanding ability at creating characters who end up leaving their mark on readers hearts. This book absolutely broke me in two, yet I wouldn’t have changed that feeling for the world.

‘I Give You My Heart’ is everything that is right with this world, with a hint of everything that is wrong with this world in terms of terminal illness. Even though I think that the book should come with a lifetime supply of tissues, I will be recommending SarahJane Ford’s novel until I’m blue in the face because it is absolutely stunning. Not only that, the author has put a very important subject at the theme of her book to give it the airtime it so rightly deserves. A subject which people don’t want to talk about because of how final it is. But is it?

A heart-breaking yet mind blowing read, I won’t ever forget Alice’s story because yes, she’s given her heart, but she is now stuck in my mine, being the little angel on my shoulder to show me the way. Beautiful beyond belief, ‘I Give You My Heart’ is…..perfect.

Buy now!

About the author.

SarahJane is the debut author of ‘I Give You My Heart’ which is due to be published on
September 1st 2018.

SarahJane was born in Scotland but grew up in the Cheshire countryside, which is home to her. After
a few years living in Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire, where she went to secondary school, she has
now settled back in Cheshire in a quirky flat surrounded by trees, birds and rolling fields.
A marketing professional since finishing her formal education SarahJane is delighted to be following
her writing dream. She still works part-time as a Marketing Manager, whilst furiously penning her
second novel.

Harbouring an adventurous spirit, SarahJane loves to travel, be surrounded by the wilderness or be
riding Cornish waves.

SarahJane loves to read (ideally by the sea!). She was raised on the greatest love stories, which is
where her romantic soul comes from. She is in love with love…Mr Darcy’s brooding looks in Pride
and Prejudice; Julia Roberts and Richard Gere’s arresting chemistry in Runaway Bride; the intensely
emotional Titanic; going weak at the knees for Danny Zuko in Grease; Cecilia Ahern’s heartbreaking
P.S. I Love You and Patrick Swayze’s mega moves in Dirty Dancing. 

Facebook // Website

#BlogTour! #GuestPost from the author of ‘The Little Gate-Crasher’ Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer (@GabKaplanMayer) @RaRaResources

I am beginning to catch up with my delayed blog posts from the past week – apologies once again to RaRaResources, and the author, for my delay in posting this, but thank you for having me on the blog tour nonetheless. I have a guest post from author of ‘The Little Gate-Crasher’, Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer. Enjoy.

Mace Bugen might have been an achondroplastic dwarf, 43 inches tall with an average size head and
torso set on small, twisted legs—but that didn’t mean he was an idiot or a pushover. In truth, he was
smarter than most; over the years, he learned to effectively turn what society in those days called a
handicap into a powerful tool he could use to his advantage.

“When I was a kid,” he once said, “I’d ask myself, Why is that guy on the football team? Why can’t I
be on the team? Why didn’t God give me the height so I could be the hero?”
“Then at some point I figured it out: I gotta do something special to let ’em know I’m me.”
In The Little Gate Crasher: The Life And Photos Of Mace Bugen, I remember my amazing great-Uncle
Mace Bugen through his journey as a first-generation Jewish-American kid in working class
Philipsburg, NJ to becoming the first celebrity selfie-artist—way ahead of his time.

Featuring vintage photos of Mace with his exploits, The Little Gate Crasher captures three decades of
American pop culture, seen through the unique lens of Mace and his gate-crashing exploits.
Underneath his antics, we meet a complex man who continually defies others expectations and
meets life on his own terms. Mace becomes a successful businessman and devoted son to his aging
parents. But in his gate-crashing antics, we best get to see Mace’s unique combination of guile,
cunning and sense of entitlement, which he used to engineer photos of himself with some of the
biggest celebrities of his day. If people were going to stare at him all of his life, he would give them
something to see.

The Little Gate Crasher features over 50 vintage photos of Mace with celebrities, athletes and
politicians, including Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Muhammed Ali, Richard Nixon, Jane Russel, Joe
DiMaggio and more.

Buy: Amazon US  // Amazon UK

 Guest Post.

Understanding Through Memoir
By Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer

1 in 5 human beings has some kind of disability – including learning,
developmental, physical, emotional or a combination of disabilities. And yet,
while disability is such a common part of the human experience, some people are
uncomfortable and even afraid around people with disabilities. As a mom raising
a teenage son whose autism is very visible, I have reflected since his early
childhood on why disability can trigger this kind of reaction. I think it’s in part a
natural human fear of the unknown experience. Disability pushes our buttons
around vulnerability – it makes us wonder how would we react if someone in our
family – or we ourselves – needed supports or accommodations for daily living?
Society has largely allowed us to keep people with disabilities at arms length –
it’s only in the last generation or two that public schools have been mandated to
provide public education for all. Many adults with disabilities in the US don’t live
in community settings or work in places where the public gets to interact and
know them – they remain set apart.

This separation is changing – but it’s slow and requires all of us to move out of
our comfort zone to know about and respect the lives of human beings we may
have never seen as a natural part of our community. I believe that as educators,
we have a responsibility to nurture in our students a willingness and curiosity to
learn about life experiences that are different from their own and engage in
conversations and activities that help them to understand more about what living
with a disability is like.

My new memoir The Little Gate-Crasher  shares the story of another family
member who has a disability—and the incredible life that he lived.
The Little Gate-Crasher features the amazing story of my Great-Uncle Mace
Bugen – an unstoppable spirit, first generation Jewish American, self-made
millionaire, celebrity gate-crasher – who was 43 inches tall. Mace’s unstoppable
spirit defied the challenges of his own physical limitations and society’s
prejudices towards people with dwarfism. The book features Mace’s photos of
himself with the greatest celebrities of his era, including Muhammad Ali, Joe
DiMaggio, Sammy David, Jr. and more.

Books are powerful tools to help us understand lives that are very different from
our own—and in many ways, also very similar. I encourage you to use The Little
Gate-Crasher  to inspire conversation in your community through:
 Parent/Teen Dialogue: If a family isn’t personally touched by disability, parents
and kids may have never had an opportunity to discuss their feelings, fears and insights about Invite them to read together and use my discussion guide to
create interactive conversations for parents and teens.

 Partner with your Adult Book Club: are you part of a a book group or club? If so,
suggest reading The Little Gate-Crasher and I’ll be happy to Skype into your book
club to do a reading and lead a discussion with you! It’s lots of fun for us and
makes your job easy. Contact me to schedule.

My hope is that memoir can make life with disability feel not as far away or scary
from most of our lives, so that when we encounter disability personally, we can
be present with friendship, kindness and caring.

Many thanks to the author for the guest post. Purchase links are above.

About the author.

Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer is an experienced educator, author and speaker. At
Jewish Learning Venture, she works as Director of Whole Community Inclusion and
leads disability awareness programs for the Philadelphia Jewish community. Her most
recent book The Little Gate Crasher, a memoir of her Great-Uncle, who overcame
society’s prejudices about dwarfism to lead a remarkable life, was one of the national
book selections for 2017 Jewish Disability Awareness & Inclusion Month. Gabby writes
for and edits The New York Jewish Week’s The New Normal: Blogging Disability and is
also a featured Philly parenting blogger for WHYY’s newsworks. Gabby holds a B.F.A. in
theatre and creative writing from Emerson College and an M.A. in Jewish Studies from
the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College.

Website