#BlogTour! #Review – # IAm… by @CeartasAdvocacy #GiveMeAVoice

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Apologies for the late post, but it is day two on the ‘I Am..’ blog tour, a tour which I am incredibly honoured to be involved in.

Copy-of-“I-Am…”-Blog-TourAn-Anthology-of-Work-from-Ceartas-Advocacy-Creative-Writing-Group-1024x576Ceartas ‘I am…’ Book Launch

Ceartas are delighted to announce the publication of “I Am…” an anthology of the work created by some of the individuals who use our services.

Ceartas provide independent advocacy to people over the age of 16 living in East Dunbartonshire. Thanks to generous funding from Big Lottery Scotland, Investing in Ideas, we were able to employ a Writer in Residence to facilitate an 8 week programme for people who have used the services of Ceartas.

Many individuals who seek advocacy only do so when all other routes have been exhausted. Many feel disempowered, voiceless and personally deconstructed. Using your voice and telling your story is the antithesis to being recognised only by a label.

Independent advocacy is about ensuring individuals have a voice and what better way to assist that process than using creative writing as a means of providing an outlet for that voice. There are so many labels attached and assumptions made about people living with long term conditions;  many face stigma and discrimination as part of their daily lives; they are often denied a voice or lack the confidence to use their voice and speak up for themselves.

Writer in Residence, Donna Moore from Glasgow Women’s Library, worked with the group over a period of eight weeks to create a portfolio of participant’s work to include in the anthology.

The highly anticipated ‘I Am…’ publication featuring stories from those on the course will be released over two days this February at; the Glasgow Women’s Library on Thursday 15th February, 2.30pm and the William Patrick Library in Kirkintilloch on Wednesday 21st February, 6.30pm

Creative Writing fits perfectly into the work that Ceartas does: it’s about assisting individuals to express themselves in a manner that does not focus solely on their literacy skills; it is about demonstrating to others the impact that having advocacy support can have on individual circumstances; it is about coming together to learn new skills, reduce isolation and to evidence their effective skills in communication no matter what level of literacy skills they have.”

                                                                                                    Sharon Bairden, Services Manager

What does TWG think?

What an enlightening and inspiring anthology this is! Instead of a group of people just writing for the sake of it, writer in residence, Donna Moore, has helped the writers to show their true potential with the work that they have written for the anthology.

At the start of the book, we are introduced to each of the contributors which I thought was such a lovely touch, and made their work come across more personal.

It is extremely clear that Ceartas look after the individuals that require their services, helping them to find their voices, and to be proud of showcasing their thoughts when they probably thought they never would be able to. The inspiration the oozed from every single page was incredibly humbling, touching and severely eye-opening. It certainly made me stop, think and definitely listen.

I am in awe at everyone who wrote a piece for this anthology, and I applaud them for what they have achieved. I am also in awe of Ceartas and what they do, who they help, and the fact that when they say that they’re here to help, they really are.

The ‘I Am….’ anthology was a pleasure to read, they really should be proud of themselves!

“Ceartas provides an advocacy service for people in East Dunbartonshire irrespective of their cultural background, gender, beliefs or sexuality.
We are committed to providing a service based on the principles of equality, fairness and justice. We strive to ensure that the views and opinions of individuals are heard and respected, affecting in a positive way the lives of people using the service.
We have a responsibility to provide this service, ensuring the rights of individuals are always central, in compliance with national advocacy standards.” 
 
Find out more at www.ceartas.org.uk
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#BlogBlitz! #Review – The Runaway Wife by Dee MacDonald (@DMacDonaldAuth) @Bookouture

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Blog blitz three of the day and it’s for Dee MacDonald and ‘The Runaway Wife’. It was really difficult not to fall in love with this one! Big thanks, as always, to Bookouture for the blog blitz invite, as well as the ARC. Here is my review:

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One evening in early August, while mashing the potatoes for dinner, Connie McColl decides she’s had enough…

Connie is tired of solving one family crisis after another – usually involving her unruly grandchildren – while her husband Roger spends all day at his beloved golf course. Surely it must be time for her to shake off her apron and start living again?

So Connie packs a bag, gets in her little green car and drives off…

As Connie journeys from England to Scotland on an unexpected adventure, she finally begins to rediscover herself. And she starts to wonder, will she ever be ready to return home? Or will this summer change her life forever?

The Runaway Wife is an inspiring and joyously uplifting novel about being true to yourself. If you loved The Kicking the Bucket List and The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry this book is for you.

What does TWG think?

What a wonderful little read this was! Connie is sick and tired of feeling like a housekeeper, a babysitter, and a slave to her family. She’s had enough and after careful deliberation whilst bashing the potatoes for dinner into next week, Connie decides to do something for herself and live. No more being her husbands personal driver. No more having no plans to fit in with her daughter-in-law’s ever-expanding social life so that she can babysit for her. No more! Instead, Connie packs a few essentials and sets off in Kermit to a destination she hasn’t decided yet. You go girl!

Connie is the type of character you will pretty much fall in love with straight away. She reminds me of the sort of grandmother who, should she ever go to a posh dinner, would sit there and talk about sexual positions in great detail. Such a brilliant character.

I loved how the book mentioned Galashiels (which is where I live), and I loved how much detail the author went into when she was describing Edinburgh. It was so lovely to read a book and be all ‘I’VE BEEN THERE. I KNOW THAT’ like you’re the local city groupie or something!

Connie’s adventure had me laughing out loud, sitting with tears in my eyes, as well as becoming emotionally touched by who she met along the way. Sometimes in life we lose sight of who we are whilst other people take us for granted, with us having no confidence to tell them to shove off. I’m sure we have all been there. The fact that Connie was determined to not live the rest of her life in a shell, living life for everyone else, really did make me think. I mean, living life for YOU is in no way selfish, so why are people made to feel that way?

I disliked Roger from the get go and my opinion didn’t change in a positive way, the more of him I got to know. In fact, I actually disliked him more by the time I got to the end of the book. What a self-absorbed man!! If he looked like Channing Tatum then yeah, I could see why he would think his bowel movements don’t stink, but he isn’t. Selfish dweeb!

For me personally, Connie was the star of the show and I was so glad she decided to go on her adventure the way that she did. At the age of 66, Connie knew fine well that she needs to live with no regrets in the time of life that she has left. Just look at Jeannie, bless her heart. It really brought home just how short life is and how we need to grab it by the Kermit before it’s too late. I know that sometimes it’s easier said than done, but like Connie proves, there is no wrong time to do something for you, as long as it isn’t too late.

‘The Runaway Wife’ really warmed my soul and that ending, well, I think I snorted into my cup of tea more than once! Despite being a laugh out loud, carefree type of read, Dee MacDonald included some deep and meaningful topics along the way, making my mind think all that bit more.

I really do hope that Connie returns sooner rather than later as I cannot wait to follow her on yet another life-changing adventure. This book is truly something special, just like Connie, Jeannie and Kath. A wonderful, wonderful book that I won’t be forgetting anytime soon.

Buy links:
Amazon // iBooks // Kobo // GooglePlay

About the author.

Aged 18, Dee arrived in London from Scotland and typed her way round the West End for a couple of years before joining BOAC (forerunner of British Airways) in Passenger Services for 2 years and then as a stewardess for 8 years.

She has worked in Market Research, Sales and at the Thames TV Studios when they had the franchise.

Dee has since relocated to Cornwall, where she spent 10 years running B&Bs, and only began writing when she was over 70!

Married twice, she has one son and two grandsons.

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

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

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

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

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

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

What does TWG think?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Buy now!

#BlogTour! #Review – The Undercover Mother by Emma Robinson (@emmarobinsonuk) @Bookouture

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This book……wow. Thank you to Bookouture for the blog tour invite as well as the ARC of ‘The Undercover Mother’. Here is my review:

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Jenny has too much on her plate: literally – she’s only expecting one child but she’s eating for at least three. Not to mention trying to juggle her nightmare boss, a know-it-all sister, and an infuriatingly laid-back husband.

She used to be known for her ‘Single Girl About Town’ column. But when her boss gives her job to a younger colleague, Jenny panics and proposes she blogs instead about being a clueless new mum. Surely people will find her new friendship group fascinating? (Even if the only thing they seem to have in common is that they all had sex around the same time 9 months ago…)

And if her readers aren’t quite hooked yet, maybe Jenny will just have to be more liberal with the truth. After all, none of the other mums will read it… will they? 

The Undercover Mother is a hilarious parenting page-turner that will make you laugh, cry and want to crack open the gin. Perfect for fans of Why Mummy Drinks and The Bad Mother’s Diary.

What does TWG think?

Where do I even begin with my review! Bearing in mind that I had absolutely no idea that Emma Robinson had children of her own, it didn’t take me long to reach the conclusion that she just had to be a mother where this storyline is concerned. I mean come on, even good ol’ Google wouldn’t be able to tell you that shizzle unless it was a parent itself!

As a mum myself I laughed out loud, grimaced, and cringe, whilst also nodding along to every single thing in this story. If after having a baby you can fit into the same pair of jeans you wore when you were 16 years old, then ace! If after having a baby you decide that you want to wear the same pair of knickers for one week straight and lock yourself in your home, crack on! What did I do? Well, I was in the middle! Seeing as I couldn’t fit into any of my own clothes right after, I found myself resembling a smaller version of my mother as I wore her clothes instead. Am I ashamed? Hell no! Was I embarrassed at the time? Most definitely, that is why I wish that Emma Robinson’s ‘The Undercover Mother’ was around when I had my daughter in 2013.

This book lays parenthood bare from the thoughts of disgust (each to their own, obviously!) at watching someone giving birth, to a mother thinking that she cannot give birth or look after a baby. Not only that, it follows the lives of several different women, all with their own interpretations of parenthood and what it means for them. What was even better for me personally, was the fact that not all of the characters were married with some of the women living the life of a single mum. As a single mum myself, I found this incredibly refreshing as a lot of books I have read lately seem to enjoy slamming single mums, yet Emma Robinson doesn’t do that. Yes, she is honest with a lot of eventualities which parents could face, including the single ones, yet she didn’t throw any shade to single mums at all. To be honest, I actually felt like crying at that because I was like ‘FINALLY!!!!!!! An author who isn’t slamming single mummies!!’. Even though I know that this book wasn’t written for me personally, obviously, it really did mean a lot that it didn’t seem to matter whether Robinson’s characters were single, divorced, dating, married mums. All that mattered was the most important thing – being a mum.

I saw a lot of myself in Jenny in the way she reacted to pregnancy classes, and how the other women approached motherhood. Yes, I laughed a lot!

‘The Undercover Mother’ made me laugh out loud, snort my coffee up my nose (I wouldn’t advise it) and slap my hand on my forehead going ‘omfg I did that!’ (multiple times!). But, whilst the storyline is hilarious and the author writes about parenthood in a way that a lot of people would be too ashamed to admit, the overall storyline does highlight several important messages. Personally, the message that hit home for me was how important it is to NOT beat yourself up every day, reminding yourself that you are doing the best that you can and, whilst it is only natural to compare yourself to other mothers, you shouldn’t let their choices dictate how you raise YOUR child. I am fully aware that that is far easier to say than it is to actually do, but its something I feel the author conveyed absolutely brilliant with her characters. Seriously, they are all so different, yet they all found themselves feeling exactly the same as each other. They just managed to hide it differently in case anyone looked down their nose at their parenting skills, or saw them in a bad light.

Hell, we are in charge of keeping another human bean alive, and us women either managed to squeeze a large watermelon out of our foof, or we delivered a baby out of the sunroof which left us with a scar longer than the actual baby!!

I loved this book and everything it stands for. The honesty is empowering, the hidden messages are like little hugs every few pages, and the hilarity makes the hard times seem less….daunting. We may find ourselves covered in baby poo and baby sick right after getting our cherubs into clean clothes and feeling annoyed at the time, but that’s what being a mummy is all about. Mummyhood isn’t all about cuddles in front of the tv, or sleeping through the night from the moment you find the blue line on the pregnancy stick. No. Mummyhood is all of that and more. It’s the good days and the bad days. It’s the sad tears, the happy tears and everything in-between, and ‘The Undercover Mother’ showcases that like the Queen’s jewels. If you feel like you need a cheerleader, Emma Robinson is your woman.

Hand on heart, this book is everything I could have wished for and more. If I wasn’t already extremely proud of being a mumma, I am even more proud of being a mumma after reading this book.

A phenomenal debut novel which is totally trophy worthy – Emma Robinson has certainly got a fan for life where I am concerned!

Buy now!!

About the author: 
Emma Robinson thinks of herself as one of the ‘Bridget Jones generation’ – who are now grown up and having children – and writes novels for women who feel the same.

She also has a blog, Motherhood for Slackers, which takes a humorous look at parenthood, and includes poems such as ‘Dear Teacher’ about her son starting school which has been shared around the world. Emma is an English teacher and lives in Essex with a patient husband and two children who are an endless source of material.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you for supporting me and TWG!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What does TWG think?

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

Oh wait. We already have…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Buy now from Amazon
Buy now from Amazon US

#BlogTour! #Review – 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

#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