#BlogTour! #Review – The Factory Girls of Lark Lane by Pam Howes (@PamHowes1) @Bookouture


Pam Howes is back, and what a fantastic start to a very promising new series! Happy publication day to Pam Howes and ‘The Factory Girls of Lark Lane’. I am absolutely delighted to be one of the bloggers kicking off the blog tour today, so a big thank you to Bookouture for allowing me to do so, and for the ARC. Here is my review:

The struggles of war will build the strongest of friendships…

1940, Liverpool: Best friends Alice Turner and Millie Markham work for the war effort at Rootes munitions factory, making shell caps and Halifax bombers. Alice’s sweetheart Terry is home from the front for a brief period of leave, and the women are excitedly planning a whirlwind wedding.

But the honeymoon is soon over, and the ever-present air raid sirens quickly bring Alice back down to earth. When a terrible explosion at the factory leads to a tragic death, and a loved one is announced missing in action, it’s only their friendship and the support of the other factory girls which help to keep Alice and Millie’s spirits up.

As the war stretches on with no sign of an ending, can Alice and Millie help one another make it through – and find happiness even in the darkest of times?

What does TWG think?

Oh what a corker of a start to an extremely promising new series! I was in my element with ‘The Factory Girls of Lark Lane’. An emotional element, but still in my element.

Set in 1940’s Liverpool, ‘The Factory Girls of Lark Lane’ tells the story of Alice Turner’s life during the war. Whilst Alice is lucky that she gets to work with her best friend, Millie, she cannot help but feel bereft when the love of her life is sent back to the frontline after their wedding. What Alice doesn’t realise, however, is that her new husband leaving is the least of her concerns. To be honest, I underestimated just how much wartime novels get under my skin, but Pam Howes has done herself and her characters justice with her fantastic storytelling.

As I said at the beginning, I did find this book rather emotional. Obviously I won’t state exactly what made me emotional, but for those of you who have read the book already, all I will say is…Brian. If you haven’t read the book yet and are no curiosity by the name ‘Brian’, I would advise you to grab this book pronto so that you can find out. Tissues ready though, okay?

‘The Factory Girls of Lark Lane’ has its sights predominately set on Alice Turner and her family, yet due to how close-knit the community is, it cannot be helped if you find yourself delving further into some of the other characters lives as well.

Seeing as I have read Pam Howes’ previous novels and adored them, I didn’t know how she was going to top those fab novels with a new series, however, after reading this one, I am flabbergasted by the fact that she has done just that. ‘The Factory Girls of Lark Lane’ literally moved me to tears, filled my arms with goosebumps, and made me wish that communities these days were like the communities during the war. Pam Howes doesn’t just tell a story by writing down words, she also tells a story by telling it to her readers’ hearts and souls.

A truly spell-binding, humble, and utterly poignant first book in a brand new series. I cannot wait to get my hands on the next book in the series if this one is anything to go by. Historical fiction at its finest, you can always rely on Pam Howes to tick all of the boxes in the saga genre, without a doubt.

Buy now!

About the author.

Pam is a retired interior designer, mum to three daughters, grandma to seven assorted grandchildren and roadie to her musician partner.

The inspiration for Pam’s first novel came from her teenage years, working in a record store, and hanging around with musicians who frequented the business. The first novel evolved into a series about a fictional band The Raiders. She is a fan of sixties music and it’s this love that compelled her to begin writing.

You can find Pam on Twitter at https://twitter.com/PamHowes1

You can find Pam on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Pam-Howes-Author-260328010709267/?fref=ts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Guest Post.

A Day in the Life of a Woolworths Girl
Elaine Everest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

#BlogTour! #Review – The Wildflowers by Harriet Evans (@HarrietEvans) @headlinepg @Annecater @Bookish_becky

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It is such an honour to be helping Harriet Evans celebrate her tenth novel, as part of the blog tour organised by Headline and Anne Cater. Huge thanks to them both for the blog tour invite, as well as the ARC of ‘The Wildflowers’. Here is my review:

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The new novel by Sunday Times bestseller Harriet Evans will transport you to a Dorset beach house, where you can feel the sand between your toes. Enter the home of Tony and Althea Wilde – the Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor of their generation and with a marriage every bit as stormy. This glorious tale of tangled family secrets and lies will leave you warm and glowing.

Tony and Althea Wilde. Glamorous, argumentative … adulterous to the core.

They were my parents, actors known by everyone. They gave our lives love and colour in a house by the sea – the house that sheltered my orphaned father when he was a boy.

But the summer Mads arrived changed everything. She too had been abandoned and my father understood why. We Wildflowers took her in.

My father was my hero, he gave us a golden childhood, but the past was always going to catch up with him … it comes for us all, sooner or later.

This is my story. I am Cordelia Wilde. A singer without a voice. A daughter without a father. Let me take you inside.

What does TWG think?

Where on Earth do I begin with this review? Wow.

First of all, let me start by saying how gorgeous the book cover is! The image has captured the storyline absolutely brilliantly, but of course you don’t realise the reference until after you have read the book!

‘The Wildflowers’ wasn’t an easy read, and by that I don’t mean that it was hard to understand, because it was. It wasn’t an easy read because the storyline describes various, hard-hitting situations in such incredible detail, the reality of such emotional times hit home something chronic. Not only that, the author had chosen a path for her characters which some readers may find a little hard to digest. ‘The Wildflowers’, as a fast reader myself, isn’t a book that you’ll be able to read without thinking. It takes time for this storyline to come alive, and for that you need to be patient and just go with the flow. I urge readers not to give up on this book as yes, it does take a little while for the story to get going, but it really is worth the wait. Please trust me on that.

‘The Wildflowers’ confused me at first because it wasn’t really clear when things were happening, especially as the storyline kept switching between various timelines and that clarity was a definite requirement. I knew that, because of the historical element to this book, the storyline would take a little while to get into as the author needed to set the scene with the various characters, as well as explain certain events which led characters to the place they are now. Patience isn’t my strong point where books are concerned, but deep down I knew that Harriet Evans wanted her story to bloom like a wild flower and that isn’t something that can be done over one or two chapters.

I shan’t give anything away, but I will say that I found myself getting a little emotional when certain things came to light. Even though certain characters chose their own path, I couldn’t help but feel a little empathy towards them because they must have been in such a dark place to warrant such drastic and devastating actions.

I really was able to lose myself in ‘The Wildflowers’ and the storyline which the author had so lovingly crafted, bringing it to life with such poise and poignancy. Everything about this book was raw, heart-wrenching, and severely dramatic – as a reader you have no time to think about anything other than the story you’re reading otherwise you’ll end up running to catch up with a character as they choose a different path on their journey.

I wanted to dislike some of the characters, really I did, but once all of the loose ends began to get tidied up, I just couldn’t find it in my heart to hate some of the characters who did so much wrong.

‘The Wildflowers’ got under my skin completely, and not in a bad way. Okay, I struggled with the first couple of chapters due to slight confusion, but once the ball started rolling, I couldn’t focus on anything else apart from the lives of Cord and Ben. Harriet Evans has written such a beautiful story which captures the essence of beauty, trust, loyalty, lies, death, and everything else in between. The author has left no stone unturned, yet has written about multiple hard-hitting themes with a lot of sensitivity, yet has also managed to keep them realistic and relatable.

If you feel like stepping out of your comfort zone, allowing yourself to be transported back to the 1940’s, I would recommend ‘The Wildflowers’ in a heartbeat. Such a gripping and devastatingly beautiful read which captivated my heart almost straight away.

Treat this book with the patience and kindness a flower deserves, even if they are ‘wildflowers’.

‘The Wildflowers’ is available now in e-book from Amazon, and the paperback version is due to be published on the 5th April and can be pre-ordered now.

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

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

THE ALLOTMENT GIRLS

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

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

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

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

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

What does TWG think?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Buy now from Amazon

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

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

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

What does TWG think?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks Bookouture.

Buy now from Amazon UK
Buy now from Amazon US

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


#BlogBlitz! #Review – The Liverpool Girls by Pam Howes (@PamHowes1) @Bookouture

The Liverpool Girls - Blog Tour
Happy publication day Pam Howes! Whilst today is obviously a day for bookish celebration, it’s also a bittersweet day for readers who have been following Pam’s Liverpool saga series from the beginning. Why? Because, unfortunately, ‘The Liverpool Girls’ is the last book in the series! If, like me, you have read all three books in order, you’ll probably agree that us readers have been on one hell of a ride with each and every character. Some more memorable than others! I am honoured to be one of the blogs kicking off today’s blog blitz with my review. Huge congratulations Pam!

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It’s 1966 and in Liverpool two sisters are about to have their lives turned upside down…

Sisters Carol and Jackie haven’t had the easiest of childhoods, but as they grow up and begin their own lives both hope for happier times ahead. Stylish Carol works in Lewis’s department store, while Jackie dreams of drama school, and a career on the stage.

But the sisters are heartbroken when they discover they have been dating the same man, and an unexpected pregnancy causes a rift between them. Parents Dora and Joe must overcome their past hurts and help their daughters, despite the meddling of Joe’s second wife Ivy.

As the sisters’ troubles spiral and difficult decisions must be made, can the family pull together – or will Jackie and Carol’s sisterly bond be destroyed forever?

What does TWG think?

We are back in Liverpool for the third and final time, as we catch up with Dora and her family in the last instalment of the Liverpool Trilogy. I cannot believe how quick this series has zoomed by, nor can I believe how much all of the characters have grown. Having read the series from book one, it’s been fun watching certain characters grow throughout the years, as if us readers were going through their highs and lows with them at the time. Quite surreal to be honest as some of the characters in this series have lived out their lives before our very eyes.

Dora is our main character once again as we find out what has happened since book two.  Put it this way – A LOT has happened since we left the family and, whilst I’m not surprised that certain situations have come to a head, I really was hoping that I was going to meet Ivy again. But I did. Even though I thought that Ivy’s character was going to rub me up the wrong way yet again, I actually found that another character took that particular crown away from her. Don’t worry though, Ivy was her usual, delightful (ahem) self and still bugged me, yet someone else bugged me even more.

Because I don’t want to give anything away, all I’m going to say is that ONE of Dora’s daughters got my back up on more than one occasion. Once you read the book for yourself, you may think the same, or you may think differently. Who knows! I’m intrigued to see how people fair with this particular character though, I have to say.

In regards to the overall storyline, I really did enjoy catching up with the characters again, but I did find some parts of the storyline to be a little slow burning and lacking in oomph. However, there were parts of the storyline, namely where Carol was concerned, where the pace was on point and the grit made it such an intense read. For me, the story seemed to to and fro between gritty and slow burning, as opposed to Pam Howes’ previous books of being pure intensity. Again, that is just a personal preference.

I am quite sad to see this series come to an end as I would loved to find out what happened to a couple of the characters later down the line. I did thoroughly enjoy the majority of ‘The Liverpool Girls’, especially as the author has made Dora go from strength to strength as a character. Dora really was the star of the show and I really do think that Pam Howes has done a phenomenal job in building her character, whilst also maintaining Dora’s personality across all three books.

Poignant, thought-provoking and definitely memorable, ‘The Liverpool Girls’ is bound to take you on a rollercoaster ride of emotions as you follow Dora and Joe’s life during the late sixties. Full of brilliant history from the sixties, Pam Howes has written yet another touching novel.

Thanks Bookouture.

Buy now from Amazon UK
Buy now from Amazon US

About the author: 

Pam Howes was born in Cheshire. She is a retired Interior Designer who began writing seriously in the mid nineties. The idea for her first novel, set in the sixties, was inspired by her time as a teenager, working in a local record store and hanging around with musicians who frequented the business. That first novel evolved into a series set in the fictional town of Pickford, based on her home town of Stockport. Three Steps to Heaven; ‘Til I Kissed You; Always On My Mind; Not Fade Away, and That’ll Be The Day, follow the lives and loves through the decades of fictional Rock’n’Roll band The Raiders. Pam is a big fan of sixties music and it’s this love that compelled her to write the series. A stand-alone true-life romance, Fast Movin’ Train, set in the nineties, was published in early 2012. A new series of Fairground Romances, set in the sixties, begins with Cathy’s Clown, to be followed by Ruby Tuesday early 2016. Pam is mum to three adult daughters, grandma to seven assorted grandchildren, and roadie to one musician partner. She still lives in Cheshire and is currently involved in raising awareness of her home-town’s musical heritage with campaigns to have Blue Plaques erected on the walls of local clubs, The Manor Lounge and The Sinking Ship, where the likes of The Walker Brother’s, The Who and Jimi Hendrix played; now closed, but still firmly in the hearts of Stockport’s recycled teenagers.  

Pam recently signed a contract with the award winning publisher Bookouture and the first novel in her new trilogy, The Lost Daughter of Liverpool, will be on sale in February 2017

All books are available in Kindle format, paperback, and Fast Movin’ Train is also available as an audio book. 

Follow her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Pam-Howes-Author/260328010709267 

And Twitter @PamHowes1

#BlogTour! #Review – Christmas Angels by Nadine Dorries (@NadineDorries) @HoZ_Books

Christmas Angels blog tour

Dorries_04_CHRISTMAS ANGELS PB
Christmas is the most harrowing time of year for the nurses of St Angelus Hospital.

A brilliant nurse secretly battling a fatal illness over Christmas… A starving baby boy abandoned in the freezing cold… A cruel, controlling mother, determined to block her daughter’s nursing career at all costs…

In the run up to Christmas, nurses Pammy and Beth are aiming to win the coveted national decorating competition for the St Angelus children’s ward, but drama after drama threatens to upset their plans.

Amid the hardship and poverty of 1950s Liverpool, only the humour and community spirit of nurses and patients will get the Angels through their toughest Christmas yet.

What does TWG think?

Christmas is a time for loved ones, sharing memories, as well as creating new ones. Unfortunately though, that isn’t always the case for everyone – as you will no doubt realise when you delve into ‘Christmas Angels’. With a storyline packed full to the brim with heartache, illnesses, abandonment, and extremely bitter family members, it’s a wonder how the author managed to turn all of those heartbreaking moments into the heart-warming, touching, poignant and memorable storyline that ‘Christmas Angels’ turned out to be. This is only my second novel by Nadine Dorries, but with such genuine warmth flying off the pages (aka the authors words), it feels as though I have been reading Dorries’ novels for a very long time.

Set in the 1950’s when the healthcare system was a lot different from today, ‘simple’ illnesses, by today’s standards, were a lot harder to treat meaning that people could be on the brink of losing a loved one. The nurses at St Angelus Hospital are working around the clock as they treat to treat all of the patients who come through their doors both physically, and emotionally. ‘Christmas Angels’ was set when the NHS was dipping its toe into the water and, contrary to popular belief, it’s a system which has come a long way in the last 60+ years and reading this book makes you appreciate the NHS that little bit more.

For me, the true highlight of this novel was the community spirit. As daft as this sounds, I am incredibly jealous of that as times have drastically changed and community spirit is severely lacking. I am so glad that authors like Nadine Dorries keep the community and fighting spirit alive in their novels. We really do need it.

I’m not going to lie, there storyline does contain a lot of heartache and emotional situations which for me, got a little bit too hard to digest at times because it chipped away at the ice around my heart until I had no more. I think I underestimated how emotional this novel was going to be so make sure you read this book with a huge box of tissues next to you.

Touching, moving and heartbreakingly beautiful, Nadine Dorries puts the spotlight on community spirit at Christmas time in the most humble and poignant manner, igniting the Christmassy spirit in readers everywhere – guaranteed.

Thanks HoZ.

Buy now from Amazon UK

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

Blog Tour Artwork for A Winter Love Song

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A Winter Love Song is a heartwarming and moving story of survival and love from bestselling author Rita Bradshaw.

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

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

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

What does TWG think?

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

Anyway, back to the book.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks Pacmacmillan.

Buy now from Amazon UK

#BlogBlitz! #Review – Heartaches and Christmas Cakes by Amy Miller (@AmyBratley1) @Bookouture

Heartaches and Christmas cakes - Blog Tour
I am delighted to be one of the blogs closing Amy Miller’s blog blitz for ‘Heartaches and Christmas Cakes’! Huge thanks to Bookouture for the ARC and for inviting me to take part in the blitz. Here is my review:

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Heartaches and Christmas Cakes: A wartime family saga perfect for cold winter nights (Wartime Bakery Book 1)

December, 1940: All that Audrey Barton wants is her family together for Christmas. But the war changes everything… 

The Barton family bakery in Bournemouth has been at the heart of the town for generations: Audrey and Charlie Barton have never been rich, but their bread and cakes – and their love and advice – have enriched the lives of others in the town for many years.

When war breaks out, it doesn’t take long for trouble to arrive on the bakery doorstep. Audrey’s brother William has joined up to fight, and William’s fiancé Elsie fears she may lose him before their life together has even begun. Audrey’s stepsister Lily comes to stay, but Lily is clearly hiding a dark secret

And a silent and strange little girl is evacuated to the town – will Audrey get to the heart of what is ailing her? 

Audrey battles to keep hope and love alive in tumultuous times. But when disaster strikes at Christmas, will her efforts be in vain? 

This is the first book in a heartwarming and romantic new saga series, perfect for fans of The Gingerbread Girl, Nadine Dorries and Ellie Dean.

What does TWG think?

Oh my goodness me! What a cracking start to a series! I have no idea whether my review of Amy Miller’s, ‘Heartaches and Christmas Cakes’, will do the book justice but I will certainly try my best.

As a lover of saga’s/historical fiction, I just knew that ‘Heartaches and Christmas Cakes’ would be right up my street. With other books I have read in this genre, the storylines are written from a different angle where the reader gets to hear about the war, is probably involved in one way or another via a family member, and that the tale of the war is told secondhand and distant. Amy Miller’s story wasn’t like that. Set in the family bakery in the heart of Bournemouth, the storyline showcases a different side to the wartime devastation as the ‘main character’, Audrey, got stuck into situations when they arose by helping others. Where Audrey went, the reader went.

Despite being set in a bakery the story wasn’t all loaves of bread and buns. Not at all. In fact the story was more about having no choice when a love one gets called up to fight in the war. Finding themselves part of a family under a name, yet also a part of a large, communal family when the town needed help. Putting own feelings aside to help the injured in their time of need. Seeing hundreds of evacuated children with frightened eyes, unaware of what would happen to them beyond that point whilst also hoping that a stranger would be kind enough to take them into their home…

Like I said above, everywhere Audrey went, us readers followed. Because of that, the storyline seemed a heck of a lot more raw than if we weren’t shadowing the main character, so to speak. Of course I have read about the devastation which both wars left on the world, thanks to history books and so forth. But to then be able to conjure up an image in your mind of the emotional devastation from the fighters point of view, thanks to the authors beautiful story telling, was a lot more emotional than I expected. With factual history books it is harder to find emotion as you’re given the facts in black and white. No heartfelt anecdotes or emotional undertones. Just, the facts. Yet with historical fiction books, if based on a certain point in history then the bones of the facts will be there waiting, but it’s then up to us readers to turn the authors words into an image we relate to. Amy Miller told the story perfectly, therefore conjuring up images of the wartime was a lot easier than I thought it would be. Incredibly emotional though.

Even though a lot of the book is written from Audrey’s viewpoint, the author does switch the chapters to a couple of the other characters viewpoints and, because all of the characters were various ages, I was able to feel a bit of release when I read one of the younger girls chapters due to the theme within that chapter. I thoroughly enjoyed reading ‘Heartaches and Christmas Cakes’ from different angles as it meant I got to see different sides to the war and how people were affected. Take Audrey for example; she’s the mother hen of the book and of the town, having to pay attention to rationing when it came to baking cakes, whilst also looking after younger members of her family, running the bakery and assisting other people in her community. Then on the other hand, Elsie’s heart was close to shattering and her own family were subjected to disgusting behaviour from other people.

Two different people, two different views, two different lives, yet joined by the love of one person and the devastation of daily life. Certainly makes you sit and think, doesn’t it?

I have to be honest; this book absolutely broke me! The tears just seemed to fall out of my eyes off their own accord. I became incredibly emotional due to a lot of the storyline and it broke my heart to think that that actually happened to people during those times. Our family members no doubt fought in that war. I know my great grandad did! It’s easy for me to say now seeing as I didn’t have to live through that, but Amy Miller’s outstanding portrayal of a heart-breaking time, certainly opened my eyes.

‘Heartaches and Christmas Cakes’ is an absolutely heartbreakingly beautiful novel about life, love, loss, and learning to find inner strength which you never knew existed. Amy Miller has taken my breath away with her enchanting and spellbinding literary skills.

A truly fantastic, emotional and heart-warming story. I cannot wait to read book two of the series, although based on this story alone, the author has certainly set the bar exceptionally high for herself! If I could give this book more than 5 stars I would. It deserves the entire constellation that’s for sure!

‘Heartaches and Christmas Cakes’ is by far my most favourite saga novel of 2017.

Thanks Bookouture.

Buy now from Amazon UK
Buy now from Amazon US

Author Bio:

Amy Miller is the pseudonym of Amy Bratley, who started her writing life working on magazines and newspapers. She has previously written three women’s fiction novels published by Pan Macmillan, the first of which was a bestseller in Italy. Her day job is being a freelance managing editor of both a vintage interiors magazine and a food magazine, two subjects she’s passionate about. Amy lives in Dorset with her husband and two children.

Author Social Media Links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AmyMillerBooks/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AmyBratley1

 

#BlogTour! #Review – Another Woman’s Husband by Gill Paul (@gillpaulAUTHOR) @headlinepg

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I am absolutely delighted to be today’s stop on Gill Paul’s blog tour for, ‘Another Woman’s Husband’. Huge thank you to Phoebe Swinburn for accommodating me on the tour! If you can’t tell already, I am so very excited to be reviewing ‘Another Woman’s Husband’ on my blog today. Keep on reading and you’ll find out what got me so excited. Enjoy!

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From the #1 bestselling author of The Secret Wife comes a gripping novel that commences with the tragic death of Diana, Princess of Wales, and journeys back to the fascinating world of Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor. ‘A triumph’ Dinah Jefferies on The Secret Wife by Gill Paul

Two women who challenged the Crown.
Divided by time. Bound by a secret…

1911
At the age of fifteen, carefree Mary Kirk and indomitable Wallis Warfield meet at summer camp. Their friendship will survive heartbreaks, separation and the demands of the British Crown until it is shattered by one unforgivable betrayal.

1997
Rachel’s romantic break in Paris with her fiancé ends in tragedy when the car ahead crashes. Inside was Princess Diana. Back in Brighton, Rachel is haunted by the accident, and intrigued to learn the princess had visited the last home of Wallis, Duchess of Windsor, only hours before the crash. Soon, the discovery of a long-forgotten link to Wallis Simpson leads Rachel to the truth behind a scandal that shook the world…

Richly imagined and beautifully written, ANOTHER WOMAN’S HUSBAND is a gripping, moving novel about two women thrust into the spotlight, followed by scandal, touched by loss.

What does TWG think?

As a huge history fan, I struggled to contain my excitement when the opportunity arose to read Gill Paul’s new novel. Even if you’re not a complete history buff, there is a high chance you’ll have heard of the name, ‘Wallis Simpson’. Also, if you remember a certain date in 1997 when ‘The People’s Princess’ lost her life, you may already find yourself knowing several of the key points of the storyline without even realising it.

Told from two different viewpoints – 86 years apart, ‘Another Woman’s Husband’ shines the spotlight on the two women whose names, and lives, will forever be imprinted in our historical timeline; Wallis Simpson and Princess Diana. Both women found themselves hugely popular with the media, with Princess Diana even being dubbed as ‘The People’s Princess’. Let’s be honest, we all know how Wallis Simpson managed to create a media frenzy, even in those days!

Whilst ‘Another Woman’s Husband’ is a work of fiction, the storyline IS supported by factual information surrounding Princess Diana and Wallis Simpson, as well as several other historical figures/socialites from 1911 onwards. Before I started Gill Paul’s novel, I was aware of Wallis Simpson and her not so glowing reputation in the world of history. I’m not going to lie, I did have Google handy on my phone so that I could double-check some of the storyline as I went along. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe the author’s research, it was because I became so invested in every word of the storyline, I ended up not knowing the difference between the facts, and the author’s fictional additions.  Everything just flowed seamlessly. Even though the story is told by Rachel in 1997, the time of Diana’s death, the years didn’t move forward which meant that particular part of the storyline was easier to dip in and out of, ideal for when the viewpoint changed to Mary Kirk’s from 1911 onwards.

What I found clever was how the book began in 1997, was set in Paris at first with Princess Diana being the main topic of conversation, in a book that is being published during the 20th anniversary of Diana’s death – when the topic of ‘The People’s Princess’ will be back in the media once again. Of course it’s going to be a subject at the forefront of royalists and Princess Diana fans all over the world, at this moment in time. So, to read the devastating event in black and white sent shivers up and down my spine. There’s one thing hearing the about it on the news or watching it on T.V, but then there’s another thing reading it in a book and letting your subconscious take heed of that piece of information, whilst mulling it over and digesting it in the only way your clever mind can; dramatically.

Don’t get me wrong, I was engrossed in the 1997 parts of the storyline but, for me, my most favourite parts were from 1911 onwards which were written with Wallis Simpson’s best friend in mind, Mary Kirk. I knew Ms.Simpson was scandalous, but eeeeesh! I loved being able to read the story as though I was back in 1911, watching the drama unfold with my very own eyes. Obviously, being predominately a work of fiction it can be quite difficult to differentiate between the fictional points of view and the facts, but luckily the author was one step ahead and included which parts were facts, right at the end of the book. I was incredibly intrigued by how one woman managed to make such a mark on history, yet she seemed to manage it as though it was the norm. I wouldn’t be me if I wasn’t blunt, so I will admit that Wallis did get my back up on a number of occasions. It just goes to show how different society and ethics were back in those days with the way people responded to Wallis’ misdemeanours. Although, back then it was the case of ‘it’s not what you know, it’s WHO you know’, which is also true for today’s society unfortunately. Maybe it was Wallis Simpson who coined that particular viewpoint? Who knows.

There were times where I was quite glad to have google at hand, such as when a certain event shocked me to the core and I had to google it to see whether it was indeed fact, or whether the author had written it in herself. The author really is THAT good at combining all viewpoints and timelines flawlessly.

As weird as this sounds, I wasn’t emotionally ready to say goodbye to those moments in time which have put us on this path today. It’s crazy how one person’s choices can create such a damaging ripple for anyone or anything that ends up in its path. The thing about history is that people will remember it as it’s documented a million times over. Granted a lot of the people involved will no longer be alive, but their distant relatives might be. Can you imagine?

‘Another Woman’s Husband’ has given me the biggest book hangover I think I have ever had. I became annoyed when I had to stop reading due to having to embark on adult things, and I was absolutely devastated when the book came to end. Gill Paul’s storytelling was beautifully engaging, often leaving me in a state of trepidation as I became incredibly invested in several characters and their lives. Gill Paul invited me on a historical journey with ‘Another Woman’s Husband’ – a journey which made me feel as though I was constantly being fed such rich and succulent knowledge, changing my viewpoint of the world without me even knowing it at the time. I was hypnotised by the authors wonderful writing skills, her magnificent story-telling, and her second to none research skills.

I adored everything about this book. Utterly, utterly brilliant.
After reading 193 books already this year, I can say that ‘Another Woman’s Husband’ has managed to become my most favourite book of the year so far, whilst also being in my top three most favourite books of all time.

This my friends, is a work of art. Any reader (and non reader!) should be proud and fulfilled to have ‘Another Woman’s Husband’ on their bookshelf.

Phenomenal.

Thank you SO much Headline Books.

Buy now from Amazon UK