#BlogTour! #Review – The Daughters of Ironbridge by Mollie Walton (@RebeccaMascull) @ZaffreBooks

The Daughters of Ironbridge Blog Tour (1)
Blog tour two of the day is where TWG gets to step back in time with ‘The Daughters of Ironbridge’ by Mollie Walton. Bit ironic for Easter Sunday is it not! Thank you to Zaffre Books for the blog tour invite and ARC. Here is my review:

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Anny Woodvine’s family has worked at the ironworks for as long as she can remember. The brightest child in her road and the first in her family to learn to read, Anny has big dreams. So, when she is asked to run messages for the King family, she grabs the opportunity with both hands.

Margaret King is surrounded by privilege and wealth. But behind closed doors, nothing is what it seems. When Anny arrives, Margaret finds her first ally and friend. Together they plan to change their lives.

But as disaster looms over the ironworks, Margaret and Anny find themselves surrounded by secrets and betrayal. Can they hold true to each other and overcome their fate? Or are they destined to repeat the mistakes of the past?

What does TWG think?

Got to love a saga! ‘The Daughters of Ironbridge’ is such a special read. In no time at all, the author allowed me to lose myself in the lives of such three-dimensional, well thought out characters such as Anny and Margaret. Set in the mid 1800’s, Mollie Walton takes her readers on a journey back in time where society and class were completely different to they are now. Not only that, readers are given an insight into the ironworks, and just how much hard work it took for those who worked there.

Mollie Walton makes her characters come alive in such a seamless and flawless manner, at times making me feel as though I was sitting on the characters shoulders like a little parrot, following their every move.

I was moved by the community spirit and the strength of the friendship between Margaret and Anny, two very different people whose lives may have been bound by the strength of their friendship, yet their class couldn’t have been more chalk and cheese if it tried.

There is a lot of storyline to sink your teeth into, just like most saga’s, so if you’re into reading books which give you more than your moneys worth, and then some, ‘The Daughters of Ironbridge’ will no doubt tick several boxes.

I was so pleased to see that this is the first book in a trilogy – roll on more is what I say!

An in-depth, powerful and beautifully crafted novel from an author who puts ‘history’ in the word ‘historical’. Brilliant.

Buy now!

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#BlogTour! #Review – #GardenOfLostAndFound by Harriet Evans (@HarrietEvans) @HeadlinePG @AnneCater

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Second blog tour of the day and what a beautiful cover it has; The Garden of Lost and Found’ by Harriet Evans. Many thanks, as always, to Anne for the blog tour invite, and to Headline for the ARC. Here is my review for my stop on the tour today:

Garden of Lost and Found Cover

Nightingale House, 1919. Liddy Horner discovers her husband, the world-famous artist Sir Edward Horner, burning his best-known painting The Garden of Lost and Found days before his sudden death.

Nightingale House was the Horner family’s beloved home – a gem of design created to inspire happiness – and it was here Ned painted TheGarden of Lost and Found, capturing his children on a perfect day, playing in the rambling Eden he and Liddy made for them.

One magical moment. Before it all came tumbling down…

When Ned and Liddy’s great-granddaughter Juliet is sent the key to Nightingale House, she opens the door onto a forgotten world. The house holds its mysteries close but she is in search of answers. For who would choose to destroy what they love most? Whether Ned’s masterpiece – or, in Juliet’s case, her own children’s happiness.

Something shattered this corner of paradise. But what?

What does TWG think?

After reading Harriet Evan’s previous novel, ‘The Wildflowers’, I was so eager to read more of the authors books. My excitement for ‘The Garden of Lost and Found’ was through the roof!

If you haven’t yet picked up a novel by Harriet Evans, you are missing out on a whole other world. A home away from home if you will. The outline of this novel is similar to the authors others in terms of the dual timeline and split narratives which, if you’re not used to reading books like that, it can be a little bit confusing until you get into the swing of things.

‘The Garden of Lost and Found’, in my opinion, starts off exceptionally slow and requires a bit of patience before the real gem of the storyline became clear. Evans is exceptional at setting the scene in her novels, which is why having patience will be highly rewarded the more of the novel you read.

Juliet’s life isn’t going to plan. She has one more chance (according to her) to sort herself out before she alienates her children for good. Her intentions are there, but the delivery leaves a lot to be desired but, seeing as Juliet’s children are indeed young, they won’t quite understand the logic behind why their mum has decided to do what she has done.

I adored the change in dynamics throughout the storyline, putting family drama’s and multiple generations in the spotlight beautifully. I thought that the story gave off such a magical and enticing vibe – this is such a special, special read and definitely one of a kind.

I was blown away by the authors beautifully descriptive writing and the way she made her characters come alive and steal your heart. Another wonderful, enchanting novel from Harriet Evans.

Buy now from Amazon

TWG’s #TopBooksOf2018! (@Bookouture @littlebookcafe @PanMacmillan @HarperImpulse @Headlinepg @TeamBATC @bwpublishing @MichaelJBooks @TransworldBooks @OrionBooks @AvonBooksUK @QuercusBooks @Aria_fiction) & more!

Oh my goodness me, what a PHENOMENAL year its been for books! I have had the pleasure of reading some truly amazing books this year, and whittling my 368 reads down to a selection of my favourites was incredibly difficult.

2018 has seen the growth of debut authors with debut novels, brilliant additions to intense series, and authors bringing out standalone novels which made me laugh out loud and my toes curl (clearly I mean two different genre’s…obviously!). Before I start sharing my favourite reads of 2018 with you all, let me just take this moment to say a MASSIVE thank you to all of the publishers who have sent me ARC’s in the post, approved me on Netgalley, asked me to be on blog tours – I am so honoured to work with every single one of you! Huge thank you to the publicists and blog tour organisers who also invite me to take part in some rather fabulous blog tours and who share my posts left right and centre, it is an absolute pleasure to work alongside you. Lastly, thank you SO much to all of the authors who continue to give me the escape and distraction I need from my everyday life with their incredible words – I am so excited to see what the new year brings for all of you. You are all amazing.

Actually, one last thing; thank you to all of my fellow bloggers for just being you and for supporting my posts, especially when I end up being on 6 blog tours in one day. Your support means the world to me and I cannot wait to follow your blogs again next year to see what fabulous reads have tickled your fancy.

So, let’s get to this list shall we? I’m cheating a little bit in my list as I have combined series as I couldn’t pick just one book from the series…so I chose them all. You’ll see what I mean when I get to it. This list is in no particular order, however when I get nearer the end, I will put a couple of the books in order to share my top read of 2018.

Ready? Let’s go!

#Review – The Endless Beach by @JennyColgan @littlebookcafe #TheEndlessBeach #publicationday

#BlogTour! #Review – #WeOwnTheSky by Luke Allnutt (@lukeallnutt) @TrapezeBooks

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

#BlogTour! #Review – The Little Wedding Island by Jaimie Admans (@Be_the_spark) @HQDigitalUK @NeverlandBT

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

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

#BlogBlitz! #Review – The Next Girl by Carla Kovach (@CKovachAuthor) @Bookouture

#Review – You Me Everything by Catherine Isaac (@CatherineIsaac_) @TeamBATC @SimonSchusterUK @BookMinxSJV

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

#BlogBlitz! #Review – One Way or Another by Colleen Coleman (@CollColemanAuth) @Bookouture

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

#BlogBlitz! #Review – The Almost Wife by Jade Beer (@JadeBRIDES) @Bookouture

#BlogTour! #Review – The Island Villa by Lily Graham (@LilyGrahamBooks) @Bookouture

#BlogTour! #Review – No Further Questions by Gillian McAllister (@GillianMAuthor) @MichaelJBooks @JennyPlatt90

#BlogTour! #Review – #NowYouSeeHer by Heidi Perks (@HeidiPerksBooks) @arrowpublishing

#BlogTour! #Review – Oh Crumbs by Kathryn Freeman (@KathrynFreeman1) @ChocLitUK @RaRaResources

#BlogTour! #Review – #TheLightBetweenUs by Katie Khan (@Katie_Khan) @TransworldBooks @hannahlbright29 @AnneCater #RandomThingsTours

#BlogTour! #Review -Sunset Over the Cherry Orchard by Jo Thomas (@jo_thomas1) @AnneCater @HeadlinePG @Bookish_Becky @DavidHHeadley

#Review – My Mad Dad by Robyn Hollingworth (@MyMadDadStory) @trapezebooks @orionbooks

#BlogTour! #Review – In Bloom by C.J.Skuse (@CJSkuse) @HQStories

#BlogTour! #Review – Kiss of Death by Paul Finch (@paulfinchauthor) @AvonBooksUK #KissOfDeath

#BlogTour! #MiniReview – #WhileIWasSleeping by Dani Atkins (@AtkinsDani) @simonschusteruk @TeamBATC

#BlogTour! #Review – Snow Angel Cove by RaeAnne Thayne (@Raeannethayne) @MillsandBoon

#BlogTour! #Extract – Perfect Silence by Helen Fields (@Helen_Fields) @AvonBooksUK

I’ve popped one book here for Lisa Regan and D.K.Hood, but for me the entire series are absolutely brilliant and I urge you to buy them all!

#BlogTour! #Review – Her Final Confession by Lisa Regan (@lisalregan) @Bookouture

#BlogTour! #Review – The Crying Season by D.K.Hood (@dkhood_author) @Bookouture

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

#BlogBlitz! #Review – The Last Lullaby by Carol Wyer (@carolewyer) @Bookouture

#BlogTour! #Review – The Lost Daughter by Gill Paul (@GillPaulauthor) @Headlinepg @annecater

Right, we are nearing the end now so here are my favourite reads of 2018 numbers 11-2 (in no order)

#BlogBlitz! #Review – Moonlight on the Thames by Lauren Westwood (@lwestwoodwriter) @aria_fiction @rararesources

#BlogTour! #Review – I Wanted To Tell You By Anna Mansell (@AnnaMansell) @Bookouture

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

#BlogTour! #Review – The Songs of Us by Emma Cooper (@ItsEmmaCooper) @HeadlinePG @AnneCater

#BlogTour! #Review – The Girl in the Letter by Emily Gunnis (@EmilyGunnis) @HeadlinePG @AnneCater @Phoebe_Swinburn

#BlogTour! #Review – This Could Change Everything by Jill Mansell (@JillMansell) @Headlinepg @AnneCater

#BlogTour! #Review – The Memory Chamber by Holly Cave (@HollyACave) @QuercusBooks #MemoryChamber

#BlogTour! #Review – #TheConfession by Jo Spain (@spainjoanne) @QuercusFiction @AnneCater @QuercusBooks

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

#BlogTour! #Review – #MakeOrBreak by Catherine Bennetto (@cathbennetto) @Simonschusteruk @TeamBATC

I just want to say a special mention to Sarah Vaughan’s ‘Anatomy of a Scandal’ – I read that book this time last year before it was released early 2018, and it’s a book I will forever be shouting about until I am blue in the face. I’ll even go as far to say that it is still a top book of mine a year after reading it. You can read my review here:

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

We have reached TWG’s Top Book of 2018!!!! I may be slightly cheating here as this book isn’t out until 1st February 2019, but due to the fact that I actually read this book this year, I felt that I was able to include it in my favourite reads of this year. I’m sure you’re wondering what that is……

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I haven’t written a review of this book yet as I am on the blog tour for it next year. However, ‘The Day We Met’ by Roxie Cooper completely blew my mind and left tears rolling down my cheeks like a homemade waterfall. Stephanie and Jamie are two, highly complex, emotional and brilliantly written characters, I cannot see how anyone wouldn’t fall in love with them like I did. For me this book was everything I could have hoped for and more.

I will do a full review on the blog tour next year, but if you fancy pre-ordering your copy now based on my views above, you can do so now here!

That’s it folks! TWG’s Top Books of 2018! How many have you read? How many are you going to read? Let me know in the comments and keep me posted! Thank you all so much for sticking with me for another year, here’s to yet another fantastic year for books.

See you next year, folks!!

Kaisha x

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

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

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

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

What does TWG think?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Buy now!

About the author.

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

Social Media Links

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

Twitter:  @JeanFullerton_

 

#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

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

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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:

The-Runaway-Children-Kindle
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!

The-Liverpool-Girls-Kindle
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