Friday, 12 October 2018

The Poppy Field by Deborah Carr - Blog Tour

Today is publication day for the new historical novel by Deborah Carr - The Poppy Field and just look at that delectable cover!

As my contribution to the blog tour to help celebrate todays launch of this exciting new title I have a question and answer session with the author for you.

Q&A with Deborah

J: Hi Deborah and Welcome to Beadyjans books.

D: Thanks very much for hosting me and my new book, The Poppy Field published by HarperImpulse.

Deborah Carr.

J: Q1: Firstly can you tell me a bit about The Poppy Field and what inspired you to write it?

D: The Poppy Field is a novel about two nurses, one a contemporary trauma unit nurse, Gemma Kingston, who is suffering from burn-out after a personal tragedy. She’s desperate to find a way to forget what’s happened and travels to a rundown farmhouse outside the town of Doullens to renovate it for her father. The other nurse, Alice Le Breton is a VAD working at a casualty clearing station near Doullens in the First World War. She is escaping her controlling mother back in her home island of Jersey and is desperate to ‘do her bit’ for the war effort. Both woman, have to face up to challenging obstacles in their lives and it’s through getting to know more about Alice’s life that Gemma comes to a decision about her own future.

Charlotte Ledger, Editorial Director at HarperImpulse read Broken Faces, my debut historical romance set during the First World War and commissioned me to write a book commemorating the 100-year anniversary of the end of the First World War. Needless to say, I was thrilled! I’ve always been shocked and fascinated in equal measure by the horrors of that war and what people had to go through to survive it, both the men on the front line and the nurses and VADs who cared for them, to those back at home having to cope with their loved ones’ lives being in danger so far away from them. I was delighted to revisit the period and writing for HarperCollins’ romance imprint HarperImpulse was a dream come true so was relieved when I soon came up with an outline for the book that Charlotte liked.

J: Q2: This year marks the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, what change made since world war one has had the biggest impact on your life and career?

D: Apart from medical advances brought about through necessity from the shocking injuries caused by shrapnel, men being shot down in their planes as well as instruments of war, such as the dreadful gasses used on the soldiers, the best advance for me personally has to be computers. Drafting a book and being able to change it, countless times, as I go along rather than using a manual typewriter and needing to completely retype each draft must be the biggest impact on my daily life and certainly my writing career.

J: Q3: Do you have a special place to write or somewhere special which inspires your creativity?

D: I have a shed where I write during the summer months. The shed was known as Grumpy’s Palace and won the Office Category in the 2009 Shed of the Year competition – Grumpy was the nickname I gave to my gorgeous Miniature Schnauzer who used to doze in the office next to me on his pink Lloyd Loom chair as I worked from my matching one. I also write on my laptop at the dining room table, outside under a parasol whenever it’s warm enough, upstairs in my office, or anywhere really. I always have a notepad to hand to write things down if I’m not with my laptop.

J: Q4: Can you recommend 3 books which readers of your work may also enjoy?

D: Ooh, that’s difficult. I suppose readers who enjoy Pam Jenoff, or maybe Liz Trenow. My favourite book set during that period was Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks.

J: Q5: What advice would you give to budding authors?

D: I’ve included some writing tips on my website: I’m also one third of The Blonde Plotters. We’re three local authors who meet up and talk for hours about writing, we’ve also got writing tips and tips about becoming published on our website:
Personally, I always work out my main plot line, decide the names of my characters and write a vague synopsis before starting to write the first draft of any book. With Broken Faces and The Poppy Field, I also kept a chart for the different chapters and what happened in each one. I’ll develop the synopsis as I go along and as I work out more intricate aspects of my book. It can be easy to fret about a first draft being perfect. I doubt many are, but I think an aspiring author should allow themselves to simply write the first draft of the book. Don’t worry that it’s going to need editing. You can’t edit a blank page. Also, if you want to write, you need to read books. When I’m busy with my writing, especially if I have a looming deadline it’s difficult to take time out to read, but I always catch up on my reading when I’ve finished writing a book.

Another piece of advice I’d give is that all writers receive rejections, so developing a thicker skin and learning when to take note of the rejections - usually if several people are saying the same thing about the book. However, in the past I’ve had rejections from two different publishers completely contradicting each other, so sometimes it’s difficult to know what to think, or do. Writing isn’t a science though, it is subjective and that’s a good thing.

J: Q6: Finally sum up The Poppy Field in just 3 words.

D: Romantic, atmospheric, heartbreaking

Thanks, once again, Jan!

Deborah. x

Many thanks, Deborah it was a pleasure to have you on BeadyjansBooks today and I wish you huge success with your historical romance. I must confess I'd love to spend some time in the wonderfully named Grumpy's Palace!

The Book Blurb
The Poppy Field

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War.
Young nurse, Gemma, is struggling with the traumas she has witnessed through her job in the NHS. Needing to escape from it all, Gemma agrees to help renovate a rundown farmhouse in Doullens, France, a town near the Somme. There, in a boarded-up cupboard, wrapped in old newspapers, is a tin that reveals the secret letters and heartache of Alice Le Breton, a young volunteer nurse who worked in a casualty clearing station near the front line.
Set in the present day and during the horrifying years of the war, both woman discover deep down the strength and courage to carry on in even the most difficult of times. Through Alice’s words and her unfailing love for her sweetheart at the front, Gemma learns to truly live again.
This is a beautifully written epic historical novel that will take your breath away.

A bit more about where you can find the book and meet Deborah.

Author Bio – Deborah Carr lives on the island of Jersey in the Channel Islands with her husband, two children and three rescue dogs. She became interested in books set in WW1 when researching her great-grandfather's time as a cavalryman in the 17th 21st Lancers.
She is part of ‘The Blonde Plotters’ writing group and was Deputy Editor on the online review site, for seven years. Her debut historical romance, Broken Faces, is set in WW1 and was runner-up in the 2012 Good Housekeeping Novel Writing Competition and given a 'special commendation' in the Harry Bowling Prize that year. The Poppy Field is her second historical novel.

Social Media Links –

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Review - The Lighthousekeepers Daughter by Hazel Gaynor

The Lighthousekeepers Daughter by Hazel Gaynor - my review

Can I give it six out of ten please?

The minute I heard about this book I knew I had to read it.
Not only have I read and loved work by this delightful author before, including The Cottingley Secret.

Not only is it a dual time frame historical novel with BOTH timelines set in the past (joy)
but the subject is very dear to my heart ..... (tells a little story of own)
"When I was about 7 years old I remember my (now late) Aunt, tracing our family tree on my Mums side. I was told she had traced it back to the 1800s where she had found a strong family link to Grace Darling. I went to school and told my teacher who incorporated Grace Darling into a lesson. Tragically, my Aunt died and the family tree research she had done has never surfaced. I dabbled with genealogy myself but didn't manage to go into as much depth as she must have and couldn't verify the link but anything connected with this heroine of the North East instantly grips my imagination".

I'm delighted to say that Hazel Gaynor has done Grace Darling great justice and woven a wonderful, heartwarming story around her life and the lives of future generations of light keepers, in this wonderful book about daughters and love, bravery and loyalty, loss and determination.

Two stories interweave skilfully, that of Grace herself in 1838 on the Northumbrian coast, tangles with the stories of Matilda and Harriet 100 years later on the other side of the world.

I will say no more about the storyline as I want everyone to read this book and love it even half as much as I did. I wept brokenly at the end, which is extremely emotional, throughout the book it is haunting and lovely, even when you know it can't end well for everyone there is a tender poignancy and lovely little twists that wrench your heartstrings this way and that.

The Blurb

“They call me a heroine, but I am not deserving of such accolades. I am just an ordinary young woman who did her duty.”

1838: Northumberland, England. Longstone Lighthouse on the Farne Islands has been Grace Darling’s home for all of her twenty-two years. When she and her father rescue shipwreck survivors in a furious storm, Grace becomes celebrated throughout England, the subject of poems, ballads, and plays. But far more precious than her unsought fame is the friendship that develops between Grace and a visiting artist. Just as George Emmerson captures Grace with his brushes, she in turn captures his heart.

1938: Newport, Rhode Island. Nineteen-years-old and pregnant, Matilda Emmerson has been sent away from Ireland in disgrace. She is to stay with Harriet, a reclusive relative and assistant lighthouse keeper, until her baby is born. A discarded, half-finished portrait opens a window into Matilda’s family history. As a deadly hurricane approaches, two women, living a century apart, will be linked forever by their instinctive acts of courage and love.

Monday, 24 September 2018

Street cat Blues by Alison O'Leary - BLOG TOUR and review

Street cat Blues by Alison O'Leary - BLOG TOUR and review

Today I am thrilled to join in the Blog Tour to launch the new title from Crooked Cat Books - Street cat Blues by Alison O'Leary.

My Review

You had me at cat! Honestly, who can resist a book with a cat as the lead character?

The main protagonist is a big tabby cat called Aubrey, he’s been around a bit and is pretty streetwise. He was locked up in the Stray cats home for a while, after his shopkeeper owner is killed. But now he has found his forever home with young couple Molly and Jeremy.

He’s loveable but a tad aloof, as most streetwise cats are. He is quirky and lively and pretty realistic, even if he’s telling the story, he can’t talk to humans or anything daft like that. The story is told as it runs through his mind as he observes what’s going on. He can, of course, communicate with other cats and there are plenty of them in the book and the cat narrative is fun and lively.

He still hangs around with all his feline chums who patrol the streets, they reminded me of Top Cat and his cronies. But this isn’t a children’s cartoon this is a murder mystery, when a serial killer begins to target local folk, some of whom Aubrey considered his friends (and one or two he’s not going to miss)

Being a cat he can hang around unnoticed, so he makes the perfect amateur sleuth. But being a cat, although he is bright and has a good take on humans, he doesn’t always cotton on to what’s going on, as quickly as a human would but he makes a really good attempt to figure out what’s going on.

When one of the ensuing murders is too close to home for young Carlos, a pupil at the school where owner Jeremy teaches, Aubreys adoptive family become embroiled in events and begin to fear for their own safety with a murderer on the loose. Aubrey grows fond of this young lad who’s a bit of a misfit just like him and the pair develop a tentative friendship.

Aubrey’s not about to let another friend get murdered if he can help it, though he knows being less than 2 feet tall means he has limitations, nevertheless he’s a tough cookie, he’s had to be, scrapping with other bigger cats for his territory, leaping swiftly from guttering to rooftop.

The deeper issues covered are of course murder, also a bit of bullying and illegal immigration.

The book is obviously aimed at adults but could be enjoyed by all ages as its quirky and fun and the murders although horrid aren’t described too gruesomely, I think it’s what you’d call a cozy mystery.

I thoroughly enjoyed my forays through the streets with Aubrey and his chums.

My only gripe is – why not have a cat on the cover? Even a silhouette of a cat on one of the rooftops to catch the eye of many cat lovers who will be drawn to this super book.

Don’t let that put you off though, Aubrey is so well rounded as a character you will soon picture him and want to give him a little rub behind the ears as you read his story.

The Blurb

A quiet life for Aubrey?

After spending several months banged up in Sunny Banks rescue centre, Aubrey, a large tabby cat, has finally found his forever home with Molly and Jeremy Goodman, and life is looking good. 

However, all that changes when a serial killer begins to target elderly victims in the neighbourhood. 

Aubrey wasn’t particularly upset by the death of some of the previous victims, including Miss Jenkins whom Aubrey recalls as a vinegar-lipped bitch of an old woman who enjoyed throwing stones at cats, but Mr Telling was different. 

Mr Telling was a mate…

Released on 24th September 2018 it can be ordered via Amazon

The Author - Alison O'Leary

Alison was born in London and spent her teenage years in Hertfordshire.
She has also lived in Somerset and Gloucestershire.
After studying Law she decided to teach rather than go into practice and for many years taught Criminal Law to adults and young people.
Since moving to the south coast, Alison has been involved in qualification and assessment development for major awarding bodies.
When not writing, she enjoys crosswords, walking by the sea and playing Scrabble on her iPad – which she always sets to beginner level because, hey, why take chances?
Alison lives with her husband John and cat Archie.

Find her on Twitter @alisonoleary81

Sunday, 23 September 2018

Spotlighting - The Winter that made us by Kate Field - Blog Tour

The Winter that made us by Kate Field:

I am pleased to help introduce you to this new novel, in the genre of contemporary women's fiction.
As part of the Blog Tour for this new book by Kate Field I am delighted to share with you the beautiful cover:

Here's the blurb so you can discover what it's about:

When Tess finds herself unexpectedly alone and back in Ribblemill, the childhood village she thought she’d escaped, she’s sure she can survive a temporary stay. She’s spent a lifetime making the best of things, hasn’t she?

Determined to throw herself into village life, Tess starts a choir and gathers a team of volunteers to restore the walled garden at Ramblings, the local stately home. Everything could be perfect, if she weren’t sharing a cottage and a cat with a man whose manner is more prickly than the nettles she’s removing…

As winter approaches, Tess finds herself putting down her own roots as fast as she’s pulling them up in the garden. But the ghosts of the past hover close by, and Tess must face them if she’s to discover whether home is where her heart has been all along.

Order a copy now from Amazon.

My thanks go to Rachels Random Resources @Rararesources who arranged the blog tour.

The Winter That Made Us - Kate Field - Spotlight post for BLOG TOUR

The Winter That Made Us - Kate Field - Spotlight post for BLOG TOUR

Today I'm pleased to be part of the Blog Tour for the new book by Kate Field - The Winter That Made Us.

Isn't that cover beautiful? So wintry and serene.

The book is contemporary romantic fiction:


When Tess finds herself unexpectedly alone and back in Ribblemill, the childhood village she thought she’d escaped, she’s sure she can survive a temporary stay. She’s spent a lifetime making the best of things, hasn’t she?

Determined to throw herself into village life, Tess starts a choir and gathers a team of volunteers to restore the walled garden at Ramblings, the local stately home. Everything could be perfect, if she weren’t sharing a cottage and a cat with a man whose manner is more prickly than the nettles she’s removing…

As winter approaches, Tess finds herself putting down her own roots as fast as she’s pulling them up in the garden. But the ghosts of the past hover close by, and Tess must face them if she’s to discover whether home is where her heart has been all along.

Order your copy here

The Author:
Kate Field

Kate writes contemporary women’s fiction, mainly set in her favourite county of Lancashire,  where she lives with her husband, daughter and hyperactive cat.

She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

Kate’s debut novel, The Magic of Ramblings, won the RNA’s Joan Hessayon Award for new writers in 2017.

Find her on Social media
Twitter: @katehaswords

My thanks to @rararesources for providing this tour and inviting Beadyjansbooks along.

Friday, 21 September 2018

The Woman in the Wood - Lesley Pearse - Review

The Woman in the Wood - Lesley Pearse - Review

My Review:

Oh My goodness, this was rather a surprise, it covers some rather shocking and brutal subjects.

The book begins very beguilingly and gently, it starts almost like an Enid Blyton - "5 go down to the woods" featuring Maisy and Duncan, a very innocent pair of teenage twins going to stay with their grandmother who doesn't want them at her home, or even like them much. Their father is also a very remote and dour character and their Mother has recently been committed to a mental asylum!

It's just as well that this brother and sister are very close and don't really need anyone else, they are happy to spend a lot of their leisure time together, having picnics, exploring the countryside and New Forest on their bicycles, it could almost be idyllic and I was lulled into an era of innocence and naivety. They even begin to make friends with the family helper Janis becoming almost a surrogate Mum and getting to know the strange and reclusive inhabitants of the forest including Grace, the woman in the wood.

But suddenly everything turns sour when Duncan suddenly disappears. Despite a police search the family aren't too concerned, only Maisy knows her twin so well she knows he wouldn't run away without telling her and she cannot give up her search for him.

It's just as well for what has happened to Duncan is no Babes in the wood fairy tale, its something out of a nightmare. The story is part mystery, part psychological drama.

Something terrible really has happened and it is up to Maisy to try and find out what.

There are some very dark and nasty things which are described mainly quite sparsely, leaving a lot to the imagination and without too much sensationalism or graphic detail. But one brief description of what happened to one young boy, quite literally gave me nightmares.

A very readable yet scary look at madness, survival, abduction and abuse, wrapped in a candy coating which doesn't take away the very unpleasant taste of things you don't want to think about.

The Blurb

Fifteen-year-old twins Maisy and Duncan Mitcham have always had each other. Until the fateful day in the wood . . .

One night in 1960, the twins awake to find their father pulling their screaming mother from the house. She is to be committed to an asylum. It is, so their father insists, for her own good.

It's not long before they, too, are removed from their London home and sent to Nightingales - a large house deep in the New Forest countryside - to be watched over by their cold-hearted grandmother, Mrs Mitcham. Though they feel abandoned and unloved, at least here they have something they never had before - freedom.

The twins are left to their own devices, to explore, find new friends and first romances. That is until the day that Duncan doesn't come back for dinner. Nor does he return the next day. Or the one after that.

When the bodies of other young boys are discovered in the surrounding area the police appear to give up hope of finding Duncan alive. With Mrs Mitcham showing little interest in her grandson's disappearance, it is up to Maisy to discover the truth. And she knows just where to start. The woman who lives alone in the wood about whom so many rumours abound. A woman named Grace Deville.

The Woman in the Wood is a powerful, passionate and sinister tale of a young woman's courage, friendship and determination.

Thursday, 30 August 2018

#BlogTour and Review of Daisy Belle: Swimming Champion of the world by Caitlin Davies

Blog Tour and Review Daisy Belle: Swimming Champion of the World by Caitlin Davies

Today I am very honoured to kick-start the Blog Tour for the wonderful new novel Daisy Belle.

My Review

Isn’t the cover artwork just beautiful? I love that misty sepia vintage image of Daisy in her Victorian swimwear.

I loved the book too!  Daisy is such an endearing and engaging character, from her first forays into the water aged just four – right through to her adult life and the trials and tribulations of being a women born to succeed in a world dominated by men, and some of them pretty nasty men at that.

This book is Historical Fiction based firmly on real-life female swimming pioneers who broke the mould of swimming not being a ladylike pursuit and it is a real tribute to strong and determined women throughout the ages especially those who battle against the odds to achieve their goals.

This is one of a number of books I’ve read recently with swimming as a theme and it makes me want to don my swimming costume and dive right into the water alongside Daisy.

We meet Daisy when she is just 4 years old, accompanying her father who teaches swimming and works at Lambeth swimming pool, he knows she will never be able to swim competitively she is a mere girl after all. But she is a natural and takes to swimming like a fish to water and he is forced to acknowledge that she could be a valuable addition to his Family of frogs swimming troupe and perhaps a lucrative asset to his ambitions and plans.

As Daisy grows older, despite her Mothers reluctance to allow her to join in any swimming events, nevertheless knitting Daisy a swimsuit (a knitted swimsuit OMG) She takes part in some amazing feats of endurance and skill, but learns that placing your trust in anyone but your own self can lead to disappointment and very near tragedy.

I was rooting for her all the way, especially when she ends up as part of a mermaid exhibition that had me gasping for breath.

Daisy entranced me and the story is gently gripping and rather heartbreaking in some parts but Daisy is a real trooper and I couldn't help but admire her. She is a real pioneer for women's equality.

There is a lovely love story at the heart of the book, but really it’s about never giving up on the things you hold most dear and going for it whatever the cost.

For lovers of historical fiction, romance and of course swimming, Daisy Belle is a heroine who deserves to be heard and her story is charming and delightful despite the men who treat her badly and the true love of her life.

The Author - Cailyn Davies can be found at her website, on Twitter @CaitlinDavies2 and there's a Daisy Belle Facebook Page:

You can order it here 

Heres the Blurb

Summer 1867: four-year-old Daisy Belle is about to make her debut at the Lambeth Baths in London. Her father, swimming professor Jeffrey Belle, is introducing his Family of Frogs - and Daisy is the star attraction. By the end of that day, she has only one ambition in life: she will be the greatest female swimmer in the world.   

She will race down the Thames, float in a whale tank, and challenge a man to a 70-foot high dive. And then she will set sail for America to swim across New York Harbour. But Victorian women weren't supposed to swim, and Daisy Belle will have to fight every stroke of the way if she wants her dreams to come true.   

Inspired by the careers of Victorian champions Agnes Beckwith and Annie Luker, Daisy Belle is a story of courage and survival and a tribute to the swimmers of yesteryear.

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Review - The Binding by Bridget Collins - heart pounding

MY REVIEW of The Binding by Bridget Collins

Isn’t it wonderful when you hear about a book you’re certain you’ll love.

Isn’t it awesome when you are granted a copy to read and review before most folk get to read it? (Thank you Harper Collins and Edelweiss+)

Isn’t it amazing when you love it even MORE than you thought humanly possible?

Isn’t it brilliant to be able to shout about it and tell people how amazing it is? And isn’t it hard to find the right words to do it justice?

To say I adored this book is a gross understatement, I devoured it and it satisfied every need.

First, it is fantasy realism which is utterly believable. There is really only the one element of fantasy - the premise that real memories can be taken from your mind by binders who create them into a book which allows all your worst most hurtful memories to be hidden, even from yourself, forever.

It is set in an unnamed historical era which feels like late 1800s. Peopled with many wonderful characters I fell in love with, several whom I loathed and one completely despicable, loathsome wretch I despised so much I shook when I read about him.

It is a work of literary genius, so beautifully written it made my soul ache.

Emmett is a farmers son, working the land on the family farm he has recently been best by ill health leaving him weak and barely able to think straight let alone do the heavy physical work labouring on the farm he loves alongside his sister Alta, the sibling he squabbles with but will do virtually anything for.

When an offer of an apprenticeship reaches him he is aghast at the thought of learning to be a book binder, one of the rare few who can take other people thoughts and bind them into books. He doesn’t want to learn this job, he doesn’t want to leave his family and live out on the marsh in the bookbinder Seredith’s rambling old house. But he goes, because he is given little say in the matter and because deep down he knows it makes sense.

The book is in 3 distinct parts, the first part introduces us to Emmett as we learn about his new trade alongside him, it’s quite slow paced and has a dreamlike quality as Emmett faces great change and makes a gradual recovery from the nameless malady which beset him for so long it eases us into the story, introduces Julian Darnay, leads us through Emmetts world and lulls us into a sense of false security thinking this is going be a steady, intriguing rather gentle book. OH NO IT ISN’T!!

The second and third parts take us back in time, before he was a binder, before he really knew what books were, before he really knew who and what he was, and as you begin to bite your lip, and hold your breath you realise exactly what it means to be a binder and to be bound and the pace increases and sharpens and begins to writhe and twist and deceive.

Love and passion and deception all play a part in this phenomenally breathtaking book which is an exquisite love story, an intriguing mystery with touches of depravity and cruelty which enraged and distressed me, whilst breathing the wonder of new love into my hardened soul.

The 3rd part – well you’ll have to read it to find out, suffice to say I read the second part with my breath held tightly and my heart beating far too fast than is good for me. By the time I read part 3 it felt as though I had STOPPED breathing altogether.

There was not one moment during this story that I managed to breathe properly and my heart hasn't yet stopped pounding (and OMG Splodge!)

Perfection on paper!

I think this is a book everyone will be talking about and will have fans from 15 to 150 quivering like mayfly as they gasp and shudder their way through The Binding.

The Blurb

Imagine you could erase your grief.
Imagine you could forget your pain.
Imagine you could hide a secret.

Emmett Farmer is working in the fields when a letter arrives summoning him to begin an apprenticeship. He will work for a Bookbinder, a vocation that arouses fear, superstition and prejudice – but one neither he nor his parents can afford to refuse.

He will learn to hand-craft beautiful volumes, and within each he will capture something unique and extraordinary: a memory. If there’s something you want to forget, he can help. If there’s something you need to erase, he can assist. Your past will be stored safely in a book and you will never remember your secret, however terrible.

In a vault under his mentor’s workshop, row upon row of books – and memories – are meticulously stored and recorded.

Then one day Emmett makes an astonishing discovery: one of them has his name on it.

THE BINDING is an unforgettable, magical novel: a boundary-defying love story and a unique literary event. 

It won't be out until 2019 but it really isn't too early to put your name on a copy now.

Read more about it on the publishers website

Friday, 24 August 2018

Blog Tour The Cold Cold Sea - Linda Huber an extract

Today I welcome Linda Huber to my blog as part of the blog tour for her book The Cold Cold Sea. Linda has provided an enticing extract from her book to whet your appetite.

Book Description and info:


They stared at each other, and Maggie felt the tightness in her middle expand as it shifted, burning its way up… Painful sobs rose in her throat as Colin, his face expressionless now, reached for his mobile and tapped 999.
When three-year-old Olivia disappears from the beach, a happy family holiday comes to an abrupt end. Maggie is plunged into the darkest nightmare imaginable – what happened to her little girl? 

Further along the coast, another mother is having problems too. Jennifer's daughter Hailey is starting school, and it should be such a happy time, but the child is increasingly moody and silent. Family life has never seemed so awkward, and Jennifer struggles to maintain control.

The tide ebbs and flows, and summer dies, but there is no comfort for Maggie, alone now at the cottage, or for Jennifer, still swamped by doubts.

‘A psychologically astute, edge-of-the-seat story.’ Hilary Johnson

‘Unsettling and disturbing… I couldn’t put it down.’ Rebecca Muddiman

‘Breathtaking and utterly compelling.’ Debi Alper

Heres an extract so you can have a taster of Linda's writing before you rush out and order your own copy

Maggie stood in the doorway and stared into Olivia’s bedroom. It was tiny, like all the rooms in the cottage, but this one was still. Toys, games… everything in here had been motionless for a week now. Baby dolls vied with Barbies on the shelf, an assortment of soft toys lay strewn across the bed, and Olivia’s darling Old Bear was sitting on a wooden chair by the window.
   Maggie could hear the sea battering against the cliffs. High tide. The beach would be covered in water now; surging, white-tipped waves beneath a flawless blue sky. How beautiful Cornwall was, and how lucky they were to have a holiday cottage here. That’s what they’d thought until last week, anyway. If this had been a normal day they’d have been picnicking on the clifftop, or shopping in Newquay. Or just relaxing around the cottage, laughing and squabbling and eating too much. All the usual holiday stuff.
   But nothing was normal anymore, and Maggie knew that tomorrow was going to be the worst day yet. The twenty-third of August. Olivia’s birthday. Right now, Maggie and her daughter should have been making the cake Olivia had planned so happily, the raspberry jam sponge with pink icing and four pink and white candles. 
   No need for any of that now. Maggie stepped into the room, grabbed the pillow from the bed and buried her face in it, inhaling deeply, searching for one final whiff of Olivia, one last particle of her child. But the only smells left were those of an unused room: stale air, and dust.
   ‘Livvy, come back to me, baby,’ she whispered, replacing the pillow and cradling Old Bear instead, tears burning in her eyes as she remembered holding Olivia like this, when Joe had whacked her with a plastic golf club on the second day of their holiday. She’d had two children then. She hadn’t known how lucky she was.
   ‘I didn’t mean it, I didn’t.’ Her voice cracked, and she fell forwards, her kneecaps thudding painfully on the wooden floor. How could she live on, in a world without Olivia? 
   ‘I’m sorry, Livvy, I’m sorry!’ 
   She had barely spoken aloud all week, and the words came out in an unrecognisable high-pitched whimper. Bent over Old Bear on the floor, Maggie began to weep. Her voice echoed round the empty cottage as she rocked back and forth, crying out her distress.
   But no-one was there to hear.

Linda Huber

Friday, 17 August 2018

Open your eyes - by Paula Daly - gripping

Review - Open Your Eyes by Paula Daly

A well-written fabulous new page-turner from an author whose books never fail to grip you by the larynx and apply increasing pressure throughout, exactly what Grip-lit should be.

This is a stand-alone domestic Noir thriller about Jane, a would-be author, married to Leon, the couple have 2 young children and everything is going fine apart from the books Jane writes being constantly rejected for publication. She knows how hard it is to break into publishing, she is a creative writing tutor and her husband has several successful published books under his belt already.

One fateful day everything she knows is about to come crashing down around her ears, when suddenly Leon is attacked, right outside their own home and whilst he is in a deep coma in hospital she has to try and keep things at home on an even keel. But how can she ever feel safe where such a dreadful thing happened?

The story is gripping on two levels, there is the deep mystery of who did this to Leon and why, and there is the very realistic and moving story of a woman trying to cope with a massive change in her personal circumstances. Add some very authentic and quirky characters, lots of different threats and fears and you have the perfect recipe for a real page turner.

I obtained my review copy from Netgalley

The Blurb

Haven’t we all wanted to pretend everything is fine?

Jane doesn’t like confrontation. Given the choice, she'd prefer to focus on what’s going well, the good things in life.

But when her husband, Leon, is brutally attacked in the driveway of their home, in front of their two young children, Jane has to face reality. As he lies in a coma, Jane must open her eyes to the problems in her life, and the secrets that have been kept from her, if she’s to find out who hurt her husband – and why.

Maybe it’s time to face up to it all. Who knows what you might find . . .

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Review - A Little Bird Told Me - Marianne Holmes great debut novel

Review - A Little Bird Told Me by Marianne Holmes

What a terrific debut novel, I take my hat off to the author who has recreated the long hot summer of 1976 and turned it into a simmering heat haze of suspicion, misunderstandings and mystery.

A Little Bird Told Me is the story of siblings Robyn (nicknamed Little Bird) and her older brother Chistopher also known as Kit.

The book sweeps effortlessly back and forth in time from 1976 when the pair were children and 1988 when as young adults, they return to the small town of their childhood so that Robyn can try and make amends for an injustice she blames herself for.

In 1976 as the youngsters swelter in the heat, make dams by the river, play with friends and put up with bullying as well as a fractured family life. As they watch their Mum, keeping things hidden and constantly trying to evade someone or something it's clear that there is more going on than meets the eye.

Events which occurred in the past have left their mark on both these young people and its testament to Robyns lack of understanding as to what exactly was going on at the time has carried over to the present day and I read the whole book knowing that something dreadful happened but unsure what. Robyn blames herself for much if it and someone is missing and she is going to leave no stone unturned trying to solve the mystery despite Kit's reluctance to let her. But as her thoughts and actions are impaired by missing facts, so is the story a fractured version of events which will keep you wondering and guessing what dark secret is at the heart of Little Birds story. Robyn is a slightly unreliable narrator mainly because of her fractured memories of the past and her volatile personality.

This is a quality piece of literary fiction with psychological twists and something very nasty at the bottom of the woodpile writhing around showing glimpses of itself as some pretty nasty characters do some contemptible deeds.

I really felt for Robyn, her childhood has left her damaged goods, not only in the painful scar she carries around her waist but she tries so hard and frequently gets things wrong, she has a temper, she can be a very poor judge of character and yet she is very likeable.

This is a deceptively dark and twisty read, which starts out as a summer saunter down memory lane but becomes a morass of lies and puzzles you dread uncovering.

For anyone who likes their Domestic Noir to have a kick in the tail and really make you think.

My Thanks go to the publisher @AgoraBooksLDN for my review copy and my congratulations to the author for writing a compelling debut which indicates great promise.

This book is due out in September and can be pre-ordered now

The Blurb

In the scorching summer of 1976, Robyn spends her days swimming at the Lido and tagging after her brother. It’s the perfect holiday – except for the crying women her mum keeps bringing home.

As the heatwave boils on, tensions in the town begin to simmer. Everyone is gossiping about her mum, a strange man is following her around, and worst of all, no one will tell Robyn the truth. But this town isn’t good at keeping secrets…

Twelve years later, Robyn returns home, to a house that has stood empty for years and a town that hasn’t moved on, forced to confront the mystery that haunted her that summer.

And atone for the part she played in it.

Monday, 13 August 2018

Review - The Lion Tamer Who Lost - Louise Beech - heartbreaking fiction

Review – The Lion Tamer who Lost by Louise Beech

Be careful what you wish for it might just come true, is definitely the moral of this lovely, engaging romantic and heartbreaking read.

Ben has always wished he could work with lions, whilst Andrews wishes are more complex, so he keeps his written on post-it notes and concealed inside his Wish Box.

When these two meet it feels like fate could have thrown them together and this book is certainly a series of bizarre and pretty improbable coincidences.

When you read a book that breaks a piece of your heart and you turn to the back and discover your own name in the mentions and thankyous … perhaps that’s just another of those bizarre coincidences, for not only did that happen to me in my proof copy of this book, which eventually found its way to me via a long and circuitous route (and I was so thrilled to be mentioned I yipped out loud on the bus) but a similar thing also happens in the book to one of the characters.

The book alternates in point of view between the two main characters Ben and Andrew. Andrew is an author and every chapter of this book begins with a quote from the book he is writing, a childrens book called … “The Lion Tamer who lost” whilst Ben is tells his story from Africa where he is living out his wish by working on a Lion conservation project.

As other readers have already said, it’s quite difficult to describe the story without giving too much away. So I’ll tell you how it made me feel - I galloped through it, as it is a real page turner and the series of coincidences left me reeling, first with delight then with sorrow and there is a real punch in the gut OMG moment that I hadn’t anticipated which almost physically had me reeling.

The clever author, whose previous book Maria in the moon, which I also loved, covered some pretty difficult subjects, takes a handful of taboo and thought provoking topics and blends these ingredients together into a perfect, beautifully iced cake, which you bite into only to find a shockingly bitter and terrible core. Family dynamics are the main underlying base to this gateau, filled with love and passion, sprinkled with wishes and hopes, and sandwiched together with loneliness, impossibility, sickness and pain.

You do need to be able to willingly accept very unlikely coincidences and also believe in fate to go with the flow and enjoy this book as it was intended to be enjoyed. But hey, isn’t life often stranger than fiction and bizarre and unpredictable things can happen.

You also need to be able to read this somewhere a little private as it’s certainly going to make you ugly cry at some point. There is a certain point where the realisation that in one aspect at least this book is never, ever going to have one of the happy outcomes it’s made you long for, that completely knocked me sideways. But, many of the characters, the ones you grow to love and even the ones you dislike and get very exasperated with will surprise you and by the end, you will feel a part of the disparate family at the core of the story.

My thanks to for my copy.

The Blurb

Long ago Andrew made a childhood wish. One he has always kept in a silver box with a too-big lid that falls off. When it finally comes true, he wishes it hadn't...

Long ago Ben dreamed of going to Africa to volunteer at a lion reserve. When he finally goes there, it isn't for the reasons he imagined...

Ben and Andrew keep meeting where they least expect. Some collisions are by design, but are they for a reason? Ben's father would disown him for his relationship with Andrew, so they must hide their love. Andrew is determined to make it work, but secrets from his past threaten to ruin everything.

Ben escapes to Zimbabwe to finally fulfil his lifelong ambition. But will he ever return to England? To Andrew? To the truth? 

A dark and poignant drama, The Lion Tamer Who Lost is also a mesmerisingly beautiful love story, with a tragic heart.

Friday, 10 August 2018

Blog Tour and Review of The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden

The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden:
Blog tour and review.

Today I am part of the blog tour for the beautiful haunting tale which is the Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden.

The Girl in the tower is the second book in the Winternight Trilogy of which the first book is The Bear and the Nightingale. 

I am in the privileged position of having recently read both books which has left my heart pounding, my head reeling and my imagination well and truly fired. I will provide a brief synopsis of the first book in the series which I highly recommend you read first, as a) it helps make better sense of the second and b) It’s blooming amazing and you just don’t want to miss it.

This series admirably fills the gap left by the Abhorsen trilogy (Garth Nix) and His Dark Materials (Philip Pullmann) yet they are completely different based on traditional Russian folklore they seem as old as time, new as freshly baked bread and very, very original.

These are fairy tales with no fluttering glittering fairies. Coming of age novels for 12 to 90 year olds, Grimmer than Grimms fairy tales and filled with demons, some of whom will scare you, most of whom you’ll love. To this mix add wonderful horses you can communicate with and a handsome and enigmatic frost demon to freeze your fingers and melt your heart and you get a tiny flavour of what these books are about. 

Did you love the Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey? The Girl with glass feet by Ali Shaw? Ohhhh you’re going to adore this series then.

Now I must admit I found the first book took me a little while to get into, mainly because of its very uniqueness and my total unfamiliarity with anything Russian – Oh and my completely missing the superb glossary until after I’d read it! My tip is; use the glossary of terms and tips before you read these books (Duh, sounds obvious now doesn’t it?) as I found it rather confusing with all the different unfamiliar names, each of which has not one but often 2 or more diminutives, leading me to believe there were, in fact more characters in my book than there really were. Then there are the names of the demons – all new, unfamiliar and unpronounceable!

But once you get your head around the fact that Vasya, really Vasilisa who is called Vasoschka at times (and calls herself Vasilii when she disguises herself as a boy) are one and the same person and that everyone in the book has as many names as this and some are MUCH harder to pronounce – you’ll be able to relax and enjoy the superb narrative and magical storytelling.

Oh my! I’ve been blethering for ages and I haven’t even begun telling you what the stories are actually about!!

The Bear and the Nightingale: Book 1

In this, we meet Vasya (remember her - she’s Vasilisa ……)
Vasya is the girl who doesn’t fit in, different in appearance and in nature to her siblings she would rather be rampaging around the forest than sewing by the fire, in the house where she lives, in a small hamlet in the Russian wilderness. She has a natural affinity with horses and she can see demons – everywhere! 

That’s because they ARE everywhere, but not too many folk can actually see them. Vasya can talk to them, she understands them and one day this will be the making of her. But for now, it sets her apart from her family as does her frog-like appearance. Her new stepmother mistrusts her and her father can’t work out quite what to do with his wayward daughter - it's all too easy to get called a witch in these superstitious times.

Vasya doesn’t know quite where she fits in either, but she knows one thing she doesn’t want to be married off to a stranger and neither does she want to end up in a convent.

She has been brought up on folk tales told at her nursemaid Dunya’s knee huddled around the fire in the bitter Russian winter, and the most chilling and fascinating of all the legends is that of the Frost-demon Morosko the winter god who is also the bringer of death in the bitter winter cold. 

Little does she know that she is destined to face the Frost King and her story will become entwined with the creature of her childhood nightmares, the one-eyed man who is also a terrifying bear.

This is a wonderful, magical, mesmerising and haunting story of a feisty young woman who defies gender stereotyping in an age where women were expected to be submissive and obedient.

There is much MUCH more to this beautiful story but this review is supposed to be mainly about the second book which follows neatly on from the first. I don’t think I’ll be too guilty of spoilers when I say that as Vasya is also the star of the next book, therefore it follows that in a book of death and bloodshed she is a survivor!

The Girl in the Tower - Book 2

The girl in the tower begins with Vasya, now disguised as a boy, leaving her small village where she is accused of witchcraft and setting off for adventure and hoping to realise her ambition of being a traveller. Carried by her amazing bay stallion Solovey, she journeys towards the big city of Moscow. 

On her travels through the vast forest, she discovers that Tatar bandits have been burning villages and murdering the occupants then kidnapping the young girls, This incenses Vasya and being who she is, she steps in to try and help.

Eventually, her bravery earns her the respect of the Grand Prince of Moscow (who of course believes she is a young man) women being kept very much under the control of their husbands and barely allowed to show their faces in public. Their choices are few, marry bear children and obey the husband who has been chosen for you or become a Nun …. ermm and that’s it, not much of a choice there then.

Vasya revels in the freedom being a boy gives her and swears her gender will remain a secret. She eventually reaches her beloved brother and sister, who both left home when she was a small child and of course they also have to keep her identity secret, much as her deception appals them.

Her inborn skill with horses (aided by the fact that she can understand them, soothe and talk to them) also earns her a reputation as a brave young man, a title she longs to keep but as time goes on it gets harder to conceal her femininity.

I will say no more about the storyline, it is wonderful and heart-breaking and utterly joyous storytelling and I don’t want to spoil one tiny moment of your time, with Vasya in ancient Russia. 

For, read it you surely must, as I am at a loss as to what else to say to convey how stunning this series is. 

This second book is more adult in its themes and even darker than the first and Oh so sad, yet it glows with colour and vibrancy throughout.

Having read the first 2 books back to back I am left bereft and heartbroken waiting in deepest anticipation for the third in the series to come out. Already I am devastated that this is going to be a trilogy and when I do get my hot little hands on the final instalment it will be the last.

If you enjoy this series even 1/4 as much as I did you are in for a rare and delectable treat.

Connect with the author on her website

The books are published by Penguin Random House and my thanks go to Random Things Tours for inviting me to join this blog tour and opening my eyes to this world of magic.

The Blurb:

For a young woman in medieval Russia, the choices are stark: marriage or a life in a convent. Vasya will choose a third way: magic...

The court of the Grand Prince of Moscow is plagued by power struggles and rumours of unrest. Meanwhile, bandits roam the countryside, burning the villages and kidnapping its daughters. Setting out to defeat the raiders, the Prince and his trusted companion come across a young man riding a magnificent horse.

Only Sasha, a priest with a warrior's training, recognises this 'boy' as his younger sister, thought to be dead or a witch by her village. But when Vasya proves herself in battle, riding with remarkable skill and inexplicable power, Sasha realises he must keep her secret as she may be the only way to save the city from threats both human and fantastical...

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Blog Tour The Theatre of Dreams by Rosie Travers

Blog Tour The Theatre of Dreams - Rosie Travers

Today I've hopped on the Blog Tour for The Theatre of dreams by Rosie Travers as invited by @rararesources

This colourful and fascinating debut romantic novel sounds wonderful and I'd like to be one of the first to wish the Author great success with her new book set in the world of theatre.

Purchase a copy from Amazon UK

Here's what it's about to whet your appetite:
The Blurb

Musical theatre actress Tara is down on her luck and in desperate need of a job. 

When terminally-ill octogenarian Kitty invites her to take over the running of her former dance academy in the old-fashioned resort of Hookes Bay, Tara thinks she’s found her guardian angel. 

But it soon becomes very clear Kitty is being far from benevolent. 

Too late, Tara realises helping Kitty will signal the end of an already tarnished career, unless she can pull off the performance of a life-time...

The Author: Rosie Travers

or Twitter where she is @RosieTravers 

Here's what the author has to say ...

I like to write stories with a twist, a sprinkling of humour and a dash of tragedy.  My aim is to entertain and raise a smile.
I’ve always had a very vivid imagination and my passion for writing began at a very early age.  

As a teenager I scribbled, then typed, numerous novels and short stories, none of which I was ever brave enough to show to anyone. My hobby was put on hold while mortgages, marriage, and motherhood took over. In fact, it stayed hidden for a good twenty or so years until I unexpectedly found myself with some spare time on my hands. In 2009 I left the UK to accompany my husband on an overseas work assignment to California. 

I started a blog about my life in the US, and from there everything mushroomed. I re-discovered my creative juices. 
 I am a member of the Romantic Novelists Association New Writers Scheme and Hampshire Writers Society. I now live on the south coast of England with my husband and a very spoilt cat.

The Theatre of Dreams is my first novel.

Saturday, 4 August 2018

Blog Tour and Book Review of Fatal Inheritance - Rachel Rhys - dazzling delight

Blog Tour

Today I bring you my thoughts on a wonderful new book, welcome to the blog tour for the new book Fatal Inheritance by Rachel Rhys which was published on 26th July 2018 and you can find it here.

As my contribution to the tour and to whet your appetite here is my review of this wonderfully enjoyable book


I’m deliriously happy to be included in the blog tour for this absolutely wonderful, feel-good romantic mystery by Rachel Rhys, aka Tammy Cohen, a brilliant novelist who turns her hand to two different genres with each persona she dons and does it with ease and panache. She demonstrated this succinctly in her first historical drama “A Dangerous Crossing”, which I also loved. you can read my review of that book here.

Author Rachel Rhys

If you’re looking for the absolutely perfect book to enjoy on holiday or curl up and relax with over the weekend then look no further you’ve found it in Fatal Inheritance.

The period setting is post war England in 1948, where our heroine Eve is sadly very typical of many housewives of this era. 

The sheer monotony of her mundane life, married to a dull, pompous husband, who never appreciates her attempts to be the perfect wife and sees her as a mere accessory to his chokingly dull existence, is suddenly shattered by a letter announcing a completely unexpected inheritance for Eve.

Despite her husbands’ insistence that it will be a mistake and can all be dealt with by him, without her worrying her little head over it, she sees it as a ray of hope on an otherwise very bleak horizon, especially when she finds out she has been left a part share of an old villa in the South of France and, taking the bull by the horns, sets off, alone, to discover more about her mysterious inheritance.

Eve heads off to the sun-soaked Riviera to claim her inheritance and soon begins to rub shoulders with celebrities and the Nouveau riche. 

Whilst making some new friends she also discovers a simmering resentment towards her and a veiled sense of threat surrounding her presence in the charming pink villa overlooking the glittering Mediterranean.

In the hedonistic and cosmopolitan surroundings of the French Riviera she finds the situation even more puzzling than expected. She is an unwelcome intruder to the family to whom she is as great a mystery as this bequest is to her.

The story gallops along, with sublime characters, exquisite descriptions of the glitzy location and the occasional glamorous party and illustrates how a mousy everyday 1940s housewife throws caution to the winds and gradually creates a niche in this new life for herself. I adored watching her grow in confidence and self-worth and mutating from a subject of pity to a source of admiration.

If this had been a book purely about the upper class and privileged classes I may have found it a tad tiresome, but in creating a sympathetic relatable character in Eve, the author made this book very accessible, wholly enjoyable and a delight from start to finish. 

I loved following Eve's character developing and the strange mystery and stunning location, blended together to create an unsurpassed novel of sheer, dazzling, delight. A book which never lets up its pace and manages to fit an awful lot in to the pages without ever becoming overcomplicated nor twee.

I’m aware that the description may possibly sound as though similar stories have been told before. Not with such panache and deliciousness, this book is completely original and exciting all the way from start to the highly satisfying conclusion! 

Rachel Rhys has her own very unique writing style and I can hardly wait for this author to reach for her pen and begin to write in this historical genre again.

The Blurb

1948: an English housewife trapped in a dull marriage escapes to the South of France to claim a mystery inheritance. But rivals to her unexplained fortune begin to emerge, and now they want her out of the way ...

She didn’t have an enemy in the world… 
until she inherited a fortune 

London 1948: Eve Forrester is trapped in a loveless marriage, in a gloomy house, in a grey suburb. 

Out of the blue, she received a solicitor’s letter. A wealthy stranger has left her a mystery inheritance but in order to find out more, she must travel to the glittering French Riviera. 

Eve discovers her legacy is an enchanting villa overlooking the Mediterranean sea and suddenly, life could not be more glamorous. 

But while she rubs shoulders with film-stars and famous writers, under the heat of the golden sun, rivals to her unexplained fortune begin to emerge. Rivals who want her out of the way. 

Alone in paradise, Eve must unlock the story behind her surprise bequest – before events turn deadly…

Reminiscent of a Golden Age mystery, Fatal Inheritance is an intoxicating story of dysfunctional families and long-hidden secrets, set against the razzle-dazzle and decadence of the French Riviera. 

Monday, 30 July 2018

Blog Tour and my review of An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena

Blog Tour and my review of An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena. Published by Bantam Press at Transworld publishers it is out on 26th July in Hardback.

My Review:

Welcome to the blog tour for An Unwanted guest, the new book by Shari Lapena author of twisty thrillers including the gripping book The Couple Next Door.

Come in out of the snow, pull up a chair in front of a roaring fire and settle down for this twisty and puzzling thriller. (I know it’s still summer and this is a great holiday read, but its also one perfect winter read to look forward to as the nights draw in)

This book is like a game of Consequences (I hope you used to play that party game when you were young or this isn’t a great start to my review)

Cluedo meets Agatha Christie at the Hotel from the Shining, people die in mysterious circumstances, nobody knows who they can trust and the consequence is … everybody suspects each other of murder.

Well, that sums it up quite nicely I think. It’s an out and out Whodunnit, which don't always float my boat but the author does it so very well you just get sucked right in and go along for the scary ride.

The tension builds nicely as the guests arrive at the remote hotel amidst a whiteout blizzard and find the hostelry staffed only by the owner and his son. They are all rapidly stranded and as the electricity fails and the disparate bunch of guests get to know one another, we begin to feel shivers, not just from the bitter cold weather, or the beautiful but chilling ice house in the grounds, but as realization dawns that there is a killer amongst this small group.

We get just the right amount of background on each guest to feel we are getting to know them, yet enough is left out to make sure we harbour doubts and suspect everyone in turn as things so from bad to worse, to absolutely terrible.

Plenty of curved balls are thrown at the reader to divert and distract us and the whole book is delightfully entertaining and creepy.

Great for thriller aficionados and readers who like to examine characters motives and flaws, whilst trying to guess who did what to whom and why!

The Blurb

We can’t choose the strangers we meet.

As the guests arrive at beautiful, remote Mitchell’s Inn, they’re all looking forward to a relaxing weekend deep in the forest, miles from anywhere. They watch their fellow guests with interest, from a polite distance. 

Usually we can avoid the people who make us nervous, make us afraid.

With a violent storm raging, the group finds itself completely cut off from the outside world. Nobody can get in – or out. And then the first body is found . . . and the horrifying truth comes to light. There’s a killer among them – and nowhere to run. 

Until we find ourselves in a situation we can’t escape. Trapped.

My thanks to #RandomThingsTours for my copy.

Buy yours now on Amazon and all good booksellers.

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Advance Review - When Winter Comes by V.A. Shannon

My Review of When Winter Comes by V.A. Shannon.

Wonderful, epic, historical fiction, I loved it and couldn't put it down. I consider myself very fortunate to have been chosen as one of the recipients of a copy in advance of publication. My advance review copy is now well creased, as I read this remarkable novel in bed, on the bus and crammed it in my handbag to take to work, I was so engrossed in the story.

Quite recently I read another fictional book with a supernatural angle The Hunger based on the same true subject, the Donner party of pioneers who came to grief, back in the mid 19th century when thousands of brave and some plain foolhardy, folk set off with their wagon trains to cross the Sierra mountains from Cincinatti, headed West towards California to try and build a better life. What bravery, how hard it must have been in these days centuries before tripadvisor and google maps and without even any real trail or markers to follow.

Both these books are wonderful, yet rather different accounts of the same true journey.

When winter comes is told in the intimate first person voice of a young woman who leaves her poverty stricken feckless and violent family home, following a series of mishaps.

The book begins in 1859 when our narrator is a rather sedate married woman, living a quiet life of domesticity bringing up her girls, meeting up with her friends at a quilting bee, and looking after her husband, Jacob, who presents her with a journal as a gift. As she begins to put pen to paper she is unsure what she will write about as every day is the same. But as soon as she begins, memories of her past come flooding back and memories she had suppressed clamour to be told.

In a series of flashbacks to 13 years earlier when she was just 15, we learn how she became involved with the fated journey of the infamous Donner party and her version of events unfolds in all its grim pathos. As winter halts the travellers in their tracks terrible choices have to be made which will scar her for life.

We watch her grow and change from quite a selfish young madam into a reliable and stoic young woman. This is a coming of age born of necessity and hardship that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy.

The descriptiveness of being part of a legendary journey in times gone by are painted with a deftness and utter plausablity, that makes the reader experience rather than merely read the story. It reads like a memoir and gives you an insight into a fictional characters thoughts and actions around a true event.

It is captivating and harrowing by turn, beautifully thought out and well written with evidence of much in depth research.

If you like historical fiction with a literary quality and a whole host of characters all the more real for their flaws and foibles you'll LOVE this book, I did.

Pre-order now from Amazon

The Blurb

In the voice of an unforgettable heroine, V.A. Shannon explores one of the most harrowing episodes in pioneer history—the ill-fated journey of the Donner Party—in a mesmerizing novel of resilience and survival. 

Mrs. Jacob Klein has a husband, children, and a warm and comfortable home in California. No one—not even her family—knows how she came to be out West thirteen years ago. Jacob, a kind and patient man, has promised not to ask. But if she were to tell her story, she would recount a tale of tragedy, mishaps, and unthinkable choices—yet also sacrifice, courage, and a powerful, unexpected love . . .

1846: On the outskirts of Cincinnati, wagons gather by the hundreds, readying to head west to California. Among the throng is a fifteen-year-old girl eager to escape her abusive family. With just a few stolen dollars to her name, she enlists as helpmate to a married couple with a young daughter. Their group stays optimistic in the face of the journey’s hazards and delays. Then comes a decision that she is powerless to prevent: Instead of following the wagon train’s established route, the Donner Party will take a shortcut over the Sierras, aiming to clear the mountains before the first snows descend. 

In the years since that infamous winter, other survivors have sold their accounts for notoriety and money, lurid tales often filled with half-truths or blatant, gory lies. Now, Mrs. Klein must decide whether to keep those bitter memories secret, or risk destroying the life she has endured so much to build . . . (less)

The Poppy Field by Deborah Carr - Blog Tour

Today is publication day for the new historical novel by Deborah Carr - The Poppy Field and just look at that delectable cover! A...