Thursday, 19 July 2018

The Factory Girls of Lark Lane - Pam Howes

The Factory Girls of Lark Lane
by
Pam Howes

About the book… 
The Factory Girls of Lark Lane: A heartbreaking wartime family saga. 
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?
The Factory Girls of Lark Lane is a heart-wrenching family saga about women in World War 2, the strength of friendship, and hope. If you’re a fan of Nadine Dorries, Diney Costeloe and Kitty Neale, you’ll love Pam Howes!

Buy Links: 
Buy now via Amazon: mybook.to/TFGoLLSocial

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.

Contact Links: 
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

My thoughts…
I was given an ecopy of this book in exchange for an honest review by Bookouture,  Pam Howes publisher.  This is something I'm more than happy to do.

Reading The Factorg Girls of Lark Lane was pure nostalgia to me.  It took me straight back to my teenage years where I worked in an office on an industrial estate in Speke, Liverpool. I spent my lunch breaks reading books set in the city during the war years by Maureen Lee, Helen Forrester and Lyn Andrews.

Pam Howes more than lives up to these icons and has captured the true essence of a city and period of time where your friends were your family and people shared what little they had - pulling together to support each other during desperate times.

Despite the hurt and tragedy that affected the tight knit community there was also fun and laughter, everyone appreciating the small things and each other, grateful that they survived the night through another air raid, huddled together with neighbours and friends listening for the bombs that devastated whole streets at a time - the sense of pride, generosity and support spills from the pages of this beautifully sad yet uplifting story. 

Despite not reading any other books in this series I was soon wrapped up in the lives of friends Alice and Millie and their families. It's hard to imagine being married for a day and your husband going off to war, leaving you expecting a baby and no idea of when you may see each other again - the strength of character and acceptance of life and it's restraints  is demonstrated throughout this book beautifully.

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Tuesday, 3 July 2018

The Island Villa - Lily Graham

The Island Villa
by
Lily Graham

About the book… 
Marisal. A villa on a sleepy Spanish island. A place that time had forgotten. A place of long ago summers, sun-kissed memories and one terrible betrayal …

When Charlotte’s husband James tragically dies, he leaves her an unexpected gift – her grandmother’s beautiful villa, Marisal, on the Spanish Island of Formentera.

As she begins to explore her new home, and heal her broken heart in the warm golden sunshine, Charlotte discovers that her grandmother Alba has been keeping secrets about her life on the island. Intrigued by her family’s hidden history, Charlotte uncovers a devastating love affair that put many lives at risk and two sisters torn apart by loss.

Can the heart-breaking truth of the island’s dark history finally be laid to rest? Or will the secrets of the past shake the new life and love that Charlotte is close to finding?

Buy Links: 
Amazon Buy Link: mybook.to/TIVSocial

About the author… 
Lily grew up in dusty Johannesburg, which gave her a longing for the sea that has never quite gone away; so much so that sometimes she'll find sand grouting the teaspoons, and an ocean in a teacup. She lives now in the English countryside with her husband and her sweet, slobbering bulldog Fudge, and brings her love for the sea and country-living to her fiction.




Contact Links: 

My thoughts…
I was given an ecopy of this book in exchange for an honest review by Bookouture, Lily Grahams publisher.  This is something I'm more than happy to do.

The Island Villa is a beautiful read.  It begins as Charlotte and daughter Sage have lost their beloved husband and father James to cancer - neither can contemplate life without him and are getting through each day - just.

On the day of his funeral Charlottes brother hands her a letter from her husband, a letter that contains only a few words but will change her life completely.  He has bought her a house, not just any house but a house that used to belong to her family on the island of Formentera, a Spanish island off Ibiza.

As Sage heads back to University Charlotte plans a trip just to look at the house - she cannot contemplate life as a widow and doesn't know how to even begin to pick up the pieces.

The Island Villa holds the key to her past and her future, Lily Graham has intricately pieced together Charlottes past and future like a jigsaw - inserting one, then another as the past meets the present.  I was touched and saddened by the back story yet it's that that lifts Charlotte out of her 'funk' to a point where she can contemplate the future.  The story unfolds around a community, shared meals and the Villa and is totally bewitching, I was totally lost, my heart sqeezed with sadness, then lifted as the sunshine and happiness gradually began drifting through the threads of the story.

I've never read a Lily Graham novel before but this will definitely not be my last - sensitively constructed, totally absorbing and mesmerising.  A beautiful read that I have no hesitation recommending.

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Sunday, 1 July 2018

Ivy & Abe - Elizabeth Enfield

Ivy & Abe
by
Elizabeth Enfield

About the book… 
 Two people. One love story. A million possibilities.
Is there actually a right person, or just a right time?

Meet…
Ivy & Abe

A stunning novel about the different paths our lives might follow, and the different people we might become along the way.

Childhood friends in the Sixties, Ivy and Abe were inseparable until a chance event tore them apart. Now in their early seventies, fate once again brings them together - both grey-haired, Ivy hand in hand with her grandson - to fill in the gaps of one another's lives. Each has experienced great passions as well as heart-breaking tragedies, but the time is finally right for them. 

Their love story seems, in the end, meant to be. But what if…

…in a parallel universe, chance had intervened and they'd met sooner?

…they'd met in their forties, both married to other people and began an affair? 

…they'd met before then and married, but the daunting question mark over Ivy's health had suffocated Abe's love for her? 

…as lovestruck teenagers, one small moment had sealed their fate?

Praise for Ivy & Abe

'Sliding Doors Meets One Day' Red Magazine

The same pair of lovers find and lose each other through the decades . . . a novel full of emotional truth’ Daily Mail

‘A moving and thought-provoking novel in the tradition of Sliding Doors and The Versions of Us. One for anyone who's ever wondered if things might have turned out differently.’ Alison Mercer, author of Stop the Clock

‘Beautiful, uplifting and wise. I surfaced from the last page, feeling as comforted as I was moved’
Alison Macleod, author of Unexploded

‘A beautiful story that explores what it is to have a soul mate. It made me cry a lot - in a good way! - but it also made me think, as all the best books do’, Veronica Henry, author of A Night on The Orient Express

‘An epic love story’ Araminta Hall, author of Everything and Nothing

‘True love in parallel universes. How smart! How simple! How romantic! Elizabeth Enfield has a rare talent.’

Tony Robinson

Buy Links: 
Book Depository - www.bookdepository.com
Amazon UK - www.amazon.co.uk
Amazon US - www.amazon.com

About the author… 
Elizabeth Enfield worked as a journalist and producer for BBC radio before going freelance. She now contributes to various national newspapers and magazines. Her short stories have been broadcast on Radio 4 and published in magazines including Woman's Own and the Sunday Express.

Contact Links: 
Twitter: https://twitter.com/lizzieenfield

Exclusive content…


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Friday, 29 June 2018

The Photograph by Debbie Rix

The Photograph
by
Debbie Rix

About the book… 
If you loved The Letter by Kathryn Hughes and The Hourglass by Tracy Rees you’ll be swept away by this stunning summer read.

Italy, 1958: Rachael is a young widow with a small child. After a lifetime of running for survival, of not knowing who to trust and where to call home, she finds herself in a place of safety. On a sun-drenched Italian island for one carefree summer the troubles of her past fade away and she falls in love. But will Rachael’s new-found happiness bring her further heartache?

England, 2017: Sophie has a handsome husband, a gorgeous house in the English countryside and a successful career as an anthropologist. But the one thing she longs for is a baby of her own. As she struggles to conceive, cracks begin to appear in her marriage. So Sophie throws herself into her work and tries to seek comfort in childhood memories of her beloved grandmother Rachael. 

One afternoon, Sophie finds a forgotten letter and an exquisite silk bracelet hidden in Rachael’s old writing desk. Intrigued, she begins to unravel the extraordinary story of her grandmother’s past - and a secret that has the power to change everything…

The Photograph is an utterly beautiful and compelling story of love, loss and a family secret spanning generations.

Buy Links:
Amazon: mybook.to/TPDRSocial 

About the author… 
Debbie Rix has written four novels, the latest of which - 'The Photograph' - will be published on June 27th 2018. The story crosses generations and continents as Sophie, desperate for a child of her own, uncovers the extraordinary secrets of her grandmother, Rachael, fifty years earlier.

Earlier this year Debbie was shortlisted for the RNA's Historical Novel category for her third novel 'The Silk Weaver's Wife' (pub: 19th July 2017) about a silk designer named Anastasia from Verona whose life is almost destroyed when she is forced into a marriage to a Venetian silk weaver. In the present day Millie visits an old villa near Verona and uncovers a lost painting. Who is the woman in the painting and how will her experiences affect Millie's life? 

Debbie's debut 'The Girl with Emerald Eyes', reached the No.1 spot in Amazon's Italian category. Set amidst the world of medieval Italy, it explores the creation of the most famous building in the world - the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Her second novel - 'Daughters of the Silk Road' topped the historical fiction charts, reaching No.1 in Italian, Women's fiction and Mystery, Thriller & Suspense and spent many weeks in the top 100 best selling lists. It follows the fortunes of a family of merchant explorers who bring a Ming vase back to Venice from China in 15th century. 

Debbie spends a lot of time in Italy and the setting of the novels reflects her knowledge and passion for the country. She lives in the Kent countryside with her journalist husband, children, sheep, chickens and cats. When not writing, she is usually to be found in the vegetable garden. She began her career with the BBC- initially as the news reader on Breakfast Time, thereafter appearing as a presenter and reporter on a variety of factual and light entertainment television series. She had a spell as an Agony Aunt, and has also written about gardens and gardening - one of her private passions.


My thoughts…
I was given an ecopy of this book by Bookouture, Debbie Six publishers in exchange for an honest review.  This is something I'm more than willing to do.

The story is told by two different women Sophie and Racheal across several different countries. The chapters act as dividers separating the women's lives alternating back and forth between Italy 1958 and the UK 2017.

It is a heartfelt story about tragedy, love, pain, family and friendship.  A story set in four parts with the two stories woven together until they meet in the present day.

I absolutely loved this story, it is an incredibly powerful yet a tender and tragic story that highlights the decisions and difficulties faced by both Sophie and Rachael, two incredibly strong women and the knocks and set backs they both faced in their lives.

The Photograph is a story that is paced perfectly, the pace ebbing and flowing as both women encounter setbacks and tragedy time and time again only to rise out the other side stronger more determined to survive.  I was totally absorbed, silent tears rolling down my cheeks, smiling the next - a totally uplifting read that demonstrates the strength of character possible when you are surrounded by love and support, family and friendship.

An uplifting read that is totally captivating and will squeeze your heart yet leave you uplifted.  This is the first Debbie Six book I have read but it will definitely not be the last, I loved every single word from the beginning to the end.  

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Monday, 25 June 2018

The Date - Louise Jenson

The Date
by
Louise Jenson

About the book… 
One night can change everything. 

‘I know it as soon as I wake up and open my eyes... Something is wrong.’

Her Saturday night started normally. Recently separated from her husband, Ali has been persuaded by her friends to go on a date with a new man. She is ready, she is nervous, she is excited. She is about to take a step into her new future. By Sunday morning, Ali’s life is unrecognisable. She wakes, and she knows that something is wrong. She is home, she is alone, she is hurt and she has no memory of what happened to her. 

Worse still, when she looks in the mirror, Ali doesn’t recognise the face staring back at her...

From the no. 1 bestselling author of The SisterThe Gift and The SurrogateThe Date is a gripping page-turner that will keep you awake until the early hours. Perfect for fans of The Girl on the Train and Before I Go To Sleep. 

Buy Links: 
Googleplay: http://ow.ly/9h2q30kyR2K 

About the author… 
Louise Jensen is a Global No.1 Bestselling author of psychological thrillers The Sister, The Gift & The Surrogate. To date Louise has sold approaching a million books and her novels have been sold for translation to nineteen territories, as well as being featured on the USA Today and Wall Street Journal Bestseller’s List. Louise was nominated for the Goodreads Debut Author of 2016 Award. 

Louise lives with her husband, children, madcap dog and a rather naughty cat in Northamptonshire. She loves to hear from readers and writers and can be found at www.louisejensen.co.uk, where she regularly blogs flash fiction and writing tips.


My thoughts…
I was given an ecopy of this book in exchange for an honest review by Bookouture, Louise Jenson publishers.  This is something I am more than happy to do.

Where do I start with The Date, it was a tense, gripping read right from the very first page.  I read this whilst sitting by the pool in Sicily and what a good job, the sweat was literally pouring off my forehead with fear as opposed to sweat from the heat - nobody could tell I was a gibbering wreck reading this.

I loved every single word of The Date it was incredible.  Louise Jenson has stepped up to the plate and knocked the ball right out of the park with this one. It was like reading a living nightmare - I had heart palpitations and read quicker and quicker to get to the bottom of the story, wanting to save Ali from the living torture she was enduring.

Imagine waking up with the worst hangover imaginable, not knowing where you are, how you got there or physically able to drag yourself out of bed.  When you do you don't recognise the face looking back at you or have any recollection of how you have got to that situation - a totally incredible, unimaginable, gut wrenching situation.

Ali is separated from her husband Matt and is persuaded by her flatmate and friends Chrissy, Jules and James to go on a blind date.  She is reluctant - she still wants to be married and is in denial about how she has arrived in this situation - she had a loving, close relationship with husband Matt until his character changed almost overnight - within months he had distanced himself from her and she leaves the marital home to give them both some breathing space.

With each and every book I've read of Louise Jenson the intensity has ramped up another notch, she is one of my firm go to authors that I would read without even reading the blurb - she never fails to disappoint, that is until the last page is turned and I know I have a long wait until I can get my next fix.  I can't recommend this book highly enough, huge thanks to both Bookouture for the opportunity to get an early read and to Louise for her writing.

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Tuesday, 29 May 2018

What Holly's Husband Did - Debbie Viggiano

What Holly's Husband Did
by
Debbie Viggiano

About the book… 
A laugh-out-loud romantic comedy with a twist that will make you gasp!

Holly Hart has been married for fifteen blissful years to hubby Alex. Well… if you don't count last Christmas, when she accidentally found a load of flirty texts on Alex's phone. But every marriage has its ups and downs and Alex had a perfectly reasonable explanation… so why can't Holly forget what she saw? 

With the help of best friends Jeanie and Caro, as well as their handsome neighbour Jack, Holly resolves to settle her mind once and for all with a bit of sneaky detective work. So what if her husband isn't exactly Brad Pitt? He's hers, and if someone else is trying to steal him she wants to know who... But the truth is way more shocking than Holly ever anticipated. Can Holly, let alone her marriage, ever recover from what she discovers?

A laugh-until-you-cry, feel-good novel from the bestselling author of Stockings and Cellulite. Perfect for fans of Tracy Bloom, Sophie Kinsella and Marian Keyes.


About the author… 
Prior to turning her attention to writing, Debbie Viggiano was, for more years than she cares to remember, a legal secretary. She lives with her Italian husband, a rescued puppy from Crete, and a very disgruntled cat. Occasionally her children return home from uni bringing her much joy...apart from their gifts of dirty laundry. 











Contact Links: 
Tweet @DebbieViggiano or 

My thoughts…
I received an ecopy of this book from Bookouture in exchange for an honest review.  This is something I'm more than happy to do.

I picked this up and settled in the garden for a quick read before carrying on with a few jobs.  Needless to say here we are today and the jobs still need finishing! What a delightful book, I smiled, gasped and howled out loud as Holly goes on a mission to get to the bottom of some sexy texting found the previous Christmas on her husband Alex's mobile phone.  He has a perfectly plausible, mmmmm - perhaps not quite plausible explanation for them.

Debbie has created characters that are totally engaging - I could clearly envisage them in my mind from the very beginning of the novel. Her two best friends Jeannie and Caro - exchanging gossip and advice over coffee and cake at every opportunity.  Their interactions are typical of lifelong friends who know each other  inside out, warts and all. Not afraid to dish out advice and ask the most prying questions of each others 'love life' and always have each others back.  Holly could rely on them, or could she?  A chance comment has her doubting the friendship of one of them - could she be the mysterious 'Queenie' - sender of sexy text messages to her husband - I gasped surely not?!

This is a light-hearted fun story with a serious subject at the heart of it - mis-trust, self doubt and jealousy send Holly hurtling down a path that portrays her as a completely bonkers, out of control harpy that was always just two steps from losing it totally. Mind you I would probably be doing time for murder now if ~I was married to the over-bearing, oaf she was married to - he was pompous and patronising beyond belief, then assumed the sweetness and light, butter wouldn't melt act.  The pompousness was definitely his more believable characteristic for me.

It was a perfect read for a sunny afternoon in the garden, I constantly chuckled at Holly - she was comedic without realising it, when she whipped out the empty Bolognese sauce jar hidden in her handbag from her husband (he didn't allow processed food in the house, everything had to be cooked from scratch) at the golf club and calmly asked for it to be put in the bin please whilst dying inside was hilarious, I nearly wet myself.  Anyone not a golfer will confirm that most golf-clubs are a little bit stuffy and pretentious and Holly was way out of her comfort zone here but styled it out with panache.  As she did on more than one subsequent occasion throughout the novel.

A throughly enjoyable read that does what it says on the tin, it made me laugh and chuckle throughout at Holly's antics and wouldn't hesitate to pick up another of Debbie's novels when I need a bit of light entertainment, an easy read that whisked me straight into Holly's world.

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Sunday, 27 May 2018

Meeting Lydia - Linda MacDonald

Meeting Lydia
by
Linda MacDonald

About the book…
Meeting Lydia explores the very relevant topics of childhood bullying, midlife crises, the pros and cons of internet relationships, and how the psychological effects of these affect the main character and those around her. Readers will be gripped by the turbulent life of Marianne who navigates the onset of menopause, an empty nest, a suspected errant husband and a demanding new obsession that pulls her in deeper as the story unfolds. Those interested in the psychology of relationships will enjoy this novel, as well as those who delight in an enthralling story with relatable characters and the powerful question of what happens when the past catches up with the present. This second edition has reworked the early chapters of the first edition, making for a pacy and shorter version more in line with the audiobook.

Marianne comes home from work one day to find her husband talking to a glamorous woman in their kitchen. Old childhood insecurities resurface, stemming from a time back at school when she was bullied. Jealousy rears its head and her happy marriage begins to crumble. Desperate for a solution - and introduced by her daughter to social networking - she tries to track down her first schoolgirl crush, the enigmatic Edward Harvey. But Marianne is unprepared for the power of email relationships ...


About the author… 
Linda MacDonald is the author of four novels: Meeting Lydia and the stand-alone sequels, A Meeting of a Different Kind, The Alone Alternative and The Man in the Needlecord Jacket. All Linda's books are contemporary adult fiction, multi-themed, but with a focus on relationship issues. 

After studying psychology at Goldsmiths', Linda trained as a secondary science and biology teacher. She taught these subjects for several years before moving to a sixth-form college to teach psychology. The first two novels took ten years in writing and publishing, using snatched moments in the evenings, weekends and holidays. In 2012, she gave up teaching to focus fully on writing. 

Linda was born and brought up in Cockermouth, Cumbria and now lives in Beckenham in Kent.

Contact Links: 
Follow her on Twitter @LindaMac1

My thoughts…
I was given an ecopy of this book by the author to review as part of the blog tour for Meeting Lydia.  This is something I am more than happy to do.

Meeting Lydia is a novel about relationships of every kind both real and imagined.  This is another novel that highlights how the relationships we have in our childhood form the adults we become.  They can give us the strength and confidence to grow and develop or they can inhibit us.

Marianne the leading character in this book was educated in a boys school - this was something I found very odd.  I didn't even know this was possible.  She stood out for many reasons, the obvious being she was a girl in a classroom of boys and she was also very clever.  Both reasons to draw attention to herself at a time when children are developing and growing - learning the rules and boundaries of life.  Reading about her childhood was difficult - I wanted to scoop her up and take her away.

Linda displays the hurt and childhood scars that have shaped Marianne.  Thus highlighting how our childhood provides the foundations for us to grow into adults.  Not everyone has a solid, safe, loving and caring upbringing.  Some have a shakier start and it is past events that eventually cause the foundations of her adult life to crumble.

Public schooling and bullying all too often, sadly, go hand in hand and this story tackles this issue head on.  This book highlights some strong emotions - bitterness, hate, revenge and hurt go hand in hand with self loathing, guilt and remorse. Above all this story highlights how events in our childhood if not dealt with follow us into adulthood and can have a huge impact upon the adults we become. As an adult she has grown a carapace around herself and her memories are firmly hidden.  She is successful, has a good job as a teacher, husband and daughter. That is until several things conspire to un-ravel her life and take her straight back to those tortured childhood days.  

Meeting Lydia highlights how a couple of natural events in a mothers life can knock you off kilter more than just a little.  Your daughter leaving home for uni, that feeling of being redundant and no longer needed is a feeling that I'm sure is shared by most mums world over.  They're moving on and you don't really know what your role is anymore.  Add to that the onset of the menopause, something we females all dread - the horror stories of friends and family - the slight madness it can bring and the fact that it is a subject most aren't comfortable talking about - it signifies an ending of sorts and the unease of the next chapter in your life.  

Linda has written Marianne as a deeply complex character that doesn't have all the answers.  Finding a gorgeous, mini skirt wearing blonde in her kitchen one afternoon is the catalyst to the events that follow.  Johnny her husband is having an innocent coffee with a new colleague in his kitchen and has no idea that would alter his life as he knew it.  He has no idea of the insecurities behind the everyday face of his wife. The intense intricacies of relationships - how the unspoken words can cause the most pain and anguish are highlighted in full colour for the reader to see.

When the tension rises Marianne who has been taught about Friends Reunited by her daughter retreats more and more into an on line world where she is fuelling her obsession with a classmate from her childhood.  She wants to find a safe place, a place where she can hide again.  He wasn't even her friend if the truth be told, he was just the boy that didn't join in and bully her.  Johnny retreats to the pub as the spats increase he spends more and more time away from home - further fuelling Mariannes feelings of low self worth.

There is an intensity to Linda's writing that is palpable, neither partner speaking openly, both expecting the other to know all the words that only get spoken in each others heads, not saying them out loud because both afraid of the consequences - such seemingly insignificant small events have such a major impact on more than just their own lives.  I was hovering over their lives wanting to shout instructions to them both - they were just too close to see the destruction they were wreaking.

A powerful piece of writing that had me turning the pages increasingly quicker to resolve their problems and restore harmony in their lives.  Linda MacDonald is not an author I'd previously read but was drawn in by her beautiful jacket for Meeting Lydia and the blurb on the back.  Relationships of any kind, husband-wife, parent-child, friendships and family are always thought provoking - I like to see into other peoples minds and look at how they tick. Thank you Anne for the opportunity to join the blog tour.  I'm looking forward to reading the next instalment having thoroughly enjoyed Meeting Lydia. 

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