The Glorious Dead by Tim Atkinson @dotterel @annecater #RandomThingsTours #BookReview

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Today I am delighted to be sharing my review for The Glorious Dead by Tim Atkinson as part of the blog tour with Anne at Random Things Tours and Unbound Publishers. This is a book that is set after the end of WWI.

Synopsis:

What happened when the Great War ended and the guns stopped firing? Who cleared the battlefields and buried the dead? It’s 1918 and the war may be over but Lance-Corporal Jack Patterson ad the men of his platoon are still knee-deep in Flanders mud, searching the battlefields for the remain of comrades killed in action. But duty isn’t all that’s keeping Jack in Flanders. For one there is Katia, the daughter of a local publican, with whom he has struck up a romance. And then there is something else, a secret that lies buried in Jack’s past, one he hopes isn’t about to be dug up.

Purchase link – Amazon UK

My Thoughts:

Well, this is a book that was a real eye-opener that’s for sure. I had never really thought about who took care of the bodies of the fallen during or after WWI or WWII come to that. I was aware of there being Red Cross and Ambulance crews but that was as far as it went. Who was responsible for taking those bodies to their final resting place, in this case, a huge memorial cemetery in Belgium.

The story follows Jack and his group who remain in Belgium after the end of the war. While others have returned home, they remain. Disgruntled is a term that seems appropriate for their mood. It was interesting to read of the conditions the men had to work in not nice at all. The descriptions are of how bodies are found, identified and then managed.

Another thing that I found interesting was how those who died were interred against family wishes. Many wanted their loved ones to be repatriated to their home soil so they could be grieved over, to be visited and remembered. Many families never visited the final resting place of their loved one and knew they knew they would never be able to for various reasons.

The political and personal feelings expressed are woven around Jack, his story and of those he works with gradually emerges. It has a sense of camaraderie and also the wish for most of them to go home. Not all want to return home, stories of returning soldiers with no jobs, no home and living rough are emerging.

A story that took me to a horrific and brutal point in history. As I mentioned at the beginning a real eye-opener. While the story of Jack and his group was good, they actually became secondary for me in this story.

One I think readers of historical fiction would really like and one I would recommend.

About the Author:

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Tim Atkinson is a teacher, author and award-winning blogger. He studied philosophy at the University of Hull and has worked variously as a filing clerk, lay-clerk, chain-man and schoolteacher. He was born in Colchester, brought up in Yorkshire and now lives in Lincolnshire.

Follow Tim on TwitterWebsite

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The Promise of Tomorrow by Anne Marie Brear @annemariebrear @rararesources #BookReview

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Today I am delighted t be sharing my review of The Promise Of Tomorrow by Anne Marie Brear as part of the Blog Tour with Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources. Many thanks to Rachel for the invite and also to Anne Marie for my e-copy of this book.

Synopsis:

Charlotte Brookes flees her lecherous guardian, McBride, taking her younger sister with her. After a year on the road, they stumble into a Yorkshire village. There, they are taken in by the Wheelers, owners of the village shop. This new life is strange for Charlotte, but preferable to living with McBride or surviving on the roads. 
Harry Belmont is an important man in the village, but he’s missing something in his life. His budding friendship with Charlotte gives him hope she will feel more for him one day, and he will have the woman he needs. 
However, when McBride finds out where Charlotte lives, his threats begin, and Harry takes it upon himself to keep Charlotte safe. Only, World War I erupts and Harry enlists. 
Left to face a world of new responsibilities, and Harry’s difficult sister, Charlotte must run the gauntlet of family disputes, McBride’s constant harassment and the possibility of the man she loves being killed.

 Can Charlotte find the happiness that always seems under threat, and will Harry return home to her?

Purchase Links: Amazon UK –  Amazon US

My Thoughts:

Charlotte and her younger sister Hannah have been on the road traveling and working. They stumble into a shop and the owners take them in. Life seems to settle and the girls seem to have found somewhere safe. But it is not long before the past starts to catch up to them in the form of McBride.

This is a fabulous story set before and during the First World War. It has some really good elements in it that kept the story moving along nicely as characters and stories were gradually introduced. I really like the way the author used the contrasts in social class, something that always interests me. It has a mix of stereotypical traits as well as some that go against the grain. As the war begins and men start to do their duty, things for those at home obviously change, people begin to adapt and do what they can. As is the way in all things there are always those who are eager to look for the easy route or the free ride.

The plot of the story weaves through the main characters and those they come into contact with, Charlotte is a strong and selfless character, always the one to do the best for others before herself. She was my favourite character in this story and while I did like quite a few others I will let you make your mind up about them when you read the book.

With the story being set partly during the WWI there are mentions of battles as well as conditions for those engaged in the fighting. The author did well to explain these aspects and also with the emotional aspects. She explored the strains for those back home and also those in the field of battle.

This is a story that is detailed and fast-paced, heartbreaking and hopeful. This is the first time I have read a book by this author and after reading this I look forward to reading more.

This is ideal for readers who like historical fiction and romance with a WW One setting and is also one I would definitely recommend.

About the Author:

Australian born AnneMarie Brear writes historical novels and modern romances and sometimes the odd short story, too. Her passions, apart from writing, are traveling, reading, researching historical eras and looking for inspiration for her next book.

Social Media Links – Website – Blog – Facebook – Twitter

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A Ration Book Christmas by Jean Fullerton @JeanFullerton_ @rararesources #BookReview

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I am so delighted to be sharing my review of A Ration Book Christmas by Jean Fullerton with you all today. Huge thank you to Rachel for the invite onto this Blog Tour and also to Jean for sending me a copy her book xx

Synopsis:

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

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

Follow the link to buy a copy – CLICK HERE

My Thoughts:

Jo Brogan and her younger brother Billy decide they cannot be evacuated any longer and return to their home in London’s East End. Set in 1940 with nightly bombing raids and food rations, the Brogan family are doing their bit like most of the other families. Jo joins the ambulance service and there is a hope that her romance with Tommy could be rekindled.

This is an absolutely wonderful read with so many things that caught my attention. First off, there is Jo, determined if at times stubborn. Tommy who does not have the best of reputations,. The Brogan family themselves with a few skeletons in the family closet. Reggie is Tommy’s brother and is not really someone who you want to get involved with.

The one thing I felt when reading this book is how well researched it felt. I often say that it is the little details that make a huge difference to a story and this book has loads of little details. Sight, sounds, smells, dialects, clothing and food are just some of those “little things”. It meant I was well and truly transported to the time and place of the setting. A chance for me to feel totally engrossed in the story.

Set during the Second World War, there are obvious mentions of those who have been hurt or killed during the blitz. Alongside this is the British resolve and tenacity that people show in trying to make the best out of the situation they find themselves in with a cuppa tea in hand.

The story of Jo and how others felt about her relationship with Tommy before she was evacuated is told, then how misunderstandings can interfere and cloud judgments. Following Jo’s story was wonderful, meeting her family and friends as the war is happening around them. The author created a balance that not only told of the pain and horror of war but also showed that determination and hope that people hold. There are wonderful descriptions throughout the story and along with this, the author has injected some wonderful humorous tones with little phrases from the characters that had me smirking.

This really is a fabulous book and one that I didn’t want to put down. At the end, you will find some recipes and some interesting items in the authors’ notes.

Definitely one for readers of Historical Fiction, Historical Romance with a World War II setting in London’s East End. One I would definitely recommend xx

About the Author:

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

Social Media Links – WebsiteFacebookTwitter

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Finding Rose by Julia Ryan @julieryan18 @rararesources #Promo #Giveaway

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I am delighted to be helping to share the book love for Finding Rose by Julie Ryan today. I would really love to have read this one for the blog tour but I knew that I just wouldn’t have the time. I have been following other Book Bloggers on the tour and their reviews about this book are really good, so I have bought my own copy.

Many thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for the invite to the tour.

Synopsis:

When three sisters, Ginny, Sally and Molly are brought together at their father’s hospital bed, they are forced to confront not only the prospect of a future without him but also the secrets of the past that have kept them apart.

Their father, Eddie Matthews, drugged up on morphine, seems to be rambling but could he in fact be reliving previous lives as a Tudor monk and as a soldier on the Front in WW1. Struggling to speak he reveals that he has a secret and urges his daughters to ‘Find Rose’. Can the sisters put aside their differences to fulfil his last wish?

Buy now from Amazon UK or Amazon US

About the Author:

 Julie was born and brought up in a mining village near Barnsley in South Yorkshire. She graduated with a BA (hons) in French Language and Literature from Hull University. Since then she has lived and worked as a Teacher of English as a Foreign Language in France, Greece, Poland and Thailand. She now lives in rural Gloucestershire with her husband, son and a rescue cat. She is so passionate about books that her collection is now threatening to outgrow her house, much to her husband’s annoyance, as she can’t bear to get rid of any! They have been attempting to renovate their home for the last ten years.

She is the author of the Greek Island Mystery series, Jenna’s Journey, Sophia’s Secret and Pandora’s Prophecy, each of which can be read as a standalone. Her latest book, Finding Rose, is a new departure for her as it is set against the backdrop of WW1 and has a strong link to the Tudor Court.

Social Media Links –  Facebook Author Page – Website – Twitter – Pintrest – Goodreads

Giveaway

Giveaway to win a £10 Amazon Voucher (UK Only)

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter link below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

*****ENTER HERE*****

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The Makings of a Lady by Catherine Tinley #Extract @rararesources

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I am delighted to be sharing an extract for The Makings of  a Lady by Catherine Tinley today as part of the Blog Blitz with Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources. I have not had the chance to read this yet, the extract is a glimpse into a book that is definitely going to be one I want to read and I just love this cover.

Synopsis:

Be calm, she thought.
Be gracious. Be twenty-two.

Lady Olivia Fanton is eager to prove she’s no longer a child. However, just as she thinks she’s found a suitable match in the suave Mr Manning, charismatic Captain Jem Ford walks back into her life, bringing with him all the embarrassment of her infatuation four years before! She’s determined to appear mature, distant, friendly. But does she dare hope he’ll notice her as the lady she’s become?

Purchase Link: Click Here

The Extract:

This extract is taken from chapter one. It highlights Lady Olivia’s frustration with her well-meaning but over-protective family, and her desire for adventure. She’s also nervous about the fact that Jem Ford will be visiting the family the next day. Olivia had an embarrassing crush on Jem a few years before. Just to complicate things, a new man then appears in her life…

Olivia stared at her own reflection. Stormy grey eyes, dark curls, fashionable habit. What is the point of wearing fine things, she was thinking, when no one ever sees me but my own family? I could wear my oldest muslin and nobody would care.

Rejecting the matching hat, she stated firmly that she would ride today with her head uncovered. Someone will see you tomorrow, an inner voice murmured. Jem will be here. After four years, you will see him again.

Ignoring the thought, she focused instead on her current frustration. This year they were not in London for the Season, because of Charlotte’s condition. Oh, but it was hard to be two-and-twenty and stuck in the country! At least in London there were balls and routs, and trips to the theatre, and people who realised you were a grown-up young lady. Not a child. And there were ways to avoid seeing certain people, if you did not wish to spend time with them. A house-guest in the country could not be avoided.

Olivia absent-mindedly thanked Susie and made her way to the stables, enjoying the feel of the May sunshine on her shoulders. As always, she felt a rush of love when she saw her fine-looking mare, Dahlia.

‘Hello, my beauty!’ She nuzzled the horse’s delicate cheek and slipped her a treat. Dahlia pranced impatiently and had to be told to hold still while the groom handed Olivia up and into the side-saddle.

‘I shan’t need you, Joseph!’ Olivia waved away the head groom, who was just about to offer to accompany her. ‘I won’t leave our lands, I promise!’ He looked disapproving, but refrained from chastising her.

‘Where do you plan to go, miss?’ He was always concerned when she rode alone, though why he should be, Olivia could not fathom. Nothing ever happened here.

‘I’ll go to the river,’ she said decidedly, ‘and the Bluebell Woods.’

She could feel the groom watching her as she trotted out of the stable yard. She really felt it today—how much she was watched and protected, and imprisoned. It was an itch between her shoulder blades and it seemed as though it had been there her whole life. Her brothers. The servants. Great-Aunt Clara. Her sisters-in-law. Why could they not see she was no longer a child? And how was she supposed to appear different to—to other people—if her own family treated her as though she was still a debutante?

Stop it! she told herself sternly. This is no prison and they all care about you. That is why they do it—they are just trying to protect you.

The words failed to quell the burning inside her and so she did the only thing she could—she let Dahlia build from a trot to a canter, then to a full gallop through the deer park. She steered Dahlia eastwards through the fields and lanes of the estate farms, until at last she reached the Bluebell Woods. At this time of year, bluebells were everywhere—along the hedgerows, around the estate workers’ cottages and there was a good sprinkling of them in the Home Wood. But here, at the most easterly edge of the Chadcombe estate, here was where they grew in abundance.

Olivia directed Dahlia into the woods. Slowing to a walk, she savoured the coolness of the air, the smells of luxuriant foliage and fertile soil, and the magical colours of the woodland. Sturdy browns and greys mingled with lush green, and everywhere the indigo-purple beauty of the nodding bluebells. The canopy of ash and elm, oak and maple filtered verdant sunlight to warm the ferns and flowers on the forest floor. To her left, a startled squirrel raced up a tree, its tail a flash of rich bronze. Birds chirruped and called, and small creatures rustled in the undergrowth.

Olivia felt the tension leave her shoulders. This place never failed to calm her.

She made her way to the river and allowed Dahlia to drink. She dismounted, leaving her overskirts tied up, and tethered the mare to a nearby sapling in the cool shade. The horse promptly tilted one hind hoof and rested, her tail twitching at flies.

The next half-hour was delightful. Olivia wandered through her favourite part of the woods, up and down along the riverside, gathering bluebells as she went. Clara would love them. The day was warm, so, greatly daring, she removed her half-boots and silk stockings and sat down, dabbling her feet in the coolness of the sparkling river. She allowed the idyllic peace of her surroundings to soothe her, and—briefly—put tomorrow’s worries to one side. The sun gently warmed her shoulders, the river babbled to itself, and the woodland whispered and swayed, oblivious to its own beauty.

All it needs, she thought, a little wistfully, is for a romantic hero to appear…

The small river marked the edge of Chadcombe’s lands, forming the boundary with their neighbours at Monkton Park… From here, Olivia could see a mass of white flowers on the far riverbank. On impulse, she stood and gathered her skirts. Leaving her stockings and boots with the small pile of bluebells, she ventured across the stepping stones barefoot, lifting her petticoats to make sure she was putting her feet in the right places. Reaching the far side safely, she began plucking handfuls of sweet-scented lily-of-the-valley—they would be the perfect foil for the bluebells.

Monkton Park’s owners, Mr and Mrs Foxley, were Olivia’s friends. Indeed, Mrs Foxley—Faith—was Charlotte’s cousin. Olivia had nothing to fear from being on the wrong side of the river. Or so she thought. Old fears run deep, so when a man’s voice suddenly spoke nearby, Olivia’s heart leapt in alarm.

‘“The summer’s flow’r is to the summer sweet,”’ the voice intoned.

Olivia whirled around to face the speaker.

‘Ah,’ he said, ‘a rose indeed!’

His cultured accent – and his knowledge of poetry – proclaimed him to be a man of information and learning. She took in his appearance at a glance. My, she thought, he is handsome!

He looked to be a few years older than her – possibly around Harry’s age. He had expressive brown eyes, thick, dark hair, and an unfashionably swarthy complexion – as if he had been in a warmer climate than England. His clothing proclaimed him the gentleman – a crisp white shirt open at the neck in a way which Adam would have abhorred, well-fitting unmentionables, boots that gleamed with a polished shine, and a well-cut Weston coat. He was, in every detail, the embodiment of a romantic hero.

Olivia’s jaw dropped. Just moments ago, she had been wishing for just such a man to appear. She felt the hairs on the back of her neck spring to attention. Fate had never yet noticed her, or interfered in her life. Was this to be a turning point? Was this, in fact, the beginning of a story that would be truly hers?

About the Author:

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Catherine Tinley writes heartwarming Regency love stories for Harlequin Mills & Boon. She has loved reading and writing since childhood, and has a particular fondness for love, romance, and happy endings. After a career encompassing speech & language therapy, NHS management, maternity campaigning and being President of a charity, she now works in Sure Start. She lives in Ireland with her husband, children, cat, and dog and can be reached at catherinetinley.com, as well as facebook.com/CatherineTinleyWriter  and @CatherineTinley on twitter.

Social Media Links – Facebook – Twitter

Don’t forget to take a look at Catherine Tinley’s Social media accounts.   She is running a giveaway to win a copy of the book, along with two other (surprise) romance novels by other writers.

2 x UK/Ireland Winners and 1 x International Winner.

For all the details look out for Catherine Tinley on Facebook and Twitter.

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Mrs Bates of Highbury by Allie Cresswell @rararesources #BookReview

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I am delighted to be sharing my thoughts on Mrs Bates of Highbury by Allie Cresswell as part of the Blog Tour with Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources. My huge thanks to Rachel for the invite and also to Allie for my ecopy of the book, my thoughts are my own. You can get your own copy of this book from AMAZON UK.

Synopsis:

The new novel from Readers’ Favourite silver medalist Allie Cresswell.

Thirty years before the beginning of ‘Emma’ Mrs Bates is entirely different from the elderly, silent figure familiar to fans of Jane Austen’s fourth novel. She is comparatively young and beautiful, widowed – but ready to love again. She is the lynch-pin of Highbury society until the appalling Mrs Winwood arrives, very determined to hold sway over that ordered little town.

Miss Bates is as talkative aged twenty nine as she is in her later iteration, with a ghoulish fancy, seeing disaster in every cloud. When young Mr Woodhouse arrives looking for a plot for his new house, the two strike up a relationship characterised by their shared hypochondria, personal chariness and horror of draughts.

Jane, the other Miss Bates, is just seventeen and eager to leave the parochialism of Highbury behind her until handsome Lieutenant Weston comes home on furlough from the militia and sweeps her – quite literally – off her feet.

Mrs Bates of Highbury is the first of three novels by the Amazon #1 best-selling Allie Cresswell, which trace the pre-history of Emma and then run in parallel to it.

My Thoughts:

Mrs Bates is widowed and with her daughters Hettie and Jane they find their circumstances have changed. Instead of the Vicarage, they now live above a shop in Highbury. This story is set 30 years before Jane Austen’s Emma and is written as a prequel.

I am a little bit of a Classic Literature fan and I am a little nervous about approaching a book that involves the well-known Classics, but I always have an open mind. Well I have to say Allie Cresswell had me hooked with this story from the very first pages. The general feel of the those first pages just felt right, the words, the descriptions, society at the time… yes everything felt as it should be.

The Bates family were well thought of through the community of Highbury, mixing in many different social circles and never seemed to pay any heed to wealth or status. This however could not be said for the incoming Winwood family at the Vicarage.

Mrs Winwood and her daughters made their feelings about their class and status felt very early on. They are not there to be part of the community but instead to show off and drag their fellow residents up to their own standards.

With the shenanigans of the Mrs Winwood and the more reserved Mrs Bates I got to see a brilliant comparison between two very different women, and also how other people were to see them as well.

No story of this style would be complete without a local landowner, dinner parties, rogue characters, a love interest and grand estates and this story does include them. I loved the gentle flow as I was taken around the streets, grounds and lanes meeting the locals along the way.

This story is about Mrs Bates but also about many other things that make up the community in which she resides. The stories intertwine and meander giving a great read.

If you like a gentle story set in days gone past then you really do need to read this one. It was an absolute joy and pleasure to read and left me eagerly awaiting the next in the planned series. Mrs Bates of Highbury is a book I would absolutely recommend.

About the Author:

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Allie Cresswell was born in Stockport, UK and began writing fiction as soon as she could hold a pencil.

She did a BA in English Literature at Birmingham University and an MA at Queen Mary College, London.

She has been a print-buyer, a pub landlady, a book-keeper, run a B & B and a group of boutique holiday cottages. Nowadays Allie writes full time having retired from teaching literature to lifelong learners.

She has two grown-up children, two granddaughters and two grandsons, is married to Tim and lives in Cumbria, NW England.

You can contact her via her website at www.allie-cresswell.com or find her on Facebook

Social Media Links – FacebookTwitter

For the duration of the blog tour, Allie Cresswell has five hard copies of Game Show and five hard copies of Tiger in a Cage, all signed, available for £5 plus p & p to UK addresses. If you are interested then please get in touch.

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Blackpool Lass by Maggie Mason @Authormary #Giveaway #BookReview

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I am delighted to be sharing my thoughts on Blackpool Lass by Maggie Mason. Maggie Mason is the pseudonym for Mary Wood and is being published by Sphere Publishers. The Blackpool Lass is available in various formats from AMAZON UK and good book shops.

I have read The Street Orphans by Mary Wood and you can find my review HERE

Synopsis:

Orphaned and destitute, will Grace find her own way in the world?

When Grace’s Ma passes away and her Da’s ship sinks with all hands, Grace is utterly alone in the world. She’s sent to an orphanage in Blackpool, but the master has an eye for a pretty young lass. Grace won’t be his victim, so she runs, destitute, into the night.

In Blackpool, she finds a home with the kindly Sheila and Peggy – and meets a lovely airman. But it’s 1938, and war is on the horizon. Will Grace ever find the happiness and home she deserves?

My Thoughts:

Starting in 1924 near Blackpool and then continuing through the 30’s, then World War II you get to meet Gracie (Grace) who looses not only her parents, but also her home and is forced to move away as there is no family willing to take her in. She is instead taken to an orphanage, a place that is far from the safe haven it should be. After leaving the home she returns to Blackpool, can she overcome her past ordeals and start a new life?

Oh my goodness this author knows how to write her characters. Gracie is as tough as old boots and has had to be to just get through life. She is a wonderful character who knows how tough living can be, yet she is warm, generous , fun and supportive. She deals with what life throws at her with a certain dignity even when things look really bad.

This is an era of change, women are more outspoken but often are still unheard. This is a time when men still rule the roost, their women are expected to behave in a certain way because that it the way it has always been. But since the end of Worlds War I women have found a foothold. They were needed to help while the men were away at war. This foothold gave women something to hope for and as World War II approaches they are needed once again and their courage to be treated fairly gains in volume.

This story touches on many of the things that girls and women had to deal with and while it is never pleasant to read about some of these aspects of life at that time, I think it is important that they are still acknowledged as being something that happened and I think the author has done a great job telling the story and without being graphic.

There were many things in this story that really stood out for me, but I am going to briefly focus on the sense of community as this was the one that shined through and complimented Gracie’s story so well. When things look so bad that you have nowhere to turn it is the kindness of strangers that can often show more support than you can imagine. Being accepted into a community is something that Gracie found and it allowed her to heal. People pulling together and letting differences aside was essential during the war and the author again instils the sense of pride that people had, giving love, time and resources when they were thin on the ground. But as Grace was to find out, not everyone has shares the same sense of community mindedness.

I loved Gracie and her friends and felt that even though they worked hard and some had been dealt “a bad lot” they still found warmth, love and comfort in their friendship, and also I bet they would have been a noisy bunch as well…

If you are after a historical saga then you will not be disappointed in The Blackpool lass, it is about family, friends, community, life, loss, love, despair and hope, dealing with many aspects of social history relevant to the time. This is a story that would definitely appeal to readers of historical fiction, family saga, and general fiction and one that I would definitely recommend xx

About the Author:

MM Maggie Mason is a pseudonym for saga author Mary Wood. Mary was born the thirteenth child of fifteen and throughout her life had various factory, office and home-based jobs, finally becoming a Probation Service Officer before she retired.

Mary married in 1963 and with her husband Roy has four children, eight grandchildren, and five step-grandchildren. She got her first book deal in 2013 and has not looked back since.

You can follow Mary on Twitter – Website Facebook

There is a giveaway being run by the author.

Follow her Facebook Page to get all the details.

*Please note I am not responsible for this giveaway, this giveaway is the responsibility of the author.*

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Tapestry Of War by Jane MacKenzie @JaneFMackenzie #BookReview

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I am delighted to be sharing my thoughts today on Tapestry Of War by Jane Mackenzie. A Second World War setting for a story of love, war, loss and new beginnings. You can get a copy from most good bookshops and from AMAZON UK.

Synopsis:

From the deserts of North Africa, to the waters of Scotland, the Second World War touches the lives of two women from two very different worlds. In Alexandria, Fran finds her world turned upside down as Rommel’s forces advance on the idyllic shores of Egypt. The life of luxury and stability that she is used to is taken away as she finds herself having to deal with loss, heartache and political uncertainty. Meanwhile, in the Firth of Clyde, Catriona struggles between her quiet rural life and her dreams of nursing injured servicemen on the front lines. As the war rages on, the two women’s lives become intertwined – bringing love and friendship to both.

My Thoughts:

With a dual setting of Scotland and Egypt during WWII you will get to meet to women. Catrina from the Scottish Island of Islay and Fran from Alexandria in Egypt.

This is a lovely story that follows these two women from very different backgrounds. The simple island life for Catrina is not quite enough and she wants to be a nurse, Fran is a socialite and journalists. The war is in full rage and really has an impact on these women as you would expect. It gives them an extra drive to do what is right, for one to become the nurse and the other to report on the war rather than propaganda version of it. The author references military events that kept me firmly rooted in the time of the story and the research has been done well, expressing not only details of events but also the views from a political aspect. This is all woven around the story of Catrina and Fran, their families and their friends.

War changes people and for the women of this story it made them more determined and gave them challenges and also opportunities they never would have had if it was a time of peace. There is a romantic aspect to this story, and while it is not a love-dovey one it does fit in with the story well. There is that uncertainty of will the partner return from war, will they be the same, will they still be in love and it really has been dealt with in a very realistic and for me felt right for the time. I most likely have a slightly stereotypical idea of life and love during war, but the way the author approached it felt right.

This is a book I would recommend to readers of Historical fiction, Historical Romance. A slower paced story that is well written, descriptive and emotional.

 

About the Author:

Jane MacKenzie has spent much of her adult life travelling the world, teaching English and French everywhere from the Gambia to Papua New Guinea to Bahrain, and recently working for two years at CERN in Geneva. She now splits her time between her self-built house in Collioure, France and the Highlands of Scotland, where she has made her family home.

Follow Jane on Twitter or Website

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The Last Plantagenet? Jennifer C. Wilson @inkjunkie1984 @rararesources #BookReview

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I am delighted to be sharing my thoughts on The Last Plantagenet? by Jennifer C. Wilson today as part of the blog tour by Rachel’s Random Resources, my thanks to Jennifer and Rachel for my copy and spot on the tour. This is a short story and you can grab your copy from Amazon UK

Synopsis:

The fireplace hadn’t looked like a time-portal.
All Kate had wanted was a fun, relaxing day out, watching the knights jousting at Nottingham Castle. What she ended up with was something quite different.
Transported in a heartbeat from 2011 to 1485, how will Kate handle life at the Ricardian court? Even more importantly, how will she cope when she catches the eye of the king himself?

My Thoughts:

Kate is transported from 2011 back in time to 1485, through a fireplace. She only stopped momentarily whilst attending a historical event.

This is a quick read at only 68 pages and I was taken back to the era of Richard III. The author has not decided to take the more notorious aspects of Richard but instead taken the route of a warm, friendly and affectionate one. Who is right or wrong to say how Richard was in private, no one knows, he may have been like this.

Kate catches the eye of Richard in this romantic story and manages to include quite a few historical details. This has such a nice ending, I am not letting you know what it is, but it made me smile.

A really nice story that is ideal for some light escapism for an hour. A book that would be appealing to those who want a quick, light dip into a historical romance with a slightly different aspect, an entertaining read. One I would recommend.

About the Author:

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Jennifer is a marine biologist by training, who developed an equal passion for history whilst stalking Mary, Queen of Scots of childhood holidays (she since moved on to Richard III). She completed her BSc and MSc at the University of Hull, and has worked as a marine environmental consultant since graduating.

Enrolling on an adult education workshop on her return to the north-east reignited Jennifer’s pastime of creative writing, and she has been filling notebooks ever since. In 2014, Jennifer won the Story Tyne short story competition, and also continues to work on developing her poetic voice, reading at a number of events, and with several pieces available online. Her Kindred Spirits novels are published by Crooked Cat Books and available via Amazon.

Social Media Links – Blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

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Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck #BookReview

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Today I have my thoughts on Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. It was a chance for me to take a dip into one of the classics, I had read quite a few of the classics a couple of years and never did quite get round to this one. I have read Grapes of Wrath and also Cannery Row and enjoyed them and gave me a chance to get a feel for the authors grim and gritty style. You can get a copy of Of Mice and Men from most good bookshops and online at Amazon UK, my copy is the Penguin Red Classics edition.

Synopsis:

Drifters in search of work, George and his childlike friend Lennie, have nothing in the world except the clothes on their back – and a dream that one day they will have some land of their own. Eventually they find work on a ranch in California’s Salinas Valley, but their hopes are dashed as Lennie – struggling against extreme cruelty, misunderstanding and feelings of jealousy – becomes a victim of his own strength. Tackling universal themes of friendship and shared vision, and giving a voice to America’s lonely and dispossessed, Of Mice and Men remains Steinbeck’s most popular work, achieving success as a novel, Broadway play and three acclaimed films.

My Thoughts:

Of Mice and Men is the story of George and Lennie. They work various jobs and travel around looking for new work as one job runs out or they run out. The story begins as they head towards their next job. George has a dream to one day own his own plot of land and Lennie is happily caught up in this vision of the future. Lennie is a gentle giant of a man and is referred to as being not very bright but will work hard and do as he is told.

George looks out for Lennie and knows that many would not want a man like Lennie working for them, prejudice at this point in history is ripe so anyone being slightly different is not acceptable to many. Even though George is often frustrated by the simple nature of Lennie, he is a friend and will support him. They are each other has.

This is a simple tale of friendship between two men travelling for work. Rather than being loners as many travelling labourers are, they have a bond in their friendship, they are able to talk about their dreams for the future and it gives them hope. George tries his best to keep Lennie out of trouble, but this is not always possible and  misunderstandings do happen.

This is a quick read at only 121 pages and is easy to read in one sitting. It’s style is one I like, a slow meandering yet descriptive and emotional one. It explores various inequalities and prejudices that were relevant at the time. A wonderful read that slowly rolls along until it picks up speed as a sense of tension begins to build.

This is a book I would recommend to readers who enjoy American Social History, Literary Fiction and  Classic Fiction.

About the Author:

41Hta3i6uDL._UX250_ John Steinbeck is perhaps best known for Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath, which led to his Nobel Prize for Literature award in 1962. Born in Salinas, California in 1902, Steinbeck grew up in a fertile agricultural valley about twenty-five miles from the Pacific Coast: both valley and coast would serve as settings for some of his best fiction. In 1919 he went to Stanford University, where he intermittently enrolled in literature and writing courses until he left in 1925 without taking a degree. During the next five years he supported himself as a labourer and journalist in New York City, all the time working on his first novel, Cup of Gold (1929). After marriage and a move to Pacific Grove, he published two California books, The Pastures of Heaven (1932) and To a God Unknown (1933) and worked on short stories later collected in The Long Valley (1938).

Popular success and financial security came only with Tortilla Flat (1935), stories about Monterey’s paisanos. A ceaseless experimenter throughout his career, Steinbeck changed courses regularly. Three powerful novels of the late 1930s focused on the California labouring class: In Dubious Battle (1936), Of Mice and Men (1937), and the book considered by many his finest, The Grapes of Wrath (1939).

Being partly based on his own experiences as a travelling worker, Steinbeck originally wanted Of Mice and Men to be titled ‘Something That Happened’. The book explores themes of powerlessness, loneliness and empathy and received the greatest positive critical response of any of his works up to that point. It has achieved success as a novel, a Broadway play and three acclaimed films.

Steinbeck’s compassionate depiction of the poor in The Grapes of Wrath helped the book become an immediate publishing phenomenon, discussed on a national scale and becoming an instant bestseller. The book was described by the Nobel Prize committee as a “great work” and stated that it was one of the main reasons for granting Steinbeck the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962.

Early in the 1940s, Steinbeck became a filmmaker with The Forgotten Village (1941) and a serious student of marine biology with Sea of Cortez (1941). He devoted his services to the war, writing Bombs Away (1942) and the controversial play-novelette The Moon is Down (1942). Cannery Row (1945), The Wayward Bus (1948), another experimental drama, Burning Bright (1950), and The Log from the Sea of Cortez (1951) preceded publication of the monumental East of Eden (1952)East of Eden (1952), an ambitious saga of the Salinas Valley and his own family’s history.

The last decades of his life were spent in New York City and Sag Harbor with his third wife, with whom he traveled widely. Later books include: Sweet Thursday (1954)The Short Reign of Pippin IV: A Fabrication (1957), Once There was a War (1958), The Winter of Our Discontent (1961), Travels with Charley in Search of America (1962), America and Americans (1966) and the posthumously published Journal of a Novel: The East of Eden Letters (1969),Viva Zapata! (1975,The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights (1976), and Working Days: The Journals of The Grapes of Wrath (1989).

He died in 1968, having won a Nobel Prize in 1962.
Photo by Nobel Foundation [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

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