Miss Marley by Vanessa Lafaye with Rebecca Mascull @RebeccaMascull @HQStories #review of #MissMarley

I am absolutely delighted to be sharing my review for Miss Marley by Vanessa Lafaye and Rebecca Mascull. I was over the moon to be sent a copy by Joe Thomas HQ Stories. A wonderful cover for a wonderful book.

Synopsis:

Before A Christmas Carol there was… Miss Marley

A seasonal tale of kindness and goodwill

Orphans Clara and Jacob Marley live by their wits, scavenging for scraps in the poorest alleyways of London, in the shadow of the workhouse. Every night, Jake promises his little sister ‘tomorrow will be better’ and when the chance to escape poverty comes their way, he seizes it despite the terrible price.

And so Jacob Marley is set on a path that leads to his infamous partnership with Ebenezer Scrooge. As Jacob builds a fortress of wealth to keep the world out, only Clara can warn him of the hideous fate that awaits him if he refuses to let love and kindness into his heart…

In Miss Marley, Vanessa Lafaye weaves a spellbinding Dickensian tale of ghosts, goodwill, and hope – a perfect prequel to A Christmas Carol.

My Thoughts:

Have you ever wondered about Jacob Marley, how he became the ghost in A Christmas Carol? What did he do in life to deserve such a penance? I always have. So when the chance to read Miss Marley came along I jumped at it. Set as a prequel to A Christmas Carol, the author has invented a sister for Jacob, Miss Clara Belle Marley. Jacob’s story is told from her perspective.

As a reader I have always associated Christmas with Dickens, A Christmas Carol is one of those books that is synonymous with the festive season and has been the basis for many offshoots in the form of film, musical, and theatre. Miss Marley is a welcome addition and is the perfect book to accompany the Dickens classic. Dickens has some mighty big footsteps and I was a little wary as to how this book would fair. I have to say here and now it faired very well indeed and it complimented those footsteps completely for me.

From the outset I was transported and completely immersed into Dickensian London, slums, rough neighbourhoods, dank sewer lined streets and the notorious poverty. This was here I was introduced to two youngsters, Jacob and Clara. I followed them as they struggled to find food to eat, a roof and warmth to keep themselves healthy and safe. The story tells of a chance event that was to provide the start of a new life. A life that would see them rise from the gutters and to meet Ebenezer Scrooge. 

There are a few references to A Christmas Carol and these were perfect for setting the scene, the feel and introducing characters that follow in Dickens book. By the time I had finished reading Miss Marley, I found my reading appetite definitely whetted and was eager to continue into the book we all know.

You may notice that there are two authors mentioned for this book, I wasn’t really aware of this until I got to the end and read the afterword. The first author is Vanessa Lafaye, she wrote the vast majority of this book. Unfortunately, she lost her battle with cancer before it’s completion. Rebecca Mascull then took on the role of finishing the final few chapters. The friendship, discussions and the love these two authors shared for Dickens really does show and I had no idea where one author left off and the other picked up. It wasn’t until I read the afterword that I discovered this revelation. It was a seamless transition between the two and an ending that I believe Vanessa would approve of (in my opinion). 

This is a novella that is an absolute must-read not only for fans of Dickens and A Christmas Carol but also for those that have not turned the pages of a Dickens before. It would be the perfect introduction to the style and feel of this great author. Everything about this book was absolutely perfect and spot on and it will be one that I will read again for the festive season years to come. This book gets an absolutely highly recommended from me.

About the Authors:

Vanessa Lafaye was born in Florida and studied in North Carolina. She moved to the UK in 1999 (having been deported once). She is the author of two previous novels, her first book Summertime, was chosen for Richard and Judy in 2015 and was shortlisted for the Historical Writers Award. Vanessa passed away in February 2018.

Rebecca Mascull is the author of three historical novels and also writes saga fiction under the pen-name Mollie Walton. Visit her websites for more information: https://molliewalton.co.uk/ & https://rebeccamascull.co.uk/

She is currently hard at work on her next trilogy of historical fiction, with the first novel slated for publication in spring 2019 to be published by Bonnier Zaffre as The Ironbridge Saga. These will be published under the name of Mollie Walton and the first book in the series is set in the dangerous world of the iron industry: THE DAUGHTERS OF IRONBRIDGE.
Her first novel THE VISITORS (2014) tells the story of Adeliza Golding, a deaf-blind child living on her father’s hop farm in Victorian Kent. Her second novel SONG OF THE SEA MAID (2015) is set in the C18th and concerns an orphan girl who becomes a scientist and makes a remarkable discovery. Her third novel, THE WILD AIR (2017) is about a shy Edwardian girl who learns to fly and becomes a celebrated aviatrix but the shadow of war is looming. All are published by Hodder & Stoughton.

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be amazing 🙂 xx

No Time To Cry by James Oswald @SirBenfro @annecater #RandomThingsTours #BookReview

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I am absolutely delighted to be sharing my review of No Time To Cry by James Oswald as part of the blog tour with Anne at Random Things Tours. My huge thanks to Anne for the invite, the Author and Wildfire Publishing for my copy.

Synopsis:

Undercover cops are always dangerous, but DC Constance Fairchild never expected things to go this wrong.
Returning to their base of operations, an anonymous office in a shabby neighbourhood, she finds the bloodied body of her boss, and friend, DI Pete Copperthwaite. He’s been executed – a single shot to the head.

In the aftermath, it seems someone in the Met is determined to make sure that blame for the wrecked operation falls squarely on Con’s shoulders. She is cut loose and cast out, angry and alone with her grief… right until the moment someone also tries to put a bullet through her head.

There’s no place to hide, and no time to cry.

PRAISE FOR JAMES

“The new Ian Rankin” Daily Record
“Oswald’s writing is a class above” Express

“Crime fiction’s next big thing” Sunday Telegraph

Purchase No Time to Cry at Amazon UK

My Thoughts:

Con is an undercover Detective Constable and is called in by her boss at their safe house/ rendezvous. She arrives to find him dead. Not a simple death but tortured and then executed. It soon becomes obvious she is being blamed.

Oh my god, what a book! This has been an amazing read from start to finish and has stomped its way into my Top 10 Best Crime, Thriller reads of this year.

The main character is Constance, or as she prefers Con and she is a brilliant character. As I got to know her better I discovered that there is a lot more to her than first meets the eye. Yes, she is tenacious, feisty and is never going to be backed into a corner without coming out again fighting, she has a work ethic that means she is like a dog with a bone in regards to discovering the truth. Con is going to have a huge fight on her hands and several times I wondered how this would pan out.

The plot is so dark and does include a subject that may not appeal to all readers, for me it was enough to get a picture of the facts without being overly graphic with the details. Throughout the story, there was that ever-present feeling that absolutely no-one could be trusted, a way to build up the suspense and have the nerves tingling.

The story is set mainly in London but does take in other locations and the characters that associated with them. As for the other characters, I think you will pretty quickly work out for yourselves the ones you like or don’t.

The other locations give a chance for Con to catch the briefest of breathers with family and friends and even here I had them on the “do I trust them?” list. It left me pondering throughout as to how she would ever get through her own private investigations.#This is an absolute belter of a read with its dark and dangerous twisted paths. A story that had me at its very opening lines as that was where the suspense and intrigue started.

This for me is an absolute must-read for anyone who likes suspense-filled, female-led, crime and thriller books. The start of a new series, and I am really excited about this series and seriously look forward to more. This is a book that gets and absolutely highly recommended from me.

About the Author:

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JAMES OSWALD is the author of the Sunday Times bestselling Inspector McLean series of detective mysteries. The first two of these, NATURAL CAUSES and THE BOOK OF SOULS were both shortlisted for the prestigious CWA Debut Dagger Award. NO TIME TO CRY is the first book in James’s new Constance Fairchild series.
James farms Highland cows and Romney sheep by day, writes disturbing fiction by night.

Follow James on Twitter or visit his Website

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Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be amazing 🙂 xx

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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#BlogTour : The Summer Will Come by Soulla Christodoulou @schristodoulou2 @rararesources #BookReview

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Today I am on the blog tour for The Summer Will Come by Soulla Christodoulou. This is available in either eBook or paperback format and can be purchased HERE.  My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for my spot on the tour and also Soulla for my copy of this book.

Synopsis:

Set in the 1950s, the story begins in Cyprus. EOKA, British rule, and the fight for Enosis (unity) disrupt the world of two Greek Cypriot families, living in different villages on the island. They are desperately trying to cope with the unpredictability of this fractious time.

Circumstances over a five-year period push both families to escape to London where, as immigrants, they struggle to settle, face new challenges, trauma and cope with missing their homeland’s traditions and culture.

Both families’ lives cross paths in London and it seems that happier beginnings could be theirs. But at what cost?

A story of passion for a country in turmoil, family love, loyalty and treachery and how, sometimes, starting over isn’t always as imagined. 

My Thoughts:

Set in 1950’s Cyprus we meet two Cypriot families, from different villages.  These families eventually make the decision, along with many others, that it is better to leave the trouble in Cyprus and start a new life in England.

We meet both the families and discover a little of their histories and also the run up to the hard decision they have to make to leave the homeland and start again in a new country.  This part of the story is a great way to get to know our main characters as they go about their everyday lives, also a great way to show much of a difference and a contrast it is when they continue their lives in London.

Once in London the families have to find lodgings and jobs, even though it is a new start, their traditions and customs have an even bigger part to play.  It is an essential part of who they are and gives them a strength, something they know and can rely on as they come to terms with the changes.  London is cold, noisy and has a polluted atmosphere compared the tranquillity that was their home before the troubles.  With a close-knit community and a commitment to traditions paths are invariably going to cross and new connections and friendships made.  This leads to the romantic side of the story.  This part of the story is where new and old meet and mix, traditions governing the meeting of potential husband/wife are paramount to the way things are done and also seen to be done.  Just because they are in a new culture does not mean they should abandon their own.

This is a really interesting book to read on many levels.  The author explains how the trouble on the island in the 50’s was experienced by those in the midst of it and incorporating it into a story line that is a great read.  I did feel the second half of the story was stronger and had a more personal feel to it.  The contrasts between the two lifestyle between the two countries were well explained and gave a great insight into conditions and also feelings.  The actions and reactions of people was also touched upon, by that I mean the racists attitudes and comments made.  I really loved the mentions of the mouth-watering sounding dishes and foods from a culture I know only the basics about.

If you are after a fictionalised historical novel that explores the Cypriots and the move some of them made to London to escape the fighting and turmoil at home then I would definitely recommend this book. It takes the reader in a journey of life, death, despair, hope and new beginnings.   It is insightful and also educational, and has a wonderful romantic side to it.  I book I would definitely recommend to readers.

About the Author:

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Born in London to Greek Cypriot parents Soulla Christodoulou spent much of her childhood living carefree days full of family, school and friends. She was the first in her family to go to university and studied BA Hotel & Catering Management at Portsmouth University. Years later, after having a family of her own she studied again at Middlesex University and has a PGCE in Business Studies and an MA in Education.

Soulla is a Fiction author and wrote her first novel Broken Pieces of Tomorrow over a few months while working full time in secondary education. She is a mother of three boys.

She is a compassionate and empathetic supporter of young people. Her passion for teaching continues through private tuition of English Language and Children’s Creative Writing Classes as well as proof reading and other writing services.

Her writing has also connected her with a charity in California which she is very much involved in as a contributor of handwritten letters every month to support and give hope to women diagnosed with breast cancer. One of her letters is featured in a book ‘Dear Friend’, released on Amazon in September 2017.

When asked, she will tell you she has always, somewhere on a subconscious level, wanted to write and her life’s experiences both personal and professional have played a huge part in bringing her to where she was always meant to be; writing books and drinking lots of cinnamon and clove tea!

She also has a poetry collection, Sunshine after Rain, published on Amazon and The Summer Will Come is her second novel. She is currently working on a third novel Trust is a Big Word about an on-line illicit relationship that develops between two people.

Social Media Links – Website ~ Twitter ~ Instagram ~ Facebook ~ Pinterest ~ Scriggler

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Many thanks for reading my post, a share would be wonderful.  Get you own copy of the book HERE  🙂 xx