Tuesday, 18 April 2017

The Returning Tide by Liz Fenwick








Two sisters and one betrayal that will carry across generations . . .
In wartime Cornwall, 1943, a story between two sisters begins - the story of Adele and Amelia, and the heart-breaking betrayal that will divide them forever.
 Decades later, as the generations gather for a wedding at the rambling family home on the Cornish cliffs, the effects of one reckless act still echo - but how long will it be until their past returns?


Twins, Adele and Amelia,as alike a two peas in a pod and so close one knows the thoughts of the other.
When both join the wrens in 1943 it's no wonder that although they miss each other they also relish being separate people with their own identity instead of just being "the twins." 
Amelia is a driver in the Wrens  and Adele trains to be a telegraphist,their paths very rarely cross during the war years.
The story is told from 1943 /45 and 2015 and from Cornwall,England  to Cape Cod Massachusetts.
One wrong decision leads to betrayal and a lifetime of heartbreak. A heartbreak kept secret for years until the younger generation demand answers. A suitcase in the attic filled with unopened letters, a blurred wedding photo and a bridal veil. Only one person knows it's story and time is running out for her to tell it.
I love reading books set during the war and this has been one of the best I have read. I'm almost annoyed at having finished it as I was enjoying it so much. These young men and women were losing so many of their friends on a daily basis it was hard for them to take a chance and fall in love and then worry if their loved one would survive. The jobs they had to do were so vital to us winning the war so they had to put their worry and heartache to one side and just get on with it.
Although a love story Liz Fenwick didn't hide the true horrors of war especially one incident which Adele has to cope with which was heartbreaking and I later learned from Liz's notes that it came from a true story. Such was the secrecy at the time that she couldn't even discuss it with her co workers or her superiors. Men and women went to their graves never discussing events that they were involved in.
The powerful descriptions of war time London and beautiful scenery of  Cornwall made it easy for me to imagine what life was like for Amelia and Adele. 
The author kept me waiting until the last few pages before I knew what really happened during the war to the sisters. I had guessed what it was but not how it came about,needless to say it was cleverly done. Of course I shed tears, for Amelia,for Adele and others concerned who I have not mentioned as I don't want to spoil such a good read for you. 
This is the first novel I've read by Liz Fenwick. I love her writing style. Lots of research has gone into this book as the historical facts prove. I think she has captured the atmosphere of  wartime and weaved a story around it good enough for the reader to never want it to end.
This book is out in paperback or for kindle. The paperback is large and very thick so a good buy.
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Returning-Tide-Liz-Fenwick-ebook/dp/B011ABX4Y6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1491055020&sr=8-1&keywords=The+returning+tide

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

An Independent Woman by Anna Jacobs

.




Can she find freedom against the odds?
As the Great War ends Serena Fleming is due an inheritance that could free her from a bullying father. But little does she know how far he will go to prevent her leaving home. Or how desperate he is to limit her and keep his secrets hidden. When she turns thirty, Serena must risk everything to escape his iron rule. 
Meanwhile, Marcus Graye’s life has also been changed by the War. His injuries may heal, but his elderly aunt and a crumbling old house are now in his sole care. When he saves Serena from a kidnapping, his life will take an unexpected turn, one that may bring him love but will put his life in danger.
Can they survive a wicked man’s attacks? And can Serena at last fulfil her true potential?




Oh what a story! I could have placed my hands around Ernest Fleming's neck and squeezed hard. 
What a vile horrible man. He had other vile men willing to do his dirty work for him while placing himself as a pillar of the community. Thankfully the book is more about his daughter Serena and her bid to escape from her tyrant of a father who was out to keep her money from her.
Serena had to wait until the age of thirty to legally do what she wanted. I was astonished at that and how far we have come from those bad old days when men ruled over woman. Women are also allowed to vote but only if they are over thirty. I wonder who made up that magical age? 

Marcus is the hero,a lovely man who has been damaged by war. I feared for both him and Serena's lives at times throughout the book as Ernest tried to get the better of them.
I couldn't put this book down. It was one of those books that you want to reach the end but you don't want it to end either.
I think this is the first book I've read by Anna Jacobs but I will be reading more of them in the future.


https://www.amazon.co.uk/Independent-Woman-Anna-Jacobs-ebook/dp/B01N9YOIYJ/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1491921080&sr=1-1&keywords=an+independent+woman+anna+jacobs

Monday, 3 April 2017

The Bomb Girls'Secrets by Daisy Styles







In the Phoenix Munitions Factory everyone has their secrets . . . 
As WWII rolls across Europe, Kitty boards a ship set for England; leaving her cruel father for war work in a munitions factory. She hadn't wanted to leave Ireland, but the money sounded too good to resist. And money is what she really needs right now, what with tiny baby Billy back in Dublin without a father.
In Lancashire Kitty settles into the hard work and soon makes new friends; the dazzling Gladys who is a talented musician, and the beautiful but nervous Violet who seems to be nursing a secret of her own. And then there is motherly Edna at the local chippy, always there for a cup of tea and a good natter when she yearns for home.
Working hard in the day and playing in the Bomb Girls Swing Band by night, on the surface, life seems to be looking up. But Kitty has kept a secret from her friends. Something she needs to figure out. And when a letter arrives from home, she realises she might need their help before it's too late and she loses her baby forever . . .



When I knew I would be reviewing this book I bought the first one, The Bomb Girls. Although I enjoyed the book I quickly discovered that The Bomb Girls'Secrets is not a sequel but a stand alone story.
I'm sure I'm right in saying that this story takes place in the same factory but is about a different group of women. I only recognised one name from the other book but there may have been a mention of others that I missed.
What I love about books like this is first of all the friendship that is formed between the women. Women from all walks of life whose paths would never have crossed if it wasn't for the war.
The job in munitions is a dangerous one for all involved. These women were so brave and yet they still have time for fun. I loved the swing band they formed and I could hear the music of the time in my head as I read. 
A few of the girls have secrets they are afraid to share in case they will be judged by the others. 
Each of the women are so well described that I felt I knew them. There were a couple of men I loved to hate and hoped they would get their comeuppance.
Edna is a lovely character who works in the village. She is a kind motherly person who looks out for the women and I would have liked to know more about her story.
There are plenty of moments that had been biting my nails wondering what was going to happen next. 
I feel both The Bomb Girls and The Bomb Girls'Secrets deserve a follow up of their own. I'm wondering what the girls from both books did after the war. I would definitely buy those books.
The author has written another book in the Bomb Girls Series called The Code Girls which is another stand alone story.




Saturday, 18 March 2017

The Girl Below Stairs by Jennie Felton



Edie Cooper has grown up at Fairley Terrace, surrounded by a loving family. Now she spends her days working as lady's maid to Christina, the adopted daughter of the powerful Fairley family, and her nights dreaming of a life with handsome local lad Charlie Oglethorpe. Although broken-hearted when Charlie leaves to make his fortune in London, Edie finds consolation in her friendship with Christina, who asks for her help in uncovering the mystery of her true parentage. But someone in the grand house will stop at nothing to keep the long-buried secrets hidden. Will Edie be able to protect Christina? And will she find her own path to happiness with Charlie? 



This is the third book in The Families of Fairley Terrace saga. Each book is the story of one family who live in the terrace but they are easily read as stand alone books.

The story begins in 1895 when a baby is found on the steps of the local Catholic Church on Christmas Eve in a little village in Somerset. 
Fifteen years later Edie Cooper who is in service at Fairley Hall as a maid is being promoted to a Lady's Maid to Christina, Lady Elizabeth's adopted fifteen year old daughter. 
The book is full of secrets and lies, mysteries and unrequited love. There are good people and bad within both the upper and the lower class. Money does not make you a nice person and neither does the lack of it. 

Trying to forget her lost love Edie throws herself into finding out who Christina's real mother is but in doing so she could also discover secrets belonging to someone else. Danger lurks when that person will stop at nothing to get want they want.
Edie is a character you take to straightaway. She's kind,hardworking and longing for someone who can never be hers.
Quilla, Lady Elizabeth's maid is the character you love to hate. She is a vile woman who makes life hard for those around her.
One of the characters Julia becomes involved in the suffragette movement and I thought that was an interesting part of the book. Goodness,women were so downtrodden back then and it seemed to be frowned upon to go anywhere or do anything without a man by your side.
I thought I had guessed some of the secrets,but I was wrong. There are a few surprises towards the end that made this book hard to put down and it did have a great ending.
I love reading a series of books as each time a new one is written it's like pulling over a familiar comfy blanket and curling up at the fireside for a cracking good read.

If you have enjoyed Josephine Cox or Catherine Cookston in the past you will enjoy this book. 
Jennie Felton's next book will be called The Widow's Promise and there's a preview of it at the end of The Girl below stairs that leaves me wanting more.

Amazon for kindle or hardback.
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Girl-Below-Stairs-Families-Fairley-ebook/dp/B016IOF4TI/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1489857666&sr=8-1&keywords=The+girl+below+stairs


On sale in paperback at The Book Depository. Free shipping worldwide.

https://www.bookdepository.com/The-Girl-Below-Stairs/9781472210517




Tuesday, 7 March 2017

One Last Wish by Ella Harper






Rosie and Nate had the perfect relationship. But they struggled to cope with the devastating news their daughter Emmie has incurable cancer. It feels like their world – and their relationship – has come crashing down. 
They must do everything to support their little girl, but can they stop their marriage falling apart? 
Unbeknownst to her parents, Emmie is on a mission. She is determined to make them see what brought them together in the first place – and make them fall in love all over again. 


Emmie was only five years old when her parents were told that all the chemotherapy and radiotherapy that their child had been through hadn't worked and she now had an inoperable brain tumour.
Emmie is now eleven years old and every minute of everyday her parents are expecting the phone call that says the brain tumour has grown enough to end their daughter's life. Emmie is worried too,she's worried that her parents will not stay together after she is gone. Emmie is going to do something about it.
Yes,this book is very sad and I cried at the end. This book probably mirrors what lots of parents are going through right now. 
The story is told  through the voices of Rosie,Nate and Emmie. Rosie feels she can't speak to Nate anymore and Nate feels the same about her. There are so many misunderstandings between them that make matters worse and I wanted to get them both together and bang their heads. 
Rosie has a lovely twin sister, Lily, who is everything a sister should be and it's a pleasant change to read about sisters who get on with each other. Nate is a policeman and he confides in his partner Gill who is so supportive to him.
Along the way we meet Dr Tom who is Emmie's new counsellor. She feels at ease with him from the beginning and he is able to help her in her quest.
I don't want to tell you anything more about this story apart from advising you to have a box of tissues at the ready. I can see this book being made into a film. Although it's a sad subject it has a feel good factor about it. The way Emmie dealt with her diagnosis and how lovely the other characters in the book were. They were all people you would welcome into your life.
Only £1.99 for kindle download.
https://www.amazon.co.uk/One-Last-Wish-heartbreaking-novel-ebook/dp/B01MRSHIBG/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1488817935&sr=1-1&keywords=One+last+wish






Monday, 6 March 2017

Midnight Blue by Simone Van Der Vlugt






Amsterdam 1654: a dangerous secret threatens to destroy a young widow’s new life.
Following the sudden death of her husband, twenty-five year old Catrin leaves her small village and takes a job as housekeeper to the successful Van Nulandt merchant family. Amsterdam is a city at the peak of its powers: science and art are flourishing in the Golden Age and Dutch ships bring back exotic riches from the Far East.
When a figure from her past threatens her new life, Catrin flees to Delft. There, her painting talent earns her a chance as a pottery painter. Slowly, the workshop begins to develop a new type of pottery to rival the coveted Chinese porcelain – and Delft Blue is born. But when tragedy strikes, Catrin has a hard choice to make.


I thought this book might be a bit hard going to read as it is set in Amsterdam in 1654 and translated into English. I needn't have worried as I found it quite an easy read. I was awful at History I school ,I found it very boring but books like this set around historical events always awaken my interest.
Poor Catrin, married to a brute of a man who beats her for no reason,it is no wonder when he dies she can only feel relief. Catrin has a secret and before anyone finds out she has to leave her home and family. Secrets have a way of catching up on you and Catrin flees further than she intends to and ends up in Amsterdam. Everything is settled for a while but once again Catrin has to move and this time to Delft. This is where Catrin finds her niche in life, painting China and we hear the story of how Delft Blue porcelain began. 
I loved the descriptions of old Amsterdam and Delft. The excitement of traveling through the waterways on any kind of craft which was usually carrying goods for trading. The horror of the plague as it spread through the towns and villages and the fear held by everyone.
Catrin experienced hardship along the way but her meeting of each of three brothers and their friends helped her to live,love and find peace with her past.
This was a good read and there was never a dull moment throught the story. I don't think you have to love historical books to enjoy this,it's not too heavy on the history.
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Midnight-Blue-Simone-van-Vlugt-ebook/dp/B01M2YEQFQ/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1488816589&sr=1-1&keywords=Midnight+blue

Saturday, 4 March 2017

The Witchfinder's Sister by Beth Underdown

The 



The number of women my brother Matthew killed, so far as I can reckon it, is one hundred and six...'
1645. When Alice Hopkins' husband dies in a tragic accident, she returns to the small Essex town of Manningtree, where her brother Matthew still lives.
But home is no longer a place of safety. Matthew has changed, and there are rumours spreading through the town: whispers of witchcraft, and of a great book, in which he is gathering women's names.
To what lengths will Matthew's obsession drive him?
And what choice will Alice make, when she finds herself at the very heart of his plan?
Based on the true story of the man known as the Witchfinder General, this exquisitely rendered novel transports you to a time and place almost unimaginable, where survival might mean betraying those closest to you, and danger lurks outside every door.



I'm delighted to be today's stop on the blog tour for the debut novel The Witchfinder's Sister by Beth Underdown.
It is with trepidation that Alice returns to her brother's house in Manningtree. She hasn't heard from him in years and they didn't part on the best of terms when she married a man her brother didn't approve of. Returning as a pregnant widow is not going to please her brother and Alice decides to hide her pregnancy from him for as long as possible.
I suspected that this might be a scary read and didn't want to read it before bedtime as I feared I might dream about it all night. It was actually worse than scary because I knew it to be based on truth.
What struck me the most was that good people did nothing. Once Matthew, the Witchfinder's General had started on his murderous road no one stood in his way. He was aided and abetted by rich men and by fear. Alice tried to make things slightly easier for the accused women but by doing so I feel she made herself complicit in his dealings.
I enjoy reading books that are based on true facts from history. We are told this story from the point of view of Alice who is the fictitious sister of Matthew. She has no idea what her brother is involved in and is horrified when she has to accompany him on his witch finding expeditions. 
The harsh life of living in the seventeenth century was shown through simple things like an old loaf of bread on a table as the only nourishment, riding a horse for miles on end being the only transport, and sharing a bed with a stranger in an inn.
This is a good first novel from Beth Underwood. I found the beginning a bit slow but it picked up pace and I was soon desperate to find out how Alice would survive her life with her brother.
There was also something really sad throughout the book. The fact that if misfortune fell on rich people they blamed it on being cursed or by some witchery by either poor or simple people. Babies dying young, horses being lame, crops failing. You name it and it was blamed on these so called witches.
I think the only truly evil person was Matthew himself and I wanted him to come to a sticky end.
Talking about the end.I loved the ending of this book,it also scared me and I think it calls for a sequel.
As I said at the start I was worried about reading this book mainly because I'm a scardey cat and easily spooked. There is no doubt that it's a thought provoking subject and although I wasn't scared I did jump at a shadow or two one day after reading it.
There are other people in the story who grab your attention. One is Rebecca and another is Grace, Alice's mother in law. I would like to have read more about the other women who were being held for trial I think it would have made me even more sympathetic towards them.
After finishing this book I've found myself googling witch trials and Matthew Hopkins as my curiosity about the subject matter has grown.
I hope to read more by Beth Underwood in the future.
https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01M7QBBLN/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1488382826&sr=8-1&keywords=the+witchfinders+sister

About the author......

Beth Underdown was born in Rochdale in 1987. She studied at the University of York and then the University of Manchester, where she is now a Lecturer in Creative Writing. The Witchfinder’s Sister is her debut novel, and is based on the life of the 1640s witch finder Matthew Hopkins. She first came across him while reading a book about seventeenth-century midwifery. As you do.



Friday, 17 February 2017

My Sweet Revenge by Jane Fallon




I want to make my husband fall back in love with me.
Let me explain. This isn't an exercise in 1950s wifeydom. I haven't been reading articles in old women's magazines. 'Twenty ways to keep your man'. That couldn't be further from the truth.
I want him to fall back in love with me so that when I tell him to get the hell out of my life he'll care. He won't just think, 'Oh good'.
I want it to hurt.
Paula has had Robert's back since they got together as drama students.
She gave up her dreams so he could make it.
Now he's one of the nation's most popular actors.
And Paula's just discovered he's having an affair.
She's going to remind Robert just what he's sacrificing.
And then she's going to break his heart like he broke hers.
It will be her greatest acting role ever.
Revenge is sweet.
Isn't it?




What is it they say about the best laid plans of mice and men? Well Paula's plan doesn't go the way she wanted it either. I thought the plan to get her cheating husband Robert to fall back in love with her and then dump him was a bit vindictive, and yet how else could she make sure he didn't get his happy ever after? 
After eighteen years of marriage and being a stay at home mum Paula knows she has let herself go. 
She is overweight by about three or four dress sizes and she has decided to do something about it.
Paula's battle to get fit and lose weight was very well written as it happened very slowly, it wasn't one of those quick fix diets.
Walking to work instead of getting the bus, walking a bit faster each day even although she was left exhausted and soaked in sweat, and finally getting herself a personal trainer.  Paula started eating healthily and making sure her hubby piled on the pounds at the same time. Maybe revenge is the best weapon to have in the fight to get fit and lose weight.
As Paula becomes friends with the woman her husband is having an affair with we are told the story from her and then Paula's point of view.
There were no dull moments in this book although towards the end it seemed like a bit of a comedy farce it did keep me guessing what would happen right to the end.
The characters seemed real and while Paula was likeable and will have you rooting for her, Robert and the woman he was cheating with deserved all they had coming to them.
A good light read.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/My-Sweet-Revenge-Jane-Fallon-ebook/dp/B01M03C5OG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1487341263&sr=8-1&keywords=my+sweet+revenge

The One Memory of Flora Banks



HOW DO YOU KNOW WHO TO TRUST WHEN YOU CAN'T EVEN TRUST YOURSELF?
I look at my hands. One of them says FLORA BE BRAVE.

Flora has anterograde amnesia. She can't remember anything day-to-day: the joke her friend made, the instructions her parents gave her, how old she is.
Then she kisses someone she shouldn't, and the next day she remembers it. It's the first time she's remembered anything since she was ten.
But the boy is gone. She thinks he's moved to the Arctic. 
Will following him be the key to unlocking her memory? Who can she trust?






This book is classed as YA but I honestly couldn't find any difference in it to an adult fiction book.
Emily Barr is a brilliant author so I trusted it would be a good read.
As it says above Flora has anterograde amnesia after having a brain tumour removed when she was ten years old,she is now seventeen. Flora is helped in life by her best friend Paige but when she betrays Paige their friendship is over. 

Flora's mum wraps her in cotton wool and does not let her lead a normal life but when her son needs his parents they have to leave their daughter at home in the care of Paige. Of course, Flora forgets that Paige no longer wants to be her friend and forgets to tell her parents, so just how will Flora cope on her own?
Flora has to write everything down to remind herself what to do in all different situations. On her hand is written, FLORA BE BRAVE and this girl must be one of the bravest characters I have met in a book.
As Flora takes it upon herself to follow a boy to the Artic I never believed she would get there in one piece. As she meets new people along her journey who don't know of her medical condition I worried about her and when turning the page I was concerned what trials Flora would face next.

This was a book I really enjoyed, yes some parts could be a bit repetitive but that's what happens with memory loss and it didn't annoy me,it was part of this story. Flora was a lovely character, one you just want to hug and make everything okay for her. 
It's about love and loss and trying to work out just how this old world and the people in it work.
Surprisingly this is the fourth book in a row I have read with memory loss as it's theme. This is the second I have written a review for so two more to come.

The paperback seems to be cheaper than a kindle copy so hey,what's not to like?
https://www.amazon.co.uk/One-Memory-Flora-Banks-ebook/dp/B01M8NYZN5/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8



Thursday, 9 February 2017

If Ever I Fall by S.D. Robertson




Dan’s life has fallen apart at the seams. He’s lost his house, his job is on the line, and now he’s going to lose his family too. All he’s ever wanted is to keep them together, but is everything beyond repair?
Maria is drowning in grief. She spends her days writing letters that will never be answered. Nights are spent trying to hold terrible memories at bay, to escape the pain that threatens to engulf her.
Jack wakes up confused and alone. He doesn’t know who he is, how he got there, or why he finds himself on a deserted clifftop, but will piecing together the past leave him a broken man?
In the face of real tragedy, can these three people find a way to reconcile their past with a new future? And is love enough to carry them through?



I was looking forward to reading this book after reading the blurb but I'm sorry to say it didn't live up to my expectations. 
Dan, Maria and their seven year old daughter Ruby are experiencing a bereavement which none of them are coping with. Maria has asked Dan for a trial separation and he has to leave the family home. 
This is very upsetting for Ruby as her family is falling apart. Maria is also coping with OCD which escalates when she is under stress. 
Later we meet Jake who has bumped his head and lost his memory. He is being looked after by a retired doctor, but is he all that he seems to be? And just who is Jake?
This book started well and I was enjoying it for quite a few chapters. I thought it jumped back and forward too much. We had, after the death, before the death, and all different befores  and afters in between. 
The story of Jake and the Dr, Miles was very gripping in parts and kept me turning the page. The rest of the story was told by Maria in letters that she writes to someone who will never read them. Maria is the reason that Dan is finding life so hard as she takes her grief out on him.
Some chapters seemed quite repetitive and then I reached the ending. That was when I became disappointed and I cannot tell you why. If I told you I would be giving away the whole storyline. I can tell you I felt quite annoyed with what transpired.
I haven't seen any reviews of this book yet as when writing this it has not been published. S.D Robertson's first book Time to Say Goodbye [which I haven't read ] has great reviews. 
This is only my opinion. It is billed as a tear jerker and you may love it.
I would love to know what you thought if you read it.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/Books/If-Ever-Fall-S-D-Robertson/0008100691/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1485959789&sr=8-1&keywords=If+ever+I+fall


Tuesday, 7 February 2017

My Story by Jo Malone




Jo Malone is the inspirational British businesswoman responsible for creating her globally renowned beauty business and, more recently, her new brand 'Jo Loves'. This, her first autobiography, tells in full her incredible journey from modest beginnings as a teenager, struggling with dyslexia and leaving school with no qualifications, to becoming an international brand name and one of the world's most successful entrepreneurs.
  Jo's lively story explores how her fascination with smell teamed with her natural ability to create world-famous blends such as 'Lime, Basil & Mandarin', revolutionised the way we think about fragrance.
  Her unique talent for pioneering innovation and originality within her field is unrivalled. Yet, despite her success, she has faced huge challenges with courage and determination, including being diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 37 and told she only had nine months to live, and her decision to go it alone after selling the original Jo Malone brand to the Estee Lauder Corporation and walking away in 2006.
  Jo's commitment and down-to-earth approach to life, work and family makes her one of the most likeable and well respected personalities in British retail and her honesty, hard work and entrepreneurial grit are an inspiration to all.





It's been a few years since I've read an autobiography but I hope to remedy that this year as I've quite a few in my tbr pile.
I knew nothing about Jo Malone apart from the fact that she had an expensive range of candles and perfume on sale. I didn't know that she had already sold her company Jo Malone London and then started a new one from scratch, Jo Loves. 

Once I started reading this I was hooked. Jo started making her own face creams and candles from her kitchen sink. She has been gifted with the ability to smell that we can only dream of. Jo wanted to work with the French perfumers (noses) to make her own perfume  and even although she knew people in high places she found it difficult to get a foot in the door to even speak with them. 

Jo's childhood was difficult, her mum was unpredictable and Jo often had to take responsibility and also cook for her younger sister. There was an upset between Jo and her mother and both her father and sister chose the mother's side which led to Jo was estranged from her family. I felt that was the part of Jo's story that I never really understood. Why would her family not be happy at her success? Why would they not put past arguments behind them and celebrate the birth of her son or be at her beside during her treatment for cancer? So many unanswered questions but Jo has opted to keep most of the family story private and I admire her for saying that she has fond memories of her childhood and family but my heart bled for her.

We follow Jo and her husband's trial and tribulations of opening businesses, selling then and starting anew. Her battle with cancer has been a difficicult one with one step forward and two steps backwards. I've only touched on a few of the chapters in the book but it's well worth a read.

If you enjoy autobiographies, of even perfumes you will enjoy this book and it is one of the few books I will keep on my shelf and know I will read again.
I would give yourself a treat and buy the book as it's the same price on Amazon as the kindle download, but I expect you will find it cheaper in the shops.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jo-Malone-My-Story-ebook/dp/B00QNW6JE0/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1486493074&sr=1-1&keywords=jo+malone

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Twenty- Four Shadows by Tanya J. Peterson

L


Isaac Bittman- an average family man whose mysterious mood swings,many of which he cannot remember, begin to unravel the lives of those closest to him. After a series of bizarre encounters reveals that his personality has splintered into alternate parts, he begins treatment at a revolutionary mental health facility. The novel intricately weaves together Isaac's internal angst and his wife's and best friend's struggles to retain both a private and public semblance of normality.





After reading two of the novels by Tanya Peterson I didn't know how she could possibly top them,but she has. Tanya writes books about people with living with different kinds of mental illness. 
Her books give us an insight into the lives of people we might not come across in our everyday lives. Through her books it is hoped we might understand more clearly what some people have to cope with. Of course it's not only the person with the disorder who have to learn how to cope but their family and close friends.
This is a book about a family,an ordinary family leading an ordinary life until mental illness rears it's head. It could be any family, it could be yours.

This is the story of Isaac who has Dissociative Identity Disorder [multiple personality disorder].
It has taken his whole life for this to become noticeable but when he is found half dead in the wilds of Idaho it brings things to a head so Isaac has to be diagnosed. He then attends a daily medical facility to receive treatment.

Isaac is a very likeable character. Tanya's writing is so real that I felt I was there alongside Isaac as he try to work his way through what was making him different. He is left with no self esteem and feels he is unlovable and a burden to everyone. At various times, either at the treatment facility or at home we meet Isaac's other identities. Most of the personalities are endearing and I wondered what would happen to them if Isaac was ever cured. I then realised there is no cure only control but it does show how involved I became.

His wife Reese is a saint,no really she was. She was so patient and kind to her husband as his condition escalated. 
Dominic, Isaac and Reese's five year old son is cute and charming and multiple personalities don't bother him in the least and he is very pragmatic about it.
Everyone at the treatment centre Isaac attended were worth their weight in gold, the way that we would wish everyone we come across in a GP surgery or hospital would be.

This is a roller coaster of a story as we hear from all the people who live in Isaac's mind and we learn the devastating reason that these personalities exist within Isaac in the first place.
As I said at the beginning this is the third book I've read by the author and I think they should all have a place in all secondary school library. We can all learn something from these books.

My Life in a Nutshell : About a man crippled by severe anxiety and panic attacks.

My review : http://bookswithwineandchocolate.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/my-life-in-nutshell-by-tanya-j-peterson.html

Leave of Absence :A woman with Schizophrenia and a man with post traumatic stress disorder.
My Review and link http://bookswithwineandchocolate.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/leave-of-absence-by-tanya-j-peterson.html

The only book I haven't read is, Losing Elizabeth.

"High school junior Elizabeth Carter is self-confident and outgoing with a bright future. Life is good for Elizabeth, then she meets Brad Evans. To those on the outside, and even to Elizabeth at first, her life gets even better with Brad. Slowly and insidiously, though, Brad takes control of Elizabeth. Is she really as lucky as she thinks she is? What price is she willing to pay to be this popular, charming, attractive senior boy's girlfriend? Is she envied...or pitied? Most importantly, does she have to lose herself in order to be Brad's significant other?"

Tanya J. Peterson is an American writer and as I often find with books published in America they tend to cost a bit more. Although Twenty Four Shadows may cost a bit more than what you would normally pay for a book or kindle download. 
I'm pleased to say that the other three books are a great price,cheaper than a fancy coffee so if the price is too much you could always start with the others and you'll want to read Twenty Four Shadows.

I want to thank Tanya for sending me this book all the way from America as she knows I prefer physical books. She also knew I would write the truth about whether I enjoyed it or not.
If you haven't read any of her books, you will love them.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Tanya J. Peterson holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education, Master of Science in counseling, and is a Nationally Certified Counselor. She has been a teacher and a counselor in various settings, including a traditional high school and an alternative school for homeless and runaway adolescents, and she has volunteered her services in both schools and communities. Locally and nationally, she gives presentations about mental health and mental illness. She volunteers with her local chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness as a support group co-facilitator and Secretary of their Board of Directors. Tanya is a regular columnist for the Anxiety-Schmanxiety blog on HealthyPlace.com, and she is the author of two critically acclaimed novels, Leave of Absence and My Life in a Nutshell, each featuring characters living with mental illness and addressing themes around mental health.





Thursday, 26 January 2017

The Silk Weaver by Liz Trenow





In 1761, Spitalfields, Anna Butterfield's life is about to change forever as she moves from her idyllic Suffolk home to be introduced into London society. A chance encounter with a French silk weaver, Henri, draws her in to the volatile world of the city’s burgeoning silk trade. Henri is working on his ‘master piece’, to become a master weaver and freeman; Anna longs to become an artist while struggling against pressure from her uncle’s family to marry a wealthy young lawyer. 
As their lives become ever more intertwined, Henri realises that Anna’s designs could give them both an opportunity for freedom. But his world becomes more dangerous by the day, as riots threaten to tear them apart forever . . .
Inspired by real historical events and characters, The Silk Weaver is a captivating, unforgettable story of illicit romance in a time of enlightenment and social upheaval.




Today is publication day for Liz Trenow's latest novel which I have been eagerly awaiting.
Anna is sent to live in London with her aunt and uncle after the death of her mother. Her father thinks he is giving her the best chance to find a husband of means and marry. Anna has other ideas. She wants to be independent and only marry if and when she falls in love. Her aunt tries to keep her tied to the house not allowing her out on her own and she has a man in mind for Anna to marry.
This stifles Anna as she is a creative person who loves to roam the countryside and draw scenes from nature although there's not much inspiration in the middle of busy London.

Henri has fled from the poverty in France and is apprenticed to a silk weaver. He is just about to become a freeman and set up on his own but first he has to finish his masterpiece and present it to the silk weavers board, all he needs is a good design.
Anna wants to help him but finds it difficult as the lives of her aunt, uncle and cousins are thrown into turmoil. Will she accept a marriage proposal or hold out for love?

I love the historical influences in Liz Trenow's books. I didn't know that as far back as 1761 foreign trade was destroying British industry. As the silk weavers protest against French imports riots start and many men are arrested and hanged in public as a warning to others. Anna and Henri find themselves involved in the unrest and there were parts of the book when my heart beat that little bit faster.
Once again a well researched story with a great ending. 
If you haven't read any of Liz's book I suggest you try them, they are all cracking good reads.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Silk-Weaver-Liz-Trenow-ebook/dp/B01FMP3JY6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1484913157&sr=8-1&keywords=The+silk+weaver




For The Silk Weaver, Liz returns to her own unique history: her family have been silk weavers for nearly three hundred years, and she grew up in the house next to the mill in Suffolk, England, which still operates today, weaving for top-end fashion houses and royal commissions. This novel is set in the house in Spitalfields, East London where the company began, three hundred years ago. 

Liz is a former journalist who spent fifteen years on regional and national newspapers, and on BBC radio and television news, before turning her hand to fiction. She lives in East Anglia, UK, with her artist husband, and they have two grown up daughters. 


Sunday, 22 January 2017

The Planter's Daughter by Jo Carroll






It's 1848. And Sara, aged fourteen, must leave her family in the stinking potato fields of Ireland to seek a better life with her wealthy aunt in Liverpool. But her Uncle has different ideas.
Will she find solace among the dockers? She finds love, but becomes embroiled in the unrest of the Irish men and women who live in squalor in the Liverpool slums. Yet her efforts to help them only enrage her uncle further.
Her escape takes her to the other side of the world. But there is no comfort in the dusty outback of Australia nor in the gold fields of New Zealand. For she has left behind something more precious to her than life itself.

We first meet Sara when she arrives at her aunt and uncle's front door in Liverpool in 1948. Penniless and sent by her parents to Liverpool to escape the potato famine in Ireland and hopefully send some money back home to them. This part of the story is told through the eyes of Kitty the housemaid. 
Sarah soon discovers that her aunt had been telling her father only half truths about her family and household she also finds out that her uncle is not such a gentleman as he is thought to be.
After betraying Kitty, Sara  finds herself in a terrible position. With no option but to do as she is told she suddenly finds herself being deported to Australia where she vows to do everything in her power to get back home to what she left behind.

It is now 1852 and Australia. This part of the story is told by Grace, a widow with children and stepsons. She is religious, pious and takes in Sara to help around the house. She wants Sara to repent and to become as religious as she is and although Sarah plays along she has no intention of staying with Grace forever.
Many life changing events happen in Sara's life that she has no control over as she struggles to save money for a passage back to Liverpool. 
The last part of the book is told by Sara herself and it takes us back to her home in Ireland and the reasons she has to leave her family. If I said this was heartbreaking I wouldn't be using a strong enough word. I had no idea just what the Irish people went through at that time. Men, woman and children  dying at the side of the road, the Protestant Church refusing to help or feed starving Cathlics unless they became Protestants,oh the list goes on. 
There is lots more to this story and I have only gave you the bare bones of it because you are far better finding out the rest for yourselves. The ending was a complete surprise and I couldn't get it out of my head.

Well this is the year of the good books! 
This is a debut novel by Jo Carrol who has written previous books on her traveling exploits but this is her first fiction book.
During her travels to New Zealand Jo visited a museum and that's where she found a short biography of Barbara Weldon. All she knew about her was that she was born in Ireland, moved to Liverpool during the potato famine and ended up in Australia and New Zealand. Jo then wove her fiction story through this.
I loved this book so much, I went from disliking Sara to admiring her and then my heart breaking for her. Her life was probably similar to so many young women in those days who had to fight for their very survival. Jo has excelled herself in this novel and I hope she has many more stories to tell.
If I was to compare Jo to another writer I would say she writes like Lesley Pearse. They both write books about strong woman fighting through adversity. 
This book is only for kindle as it is self published, so skip your fancy coffee for a day and support indi publishing and have a great read.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Planters-Daughter-Jo-Carroll-ebook/dp/B01N1QUDQN/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1485097999&sr=1-1&keywords=the+planter%27s+daughter