#Blogtour When I First Held You by Anstey Harris

It’s a pleasure to take part in the Blogtour When I First Held You by Anstey Harris.  

‘Inspired by Anstey Harris’s own family history, When I First Held You explores the scandal of forced adoptions, where thousands of babies born to unmarried mothers throughout the 1950s to the 1970s were removed and placed with families deemed suitable.’

About the Author

Anstey Harris was born in an unmarried mothers’ home in Liverpool in 1965. Now a mother and stepmother herself, she lives in Scotland. She has been inspired by her own search for her birth family and hopes to give a voice to the women and children—16,000 a year during the 1960s in the UK—separated from each other by forced adoptions.

Anstey won the H. G. Wells Short Story Award in 2015 and her debut novel, The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton, a Richard and Judy Book Club choice, won the Sapere Books RNA Popular Romantic Fiction Award in 2020. Her second novel, Where We Belong, was shortlisted for the RNA Book of the Year Award 2021. Follow @Anstey_Harris on Twitter

About the book

In 1960s Glasgow, anti-nuclear activists Judith and Jimmy fall in love. But their future hopes are dashed when their protestors’ squat is raided and many, including Jimmy, are sent to prison. Pregnant and with no word from Jimmy, Judith is forced to enter an unmarried mothers’ home, give up their baby and learn to live with her grief.

More than half a century later, Judith’s Mending Shop restores broken treasures, just as Judith herself has been bound back together by her late, much-missed partner, Catherine. But her tranquillity is shattered when Jimmy—so different and yet somehow the same—reappears, yearning to unpick the painful past.

Realising they each know only half of the other’s story, Jimmy and Judith finally break the silence that tore apart what might have been their family. Amid heartbreak and hope, how much can now be mended? 

Review

What the author does with the precision of a surgeon is create the visual image of the invisible emotional volcano Judith carries around with her day in and day out. The lid she places on top of the bubbling mountain, is one that move at any moment to expose the scars and the years of feelings that she has had to hide from herself and the world.

This is never more obvious than when Jimmy appears out of nowhere after over half a lifetime. The pressure beneath the lid begins build, as the past comes rushing back to both haunt and completely devour Judith.

Kudos for the realistic statistics and ripping the veil from the unicorn fluff versions of adoption reunion stories. The truth and reality doesn’t make for such great television. Too many questions remain unanswered, which can be incredibly painful and frustrating for those involved.

This is a story that is all the more poignant, because the roots are based in truth, and because of the throwaway attitude towards the lives of the girls, women and children who were torn apart without a second thought.

It’s wonderfully written, it’s also like having a view into the patchwork family of strangers brought together by the coincidence of DNA. What is family really? Healing the deepest wounds is a myth, but gaining a semblance of peace is possible. 

Buy When I First Held You at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Lake Union Publishing, pub date 24th January 2023 – Paperback £8.99. Buy at Amazon com.

#Blogtour The Secret of Elephants by Vasundra Tailor

It’s a pleasure to kick off this fantastic Blogtour The Secret of Elephants by Vasundra Tailor.

About the Author

Vasundra Tailor was born in India and was just a few weeks old when her parents brought her to Zimbabwe (then Southern Rhodesia) in 1954. Though set against a backdrop British colonial rule and segregation in the area, Vasundra had a happy childhood, surrounded by a large extended family.

She qualified as a pharmacist in 1977, and was eager to leave Zimbabwe for the UK to escape the fighting between the minority white government and local freedom fighters. She arrived at Heathrow in the Spring of 1978, and moved to Strathclyde for her Masters in Pharmaceutical Microbiology, before settling in London a year later, where she is still based today.

Vasundra started writing in 2016, after enrolling onto an online Creative Writing course, joining book groups and local writing groups, which gave her the feedback and confidence to tackle her first book. Fascinated by human relationships, Vasundra’s writing is interested characters from diverse backgrounds and explores how people connect with those around them.

The Inspiration for The Secret of Elephants, Vasundra’s debut novel, came from the families currently living in a property in India which once belonged to her father. In November 2019, an extract of The Secret of Elephants won the second runner-up prize for the Mo Siewcharran Fiction Competition, to help discover unpublished fiction writers from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds. Follow @vasundrajay on Twitter

About the book

Two sides of the same family – one living in luxury in a magnificent mansion, the other penniless in its shadow. Could a mysterious letter from the past help Nirmala and her young son take back what is rightfully theirs?

Navsari, India. Penniless and trapped in a loveless marriage, Nirmala spends her days anxiously caring for her sick young son, Varun. Looming over Nirmala’s impoverished home is an imposing mansion built by her grandfather, and from its balcony her cruel aunt scorns them, refusing to help in any way.

But when a mysterious letter addressed to her long-dead father arrives from Zimbabwe, it opens a door to a past Nirmala never knew existed and a future she never imagined possible. If the contents of the letter can be believed, not only does she have family in Africa, but they might also hold the answers to a family mystery that spans three generations.

While travelling to Zimbabwe might lead to a brighter future for Nirmala and her son, it could also reignite the bitter family feud that condemned her family to poverty. Nirmala is ready to risk it all to uncover the truth, but how will she cope when this journey changes her life forever?

Review

Nirmala has spent the majority of her life in the shadow of her family and their wealth. She is the poor relative, the one they look down upon, the one who lives in a little ramshackle place across the road from their impressive mansion.

Living a life in fear of the displeasure of a man she never wanted, doesn’t love, and who treats her with disdain. A man who thinks her son – their son – is a weakling because he is unwell. When by pure chance a letter addressed to her deceased father  falls into her hands and reveals a secret she was unaware of, she starts to wonder whether life for herself and her son could be different.

The gift of being a natural storyteller isn’t one that all writers possess – they all tell stories, but there is a difference between telling a story and being a storyteller. The author leaves lines in the sand as she pulls her rake behind her, with an almost peaceful quality, and compels the reader to follow the patterns of the story being unfolded before them.

It’s a tangled web of emotional baggage and trauma. Decisions made in the blink of an eye with no regard for the majority of the people involved, they cast dark shadows over the generations of this family. They influence paths taken, chances missed and how connections are made between family members.

I think one of the most poignant relationships in the story is the one between Kanta and Suresh. The way her lack of emotional attachment creates this wave that devours everyone in their close vicinity. Does the damage inflicted become justifiable when weighed with the truth?

The author pulls in moments from history, surroundings, and politics to give context to the places the story is set in, but does so in a way that never overshadows the main plot and characters. It’s a nice wee slow burner of a read.

Buy The Secret of Elephants at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎Lake Union pub date 1 Sept. 2022. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour The Impossible Truths of Love by Hannah Beckerman

 It’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour The Impossible Truths of Love by Hannah Beckerman. ‘Some secrets are kept to deceive. Hers were kept to protect.’

About the Author

Hannah Beckerman is a novelist and journalist. She is a book critic and features writer for The Observer and FT Weekend Magazine and has contributed to a wide range of publications from The Guardian to Red magazine. As a regular chair at literary festivals and corporate events she has interviewed a host of authors and celebrities, as well as appearing as a book critic on BBC Radio 2 and Times Radio. Prior to becoming a full-time writer, Hannah worked in television as a producer and commissioning editor for the BBC, Channel 4 and the Discovery Channel USA. She lives in London. The Impossible Truths of Love is her third novel. Follow @hannahbeckerman, Visit hannahbeckerman.com

About the book

The highly-anticipated new novel from bestselling author Hannah Beckerman, The Impossible Truths of Love slips between past and present, mother and daughter, to explore the secrets we keep to protect those we love.

As Nell’s father is dying, he makes a final declaration that hints at a long-held family secret. Feelings of isolation that have plagued Nell for years resurface, and suspicions about her past are raised. Thirty-five years earlier, Annie was devastated by a series of traumas: one shock after another that she buried deep in her heart. The decisions she made were motivated by love, but she feared even then that nobody could ever understand her actions, let alone forgive her.

As their stories unravel, a generation apart, Nell finally discovers the devastating truth about her mother’s past, and her own. A gripping, emotionally charged novel, The Impossible Truths of Love is a moving story about identity, secrets, and what it really means to feel that you’re one of the family.

Review

Nell is dealing with the impending death of one parent and the mental decline of another. As one reveals some odd sentiments about Nell, the other relives the past. Having to deal with loss and grief is made worse by domineering siblings and the sudden realisation that both parents were keeping secrets from Nell.

I am with Annie, gut instinct and certain genetics are most definitely a thing. Unfortunately she falls prey to this interesting phenomena when it comes to motherhood. There is an instant reorganisation of hierarchy from birth onwards – education, social status, job or age becomes irrelevant. There is this invisible, yet absolutely perceivable shift in the way people treat women who become mothers, even by other women. 

On top of that Annie has to deal with the burden of grief and the fact people think she is unstable, due to the trauma. The result is being ignored by everyone and silenced, but perhaps more tragically she is forced to overcome her natural response to reject, and her feelings of disgust. How easy it is to silence a woman who reacts to her instincts, because the world around her treats her as if she is unstable. Why doesn’t anyone listen?

I really enjoyed the subtlety of the read. It’s never overly dramatic, barring the usual family dynamics and dysfunction. It’s a well crafted story about the concept of love and identity, also what family means to each of us and how we define it. Our connections and where we lay the importance of how we are connected, which is different for each one of us. What matters to one, matters little to another.

It’s a great read. It’s emotional, honest and absolutely a scenario we can all relate to or indeed relate to the characters and their choices. We can imagine Nell’s reaction and follow the reasoning behind the decades of secrets. Definitely a book I will be recommending.

Buy The Impossible Truths of Love at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher:  Lake Union Publishing; Publication Date: 5th October 2021 | Paperback Original £8.99 and Ebook. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour The Law of the Heart by Boris Starling

 It’s an absolute pleasure to take part in the BlogTour The Law of the Heart by Boris Starling.

About the Author

Boris Starling is an award-winning author, screenwriter and journalist who has appeared on the Sunday Times bestseller list for both fiction and non-fiction. He has written seven crimes novels, five full-length non-fiction books (including, as a ghostwriter, the autobiography of British and Irish Lions rugby captain Sam Warburton) and twenty shorter non-fiction books. 

He created the Messiah TV series, which he adapted from his first novel and which ran for five seasons on BBC1. His other screen credits include The Kid, The Defector and Blood Over Water. He lives with his wife, children, greyhounds and chickens in West Dorset. Follow @vodkaboris on Twitter

About the book

Their love is against the laws of a merciless state – but the heart has its own power.

For rollercoaster designer Theo, living on the edge is just part of the job. He’s used to wandering the world perfecting thrills, his heart immune to commitment. But then a commission in repressive North Korea exposes him to emotions he’s never dared to feel.

Tour guide Min has to soul that wants to soar, but she knows it’s safer to build walls around her heart and mind. Skilled inn showcasing the mesmerising beauty of capital city Pyongyang without revealing its darker secrets, she introduces Theo to a country he will never forget – and begins to question her policy of quiet compliance.

But forgetting – or pretending to – is the key to survival for Min’s formidable grandmother Cuckoo. After a devastating heartbreak years ago, she learned that passion an oppression just don’t mix. As Min and Theo grow closer and long-held secrets come to light, all three are forced to confront emotions they’ve tried to suppress. In a country where following their hearts will put them in danger, how much are they willing to risk?

Review

First and foremost, Starling is a writer to take note of and the type of scribe to write the kind of books that burrow themselves into your mind forever. The other thing I hope resonates with readers, aside from the story that tugs at the heartstrings, is the difference between actually living in or under an oppressive regime and living in a democracy whilst having the freedom to shout about being oppressed by a regime.  

The claustrophobic stranglehold the state has on Min and everyone else is the first emotion that hit me. The frustration, the fact everyone just gives up and forgets any thought of resistance, because the repercussions to friends and family are disastrous – it creates this feeling of despair. Life is only ever what is allowed, condoned and acceptable. Constant surveillance, every person a potential informer. What could the consequences be for someone who by the simple act of falling in love – could potentially ruin her life and those of others?

Both Min and her grandmother Cuckoo share more than just a deep love for each other, they share the kind of risky choices and experiences that shatters hearts, changes lives and creates wounds that never heals.

This is a contemporary read and although the heart is the very core of this premise it would be a fallacy to underestimate the scathing political and social commentary the story is driven by. I think that is the beauty of Starling’s style, the way he leads his readers as they follow the bright sparkly emotional depth and turmoil, and yet cements the same path with the oppressive regime that seeps into every pore, element and corner of this read. Sublime. I can’t wait to read more.

Buy The Law of the Heart at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎Lake Union Publishing pub date 1 Aug. 2021. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour The Last Green Valley by Mark Sullivan

It’s my turn on the BlogTour The Last Green Valley by Mark Sullivan.

About the Author

Mark Sullivan is the acclaimed author of eighteen novels, including the #1 New York Times bestselling Private series, which he writes with James Patterson. Mark has received numerous awards for his writing, including the WHSmith Fresh Talent Award, and his works have been named a New York Times Notable Book and a Los Angeles Times Book of the Year. 

He grew up in Medfield, Massachusetts, and graduated from Hamilton College with a BA in English before working as a volunteer in the Peace Corps in Niger, West Africa. Upon his return to the United States, he earned a graduate degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and began a career in investigative journalism. An avid skier and adventurer, he lives with his wife in Bozeman, Montana, where he remains grateful for the miracle of every moment.

Follow @MarkSullivanBks on Twitter, Visit marksullivanbooks.com

About the book

From the author of the #1 bestseller Beneath a Scarlet Sky comes a new historical novel inspired by one family’s incredible story of daring, survival, and triumph.

In late March 1944, as Stalin’s forces push into Ukraine, young Emil and Adeline Martel must make a terrible decision: Do they wait for the Soviet bear’s intrusion and risk being sent to Siberia? Or do they reluctantly follow the wolves—murderous Nazi officers who have pledged to protect “pure-blood” Germans?

The Martels are one of many families of German heritage whose ancestors have farmed in Ukraine for more than a century. But after already living under Stalin’s horrifying regime, Emil and Adeline decide they must run in retreat from their land with the wolves they despise to escape the Soviets and go in search of freedom.

Caught between two warring forces and overcoming horrific trials to pursue their hope of immigrating to the West, the Martels’ story is a brutal, complex, and ultimately triumphant tale that illuminates the extraordinary power of love, faith, and one family’s incredible will to survive and see their dreams realized.

Review

Stuck between two bad situations it’s only common sense that a family pick the lesser evil to try and save themselves, even if that lesser one was destined to become the face of the worst crimes of the 20th century, and that support was offered to the Martel family because they counted as pure-blood Germans.

The family flees the approaching Russian army, and the inevitable fates that await them. Emil and Adeline become separated, their paths define them individually and in Emil’s case completely transforms him. They have to find the strength on their own knowing they will probably never see each other again.

I found it both fascinating and heartwarming the way the sons looked with such an intensity for the reason for the transformation of Emil. Seeing the historical evidence of the horrors he went through wasn’t enough to explain why he would be one man going in and another coming out. Knowing that his endurance and the emotional change in him was driven by proof of goodness in humanity in the form of a person, is perhaps easier to accept because then they know he wasn’t alone.

Much like the story of Pino Lella the story of the Martel family is one that has been sucked up and swallowed by the passing of time. Stories like this aren’t even footnotes in history, often because the greater events tend to be narrated and written, as opposed to the fates of individuals and their families. In this specific scenario a lot of the historical events surrounding WW2 and the Holocaust fade into the background, which doesn’t mean they are of less historical importance, it’s because the severity of the atrocities tend to overshadow everything else. It’s directly linked to the efficiency, the mass planning and execution with which the Nazi regime perpetrated the crimes.

The history and tales of what is referred to as Schwarzmeerdeutsche, a regional group of ethnic Germans who fall under the description of Russlanddeutsche – ethnic Germans who migrated and settled in Russia, are more likely to remain in obscurity because of their ethnicity. In fact it’s a common denominator regardless of where Germans end up and have migrated to and from. The Nazi regime has relegated all Germans to this – a status of less important than, due to their ethnicity.

Sullivan writes beautifully and absolutely does due diligence when researching and trying to give closure to the Martel family, and bringing all the woven threads to a close. It’s a story, historical fiction inspired by facts and truth.

Buy The Last Green Valley at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher : Lake Union Publishing pub date 4 May 2021. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour The Last to Know by Jo Furniss

It’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour The Last to Know by Jo Furniss.

About the Author

After spending a decade as a broadcast journalist for the BBC, Jo Furniss gave up the glamour of night shifts to become a freelance writer and serial expatriate. Originally from the United Kingdom, she spent seven years in Singapore and also lived in Switzerland and Cameroon.

As a journalist, Jo worked for numerous online outlets and magazines, including Monocle and the Economist. She has edited books for a Nobel laureate and the palace of the Sultan of Brunei. She has a Distinction in MA Professional Writing from Falmouth University.

Jo’s debut novel, All the Little Children, was an Amazon Charts bestseller.

About the book

American journalist Rose Kynaston has just relocated to the childhood home of her husband, Dylan, in the English village of his youth. There’s a lot for Rose to get used to in Hurtwood. Like the family’s crumbling mansion, inhabited by Dylan’s reclusive mother, and the treacherous hill it sits upon, a place of both sinister folklore and present dangers.

Then there are the unwelcoming villagers, who only whisper the name Kynaston—like some dreadful secret, a curse. Everyone knows what happened at Hurtwood House twenty years ago. Everyone except Rose. And now that Dylan is back, so are rumors about his past.

When an archaeological dig unearths human remains on the hill, local police sergeant Ellie Trevelyan vows to solve a cold case that has cast a chill over Hurtwood for decades. As Ellie works to separate rumor from fact, Rose must fight to clear the name of the man she loves. But how can Rose keep her family safe if she is the last to know the truth?

Review

I thought it was quite easy to relate to Rose. It’s not easy to acclimatise to a new country, especially when you’re only doing it for a loved one. It’s not the same as making the choice solely for yourself. Hurtwood House isn’t exactly what she expected. Instead of a sweet cottage in a rural area, her hubby comes from a ruin of a mansion-like homestead, which includes a slightly peculiar mother.

Life is made slightly more complicated by the fact Dylan’s father died under a cloud of guilt and suspicion, and the villagers aren’t in a hurry to forget that fact. Rose doesn’t have a clue what’s going on and why, which is just the beginning of her problems.

There were a few sub plots that seemed superfluous to the main storyline, however I think it was more a question of exploring Rose in regards to her reactions and instincts. Her fears and her need to maintain some semblance of control.

It’s a story that has an element of magical realism, a ghostly presence and is filled with the dread and mysticism that comes with local folklore. It’s so much more than a mystery and a crime read. Furniss has a very lyrical voice, which leans towards the literary at times. I hope she explores that aspect of her storytelling and writing talent at some point in the future.

It’s a tale very much pulled in multiple directions by the characters. The outsiders, the insiders and the wannabees. Add an eccentric homeowner, a house full of history and charisma, and a mystery to boot – well of course it’s going to be a good read.

Buy The Last to Know at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Lake Union Publishing; pub date 11 Aug. 2020. Buy at Amazon com.

Read my review of The Trailing Spouse by Jo Furniss.

#BlogTour The Beauty of Broken Things by Victoria Connelly

Today  it’s my turn on the BlogTour The Beauty of Broken Things by Victoria Connelly.

About the Author

Victoria Connelly studied English Literature at Worcester University, got married in a medieval castle in the Yorkshire Dales and now lives in rural Suffolk with her artist husband, a young springer spaniel and a flock of ex-battery hens. She is the million-selling author of two bestselling series, Austen Addicts and The Book Lovers, as well as many other novels and novellas. Her first published novel, Flights of Angels, was made into a film in 2008 by Ziegler Films in Germany. The Runaway Actress was shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Romantic Comedy Novel award.

Victoria loves books, films, walking, historic buildings and animals. If she isn’t at her keyboard writing, she can usually be found in her garden either with a trowel in her hand or a hen on her lap.

Follow @VictoriaDarcy on Twitteron Facebookon Instagramon Amazonon Goodreads, Visit victoriaconnelly.comBuy The Beauty of Broken Things

About the book

United by tragedy, can two broken souls make each other whole?

After the tragic loss of his wife, Helen, Luke Hansard is desperate to keep her memory alive. In an effort to stay close to her, he reaches out to an online friend Helen often mentioned: a reclusive photographer with a curious interest in beautiful but broken objects. But first he must find her—and she doesn’t want to be found.

Orla Kendrick lives alone in the ruins of a remote Suffolk castle, hiding from the haunting past that has left her physically and emotionally scarred. In her fortress, she can keep a safe distance from prying eyes, surrounded by her broken treasures and insulated from the world outside.

When Luke tracks Orla down, he is determined to help her in the way Helen wanted to: by encouraging her out of her isolation and back into the world. But Orla has never seen her refuge as a prison and, when painful secrets and dangerous threats begin to resurface, Luke’s good deed is turned on its head.

As they work through their grief for Helen in very different ways, will these two broken souls be able to heal?

Review

Luke is trying to cope with the sudden loss of his wife. He finds connecting with the things she liked comforting, so he sets off to find the person who gave Helen such joy. Orla on the other hand isn’t interested in seeing anyone. She is hiding from society – from life and is consumed with fear.

The title is perfect, because it is very much a case of people or things that are beautiful, despite being broken.Where Orla is concerned her fear and the scars that keep her imprisoned become an excellent juxtaposition to the broken pottery. Beauty, the eye of the beholder and the throwaway aspect of herself and the inanimate objects. Not perfect – please discard.

Orla and Luke are both fractured human beings, and perhaps it takes one to know one, which is why the two of them are drawn to each other. This story is one of grief, friendship, support and learning to look beyond the past that holds us down like a thick iron chain. Simultaneously it’s also one of fear and helping one other to carry on when everything seems completely desolate.

Connelly gives the reader a sensitive and emotional read with characters and storylines readers can relate to. Moving on from trauma, loss and trying to recapture the joy life once held. It’s a tender and realistic story, which is what really makes it a good read.

Buy The Beauty of Broken Things at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.  Publisher: Lake Union Publishing; pub date 9 Jun. 2020. Buy at Amazon comBuy at Amazon AU

Read my review of One Last Summer by Victoria Connelly.

#PublicationDayPush Little White Secrets by Carol Mason

It’s Publication Day for Little White Secrets by Carol Mason.

About the Author

Carol Mason is the women’s fiction author After You Left, a Kindle #1 and Amazon Charts Bestseller, The Secrets of Married Women, The Last Time We Met, Send Me A Lover and The Shadow Between Us. Her brand new novel, Little White Secrets, publishes May 1, 2020. She was born in the North East of England and moved to Canada when she was twenty-one and met her now husband. They live in British Columbia. Her novels are translated into more than 10 languages.

Follow @carolmasonbooks on Twitteron Goodreadson Amazonon Facebook, Visit carolmasonbooks.comBuy Little White Secrets

About the book

A daughter pushing the limits. A marriage ready to crack. A secret that can break them.

For Emily Rossi, life may not be perfect, but it’s pretty close. She has a great career, a house in the country, a solid marriage to Eric and two wonderful children—tennis superstar Daniel and quiet, sensitive Zara. But when her fourteen-year-old daughter brings home a toxic new best friend, Emily’s seemingly perfect family starts to spiral out of control.

Suddenly Zara is staying out late, taking drugs and keeping bad company. And just when Emily needs Eric to be an involved father, he seems too wrapped up with his job in London to care. What’s more, he’s started drinking again.

When a dark secret from the past emerges, Emily’s life is turned upside down. Struggling to protect the people she loves, can she save her damaged family? Doing so may mean keeping a secret of her own…

Review

Emily and Eric are happily married – white picket fence and two kids kind of thing, until the reader starts to encounter the scratches on the surface of perfection and harmony. Turns out the picture perfect family is just like any old dysfunctional unit with secrets, fights and troubled teenagers.

It’s a toss up with teens and their formative years. You can’t always control external influences or the way your kids will react or interact with them. If they do start to rebel it doesn’t discharge the parent from the necessity to keep their child safe and out of harms way. The difficulty arises when you encounter complete and utter walls of silence, avoidance and aggression.

Zara is slowly being drawn in by the seduction of a new friendship. A peer who is willing to listen to her and giggle with her, but perhaps this new friend doesn’t have the best intentions. Emily wants the new friend gone and her daughter to go back to being quiet, responsible and timid.

It’s a dramatic domestic thriller – a seemingly functional family on the brink of a meltdown.

The decision that Emily makes towards the end of the story is actually one of the most interesting aspects of the book. Is there any accountability or should there be any? Given the same circumstances what would you do if it were your child? Do two wrongs make a right? I know what my answers to those questions would be. I wonder what yours will be.

In a way I am glad that Mason ends the story on that particular note and not just because it gives the entire read a more sinister cherry on top of the sundae of terrible turmoil and destruction.

Buy Little White Secrets at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Lake Union Publishing: pub date 1 May 2020. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour The Promise Between Us by Barbara Claypole White

The Promise Between Us

Two days late and a dollar short – here is my blog post for the BlogTour the Promise Between Us by Barbara Claypole White. It’s a contemporary read and women’s fiction with a focus on mental health.

high resolution.jpgAbout the Author

Bestselling author Barbara Claypole White has created her own idiosyncratic niche in mainstream fiction: hopeful family drama with a healthy dose of mental illness. Originally from England, she writes and gardens in the forests of North Carolina, where she lives with her family. Her novels include:

The Unfinished Garden, Mira Books, 2012, winner of the Golden Quill for Best First Book 2013; The In-Between Hour, Mira Books, 2014, chosen by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance as an Okra Pick; The Perfect Son, Lake Union, 2015, Goodreads Choice Awards Semi-finalist for Best Fiction; Echoes of Family, Lake Union, 2016, WFWA 2017 Star Award Finalist; The Promise Between Us, Lake Union, 2018. (View the book trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tLW9XFo0nlg&t=5s)

Barbara is also an OCD advocate for the A2A Alliance, a nonprofit group that promotes advocacy over adversity.

To listen to Barbara’s 2018 interview with Frank Stasio on The State of Things, click here: http://www.wunc.org/post/her-family-grapples-ocd-author-tackles-stereotypes-through-writing?fbclid=IwAR08E-DQ73f31jWBP2uKlix-eFsV7OOSQk_pXfS4uX3kqgnuHkbtVeB1Wvc

To watch Barbara’s 2018 interview with Linda Hurtado on Fox 13, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZJUPUBZLCf8&t=33s

For more information on Barbara, please visit www.barbaraclaypolewhite.com

Follow @bclaypolewhite on Twitter, on Instagram, on Facebook,

Buy The Promise Between Us

The Promise Between Us Full Tour Banner

About the book

Metal artist Katie Mack is living a lie. Nine years ago she ran away from her family in Raleigh, North Carolina, consumed by the irrational fear that she would harm Maisie, her newborn daughter. Over time she’s come to grips with the mental illness that nearly destroyed her, and now funnels her pain into her art. Despite longing for Maisie, Katie honors an agreement with the husband she left behind—to change her name and never return.

But when she and Maisie accidentally reunite, Katie can’t ignore the familiarity of her child’s compulsive behavior. Worse, Maisie worries obsessively about bad things happening to her pregnant stepmom. Katie has the power to help, but can she reconnect with the family she abandoned?

To protect Maisie, Katie must face the fears that drove her from home, accept the possibility of love, and risk exposing her heart-wrenching secret.

White-ThePromiseBetweenUs-21872-CV-FT-v8.jpgReview

The core theme throughout the book is fascinating, and I have to say kudos to the author for trying to bring more understanding to the topic and for trying to educate readers. I think walking away from this read plenty of readers will look upon postpartum OCD, anxiety and OCD in general in a completely different way.

I think a lot of mental health conditions are thrown under the umbrella term of OCD, and perhaps equally just as many that belong there aren’t. Claypole White shows the more intrusive and devastating side of the disorder. The side of OCD that is misdiagnosed, misinterpreted and often goes undiagnosed, due to a lack of understanding and information flow. More importantly she also writes about the genetic component to the disorder.

The author shows these quite well when it comes to Maisie. As her anxiety and worries grow her coping mechanisms deteriorate and the symptoms of her OCD multiply. It may manifest itself in a slightly different way to an adult, but it is far more realistic to assume that said symptoms may be confused for something else, such as hormones, teenage years and just being a girl. Yes, that sort of sexism and gender inequality does exist when it comes to young children and teenagers, especially in relation to diagnosing medical or mental health conditions. Heck it still happens in adulthood.

There is no one person to blame for the situation between Katie and her ex-husband, and yet neither of them are blameless either. His refusal to accept the need for therapeutic help isn’t an unusual opinion, unfortunately there is still too much stigma attached to mental health.

It’s a contemporary read and women’s fiction with a focus on mental health. It’s a story about family and what constitutes being a family in a world full of patchwork ones. The meaning of the word family has been redefined over the last few decades. In a way that allows more than just the standard mother, father and child unit to exist, which opens up a better world for all of us.

Buy The Promise Between Us at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Lake Union Publishing’ pub date 16 Jan. 2018. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour One Last Summer by Victoria Connelly

Today it’s the BlogTour One Last Summer by Victoria Connelly. It’s a story about friendship, loyalty and relationships. It’s also about maintaining control of your life in a difficult situation.About the Author

Victoria Connelly studied English literature at Worcester University, got married in a medieval castle in the Yorkshire Dales and now lives in rural Suffolk with her artist husband, a young springer spaniel and a flock of ex-battery hens.

She is the author of two bestselling series, Austen Addicts and The Book Lovers, as well as many other novels and novellas. Her first published novel, Flights of Angels, was made into a film in 2008 by Ziegler Films in Germany. The Runaway Actress was shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Romantic Comedy Novel award.

Ms Connelly loves books, films, walking, historic buildings and animals. If she isn’t at her keyboard writing, she can usually be found in her garden, with either a trowel in her hand or a hen on her lap.

Follow @VictoriaDarcy on Twitter and @VictoriaConnellyAuthor in Instagram, Visit victoriaconnelly.com

Buy One Last Summer

About the book

They have the whole summer ahead of them. Is it enough to rekindle the friendship they once shared?

Harriet Greenleaf dreams of spending the summer in a beautiful ancient priory on the Somerset coast with her two best friends—but her dream is bittersweet. On the one hand, it’s a chance to reconnect three lives that have drifted apart; on the other, she has a devastating secret to share that will change everything between them forever.

First to arrive is Audrey—the workaholic who’s heading for a heart attack unless she slows down and makes time for herself. Then Lisa, the happy-go-lucky flirt who’s always struggled to commit to anyone—or anything. Ever the optimist, can Harriet remind them of the joy in their lives and the importance of celebrating good friendship before it’s gone?

Through the highs and lows of a long, glorious summer, these three women will rediscover what it means to be there for each other—before they face the hardest of goodbyes.

Review

Harriet has received the devastating news that her cancer is back and it’s terminal. She wants to spend one last summer with her best friends. She rents an old abbey in a beautiful location so they can all enjoy peace, serenity and being cut off from the responsibilities and stresses of everyday life.

Harriet wants to say goodbye, but without the other two being aware of that being her intention. It makes the situation slightly difficult, because Audrey and Lisa can only react to the facts when they know what they are dealing with. It makes them come off as insensitive and self absorbed.

I liked the fact the author didn’t feel the need to make the relationships Harriet and Lisa have with new men automatically be sexual. Men and women can have close friendships without any extra commitments. They can bond and have satisfying conversations without going the full mile within the first few days of meeting each other.

I found it a little unusual that Harriet hadn’t shared anything about her illness with her ‘best’ friends. I understand it makes for a more emotional read, but surely losing an important part of herself and image as a woman would be something she might want to share with the women she says are the closest to her.

It’s a story about friendship, loyalty and relationships. It’s also about maintaining control of your life when life decides to throw a spanner in between the spokes of your wheel of life. Harriet decides, it is her choice. She might not be able to dictate the when or the how, but she can try and determine the time leading up to it. It’s a thoughtful and emotional premise.

Buy One Last Summer at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Lake Union Publishing; pub date 5 Feb. 2019. Buy at Amazon com.