#BlogTour Notes from the Lost by Cathie Hartigan

Today it is my turn on the BlogTour Notes from the Lost by Cathie Hartigan.About the Author

Cathie Hartigan lives in the beautiful, historic city of Exeter.

Although her professional training was in music, a decade ago she swapped one keyboard for another in order to take her life-long love of writing more seriously. Since then, she has won several prizes for her short stories and was a finalist in the annual Woman and Home short story competition three times.

Cathie lectured in creative writing for nine years at Exeter College before leaving to found CreativeWritingMatters.co.uk, which offers a range of writing services and administers four international literary competitions a year, including The Exeter Novel Prize and The Trisha Ashley Award.

When not writing, Cathie sings in a small vocal ensemble. The beautiful Devon coastline also provides plenty of distraction but on a rainy day if there’s an opera or theatre screening at the cinema, she’ll be there.

Follow @cathiehartigan on Twitter,  on Amazonon Goodreadson FacebookBuy Notes from the Lost

About the book

In October 1943, when prisoners of war Alfie and Frank escape from a train taking them to Germany, their lives depend on the family of shepherds who shelter them. In constant jeopardy, the young men wait out the winter in the Italian mountains. In 2000, Ros Goudy inherits her music teacher’s home in Exeter and there she finds letters that reveal the soldiers’ fate. Only one made it back, but it wasn’t to a warm welcome and happy ever after. What had happened that turned heads and hearts against him? The trail she follows begins with an charming comic song composed before the war. What she discovers is that everyone, including herself, has something to hide.


This is a story with two timelines, it goes from past to present and eventually the two stories meld into one. In the present a young musician inherits the house of her old music teacher. Inside the house Ros finds letters that shed light on events during the escape of some Allied soldiers during World War 2.

In a way the two stories often feel as if they are a world apart, despite the reader knowing that somewhere along the line both will connect in some way.

What shines through about the story in the past is the way mere mortals caught in the midst of the brutality and unfairness of war are often capable of the most courageous acts. It’s those actions that define us during times of great turmoil. Not the majority who remained silent, but the minority who chose to do the right thing, despite the real danger to themselves.

In the present the story isn’t just about secrets it is also about finding your own truth and strength to follow your dreams. Perhaps in a way it is also about doing what is right in certain situations, as opposed to what is right in the eyes of society.

It’s historical fiction with a strong emphasis on camaraderie and support in the direst of times. A love for music shines through and  a reverence for history. Hartigan draws readers in with bare emotions and keeps them captivated as they wander through two timelines.

Buy Notes from the Lost at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Buy at Amazon com.

The Inheritance of Solomon Farthing by Mary Paulson-Ellis


This book should without a doubt be on some prestigious lists. It is a superbly told story and Paulson-Ellis is a spectacular storyteller. The way she weaves the individual threads through the timelines and the story, is done in such a subtle way you almost don’t realise she is doing it.

The story takes place in the present with the heir hunter Solomon Farthing and in the past with his grandfather in the First World War. Whilst the story bounces back and forth it also takes pit-stops in the years in between. Connections are drawn from the small group of soldiers to the same men in the future and their offspring. The result is a well-plotted narrative about guilt, brotherhood, loyalty and a question of conscience.

There is a parallel between the betting games the soldiers play to pass the time and to fight the fear and anxiety, and the veterans who connect with each other after the war, specifically the items they place as bets. Each one of them brings something, leaves an item and then takes another thing with them. A spool of thread, buttons, walnuts, fruit, cap badges and a pawn ticket. Anything can become one man’s treasure in a setting where every single item can become as precious as a cave full of gold.

At times I had tears in my eyes, it’s emotional and nostalgic, especially because the author brings realism and authenticity to the table. As a reader you can’t help but think about the young boys and men who died under appalling circumstances. Often following the orders that meant they knew they were nothing but bullet fodder for the enemy. Nothing but numbers for their own country.

Would you lead your brothers in arms into death – on a suicide mission? Would you risk death to ensure others cheat death? Of course disregarding an order meant death by firing squad. The crimes of cowardice, pacifism and just pure trauma took far too many victims in the war.

It’s historical war fiction, literary fiction and simultaneously a story filled with unanswered questions and mysteries. It is an excellent read. A book that belongs on best books lists.

Buy The Inheritance of Solomon Farthing at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Mantle; pub date 5 Sept. 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

Follow @mspaulsonellis on Twitter, Visit marypaulsonellis.co.uk

#BlogTour From the City, From the Plough by Alexander Baron

It’s nothing short of an honour to take part in the BlogTour for From the City, From the Plough by Alexander Baron.

In September 2019, to mark the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War, IWM will launch a wonderful new series with four novels from their archives all set during the Second World War – Imperial War Museums Wartime Classics.

Originally published to considerable acclaim, these titles were written either during or just after the Second World War and are currently out of print. Each novel is written directly from the author’s own experience and takes the reader right into the heart of the conflict. They all capture the awful absurdity of war and the trauma and chaos of battle as well as some of the fierce loyalties and black humour that can emerge in extraordinary circumstances.

Living through a time of great upheaval, as we are today, each wartime story brings the reality of war alive in a vivid and profoundly moving way and is a timely reminder of what the previous generations experienced.

The remarkable IWM Library has an outstanding literary collection and was an integral part of Imperial War Museums from its very beginnings. Alan Jeffreys, (Senior Curator, Second World War, Imperial War Museums) searched the library collection to come up with these four launch titles, all of which deserve a new and wider audience. He has written an introduction to each novel that sets them in context and gives the wider historical background and says, ‘Researching the Wartime Classics has been one of the most enjoyable projects I’ve worked on in my years at IWM. It’s been very exciting rediscovering these fantastic novels and helping to bring them to the wider readership they so deserve’.

Each story speaks strongly to IWM’s remit to tell the stories of those who experienced conflict first hand. They cover diverse fronts and topics – preparations for D-Day and the advance into Normandy; the war in Malaya; London during the Blitz and SOE operations in occupied Europe and each author – three men and a woman – all have fascinating back stories. These are Second World War novels about the truth of war written by those who were actually there.

About the Author

Alexander Baron was a widely acclaimed author and screenwriter and his London novels have a wide following. This was his first novel.

During the Second World War he served with the Pioneer Corps in Sicily, Italy and northern France, basing From the City, From the Plough on his experiences of the D-Day Landings and the allied advance into Normandy.

Buy From the City, From the Plough at Amazon Uk

About the book

From the City, From the Plough by Alexander Baron – A vivid and moving account of preparations for – and the advance into Normandy. Published in the 75th anniversary year of the D-Day landings, this is based on the author’s first-hand experience of D-Day and has been described by Antony Beevor as‘undoubtedly one of the very greatest British novels of the Second World War.’


Let me just start off by saying that although these Wartime Classics are being issued to mark the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World, they should be read at any time, not just special anniversaries, in fact they should be part of the school curriculum. Part of a learning experience to teach the younger generations what so many brave men and women fought so hard for and how many of them gave their lives.

Another reason why this literature is so important is the authenticity, especially when it comes to this book. Baron spoke and wrote from experience and not just second-hand emotions, hear-say and experiences. He was there, he lived and breathed the pain, camaraderie and the death.

It’s both bizarre and a great shame that first-hand accounts are read less than those written with no first-hand experience.

We follow the Fifth Battalion, Wessex Regiment as they train and wait for D-Day. Then follow them through the horror of the beach landing and their descent into mayhem, death and battle. Men from every walk of life, who learn that they share one important thing in common. They are indeed a band of brothers. Brothers who support and protect each other, live together and die together.

I held it together until chapter twenty-two and twenty-three just made me cry. I can’t even fathom what it must be like to know you are nothing more than bullet fodder and a distraction ploy to ensure another battalion achieves a victory. These men still adhered to the orders, despite knowing what the outcome would be.

It’s an incredibly moving, authentic and well-written piece of historical war fiction based on factual experiences. It’s powerful and unforgettable. I will be buying all four of these books and also gifting them to others.

Buy From the City, From the Plough at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.Imperial War Museum Wartime Classics will all be on sale Thursday 26 September 2019; cost £8.99 paperback. Buy at Amazon com.

On the Imperial War Museums -IWM

IWM (Imperial War Museums) tells the story of people who have lived, fought and died in conflicts  involving Britain and the Commonwealth since the First World War.

Our unique collections, made up of the everyday and the exceptional, reveal stories of people, places, ideas and events. Using these, we tell vivid personal stories and create powerful physical experiences across our five museums that reflect the realities of war as both a destructive and creative force. We challenge people to look at conflict from different perspectives, enriching their understanding of the causes, course and consequences of war and its impact on people’s lives.

IWM’s five branches which attract over 2.5 million visitors each year are IWM London, IWM’s flagship branch that recently transformed with new, permanent and free First World War Galleries alongside new displays across the iconic Atrium to mark the Centenary of the First World War; IWM North, housed in an iconic award-winning building designed by Daniel Libeskind; IWM Duxford, a world renowned aviation museum and Britain’s best preserved wartime airfield; Churchill War Rooms, housed in Churchill’s secret headquarters below Whitehall; and the Second World War cruiser HMS Belfast.

Today is Paperback Publication Day for Appetite for Risk by Jack Leavers

It’s Launch weekend for Appetite for Risk by Jack Leavers! Today is Paperback Publication Day for this fast-paced riveting action thriller.

Follow @jackleavers on Twitter, on Goodreads, on Amazon, Visit jackleavers.com, Buy Appetite for Risk

About the book

A fast-paced action thriller inspired by real events in the aftermath of the Iraq War.

With Saddam Hussein deposed and an entire country in need of rebuilding, former Royal Marine John Pierce hears the siren call of adventure and opportunity. His fledgling UK business is struggling to support his young family and he has connections in the Iraqi capital – fate seems to point one way.

In early 2004, Pierce rolls the dice when he jumps into a taxi in Jordan and heads for the turmoil of postwar Baghdad to grab a share of the reconstruction gold rush. But when Iraq spirals into the hell of a full-blown insurgency, he must rely on his wits and his local friends if he’s to evade the rampant bloodshed.

As the action rolls across the blood-stained Iraqi landscape and embraces London’s seedy underbelly, Pierce tangles with the authorities at home and finds himself thrust into the heart of British and American covert operations against Al-Qaeda in Iraq.

Having set out with little more than ambitious goals and an appetite for risk, can a determined ex-bootneck survive the mounting chaos unscathed and succeed in hitting the jackpot?Review

I think I was somewhere between fascinated and thrown off by the way John has whole conversations with himself inside his head during the majority of the story. It’s written in a constantly flowing and updating journalistic report kind of way, and appears to be an ongoing thought process.

At first John appears to be a man with no threads or connections. The perfect person to move between all parties without inviting too much interest or attracting any for that matter. Not a spy, a silent asset or a company man. He is just someone who will use his expertise and excellent gut instinct to navigate dangerous situations for people who would rather remain hidden.

It’s very much a Jack Reacher kind of read, but with a more grounded family guy, who unfortunately appears to have a voracious appetite for dangerous situations. He is always smack bang in the middle of the action.

What Leavers does spectacularly well is to capture the tension between foreigners and the native inhabitants of Iraq. He doesn’t sugar-coat the volatility, the mistrust or the disdain towards foreign nationals. He straight up gives it to the reader in a brusque manner. Look, this is what happens when the dissidents capture you. Your life has no meaning to them other than honour for relieving the world of an infidel.

It’s a fast-paced riveting action thriller. The main character has a certain charm, which is directly linked to his need for speed and adventure.

Buy Appetite for Risk at Amazon Uk – Paperback – Kindle or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Book Guild Publishing Ltd; Paperback pub date 28 July 2019. Buy at Amazon com – Paperback – Kindle, Buy at Barnes&Noble.

#BlogTour The Blue Bench by Paul Marriner

Today it’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour The Blue Bench by Paul Marriner. It’s a powerful thought-provoking book, historical fiction with an element of literary fiction.

About the Author

Paul grew up in a west London suburb and now lives in Berkshire with his wife and two children. He is passionate about music, sport and, most of all, writing, on which he now concentrates full-time. Paul has written four novels and his primary literary ambition is that you enjoy reading them while he is hard at work on the next one (but still finding time to play drums with Redlands and Rags 2 Riches).

Follow @marriner_p on Twitter, on Goodreads, on Amazon,

Buy The Blue Bench

About the book

A masterfully written story of yearning and love in 1920 as a nation grieves – one soul, one person at a time. The body of the Unknown Warrior is coming home, can Britain find peace?

Margate 1920. The Great War is over but Britain mourns and its spirit is not yet mended.

Edward and William have returned from the front as changed men. Together they have survived grotesque horrors and remain haunted by memories of comrades who did not come home. The summer season in Margate is a chance for them to rebuild their lives and reconcile the past.

Evelyn and Catherine are young women ready to live life to the full. Their independence has been hard won and, with little knowledge of the cost of their freedom, they are ready to face new challenges side by side.

Can they define their own future and open their hearts to the prospect of finding love? Will the summer of 1920 be a turning point for these new friends? As the body of the Unknown Warrior is returned, can the nation find a way forward?Review

Instead of bringing the war to the reader, Marriner brings the aftermath of the war to us. In a way it makes the entirety of the event even more tragic. It’s one thing following a character through the horror of war, it’s quite another to realise the horror never leaves, despite the war being over.

In essence that is the feeling that permeates throughout the story. The emotional ball that is buried deeply within the survivors and in those left behind to mourn.

There is a poignant scene in the book between Edward and Alastair. When Edward asks Alastair whether he spends each day looking out to sea in the hopes that he will see, experience or feel a connection to Curtis. The scene cuts like a knife into the indescribable grief loved ones were and are left with.

The Unknown Warrior plays an important role in this book, as he does in history. His role is symbolic, his role is a tribute and in memoriam, and most importantly he is every soldier who never returned. He is both death and life. The symbol of loss and simultaneously one of courage.

I think it’s important to note that it wasn’t common practice to ship the dead back home. Logistically it would have been difficult, however the effect on the moral of those men going to war would have been detrimental to the war effort. Imagine being a young man shipping out with a certain naive and innocent outlook on what to expect and having to encounter the corpses of the men who went before them. The Unknown Warrior represents those who never came home. He is everyone’s son, husband, brother and father.

I think many people are unaware of the work and dedication that went into ensuring as many soldiers as possible have a resting place that marks the fact they died for their country. A place loved ones and future generations can visit whilst pondering the sacrifice and tragedy of the Great War.

A certain number of men who served relentlessly and during the bloodiest of battles were charged with digging up and moving the corpses of their brothers in arms. Often only regimental badges or small items were found to identify the remains. These men spent another two to three years overseas burying and re-burying the dead and creating the cemeteries and marking the places of memorial we have today.

I digress.

I have to say for me the book was less about love, relationships and building a life beyond war. For me it was a walk with ghosts and memories. An homage to the men they fought with and knew. The men who didn’t return and those who did. How the country deals with the repercussions, the loss and the vivid reminders of war. How the maimed, disfigured and damaged veterans have to try and reinsert themselves into a society they no longer belong in per se, because they are forced to exist on the perimeter of it.

It’s a powerful thought-provoking book, historical fiction with an element of literary fiction. I could talk about it for ages, perhaps you should read it instead.

Buy The Blue Bench at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Bluescale Publishing; pub date 12 Jun. 2018. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour The Stars in the Night by Clare Rhoden

Today it’s the BlogTour The Stars in the Night by Clare Rhoden. It’s historical fiction with intense war scenes, and it’s also the story about the strong bond of brotherhood

Enter the Giveaway below to Win a Signed copy of The Stars in the Night, a metal poppy brooch and a cross-stitch poppy card (Open Internationally). 

About the Author

Clare Rhoden writes historical fiction, sci-fi and fantasy (check her titles at Odyssey Books http://odysseybooks.com.au/). Clare lives in Melbourne Australia with her husband Bill, their super-intelligent poodle-cross Aeryn, a huge and charming parliament of visiting magpies, and a very demanding/addictive garden space.

Clare completed her PhD in Australian WWI literature at the University of Melbourne in 2011, and a Masters of Creative Writing in 2008, in which she investigated the history of her grandparents who emigrated for Europe to Port Adelaide in January 1914. The Stars in the Night is the result of her research.

Follow @ClareER on Twitter, on Facebook, on Instagram, Visit clarerhoden.com

Buy The Stars in the Night

About the book

“Harry Fletcher is a confident young man, sure that he will marry Nora, no matter what their families say. He will always protect Eddie, the boy his father saved from the gutters of Port Adelaide.

Only the War to End All Wars might get in the way of Harry’s plans…

From the beaches of Semaphore to the shores of Gallipoli, the mud of Flanders to the red dust of inland South Australia, this is a story of love, brotherhood, and resilience.”


I’ll admit I wasn’t expecting this read to be as introspective and deep as it was. The author combines the tragedy and horror of war with the more trivial moments of these fictional characters. Eddie becomes a symbol of the type of haunting trauma the men and women emerged with after dealing with the atrocities caused by men playing strategy, as those in charge sat safely in their offices and homes.

Even at the end nothing is more prevalent in Harry’s thoughts than the fate of his brother Eddie. Even decades after he last saw him, he is filled with fear and heartache at the thought Eddie might have called out for him. That he might have taken days to die by himself, feeling abandoned like he was by his abusive mother. Harry feels as if he let Eddie down, and there is nothing anyone can do or say to alleviate the guilt.

Although the fate of Eddie and how Harry suffers isn’t a singular experience, the fact the focus is on the two of them makes it more tangible for the reader. We know the facts and figures of the Great War. The Lost Generation and the repercussions of the war. Aside from the ones who were recorded as dead, there are still tens of thousands who remain MIA. No narrative for the loved ones, no exact place to pay respects and no certainty of death.

I would personally find that much more difficult to cope with than a definitive answer or an eyewitness account. There will always be a part of those left behind that expect their husbands, father and sons to just turn up again. It’s the not knowing that destroys the soul.

I really enjoyed the fact Rhoden didn’t tell the story from the perspective of a romantic relationship. Instead it’s a story of love between two men who are brothers in every sense of the word except by birth. Brotherhood, camaraderie and an unbreakable bond of trust between the two of them.

It’s historical fiction with intense war scenes, and it’s also the story about the strong bond of brotherhood. I was impressed with the way the author described the combat scenes and the way the characters talked about war. It’s not easy to capture the desperation, the feeling of helplessness and the reality of being used as bullet fodder. Simultaneously she captures the courage, the fear and the confusion of the situation. It’s a sad read, but also one that speaks of moving forward in spite of the sorrow and the loss.

Buy The Stars in the Night at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Odyssey Books; pub date 26 Jan. 2019. Buy at Amazon com. Buy at Barnes and Noble. At Odyssey.

Enter the Giveaway to Win a Signed copy of The Stars in the Night, a metal poppy brooch and a cross-stitch poppy card (Open Internationally).

Click here to Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway

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

#BlogTour Leo’s War by Patricia Murphy

Today it’s my pleasure to take part in the BlogTour for Leo’s War by Patricia Murphy. It’s historical fiction written for both younger and older readers, combining historical facts with a fictional family and scenario to inspire reading and to educate. Don’t miss the Giveaway at the bottom of the post! (Open to UK only)

About the Author

Patricia Murphy is the bestselling author of The Easter Rising 1916 – Molly’s Diary and Dan’s Diary – the War of Independence 1920-22 published by Poolbeg.

She has also written the prize-winning “The Chingles” trilogy of children’s Celtic fantasy novels.   Patricia is also an award winning Producer/Director of documentaries including Children of Helen House, the BBC series on a children’s hospice and Born to Be Different Channel 4’s flagship series following children born with disabilities. Many of her groundbreaking programmes are about children’s rights and topics such as growing up in care, crime and the criminal justice system. She has also made a number of history programmes including Worst Jobs in History with Tony Robinson for Channel 4 and has produced and directed films for the Open University.

Patricia grew up in Dublin and is a graduate in English and History from Trinity College Dublin and of Journalism at Dublin City University. She now lives in Oxford with her husband and young daughter.

Follow @_PatriciaMurphy @PoolbegBooks on Twitter

Buy Leo’s War

About the book

It’s 1943 and young Leo tries to protect his disabled sister Ruby as the Nazis invade Italy.  After his mother is arrested, he turns to Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty to save them.  But he is no ordinary priest.  Known as ‘The Pimpernel of the Vatican’, the Monsignor is the legendary organizer of the Rome Escape Line.  Soon Leo is helping out with this secret network dedicated to saving the lives of escaped prisoners of war, partisans and Jews. But as the sinister Nazi leader Kappler closes in on the network, can Leo and his sister stay out of his evil clutches?


Murphy takes moments in history and creates a reading experience that simultaneously teaches and entertains. She combines real historical facts and people with a fictional storyline, but her fiction is kept as close to the real events as possible.

Leo is stuck in a precarious position in Italy, during a dangerous time for the child of someone in the Allied Forces. A boy of Jewish heritage, the brother of a disabled sister, and the son of a woman dealing in secrets. There were probably many Leo’s or young boys with vulnerable sisters and missing parents, during World War 2. In that sense Leo plays a pivotal role and yet at the same time his story is synonymous with many others.

There are sets of scholastic books with a similar setting, however they tend to be short, factual and less of an engrossing read. I think the author wants readers, especially younger readers, to experience the emotional repercussions and the traumatic events on a more personal level. Instead of just being bombarded with facts, and being overwhelmed by the atrocities, the reader engages with Leo and is interested in his survival. In that sense the author achieves her goal, because it is hands on history.

One of the other elements of Leo’s War is using bonafide historical figures and events, victims and heroes to solidify the story, and also to make people aware of the forgotten heroes in history. The people brave enough to resist oppression, to save the innocent and willing to die to free their country from fascist regimes. The forgotten voices and names in history.

One of those names and people is Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty, a man known for his Catholic resistance to Nazism, and for saving over 6500 Jews and Allied soldiers. He used his connections, his fellow priests and the walls of the inner sanctum of the Vatican to save as many people as he could. He was known as ‘The Scarlet Pimpernel of the Vatican’ and his cat and mouse games with the SS have become the subject of movies and books.

If, as an author, you can entice not only willing but also reluctant readers to read and to learn about history at the same time, then you have most definitely done your job. Would I buy this book to introduce a younger reader to the atrocities of the Nazi regime in Italy, the answer is yes. Murphy shows the turmoil, violence and danger without graphic details, and mass murder in a way that the reader acknowledges the horror, but isn’t afraid to keep reading.

Leo’s War is our history and the history of your descendants. Knowledge is power. It prepares future generations and makes them aware of the mistakes we shouldn’t repeat. It’s also a birdsong of resistance and rebellion.

Buy Leo’s War at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Buy at Bookdepository Poolbeg Easons.com

Publisher: Poolbeg Books

Enter the Giveaway below to win a £30 Amazon Gift Voucher (Open to UK Only)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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