#BlogTour Wartime for the Shop Girls by Joanna Toye

Today it’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Wartime for the Shop Girls by Joanna Toye.

About the Author

Joanna Toye joined the production team of The Archers after reading English at Cambridge University, and became a scriptwriter for the programme for over twenty years. She has written a number of spin-off books about the long-running radio drama. On television, she has written for Crossroads, Doctors and Eastenders.

Follow @JoannaToye on Twitter, on Instagramon Amazonon GoodreadsBuy Wartime for the Shop Girls

About the book

It’s 1942 and as shortages of staff – and goods – begin to bite, young Lily Collins is thrilled to step up to sales junior in her job at Marlow’s department store.

But bombs are still falling and Lily and fellow shop girls Gladys and Beryl need a stiff upper lip to wave boyfriends, husbands and brothers goodbye, especially with a baby on the way and grim news on the wireless. When Jim, who works with Lily at the store, seems restless, things are bad enough, but nothing can prepare Lily for the secrets that come tumbling out when her favourite brother comes home on leave…

Somehow, she must keep smiling trough. Community, family and friends rally round as her home town – and the whole country – is tested once again.


This is the second book in a new series set in the fictional department store Marlow’s. Both books can absolutely also be read as standalone novels.

The charm of this series is the normality of it all, well as normal as it can be when you’re writing about World War II. Instead of delving into the horrors of that period in history Toye gives the readers the war at home. The changes, the coping and the new structures needed to sustain everyone on the homefront.

How everyone comes together to support Beryl while she is feeling vulnerable and Gladys becomes brave enough to speak her mind. The way Lily deals with a secret that brings grave consequences with it. All of them know that they are stronger together, as opposed to letting themselves be ripped apart by the tragic losses and fear they experience.

The focus is on a few characters, family and friends and the way they deal with the heartache and the fear. It gives it a warmer feel – emotions and situations the reader can relate to. It could be your family, which is exactly what the strength of the series is.

It’s historical fiction set in Britain during World War II. Toye uses the department store to show the changes and difficulties during that time on a small scale, which makes it easier to imagine and comprehend all of it on a national scale. Women stepping into the roles of men to ensure that the country, and the war machine kept running. Families having to deal with the uncertainty of their loved one being in the midst of dangerous conflicts. Hoping every day that a death or MIA message wouldnt be delivered to their door.

The author captures all of that in this heartfelt story, which is ultimately about family and friendships holding each person together in the most difficult time of their lives. It will be interesting to follow Lily, Beryl and Gladys as their stories continue in the third book of this series.

Buy Wartime for the Shop Girls at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: HarperCollins pub date 23 Jan. 2020. Buy at Amazon com.

#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.

#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

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