Green Hands by Barbara Whitton #BookReview

Today it’s my turn on the blog tour with Random Things Tours for this wonderful story, which is the latest in the Imperial War Museum – Wartime Classics series and was published on 3rd September 2020.

The blurb …

It is 1943, and a month into their service as Land Girls, Bee, Anne and Pauline are dispatched to a remote farm in rural Scotland. Here they are introduced to the realities of ‘lending a hand on the land’, as back-breaking work and inhospitable weather mean they struggle to keep their spirits high.

Soon one of the girls falters, and Bee and Pauline receive a new posting to a Northumberland dairy farm. Detailing their friendship, daily struggles and romantic intrigues with a lightness of touch, Barbara Whitton’s autobiographical novel paints a sometimes funny, sometimes bleak picture of time spent in the Women’s Land Army during the Second World War.

My review …

Green Hands is a fictionalised account of the author’s real life experience as a Land Girl in 1939 and is told from Barbara Whitton’s, or Bee’s, point of view. She tells us the stories of her time working on a farm in Scotland and then onto a dairy farm in Northumberland.

The arduous work and the physical effect on the girls is described in back breaking detail, the weather is mostly awful and their accommodation leaves a lot to be desired, especially when they are in Scotland living and working with the frugal Mr and Mr Thompson. However, everything considered, Bee’s story still comes across as a positive experience as she learns to take pride in her work and proves that women can do a ‘man’s job’.

She writes warmly of the friends she makes, evenings out and witty stories of having to fend off the amorous advances of potential suitors. Bee forms a special friendship with fellow Land Girl Pauline, who is a loveable, clumsy and comical character in contrast to Bee herself who comes across as much more self assured and mature.

It was lovely to read about a different way of life in that era, such as evenings sat listening to the radio, reading and writing letters, the food they ate (lots of tea, bread and jam), the blackout and the proper use of the english language, although it was quite jarring to read the words ‘fat’ and ‘tubby’ so often aimed at the lovely Pauline.

The majority of the book describes working outside and the descriptions of the landscape, animals and nature were absolutely beautiful;

‘The first field of hay is finished … behind him he leaves the broken spears of a vanquished army, their brave plumes broken, and their white bones bleaching in the sun. A host of dying marguerites and clover flowers load the air with the heavy scent of their mortality, and the already laden bees are completely intoxicated’

This book was simply lovely. Intelligently written and completely charming I found myself smiling along as I read all about Bee’s adventures as a Land Girl, as well as being in awe of the strength and determination of these women.

Praise for Green Hands …

“Tales from the home front are always more authentic when written from personal experience, as is the case here. Barbara Whitton evokes the highs and lows, joys and agonies of being a Land Girl in the Second World War.” — Julie Summers

“Witty, warm and hugely endearing, Barbara Whitton s Green Hands is full of engaging characters, burgeoning friendships and pure hard-graft. A lovely novel for anyone interested in wartime Britain, it leaves the reader with renewed admiration for the indefatigable work of the Women s Land Army.” — AJ Pearce

About the author …

MARGARET HAZEL WATSON (writing under the pseudonym Barbara Whitton) was born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1921. She was educated at the Church High Girls School in Newcastle, and later sent to St Leonards School in St Andrews. Due to study Art in Paris, her training was curtailed by the outbreak of the Second World War.

Having volunteered for the Women’s Land Army (WLA) in 1939, she worked as a Land Girl for around a year before moving to the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry (FANY) and later joining the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) as a driver, where she remained for the duration of the war. Her novel Green Hands is a fictionalised account of her time spent as a Land Girl, detailing the back-breaking hard work and intensity of her experience with good humour and an enchanting lightness of touch. During her time with the ATS she met her husband Pat Chitty and they were married in 1941. After the war, she wrote a number of accounts of her wartime experience and retained an interest in art, literature and horticulture throughout her life. She died in 2016.

Follow the blog tour …

Thank you so much to Random Things Tours, Imperial War Museum and Angela Martin for my spot on the tour and for my gifted copy of the book.

💚

The Story of Babushka by Catherine Flores #BookReview

I’m pleased to be sharing my review with you on the first day of the book tour for The Story of Babushka by Catherine Flores. Thank you so much to Love Books Tours for inviting me to take part and for my gifted copy of this gorgeous book 🌸

The blurb …

A beautifully illustrated book, with a magnificent story that children and tweens will love.

Babushka wants to find out the meaning of life so she sends her bodies out of the forest and into the world to search for answers. But there is a hurdle to overcome, before all the bodies can reunite and return to the forest forever. 

The babushka doll, also known as a matryoshka or Russian nesting doll, is a traditional Russian toy first made over 100 years ago. The doll has come to symbolise Russian folk culture, as well as the complex and beautiful layers of women. 

Babushka dolls are made of wood and painted in bright colours and patterns. Each Babushka is made in a set of many round dolls each a little smaller than the last. They separate at the middle so that each doll can be placed inside the one before it. There are some Babushka dolls with as many as fifty dolls nested inside her.

This is the story of one very special doll with five bodies that together make the Babushka.

My review …

This book is absolutely beautiful in every way. From the vibrant and enchanting illustrations by Ana Beatriz Marques, to the meaningful and charming story.

The story of Babushka starts when she wants to find out the meaning of life, so each of her bodies leave the forest and go out into the world to see what they can learn:

The outer body, Antonia represents Babushka’s beautiful outer appearance.

Beneath Antonia is Loretta who represents Babushka’s wealth.

Beneath Loretta is Paula who represents Babushka’s talents.

Beneath Paula is Viola who represents Babushka’s wisdom.

And in the centre is Mary who represents Babushka’s heart and inner voice.

Each body finds her own way into the world looking for love, to help people, to find work and to spark her creativity until only Mary is left in the forest. But Mary starts to feel unhappy and realises that she needs to find the meaning in her own life and she sets out on an adventure of her own to reunite her different bodies and they each bring back the lessons that they have learned to make Babushka whole again.

It was lovely reading this book with my eight-year-old daughter and she also really enjoyed the colouring sheets from the author’s website. She loved the pictures of the forest and also the wonderful concept of the story. There were so many important lessons here that we could talk about together, such as the value of friendship, that beauty comes from within and that money cannot make you happy. This book really does make you think about your life, the way we work, the environment we live in and what we are teaching our children about themselves.

I loved this book and the hardback copy is so beautiful it would make a wonderful children’s gift. It really would be a valuable addition to any child’s bookshelf.

About the author …

Since quitting her full-time job at a branding communication agency in Zurich, Catherine has gone on to become a successful freelance designer and a children’s author. She spends most of her time on the small island of Madeira with her family, spending her time growing vegetables in her garden and working for clients from around the world.

She is currently working on the follow up to the 2020 release of “The Story Of Babushka”

Author Social Media Links:

Instagram:

Author: www.instagram.com/JourneytoFantastic

Book: www.instagram.com/StoryofBabushka

Twitter:

Author: www.twitter.com/AuthorFlores

Facebook:

Book: www.facebook.com/TheStoryofBabushka

Website:

Author: www.catherineflores.ch

Book: www.TheStoryofBabushka.com

Buy Link: 

YouTube Trailer – https://youtu.be/jKnDGZ2e1VY – Book Trailer

Follow the tour …

Thanks for reading!

💗

Scrublands by Chris Hammer #BookReview

I was very lucky to receive an invite to join in with the Tandem Collective readalong for this fantastic book. A readalong is where a group of bookworms on instagram all get sent a lovely gifted copy of the book and we read it at roughly the same pace over the course of a week. A group message is set up with all the participants and, as we read the book, we can chat about it together, which was great fun as there are some very colourful characters in this story! We also share our thoughts on the prompt cards which are hidden within the pages of the book. At the end of the week we all post our reviews to our bookstagram feeds and lastly we had an event on zoom to wrap up the readalong; there was a quiz and a Q&A with Chris Hammer who also gave us some great recommendations for other books in the bush noir genre. I love taking part in these events, it’s like a virtual book club and Tandem Collective are really lovely to work with, they make everything fun and there is no pressure to stick rigidly to their reading schedule.

So about the book …

The blurb …

In a country town ravaged by drought, a charismatic young priest opens fire on the congregation, killing five men before being shot dead himself.

A year later, journalist Martin Scarsden arrives in Riversend to write a feature on the anniversary of the tragedy. But the stories he hears from the locals don’t fit with the accepted version of events.

Just as Martin believes he is making headway, a shocking discovery rocks the town. The media descends on Riversend and Martin is the one in the spotlight.

Wrestling with his own demons, Martin finds himself risking everything to uncover a truth that becomes more complex with every twist. But there are powerful forces determined to stop him, and he has no idea how far they will go to make sure the town’s secrets stay buried.

My review …

I thought this was a great Australian crime novel which I’ve now learned is a genre known as outback noir or bush noir. I loved the setting and the Australian lingo, but I think I have a soft spot for Australian drama after being brought up watching Home & Away and Neighbours! 

The setting is incredibly atmospheric. The weather is stifling hot and the town is suffering from drought and bush fires. The town and it’s people are struggling following the horrific crime committed by the priest. Many have moved away and shops and businesses are closing and it is described as a ‘town of death’

Martin scarsden arrives at Riversend to write an article on the one year anniversary since the shootings, but he actually goes beyond his journalistic duties and plays a huge part in solving the mystery surrounding the event. I loved Martin’s character, he is laid back and personable but also a complicated character who is struggling to move on from a traumatic event from his past. 

In fact all of the characters in this book are fantastic. They are so original, quirky, contradictory and flawed and I really enjoyed getting to know them all. 

Chris hammer is a great storyteller and his writing just flowed so beautifully and drew me in right from the first chapter. There is a great pace to the story and considering it is a multi-layered mystery I found it easy to follow, whilst still being completely unpredictable.

I really would recommend this book and the Tandem Collective have also, very generously, gifted the sequel to the readalong group. It’s called Silver and it’s out now in the UK and I can’t wait to read it to find out what Martin gets up to next.  

About the author …

Chris Hammer was a journalist for more than thirty years, dividing his career between covering Australian federal politics and international affairs. During the summer of 2008-09, at the height of the millennial drought, Chris travelled extensively throughout eastern Australia researching his non-fiction book, The River, published in 2010 to critical acclaim. The drought, his journey through the Murray – Darling Basin and time spent in the New South Wales Riverina inspired the setting for Scrublands. Chris has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in international relations. He lives in Canberra.

Scrublands purchase link: https://bit.ly/3eBBcc2

Thanks for reading!

🧡

The Beast and the Bethany by Jack Meggitt-Phillips #BookReview

Hello and welcome back to my blog where today I am part of The Write Reads blog tour for this weird and wonderful new children’s book from Jack Meggit-Phillips which is published by Egmont on 1st October. Thank you all for having me on the tour and for my gifted e-book 💚 Even more exciting news is that this story is being made into a big budget Hollywood movie by Warner Brothers!

The blurb …

The most exciting new children’s book of 2020 and a modern classic in the making.The Beast and the Bethanyhas all the classic macabre humour of Roald Dahl with the warmth and charm ofDespicable Me, finished off with a gleeful bite ofLittle Shop of Horrors! This book should be on every little monster’s birthday and Christmas list.

Ebenezer Tweezer is a youthful 511-year-old. He keeps a beast in the attic of his mansion, who he feeds all manner of things (including performing monkeys, his pet cat and the occasional cactus) and in return the beast vomits out presents for Ebenezer, as well as potions which keep him young and beautiful. But the beast grows ever greedier, and soon only a nice, juicy child will do. So when Ebenezer encounters orphan Bethany, it seems like (everlasting) life will go on as normal. But Bethany is not your average orphan…

My review …

I really enjoyed this story and it was great to be able to read a book to my eight-year-old daughter that kept us both entertained, but in different ways. I could appreciate the depth of the plot while my daughter was swept away with the humour and gore of the story.

As the blurb explains, Ebeneezer has to feed the beast in his attic all sorts of things and in return the beast vomits out (yes gross, but the kids love it) various items that Ebeneezer wants, including a potion that keeps him forever young. But he has essentially created a monster to feed his own selfish desires, and when the beast demands a child to eat, Ebeneezer is in two minds. He knows that this is probably a step too far, but his vanity and greed gets the better of him and he sets out to find a child for the beast. Ebeneezer eases his conscience by finding the most horrible child he can, but will his plan be as straightforward as he thinks?

Jack Meggitt-Phillips’ writing style is intelligent, witty and enthralling and it draws you into Ebeneezer’s strange little world. The descriptions are so imaginative and appealing to young children, for instance ‘the house was as wide as a dozen elephants’. You can imagine the picture this conjures up, and they will love the gruesome descriptions of the smelly beast and his eating habits. There are also references that might go over a child’s head, but which made me laugh, such as the little suitcase that Bethany finds, I won’t give anything away, but I thought that was genius.

The characterisation is brilliant. Ebeneezer is eccentric and posh while Bethany is feisty and brattish. Both are flawed characters that you just can’t help but like, and it was wonderful to see how the characters grow emotionally and how their relationship evolves throughout the book.

Aside from all the fun and silliness, the story will evoke empathy in children as orphaned Bethany has a very sad backstory, but this is hugely important for a child’s emotional development and why reading with children is so important.

The illustrations are superb and they fit perfectly with the quirky and dark nature of the book. My daughter loved studying them so much that it took a while to get back to reading at times!

The story keeps a great pace all the way through, right up until the exciting ending that will have children on the edge of their seats. This is a fabulously dark and amusing book that kids will love. My daughter and I are looking forward to the release of the movie, as well as the sequel to this book – The Beast and the Bethany 2 – Uncaged!

About the author …

Jack Meggitt-Phillips is an incredibly exciting new talent. He is an author, scriptwriter and playwright whose work has been performed at The Roundhouse and featured on Radio 4. He is scriptwriter and presenter of The History of Advertising podcast. In his mind, Jack is an enormously talented ballroom dancer, however his enthusiasm far surpasses his actual talent. Jack lives in north London where he spends most of his time drinking peculiar teas and reading PG Wodehouse novels.

The illustrator …

Isabelle Follath is an illustrator who has worked in advertising, fashion magazines and book publishing, but her true passion lies in illustrating children’s books. She also loves drinking an alarming amount of coffee, learning new crafts and looking for the perfect greenish-gold colour. Isabellelives in Zurich, Switzerland.

Follow the blog tour …

Search the hashtags and follow @TheWriteReads on twitter …

Thanks for reading!

💚

Emily Knight – I Am Becoming by A.Bello #BlogTour #WeNeedDiverseBooks

I am so pleased to be talking to you about Abiola Bello’s new book, the third in the Emily Knight Series – I Am Becoming, as part of the Blog Tour with publicists Literally PR and Hashtag Press publishers, and my spot on the tour is extra special as it’s also Publication Day!

I was very kindly sent a gorgeous signed copy of this book – just look at that striking cover! Although I’m not reviewing this one just yet, because I want to start reading at the beginning of the series, I wanted to write a blog post about it because I’m so excited by the author and everything that she is doing to promote diversity in children’s reading. And this is EXACTLY the type of book that I want to be reading with my daughters. So, firstly I’ll give you the blurb on the book and then I’ll tell you all about the wonderful author Abiola Bello.

The blurb …

Homecoming. Sacrifice. Family. Fire

The Knights are finally reunited and ready to defeat Neci once and for all. But Neci is one step ahead and is targeting them one by one. When Neci takes one of Emily’s best friends hostage, Emily leads the elite team on a rescue mission but nothing can prepare them for what Neci has planned. 

Book 3 in the best-selling, award-winning, CILIP Carnegie Medal nominated fantasy series.

You can read about the first two books in this series at the end of this post.

‘Emily Knight is back in all her brilliant, brave glory! She’s a fabulously inspirational heroine.’

Joanne Owen, LoveReading4Kids

‘If you haven’t checked out this series for you or your children then WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR!?’

Popthebutterfly Book Reviews

‘A.Bello represents the long-awaited evolution of diversity in the literature world. Creating a character like Emily Knight who provides YA readers of colour their own heroine to look up to! Really excited about this series!

The British Blacklist

The Emily Knight series is aimed at children around the ages of ten to fifteen years old (and beyond because I can’t wait to read them!) and would be a fantastic book to read in a school setting; there are even classroom discussion questions at the back of the book.

About the author …

Abiola Bello

A. Bello is an award-winning author and publishing entrepreneur, born and raised in London, where she still lives and works.

In 2018, Abiola was named ‘Trailblazer of the Year’ by London Book Fair. Abiola wrote her first novel at the age of eight – when she fought monsters and dragons on a daily basis – and experienced her first taste of ‘being published’ after winning a school poetry competition at the age of 12. Seeing her words in print fuelled a passion for writing that remains to this day. 

The first incarnation of the Emily Knight story can be traced back almost 20 years; Abiola wanted to fill the gaping hole in children’s fiction for an inspirational, strong, black, female, young protagonist. This ‘gap’ in publishing remains in today’s publishing world despite continued calls for more diversity in terms of the authors creating the books and the characters and plot lines within the stories. 

She is the founder of The Lil’ Author School and co-founder of The Author School (shortlisted for The Great British Entrepreneur Awards 2016 and celebrating its fifth birthday in 2020). Abiola is also co-founder of The Diverse Book Awards and Hashtag BLAK. Abiola is regularly asked to contribute to the media; she has been featured in About Time Magazine, Cosmopolitan, Female First, Daily Mirror, BBC1XTRA, The Bookseller, The British Blacklist, Melan Magazine, London Post, and many more. 

Abiola is also a regular at literary festivals and gives talks to children in primary and secondary schools, as well as to young writers and people wishing to get into the publishing business.

You can follow Abiola Bello here:
https://www.a-bello.com/
https://twitter.com/emilyknightiam
https://www.facebook.com/emilyknightiam
https://www.hashtagpress.co.uk/product-page/emily-knight-bundle

Make sure to follow the rest of the tour by checking out the other bloggers involved …

#EK3 
#EmilyKnightIAmBecoming 
#AbiolaBello 
#UKMG 
#UKYA 
#YABooks 
#WeNeedDiverseBooks 
@literallypr 
@hashtag_press 
@ABelloWrites 
@abiolabello

The first two books in the Emily Knight series are …

Emily Knight, I Am …

How does it feel to be different and misunderstood? And who cares? Emily Knight is young and famous, self-aware and intelligent. But what if the one thing that makes Emily different also makes her a target for evil? Can she defend herself…and everything she loves?

Emily Knight, I Am Awakened …

Dark times are upon us. Neci is back and she is more dangerous than ever. The warriors are forced to pick a side and to stand up for what theybelieve in. The race is on to find the missing warrior first. It’s the onlyway to prevent a war from happening and to stop Neci fromdestroying everything. Emily Knight has to get sharper, stronger and fasterbecause Neci has made her a target and someone is going to great lengths to hurt her. Can Emily win the race? Or will Neci take her down once and for all?

Thank you so much for reading my blog post and let me know in the comments if you have any more #WeNeedDiverseBooks recommendations!

❤️

The Summer of Madness by Alexander Raphael #BookReview

The blurb …

In the summer of love, or rather of madness, a whole set of stories are emerging. But there is one that has got everyone talking. When Kurt Vannes decides to win back his ex-girlfriend with the help of a literary classic, he sets off a string of events that will build to a dramatic finale.

My review …

This is a well written and enjoyable short story. We follow Kurt as he tries every trick in the book to try to woo back his ex-girlfriend Sophia, until his last ditch attempt when he decides to read aloud from her favourite book in public, which garners a lot of attention, judgements and opinions – good and bad. It also has a knock-on effect on members of his audience. Romantic? Maybe. Will it work? Who knows. You’ll have to read it to find out and the moral of the story is – don’t take your loved ones for granted!

About the author …

Half-Welsh, half-Mexican and growing up in London, Alex Raphael was surrounded by different influences and interests. But it was always books that spoke to him most and had the greatest impact.He started writing when at college, where his love of reading evolved into a desire to write, in particular focusing on poetry and short stories. Studying English and American Literature at university meant he took a break from writing, as well as giving him the chance to see more of Mexico on his travels. He concentrated on his journalistic career while working on different writing projects, but his favourite genre of literature has always been short stories as they are what first inspired him to write.That’s why his first book wasThe Summer of Madness, a romantic short story that tells of a guy who goes out to try to win his ex-girlfriend back. Will you be rooting for Kurt and his big public gesture or is it more complicated than that and you don’t want her to date him again? Either way you’ll get to know a memorable set of characters along for the ride.His second bookIllusions, Delusionsreflects Raphael’s love of alternative short stories from the writers of his childhood and challenges the idea of the narrative. Will your favourite be the story in the form of a questionnaire, a poem or a set of jokes, among the seven very different styles?Alex Raphael is currently working on his third collection of short stories, which will provide a wide blend of genres and an assortment of very original premises and distinctive character, with his trademark imagination, humour and memorable dialogue.

Social Media Links:

Home

https://alexraphael.wordpress.com/

Purchase Links:

US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1798966220

UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Summer-Madness-Alexander-Raphael/dp/1798966220/

Follow the tour …

Thanks for reading!

💗

Other Girls Like Me by Stephanie Davies #BlogTour

Hello and welcome back to my blog where today I have the pleasure of sharing an extract with you from Stephanie Davies’ inspirational new book Other Girls Like Me, a fascinating and lyrical coming of age memoir about a woman’s experiences at Greenham Common

The blurb …

Till now, Stephanie has done her best to play by the rules—which seem to be stacked against girls like her. It doesn’t help that she wants to play football, dress like a boy, and fight apartheid in South Africa—despite living in rural middle England—as she struggles to find her voice in a world where everything is different for girls.

Then she hears them on the radio. Greenham women—an irreverent group of lesbians, punk rockers, mothers, and activists who have set up camp outside a US military base to protest nuclear war—are calling for backups in the face of imminent eviction from their muddy tents. She heads there immediately, where a series of adventures—from a break-in to a nuclear research centre to a doomed love affair with a punk rock singer in a girl band—changes the course of her life forever. But the sense of community she has found is challenged when she faces tragedy at home.

Then she hears them on the radio. Greenham women—an irreverent group of lesbians, punk rockers, mothers, and activists who have set up camp outside a US military base to protest nuclear war—are calling for backups in the face of imminent eviction from their muddy tents. She heads there immediately, where a series of adventures—from a break-in to a nuclear research centre to a doomed love affair with a punk rock singer in a girl band—changes the course of her life forever. But the sense of community she has found is challenged when she faces tragedy at home.

Sneak preview …

Chapter One

FREE NELSON MANDELA The Specials

A CHILDHOOD IN St. Mary Bourne—an English village of thatched roof cottages winding along the banks of the Bourne River with its swaying water weeds, frogspawn, and fluttering ducks—was a childhood filled with wonders. I waded through fresh waters as the river rose anew from its barren bed each spring; swung across the river on tyres attached to ropes on summer nights; warmed my hands at autumn bonfires on golden evenings; and rolled in deep snow banks in the winter.

My family of six lived at the edge of the village, behind the flint schoolhouse adjacent to the primary school that my three siblings and I attended. There were eleven pupils in my year, with funny last names like Bone and Strange and Gibbons. We arrived in this peculiar land from the industrial north when I was six, my sister Kate was nine, my brother, Robert, four, with baby Sarah arriving not long after we did, bundled out of the ambulance one November afternoon and bustled into the bright kitchen for us to peer at in curiosity. People thought our Northern accents strange, but we soon lost them and became posh instead, never catching the lilting Hampshire accent that was so different from any I had ever heard.

Everything was different here. No lorries or buses rumbled past our front door, but instead there were fields and birds and horses wherever I looked, accompanied by the soothing sound of wood pigeons, hidden in trees. I lost myself in books and played classical guitar in the privacy of my attic bedroom, its slanted skylight revealing the stars, moon, and clouds in the changing sky. One evening at dusk, I watched spellbound from my bedroom window as two steaming bulls locked horns on the hill behind our house, the air visible from their flaring nostrils as they snorted and pounded the ground, dust flying. My father had landed a new job in what seemed like paradise.

But just fifteen miles away, a stretch of ancient common land, with jumping deer, bounding rabbits, and soaring kestrels, had been turned into an air force base that was soon to house the deadliest weapons ever held on our green and pleasant land: American cruise missiles, poised to strike against the Soviet Union. The first tiny signs came to us like the first buds of flowers in spring—first one American military family, then another, rented out cottages in the village; first one news piece, then another, announced the mounting support of our Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher for the United States President Ronald Reagan’s build up to war.

St. Mary Bourne may have seemed like an unlikely breeding ground for an activist. But by the time the cruise missiles arrived, I was ready for them.

And to tempt you even further, here are some wonderful endorsements for this book …

“I read the first 200 pages of Other Girls Like Me in one sitting, I couldn’t put it down. It’s my story and yet it’s not. It speaks to all of us radicals, feminists, and lesbians who grew up in the 70s and 80s. Stephanie’s warmth and compassion shine through these pages. What a life!” — NERI TANNENBAUM, PRODUCER, ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK

“Other Girls Like Me is funny and sad, powerful and inspirational, especially in these times that are calling for all of us to become activists. And Stephanie Davies can write. Her prose is lyrical, even at times mesmerizing.” — BEVERLY DONOFRIO, RIDING IN CARS WITH BOYS

“Other Girls Like Me is about women being concerned about the horrors in our world and being willing to protest and take nonviolent direct action – which is a very good thing. I do hope that lots of people read it and are inspired to take action themselves!”  ANGIE ZELTER, FOUNDER, EXTINCTION REBELLION PEACE

“Other Girls Like Me is a lyrical, fluent and elegant read—it is also funny and poignant in equal measure. In the pre Greta Thunberg era, this personal account of one young woman’s journey into activism is captivating and compelling—and a salient reminder of how the power and solidarity of communities of people with shared values can shape and change our lives—for good!” — ANN LIMB, CHAIR OF THE SCOUTS, #1 2019 OUTSTANDING LIST OF LGBT+ PUBLIC SECTOR EXECUTIVES

About the Author …

Photography: Nyra Lang

Stephanie Davies is a communications consultant who worked for many years as the Director of Public Education for Doctors Without Borders. A UK native, Stephanie moved to New York in 1991, where she taught English Composition at Long Island University’s Brooklyn campus and led research trips to Cuba. Before moving to New York, she co-edited a grassroots LGBT magazine in Brighton called A Queer Tribe. Stephanie earned a teaching degree from Aberystwyth University in Wales, and a BA in European Studies from Bath University, England. She grew up in a small rural village in Hampshire, where much of her first book, Other Girls Like Me, takes place.

Photography: Ming de Nasty

The publisher – Bedazzled Ink is dedicated to publishing literary fiction, nonfiction, and children’s books that celebrate the unique and under-represented voices of women.

Other Girls Like Me is OUT NOW!

For all publicity enquiries, please contact Midas PR:

Bei Guo | publicitydesk4@midaspr.co.uk | 020 7361 7860

The Last Charm by Ella Allbright #BookReview

I recently took part in a week long readalong to celebrate publication of this gorgeous book with the publishers One More Chapter. Thank you so much to Claire Fenby at One More Chapter and Ella Allbright for inviting me to take part. I really enjoyed following the activities and chatting to the other bloggers involved, as well as reading this lovely story which was kindly gifted to me via Netgalley.

The blurb …

Leila’s charm bracelet tells a story of love, a story of loss, a story of hope.

This is the story of her … and the story of Jake.

When Leila Jones loses her precious charm bracelet and a stranger finds it, she has to tell the story of how she got the charms to prove she’s the owner. Each and every one is a precious memory of her life with Jake.

So Leila starts at the beginning, recounting the charms and experiences that have led her to the present. A present she never could have expected when she met Jake nearly twenty years ago …

My review …

I loved the concept for this story which starts when someone finds Leila’s precious charm bracelet and Leila has to prove that the bracelet is hers by telling the story behind each charm. Leila and Jake are around 12 years old when they first meet as children and become friends. They feel a strong bond straightaway, as they both have to deal with trauma in their childhoods; Leila has been abandoned by her mother and Jake’s dad is an abusive drunk. Leila moves away and they come in and out of each other’s lives for years. Jake always seems to turn up at the right time for Leila, like some sort of guardian angel, and he sends her a charm for every significant event in her life.

I completely fell in love with Jake’s handsome, strong and caring character and the main plot of the story is the ‘will they, won’t they’ romance between the two. Leila’s character is very frustrating as she was constantly pushing Jake away, but understandably so as she is afraid of commitment and uses anger as a way of protecting herself from abandonment, but it is Jake who understands her better than anyone and wants to help her to heal.

The supporting characters are just as charming, from Leila’s dad, who does a fantastic job of raising Leila alone, to Leila’s lovely group of female friends.

The setting of the story plays a big part in this book and you can tell that the author loves the pretty coastal town of Dorset. The beaches and coves are wonderfully described and they are a place of sanctuary for Leila throughout this story.

Leila and Jake take us on an emotional journey through the years and you really do need to keep the tissues handy for this one as the author writes about different forms of abuse and grief expertly and sensitively. The story is very well written all round and once I’d started, it was very hard to put down. Fans of romantic fiction will adore this heartbreaking love story.

About the author …

A self-confessed reading addict, Ella Allbright writes commercial women’s fiction set in her beautiful home county of Dorset. Her first novel in this genre, The Last Charm, was published on 21st August 2020 by One More Chapter, an imprint of HarperCollins, and she’s currently hard at work on her next book. Ella is represented by agent Hattie Grunewald at The Blair Partnership, who represent J.K.Rowling.

Ella also writes at Nikki Moore, the author of the popular #LoveLondon romance series. A number of the novellas featured in the Top 100 short story charts on Kobo and the Top 20 in the Amazon UK bestsellers Holiday chart, and in 2018 the collection was released in Italy. Her first published work was the short story A Night to Remember in the bestselling Mills & Boon/RNA anthology Truly, Madly, Deeply. Her debut romance Crazy, Undercover, Love was shortlisted for the RNA Joan Hessayon Award 2015.

When not writing or reading, she can usually be found working in her HR day job, walking the family’s cute beagle puppy or watching a Netflix series!

You can connect with Ella/Nikki on:

Twitter: @nikkimoore_auth

Facebook: @EllaAllbrightWrites

YouTube: Nikki Moore

www.nikkimooreauthor.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading!

💙

The Night of the Flood by Zoe Somerville #BookReview

Hello!

Today is a good day, not just because all three of my children have gone back to school full-time (hurray!) and I’m enjoying a quiet and productive day, but also because it’s my turn to review this wonderful book for the blog tour arranged by Head of Zeus – thank you so much for my gifted copy of the book and for having me along on the tour.

The blurb …

Summer, 1952. Verity Frost, stranded on her family farm on the Norfolk coast, is caught between two worlds: the devotion of her childhood friend Arthur, just returned from National Service, and a strange new desire to escape it all. Arthur longs to escape too, but only with Verity by his side.

Into their world steps Jack, a charismatic American pilot flying secret reconnaissance missions off the North Sea coast. But where Verity sees adventure and glamour, Arthur sees only deception. As the water levels rise to breaking point, this tangled web of secrets, lies and passion will bring about a crime that will change all their lives.

Taking the epic real-life North Sea flood as its focus, The Night of the Flood is at once a passionate love story, an atmospheric thriller, and a portrait of a distinctive place in a time of radical social change.

My review …

I loved this exquisitely written debut novel from Zoe Somerville. It was a pleasure to read and I found myself swept along with the wonderful characters’ lives leading up to the dreadful flood in January 1953.

In May 1952, Arthur has just come back from National Service after the war. He feels suffocated by his home town in Norfolk and has ambitions to move to London to become a journalist, but he is hopelessly in love with Verity and longs for her to leave with him.

Verity has her heart set on studying at Oxford University and has no desire to be a wife and mother. She loves Arthur, as her family took him in as an evacuee during the war, but she’s not sure whether she wants to take the next step in their relationship. So, when her head is turned by charming American pilot Jack, the three become involved in a heartbreaking love triangle.

The complex atmosphere of Norfolk in the post war era comes across brilliantly through the young characters in this story. The effects of the war are still being felt with a new threat of nuclear conflict hanging over them, whilst at the same time hope for the future shines through and the need to have fun and expand their horizons. There were many different threads of this story that dealt with the characters’ struggles against the societal limitations of that time period, (which I won’t delve into for fear of spoilers), that were beautifully written and very emotional to read.

The tension is maintained throughout this ominous story until the climax on the night of the devastating flood and this is when the heartbreaking effects of the love triangle all come to a head in a terrible night of darkness, fear and loss.  

‘Behind her eyes, this is what she sees.

Half memory, half nightmare.

Outlined against the setting sun over the salt-wrecked marsh, a white arm reaching from a black tree.

It does not make sense’

I was gripped by this thrilling love story from start to finish and I was fascinated by the inspiration behind the novel of the real-life North Sea flood of 1953. It is definitely one of the best books I’ve read this year. I would highly recommend to fans of historical and literary fiction. I loved it!

About the author …

Zoe Somerville

Zoe Somerville is a writer and English teacher. Having lived all over the world – Japan, France, Washington – she now lives in Bath with her family. After completing a creative writing MA at Bath Spa, Zoe started writing her debut novel, which is inspired by her home county, Norfolk, and the devastating North Sea flood of the 1950s.

The Night of the Flood was published in hardback on 3rd September 2020 priced at £18.99

If you would like to read some more reviews from this book tour, then here are the other bloggers who are taking part …

For more information please see:

http://www.headofzeus.com / @HoZ_books

@zessomerville

Thanks so much for reading!

💙

The Things I Want To Say But Can’t by Carla Christian #BookReview

Today it’s my turn on the book tour for Carla Christian’s debut novel The Things I Want To Say But Can’t with Love Books Tours. Thank you so much to both the author and Love Books Tours for my gifted ebook.

I wanted to let readers know of the trigger warnings in this book, so apologies in advance if these act as a spoiler, but I didn’t feel able to review the book without mentioning them.

The blurb …

‘A lifetime of endings, a million goodbyes. None of them right. It’s funny what you remember when you’ve got nothing else to think about. All those things you should’ve said while you had the chance. You never learned, did you? You never, ever learned.’

Belle has a habit of losing things. Her friends. Her lovers. Her mind.

Everything ends eventually, or at least that’s what life has taught her. But what if everything she lost came back again? What if she got a chance to finally have her say? To face her past. To put things right.

Second chances aren’t easy when memories are all you have. So, when Belle invites the nightmares of her past back in, is she willing to deal with the consequences? Because maybe, just maybe, this time she’s getting what she deserves.

My review …

I found this book very tricky to review because the writing is incredible but the storyline and tone of the book is so devastating that it doesn’t feel right to say I ‘enjoyed’ it, as such, but it is a highly compelling and fascinating story.

Belle takes us with her as she travels back and forth in time, telling the story of her life as a young girl, a teenager and then as a wife and mother. Belle has an unhappy childhood and suffers various losses throughout her life, the effects of which are to set Belle on to a path of self destruction.

This story is a powerful and emotional examination of Belle’s inner thoughts, feelings and experiences. As such there is very little dialogue between the characters but instead takes the form of beautifully perceptive, descriptive writing. I felt surrounded by Belle’s pain and sadness as she takes us on her journey to breaking point.

There were parts of the story that were harrowing to read as Belle becomes involved in an abusive relationship. This is where a major trigger warning comes into effect as I don’t feel you would want to read this book, if you have been a victim of domestic violence yourself. The scenes of violence were upsetting but not gratuitous and Belle’s feelings and actions were written sensitively and with empathy and show the complexities of such relationships. The story then goes on to deal with themes of mental illness, suicide, eating disorders, alcoholism and substance abuse, which sounds like overkill but they were all necessary to the plot and well written.

This really is a thought provoking and hard hitting read which will keep you guessing right to the end and beyond. I can tell that the author has poured her heart and soul into this book. It really is an incredible piece of writing.

💗

About the author

Carla Christian

Carla Christian lives in the Lake District in the North of England. A busy working mum of two teenagers, she has a passion for writing, art and travel, and these interests have been a part of her for as long as she can remember. 

Constantly inspired by both the good and the bad in the world around her, she spends much of her time creating in one way or another; be it painting canvases for the blank walls of her new home, sketching pictures to capture memories of the many travel adventures she’s been lucky enough to go on, baking fantastical cakes with her daughter, or writing endless beginnings to a million unfinished stories.

The Things I Want To Say But Can’t is her first novel.

Instagram:

@carlachristian_author

@lovebookstours

Twitter:

@lovebooksgroup

#CarlaChristian