Thursday, 15 November 2018

The Long Shadow
Celia Fremlin

It's my turn on the Blog Tour for The Long Shadow and today I have an extract for you. I love the cover on this one and having read some of this book already, I can see the similarities to Susan Hill's The Woman in Black. Enjoy the extract from this seasonal ghost story...

It was the grandfather clock striking midnight that roused her. She should be writing answers to these letters, not crying over them. In two whole months, she and Dot between them had answered barely a third; and they were still coming in.
‘Ten a day,’ Dot had proposed, in the heavy-handed, no-non-sense style that had kept her husband working late for years. ‘If we each answer ten a day, Imogen, then they’ll be done in— let’s see. Twenty a day is a hundred and forty a week . . . that’s a month, then. Just over a month . . . .’
Soon, though, it began to appear that five a day might have been a more realistic target . . . then three . . . and then two; and at this point the actuarial calculations became so depressing— the whole thing extending, it seemed, over the best part of both their lifetimes—that Dot decided that what was needed was a System. Hence the in-trays, and the cardboard boxes, and the slips of paper saying things like ‘To be answered before Dec. 7th’; or ‘Friends, current’; ‘Friends, Miscellaneous’; ‘Publishers etc., except for Charlie’; and ‘The Australian Lot’. Imogen found the principle of classification beyond her; but she could see that it was easier than actually writing the letters.

In the last resort, there is only one way of getting something done, and that is to do it. This was something you couldn’t really explain to Dot. She took after her mother, Ivor always used to say; which may or may not have been true. In all these years, Imogen had never actually met this earliest one of her predecessors, and so these paternal accusations were hard to assess.
Rubbing her eyes, still stiff and sore with crying, Imogen reached out blindly for the topmost letter of the nearest pile. ‘Take the one nearest you’, they always used to say when you were a child at the tea-table; and really it was good advice. Whatever this topmost letter was, important or unimportant, easy or difficult, urgent or otherwise, she would answer it—just simply answer it—here and now. Thus would be removed the awful burden of deciding where to start.
It would be this one! Well, wouldn’t it?—and no more than you deserve, my girl, leaving the thing to Fate like that. And you the wife of a Classics Professor, too—all those Greek plays. You, of all women, should know the kind of thing Fate gets up to when the Gods are no longer on your side . . . .
The widow of a Classics Professor, she corrected herself; and began to read. Twice, and then a third time, she read through the five closely-written pages; and then stared, for nearly a minute, at the heavy velvet curtains that shut out the night beyond the big windows.
At last, drawing the writing-pad towards her, she picked up her pen.

Monday, 12 November 2018

What's Left Unsaid
Deborah Stone

I would like to say thank you to the author for getting in touch with me and asking, very kindly, if I would like to review her book. I'm glad she did as I really enjoyed this one! Read my review of What's Left Unsaid below.

Sasha is just about managing to hold her life together. She is raising her teenage son Zac, coping with an absent husband and caring for her ageing, temperamental and alcoholic mother, as well as holding down her own job. But when Zac begins to suspect that he has a secret sibling, Sasha realises that she must relive the events of a devastating night which she has done her best to forget for the past nineteen years.

Sasha's mother, Annie, is old and finds it difficult to distinguish between past and present and between truth and lies. As Annie sinks deeper back into her past, she revisits the key events in her life which have shaped her emotionally. Through it all, she remains convinced that her dead husband Joe is watching and waiting for her. But there's one thing she never told him, and as painful as it is for her to admit the truth, Annie is determined to go to Joe with a guilt-free conscience.

As the plot unfurls, traumas are revealed and lies uncovered, revealing long-buried secrets which are at the root of Annie and Sasha's fractious relationship.


I was very kindly asked by the author if I would like to review this book and after reading the blurb, how could I refuse!

Sasha is married to Jeremy and they have a teenage son Zac. Sasha believes she has the typical "normal" marriage and family life, dealing with a husband who goes away for work much of the time, a teenage son who doesn’t know the meaning of the word Co-operation! The only one who seems to take any notice of her is Stanley, the dog.

Sasha’s Dad, Joe, died a few years previously, but tells part of the story in this book, which I felt was a really good touch and made a change!

Annie is Sasha’s Mum and Joe’s wife, who is sadly in the final stages of her life, but having spent much of it a heavy drinker, is paying the price and unfortunately this is affecting her memory as well.

When Zac comes home from school one day and confronts his mother about his feelings that he isn’t an only child, Sasha’s head starts to spin from this shock announcement. Where on earth did he get this information from and even more importantly, is it true?...

Zac isn’t convinced by his mother’s answer to his question and decides to get a film made where his family are interviewed about their lives. This idea goes down like a lead balloon but Zac is adamant he wants to find out about his family history. Surely this can only lead to skeletons coming well and truly out of the closet!

I really enjoyed this book and what I loved was the way the chapters involved Sasha’s Dad who had died, but still told some of the story. Very cleverly thought out.

A great mix of characters and when a character gets under your skin for all the wrong reasons, I do believe that is the work of a great writer! I found Sasha to be a bit weak at first, but she certainly came back fighting after events could have made her turn in a completely different direction!

I would certainly read work from this author again and would again like to thank her for asking me to review for her.

Friday, 2 November 2018

Snowflakes and Cinnamon Swirls at the Winter Wonderland
Heidi Swain

Guest Review
Julie Williams

Review by Julie Williams
It always seems odd when I pick up my first Christmas book to read in August with the sun shining and the heat warming my bones, but that doesn’t stop the festive cheer and Christmas magic that exists in Heidi Swains Christmas novels. 

Going back to Wynbridge is a treat as is catching up with old friends residing there, as well as the excitement of meeting new characters. 

When Hayley Hurren catches her Fiancé Gavin literally with his trousers down at their engagement party in the local pub, she promptly moves into Wynthorpe Hall where she works, determined to go back to her fun loving ways. Hayley has no future plans of any further long term relationships. She feels totally at home and comfortable until new arrival Gabe turns up and a spark between them is lit.

Getting over the past for both Hayley and Gabe is easier said than done and quite a battle to overcome.
Full of romance, sparkle and special friendships this is a gorgeous read, reminding us that Christmas is a magical time of the year and not too far away. 

Thanks to Julie for allowing me to share my review on her blog as part of the blog tour and to Net Galley for the ARC this is my own opinion of this book.

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Lizzie Flowers and the Family Firm
Carol Rivers

There’s not two months to go until Christmas 1934 and Lizzie Flowers’s new bakery is a roaring success.
But with Christmas fast approaching there are unexpected troubles ahead for Lizzie’s docklands’ tavern, the Mill Wall. If Lizzie had her sweetheart Danny Flowers at her side, there’s a chance she may be able to restore the pub’s reputation. But Danny’s head has been turned by the ambitious and scheming young widow, April Williams. With Danny seemingly unreachable and Lizzie’s heart broken, it’s down to family and friends to save the day. But even with favours called in, is it too late for Lizzie to avoid a Christmas disaster?

LIZZIE FLOWERS AND THE FAMILY FIRM from the Sunday Times and eBook bestselling author of A Wartime Christmas. Read as a riveting seasonal STANDALONE or enjoy as part of the Lizzie Flowers trilogy.

This is the third instalment in the Lizzie Flowers trilogy and even though you could read it as a standalone, I love Lizzie so much that I would urge any saga lover to read her story from the beginning.

Lizzie is becoming somewhat of an entrepreneur these days in London town. No only does she have her finger in many pies (excuse the pun!) by running a bakery along with friends Jenny and Elsie, but also running the Mill Wall pub is becoming more dangerous, especially now that Salvo Vella, a local mafia type wannabe is sniffing around and wanting a piece of the action.

Danny is trying to bring up his ward with the help of his landlady, April. She seems to have Danny well and truly in her sights and is keeping everything crossed that he will propose soon enough, but Danny has also had dealings with Salvo Vella (who everyone calls The Prince).

Will Danny and Lizzie be able to fight off the likes of The Prince to keep their businesses legit, or will they sell their souls to the devil himself?.....

Another fabulous story by the equally fabulous Carol Rivers. Whether you are new to sagas or have read them for many years (like me), you will never be disappointed reading one of Carol's books. They are utterly addictive and beautifully written, leaving you with a mixture of emotions. You will be laughing one minute and crying the next, my description of a brilliant saga writer.

Thank you Carol for once again brining Lizzie back and I can't wait to read what happens next!

Monday, 29 October 2018

Hell Bay
Kate Rhodes

It's no secret that I am a huge Kate Rhodes fan and am sad to say that I am a bit late to the party with this new series set on the Isles of Scilly.

DI Ben Kitto returns home to Bryer to recover from the recent death of his best friend and colleague and to think about his future in the Police force. He is racked with guilt and has offered his resignation, but his boss has refused it, asking him to reconsider and take some time out.

When he arrives back home, along with a stray dog called Shadow (he hates dogs!), it doesn't take long before the detective in him has to take over when a local teenage girl goes missing.

When a body is found it is down to Ben to lead the investigation team and to try to catch the killer before they strike again.

I loved these new characters/location and the only good thing about reading this book now is that I won't have to wait too long for the next instalment (out in kindle now and paperback in February 2019) and I can see this series going from strength to strength. Thank you again Kate for writing such gripping novels that you just can't put down.

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

A Ration Book Christmas
Jean Fullerton

With Christmas approaching, the Brogan family of London's East End are braving the horrors of the Blitz. With the men away fighting for King and Country and the ever-present dangers of the German Luftwaffe's nightly reign of death and destruction, the family must do all they can to keep a stiff upper lip.
For Jo, the youngest of the Brogan sisters, the perils of war also offer a new-found freedom. Jo falls in love with Tommy, a man known for his dangerous reputation as much as his charm. But as the falling bombs devastate their neighbourhood and rationing begins to bite, will the Brogans manage to pull together a traditional family Christmas? And will Jo find the love and security she seeks in a time of such grave peril?

Purchase Link:

About the Author 

Jean Fullerton is the author of eleven novels all set in East London where she was born. She also a retired district nurse and university lecturer.  She won the Harry Bowling prise in 2006 and after initially signing for two East London historical series with Orion she moved to Corvus, part of Atlantic Publishing and is half way through her WW2 East London series featuring the Brogan family.
Social Media Links – 
Facebook:  Twitter:  @JeanFullerton_


I must admit and I'm sorry to say, that this is the first book I have read from this author and there's me blagging to anyone that will listen that I do love a wartime saga!

Jo and her younger brother Charlie are evacuated to the Essex countryside to live with a lady who runs the local village store. Unfortunately, as happened in a lot of cases, Jo and Charlie were not treated fairly and when Charlie is accused of stealing and with him trying to plead his innocence, but nobody believing him, Jo decides that enough is enough and they escape back to London.

Jo not only wants to see her family again, but the person she feels is the love of her life, Tommy. Jo's sister Mattie soon tries to put this budding relationship to rest by telling their mother and that is the reason she is packed off to Essex.

Tommy's surname is Sweete, but that doesn't mean his family are sweet in nature! They are a notorious family in the district and beyond but Tommy is determined to shed off this reputation for the sake of Jo and starts to write to her whilst she is away and vice versa, but soon the letters stop and neither have any idea why.

When both Jo and Tommy volunteer for war work, they didn't realise they would work so closely together! Tommy tries to make the best of it and try to get back in Jo's good books, only to be warned off by Jo's Dad!

Will these two ever rekindle their romance? or are they destined to fail if family on both sides keep poking their noses in!!

This is a fantastically researched book and the attention to detail is fabulous! Some absolutely belly laughing moments in the book, especially with Jo's Nan, Queenie! Had me actually laughing out loud on the bus at one point!

I really can't wait to read more from this author and if you are a WWII saga fan, this one is right up your street!

Thank you to Rachel at Rachel's Random Reads for sending me a copy of the book to review.

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

The Lost Daughter
Gill Paul

BLURB: A Russian princess. An extraordinary sacrifice. A captivating secret...

From the author of The Secret Wife, a gripping journey through decades and across continents, of love, devastating loss and courage against all odds.


With the country they once ruled turned against them, the future of Russia's imperial family hangs in the balance. When middle daughter Maria Romanova captivates two of the guards, it will lead to a fateful choice between right and wrong.

Fifty-five years later . . .

Val rushes to her father's side when she hears of his troubling end-of-life confession: 'I didn't want to kill her.' As she unravels the secrets behind her mother's disappearance when she was twelve years old, she finds herself caught up in one of the world's greatest mysteries.


Gill Paul is an author of historical fiction, specialising in relatively recent history. Her new novel, Another Woman's Husband, is about links you might not have been aware of between Wallis, Duchess of Windsor, and Diana, Princess of Wales. 

Gill’s other novels include The Secret Wife, published in 2016, about the romance between cavalry officer Dmitri Malama and Grand Duchess Tatiana, the second daughter of Russia’s last tsar, who first met in 1914. Women and Children First is about a young steward who works on the Titanic. The Affair was set in Rome in 1961–62 as Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton fell in love while making Cleopatra. And No Place for a Lady is about two Victorian sisters who travel out to the Crimean War of 1854–56 and face challenges beyond anything they could have imagined.

Gill also writes historical non-fiction, including A History of Medicine in 50 Objects, and a series of Love Stories, each containing fourteen tales of real-life couples: how they met, why they fell for each other, and what happened in the end. Published around the world, this series includes Royal Love Stories, World War I Love Stories and Titanic Love Stories.

Gill was born in Glasgow and grew up there, apart from an eventful year at school in the US when she was ten. She studied Medicine at Glasgow University, then English Literature and History (she was a student for a long time), before moving to London to work in publishing. She started her own company producing books for publishers, along the way editing such luminaries as Griff Rhys Jones, John Suchet, John Julius Norwich, Ray Mears and Eartha Kitt. She also writes on health, nutrition and relationships.

Gill swims year-round in an open-air pond – "It's good for you so long as it doesn't kill you"– and is a devotee of Pilates. She also particularly enjoys travelling on what she calls "research trips" and attempting to match-make for friends.

Maria is the middle daugher of Tsar Nicholas and his wife and the story begins in 1918 when the whole family are imprisoned in Russia.

Maria is a naturally sweet, kind, talkative girl, who thinks that by being nice to the guards will not only pass the time, but will ease her family's suffering. She couldn't have been more wrong. One guard in particular, Anatoly Bolotov, is obsessed with Maria and this can only be a bad omen.

Soon after, the family are rounded up and taken to a different location and the orders are given for all of them to be slaughtered. Maria and her family are absolutely terrified and as things happen so quickly there are no thoughts of escaping from so many guards. The shots start firing and Maria sees her family shot down and stabbed and even Maria herself is wounded and feels herself losing consciousness. She thinks she is dying along with the rest of her family but then she realises someone is carrying her on his shoulders and running into the woods to safety. That man is another of the guards from the palace called Peter. 

Peter finds a place of safety in the woods and helps Maria recover. She is very wary of him at first, as she is terrified he will be as bad as Bolotov, but she couldn't be more wrong. Peter is kind and caring and does everything he can to help Maria back to full strength. So much so that Maria starts falling in love with Peter and as he seems to be the only person she has in the world now, they become close as time goes on.

Meanwhile the book skips to Sydney, Australia in 1973 with a lady called Val Scott, who has received news that her elderly estranged father is dying. She rushes to see him and one of the last things he says to her is "I didn't mean to kill her". What could this mean? Was her Russian father a murderer? 

Val is in a very abusive marriage and she needs to find all the courage she can to not only leave her husband, but to find the strength (and money) to visit the birth place of her father to finally find out what happened all those years ago.

The attention to detail in this book is stunning and you can tell that the author researched everything thoroughly and with such precision. I would really like to think that this story is true and it has inspired me to read more about the Romanov family.

Wow, what an amazing book this is. I have read all of this authors books and I can honestly say that in my opinion, they just keep getting better and better and this is my favourite one yet. 

Thank you Gill Paul for continuing to write fabulous books and to bring some history into our lives! I would also like to thank Anne Cater for sending a copy of the book and for inviting me to be on the blog tour.

I shall be recommending this book to anybody that will listen and I am putting it out there that it's my book of the year!