Monday, 6 September 2021

Queen of Thieves

QUEEN OF THIEVES

BY

BEEZY MARSH

BLOG TOUR


I'm delighted to be a part of the blog tour for Queen of Thieves. This is based on women who originate from South East London and I tell anyone who will listen, that is where I come from and I still live near SE London now! 

I have an extract for you today, but I am eagerly awaiting the paperback which is being published later this month and will review as soon as I can. 

So enjoy this sneaky peak into the underworld of South East London, but with the women in charge!


The blurb

Gangland was a man's world - but the women knew different London, 1946.

Alice Diamond, the Queen of the Forty Thieves, rules over her gang of hoisters with a bejewelled fist. Nell is a slum girl from Waterloo, hiding a secret pregnancy and facing a desperately uncertain future.

Sensing an opportunity to exploit Nell's vulnerabilities, Alice takes her under her wing and, before long, Nell is experiencing the secret world of hoisting, with all the dangers - and glamorous trappings - that comes with this underworld existence.

Alice has a longstanding feud with Billy Sullivan's all-male gang in Soho, and thinks Nell could be a useful weapon in her vendetta. But Nell has a secret agenda of her own, and is not to be underestimated. And the more she is exploited by both Alice and Billy, the more her hunger for revenge grows. As she embraces the seedy underbelly of London, will she prevail in carving out her own path to power and riches...

...and crown herself the Queen of Thieves?

From Sunday Times bestselling author Beezy Marsh comes a thrilling new crime saga series, perfect for fans of Sam Michaels, Martina Cole and Jessie Keane.


Author biography

Beezy Marsh is a top ten Sunday Times bestselling author, who has also held the coveted No.1 slot in Canada for three months. She puts family and relationships at the heart of her writing. She is an award-winning journalist who has spent more than 20 years making the headlines in newspapers including The Daily Mail and The Sunday Times. Beezy is married with two sons, and lives in Oxfordshire.


EXTRACT

PROLOGUE

London, June 1953

The sleek sable wrap feels so sumptuous between my fingers, I simply can’t resist it.

The fur is heavenly and soft; it’s exactly what I’m looking for. The whole street is going to be dolled up to the nines for the Coronation Party and I don’t want to disappoint because I’m royalty too; Queen of my manor, that is.

The minute the shop assistant’s back is turned, I snatch it from the rail and begin to roll it, quickly, into a tight, furry bundle.

I yank open the baggy waistband of my skirt and shove the wrap down the leg of my knickers. They are voluminous, real passion killers, with elastic at each knee, designed with one purpose in mind: going shopping.

Clouting, we call it, and I’m the best in the West End of London, stepping away from that clothes rail as if I haven’t a care in the world.

It hasn’t always been this easy; I’ve had my fair share of close shaves, especially in the early days, when I was learning my craft. Even now, the thrill of stealing mingles with a fear of being tumbled by the shop staff, which makes my hands clammy.

Being a thief wasn’t the career I had in mind when I was growing up but if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that you never know the way your life is going to turn out.

By the time I left school, I’d never even pinched so much as a sherbet lemon from the pick ’n’ mix at Woolworths.

All that changed after we won the war.

Victory tasted sweet but as I soon found out, it couldn’t stop the hunger pangs. Beating Hitler was one thing, but Britain was broke.

Rationing got worse and before you knew it, most folks were taking a bit of crooked, just to make life more bearable. It was all well and good for politicians to tell us not to grumble but they never went short, did they?

Wherever you looked there were bomb craters and piles of rubble. Weeds and wildflowers sprung up among the ruins, and excited kids claimed bombsites as their playgrounds, no matter how many times their mums told them not to. Life went on but there was little or no money to rebuild.

In London, battered by war but bursting with people hungry for some fun and what little luxuries they could afford, the black-marketeers and their bosses saw a golden opportunity.

After all, gangland was a man’s world.

That’s what they thought.

But us women, well, we knew different.

This is our story.

Thursday, 2 September 2021

The Hidden Child

 The Hidden Child

by

Louise Fein

BLOG TOUR


It's the first day of the Blog Tour for The Hidden Child and I am delighted to kick it off with a review. Thank you to the author and Head of Zeus team for sending me a proof copy and asking me to be a part of the Blog Tour.


About the book

From the outside, Eleanor and Edward Hamilton are the epitome of a perfect marriage but they’re harbouring a shameful secret that threatens to fracture their entire world.

London, 1929. Eleanor Hamilton is a dutiful mother, a caring sister and adoring wife to a celebrated war hero. Her husband, Edward, is a leading light in the Eugenics movement. The Hamiltons are on the social rise, and it looks as though their future is bright.

When Mabel, their young daughter, begins to develop debilitating seizures, their world fractures as they have to face the uncomfortable truth – Mabel is an epileptic: one of the undesirables Edward campaigns against.

Forced to hide the truth so as not to jeopardise Edward's life work, the couple must confront the truth of their past – and the secrets that have been buried.

Will Eleanor and Edward be able to fight for their family? Or will the truth destroy them?

REVIEW

Mabel is the beloved daughter of Eleanor and Edward Hamilton and is the centre of their world, especially Eleanor as Edward is often away working with the Eugincs movement. This is an organisation which wants to hide away “undesirables”, people who have either mental health problems, neurological problems and basically experiment on them to try to cure them of their ailments. 

When young Mabel starts having seizures, her mother is distraught and unable to tell Edward at first, she tries to hide the fact that there is something so seriously wrong with their daughter. 

When Edward eventually finds out about Mabel's constant seizures, his first thought is about the cause and not the feelings and wellbeing of his daughter and wife. This causes huge friction between Eleanor and Edward and puts their relationship under enormous strain, none more so than when Edward suggests putting Mabel into an institution “for her own benefit”.

This was a real eye opener of a read for me as I didn’t realise how ignorant people were in the 20’s about epilepsy and other illnesses and the awful treatments people were put through to try to cure them of their illnesses.

The characters of Edward and Eleanor were fabulous, because at first I found Eleanor weak and just wanted to shake her, but she really came into her own and I loved her feistiness! 

Edward, was male stereotypical of the era and just wanted to keep up his public persona, but again, once he realised what was important to him, he fought for what was right.

This was a really interesting and thought provoking read and one which I really enjoyed and can’t wait to read more from this author. 

Fab read and thank you for bringing a very personal journey to life a in nd making more people aware of how important it is to rid us of prejudice and ignorance to epilepsy and how we can make the lives of sufferers easier to bear.

 

About the author


 Follow Louise:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/FeinLouise

@FeinLouise

@HoZ_Books

@Aria_Fiction

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/louisefeinauthor

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/louisefeinauthor

Website and newsletter sign-up: https://www.louisefein.com





Thursday, 15 July 2021

 The Beginners Guide to Loneliness 

by

Laura Bambley

BLOG TOUR


I'm delighted to be kicking off the blog tour for The Beginners Guide to Loneliness by Laura Bambrey and below I have an extract for you to whet your appetite! I'm hoping to be able to review this soon for you.

Extract

Tackling the Taboo

Dear Readers,

Today marks the second anniversary of The Beginner’s Guide to Loneliness. I can’t express how grateful I am for all of your messages telling me how my blog has helped you navigate your own personal journeys. It makes me incredibly proud to know that so many people have benefited from this site.

Admitting that you are lonely remains one of the biggest taboos in our society. That’s why all of the recent publicity the blog has received has been so welcome. The mixture of newspaper, magazine and online coverage has helped thousands of new readers to find their way here. If you’re one of them, then welcome! The more able people feel to talk about being lonely, the easier it becomes to seek the support that’s needed.

One of the greatest misconceptions is that loneliness stems from a character trait, or even a character flaw. Listen to me: you don’t have to be broken to be lonely. I’ve heard it so many times: ‘But you’re so friendly . . .’ ‘You seem to get on with people so easily . . .’ ‘But you know lots of people . . .’ etc. I hope I am friendly, but that doesn’t mean I can’t feel isolated at times too; it doesn’t mean I don’t find it difficult to connect with people.

The truth is, you can be alone and not at all lonely – happy and content in your own company. Or you can be at the centre of a huge crowd and feel so lonely it’s like a physical ache.

Sudden life changes can sometimes cause connections with other people to fall away. A bereavement, change of job or even the disintegration of a relationship are just a few of the catalysts. Should more than one of these things hit you at the same time, as they did for me, you can end up feeling not just lonely, but completely stuck, searching for the way out.

So no, you don’t have to be broken to be lonely – but loneliness can, eventually, break you. Let’s keep talking about it. Let’s keep looking at ways to heal. Let’s keep supporting each other. Here’s to the next two years of TheBeginnersGuideToLoneliness.com.

Thank you for being here.

TBGTL

P.S. A note to the press: thank you so much for your interest in the site! Should you wish to reach me about my work, please use the contact page. I will, however, be maintaining my anonymity. From this point onwards please note that I will not respond to any communications that include the request to ‘come out’ to my readers.



About the Author

Laura Bambrey was born in Dorset but raised in Wales. She’s worked as a trapeze choreographer, sculpture conservator and stilt walker, among other occupations, and spent most of her time collecting stories from the people she met along the way. She has spent many years as a book blogger and reviewer of women’s fiction and now lives in Devon with her very own romantic hero and a ridiculously fluffy rabbit named Mop. The Beginner’s Guide to Loneliness is her debut novel.

Monday, 5 July 2021

The Orchard Girls

 The Orchard Girls

by

Nikola Scott

BLOG TOUR


London, 2004. Frankie didn't always have it easy. Growing up motherless, she was raised by her grandmother, who loved her – and betrayed her. For years, the rift between them seemed irreparable. But when their paths suddenly cross again, Frankie is shocked to realise that her grandmother is slowly losing control of her memory. There is a darkness in her past that won't stay buried – secrets going back to wartime that may have a devastating effect on Frankie's own life.


Somerset, 1940. When seventeen-year-old Violet's life is ripped apart by the London Blitz, she runs away to join the Women's Land Army, wanting nothing more than to leave her grief behind. But as well as the terror of enemy air raids, the land girls at Winterbourne Orchard face a powerful enemy closer to home. One terrible night, their courage will be put to the test – and the truth of what happened must be kept hidden, forever . . .

Review
I do love a dual timeline story, especially a wartime one and so I jumped at the chance to review this one. 

Violet is a young woman during WWII (1940) and when tragedy strikes she needs to run away from her life because she doesn’t want to do the ‘norm’ and settle down, but wants to do her duty, so enlists to the Women's Land Army under an alias. If she thought she was going to have it easy, she was very much mistaken!

She arrives at a fruit orchard in Somerset where the estate manager, Hardwick makes her and the other Land Girls an absolute misery. However, she finds out that everyone it seems, has secrets they don’t want others to find out, including Hardwick.

We then travel forward to 2004 and Violet's Granddaughter Frankie has a distant relationship with her Grandmother to say the least. Frankie works as a journalist for a large newspaper and this is how they are brought back together. 

I personally enjoyed the 1940 storyline the best, but it was great to read how violet and Frankie got to rebuild their relationship.

This was an enjoyable, if chunky read, but a great story with some loveable characters. 







About the Author 

Nikola Scott started out in book publishing and worked as a crime fiction editor in America and England for many years. Turning her back on blood-spattered paperback covers and dead bodies found in woods, she sat down at her kitchen table one day to start her first novel — and hasn’t stopped writing since. Obsessed with history and family stories (‘How exactly did you feel when your parents gave the house to your brother?’) she is well-known – and feared – for digging up dark secrets at dinner parties and turning them into novels. 

 Her first two books, My Mother's Shadow and Summer of Secrets, have both been international bestsellers and were translated widely around the world. Nikola lives in Frankfurt with her husband and two boys (and a kitchen table). 

Once a month, Nikola sends out a popular newsletter about writing, reading, book news, freebies and loads of therapeutic baking. Join in here if you’d love to be a part of it all: bit.ly/NikolaScottNews

For more info on Nikola, visit her website at www.nikolascott.com  

Social Media Links –

 https://www.facebook.com/NikolaScottAuthor/

 https://twitter.com/nikola_scott

 https://www.instagram.com/nikolascottauthor/

 https://www.pinterest.de/nikolascott/pins/


Wednesday, 9 June 2021

 

Waiting to Begin

by

Amanda Prowse

BLOG TOUR

Review by

Julie Williams


I’m delighted to again be a part of the Blog Tour for another of Amanda Prowse’s novels. Julie Williams is a huge fan and has very kindly agreed to review this one for us.

Review

I always look forward to reading books by Amanda Prowse as she writes from the heart with raw emotion and this, her latest, is no exception. 

This story is told in two time lines with Bessie as the main character.

It begins in 1984 with Bessie at the tender age of 16 years old with a whole exciting future ahead of her. Bessie's 16th birthday should be a day of great joy for many reasons and it turns out to be one she definitely won’t forget as events on this landmark day shapes Bessie's future with huge consequences.

Bessie in 2021 is married with two grown up children and on her 53rd birthday this year she is caught up in all sorts of emotions as she ponders over her life. 

With a loving family around her Bess still can’t shake the shame and guilt she carries and it weighs heavy on her shoulders and on her marriage to Mario. 

The secrets she has kept hidden for 37 years prove impossible to endure any longer and their disclosure has consequences that Bess has to accept and come to terms with.

This heart-warming family saga had me invested all the way through. I loved the two time line stories and the down to earth characters. Well done again Amanda for producing such an interesting story that was a pleasure to read.

I am thrilled to have the opportunity to be on the blog tour as guest reviewer for Julie Boon on her fabulous blog boonsbookcase.blogspot.co.uk and my thanks to Net Galley for the digital ARC .

Sunday, 23 May 2021

Last One At The Party

 Last One At The Party

by

Bethany Clift



Review


My kids bought me a copy of this book for Mother’s Day this year and I’m not going to lie, but when I read the blurb, I wasn’t sure it was going to be my kind of genre, but from the first page I really couldn’t put it down. 


The world has been hit by a deadly virus called 6DM and anybody who comes into contact with it will die a slow, horrible death. Except one woman (who remains nameless). 


She seemed to have it all, a loving husband, a career and her future looked bright, but looks can be deceptive and she is struggling to cope with day to day life, but nothing compares her to what is in store for her once 6DM strikes. 


This book is really quite scary in places because of what has happened to the world in the last year or so and certain similarities, but it is also so funny in parts it made my stomach hurt and then in the next breath I was wiping away the tears.


I don’t really want to give too much of the story away, but you feel you are going on a journey of survival with the character and I found myself reading late into the night to find out what happens. 


I’m still a bit mystified about the ending, but the only thing I can hope is that there is going to be a sequel because I for one will be bashing the door of the bookshop down to get a copy!


A great debut from the author and it just goes to show, you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover!



@Beth_Clift


@HodderBooks





Sunday, 9 May 2021

The Ladies’ Midnight Swimming Club

The Ladies’ Midnight Swimming Club
by
Faith Hogan

It's my turn on the Blog Tour for this wonderful story of friendship, love, loss and a sense of community and you can read my review below. I truly loved this book and all the characters in it. 


 

Review

Elizabeth is the local GPs widow, but apart from grieving, she has come across crippling gambling debts racked up by her husband and it is now down to her to sort them out before she becomes homeless.

Jo is determined to help her friend Elizabeth out, even if she has to enlist her daughter Lucy who is a doctor, to come and help out in the village until Elizabeth can see light at the end of the tunnel. Lucy's son Niall comes with her but would rather be with his dad in Sydney, Australia than at a local school with other teenagers who he knows he would have nothing in common with. 

When writer Dan comes to Ballycove looking for inspiration on writing a book, little does he know that it will change his life forever. He hates living in London and he has another, more personal, reason for coming to Ballycove. Will there be anyone who is willing to tell him the truth?

What could you possibly do on a dark, cold, winter's night when you need to clear your mind? Go for a swim at midnight in the Irish sea of course! That's what Jo does every night (weather permitting) and she soon ropes Elizabeth in to joining her and when Lucy also tags along, The Ladies' Midnight Swimming Club is born. Little did the ladies know that this small, exclusive club will become a lifeline not just for them, but for everyone in the village. 

A powerful story of love, loss, friendship, relationships and everything else in between...I loved it!

It is a charming read and I finished it within just a few days.  I can't wait to read more by this author.


About the author

 Faith Hogan is an Irish award-winning and bestselling author of five contemporary fiction novels. Her books have featured as Book Club Favorites, Net Galley Hot Reads and Summer Must Reads. She writes grown up women's fiction which is unashamedly uplifting, feel good and inspiring.

She is currently working on her next novel. She lives in the west of Ireland with her husband, four children and a very busy Labrador named Penny. She's a writer, reader, enthusiastic dog walker and reluctant jogger - except of course when it is raining!


Follow Faith:

Facebook: @faithhoganauthor

Twitter: @gerhogan

Website: www.Facebook/FaithHogan.com

 

Buy links:

 

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2PtPN2C

Kobo: https://bit.ly/2Pv0K3X

Google Play: https://bit.ly/3vrHN1y

Apple: https://apple.co/3sX4XuP

Bookshop.org: https://bit.ly/3aNtmwL

Waterstones: https://bit.ly/32SOgWP

Easons (Ireland only): https://bit.ly/3sUxpNX

 

 

 

Follow Aria

 

Website: www.ariafiction.com

Twitter: @aria_fiction

Facebook: @ariafiction

Instagram: @ariafiction



Tuesday, 4 May 2021

 Letters to the Lost

by

Iona Grey



Review

This is a book that I have had on my TBR shelf for a few years now (I am ashamed to say!) and this year I have made it my mission to read more of the books I want to read and so, this was one of the first ones I picked up. Goodness only knows why I waited so long! 

This is a dual time line and begins in 2011 when Jess is squatting in a small terraced house that belonged to a lady called Stella Thorne. Even though she shouldn't be there, Jess keeps the place as tidy as she can and when a letter arrives marked urgent, she feels she has to open it as the house hasn't lived in for so long, what could be so important?

The letter is from an American gentleman by the name of Dan and in the letter he says he is looking for Stella and wants to catch up one last time before it's too late. 

Jess then finds a boxful of previous letters from Dan dating back to the 1940's and on reading further, she finds out that they were lovers whilst Stella was married and Dan was an American soldier based in Suffolk!

Meanwhile, Will is an heir hunter working for an employer who he despises, but when he is sent to the home of Stella Thorne to try to find out if she has any living relatives, this opens a whole new can of worms for not only him, but the lives of Stella, Dan and everybody else who was connected with them during WWII.

Wow, I love a wartime story, but this one really pulled at my heart strings and I just knew it was one that would stay with me for a long time. It is powerful and totally absorbing and a true love story that will keep you turning the pages well into the night to find out what happens to Stella and Dan.

I have now ordered the author's next book as I really can't wait to read more from her. 






Saturday, 1 May 2021

A Taste of Home

 A Taste of Home

by

Heidi Swain

BLOG TOUR


I was delighted to be asked again to be a part of Heidi's blog tours and when I asked my dear friend Julie Williams if she would like to review this one, she jumped at the chance as I know how much she loves Heidi's books! You can enjoy Julie's review below.


Review by Julie Williams

What another delightful read from Heidi Swain as she transports us back to Wynbridge and its' welcoming community.

Fliss Brown is settled on a fruit farm in Italy with the Rossi family who consider Fliss one of their own, but when she discovers a letter written by her mother Jennifer, who has recently passed away, a whole new life is revealed and a new adventure awaits her at Fenview Farm on the outskirts of Wynbridge. 

On her arrival, Fliss instantly brings life, rejuvenation and happiness not only to the farm but also to her Grandad Bill who has been struggling to keep the farm going. Fliss is certainly not afraid of hard work and has plenty of ideas to put Fenview back on the map. 

Bill has some good decent friends who quickly warm to Fliss including a handsome bike rider Eliot, who's sunny nature and kindness can’t help but catch her attention.

One word of warning for this story is that there is a lot of delicious food mentioned which had my mouth watering throughout; I could almost taste both the Italian and English delights – yummy!

A Taste of Home can be read as a standalone, but I would urge you to read the others as Wynbridge has the most wonderful characters and great locations.

My thanks to Net Galley and publishers for the digital ARC and to Julie who asked me if I wanted to be a guest reviewer for the blog tour as she knows how much I enjoy Heidi’s books.


@Heidi_Swain

@harriett_col

@simonschusterPR

@TeamBATC

@BookMinxSJV


Friday, 30 April 2021

 Journey to Paradise

by

Paula Greenless


Today, it's my turn on the Blog Tour for Journey to Paradise by Paula Greenlees and I have chapter one for you to read below. I am really looking forward to reading this one. The cover is gorgeous as well! Enjoy chapter one and I hope to have a review for you soon. 

Blurb
Singapore, 1948 When Miranda steps onto the pier with her husband Gerry at Singapore she hopes that this will be a fresh start; a chance to run from her darkest secret, and heal the scars from her past. 

Gerry's new role at the British foreign office affords a certain kind of lifestyle; a beautiful house, servants, and invites the best parties in town. But life in Singapore feels worlds apart from Miranda's beloved home in England. True friends are hard to find in ex-pat society, and with Gerry spending all his time at work or drinking at the club, she loses hope that Singapore would save their marriage. So when Miranda meets kind-hearted Nick Wythenshaw, when volunteering at the local hospital, she begins to realise the depth of her own unhappiness, and dares to hope for more... 

Meanwhile, riots are erupting across the region, and Singapore is becoming an increasingly dangerous place to be British. As the danger draws ever closer to home, Miranda must make the toughest decision she has ever had to face - to choose between duty and happiness, and risk ruin. 

Paula Greenlees has an undergraduate degree in English and European Thought and Literature, and a Masters Degree in Creative Writing. She spent three years living in Singapore surrounded by the history and culture that provided the inspiration for her first novel, Journey to Paradise. 

Extract

Chapter One

Time passed. How difficult it was, so much harder than Miranda had imagined, to leave. Her thoughts turned to the flowers she had placed at Henry’s grave that morning, the whispered words, then on to her parents. She imagined her mother and father’s return to London, and Socrates, her cat, purring on her mother’s lap. He was so young and lively, such a typical tabby, that he’d be bound to be puzzled by where on earth she and Gerry had gone. And then she thought of the work that she had left behind: the Women’s Volunteer Service – the WVS – and the volunteering she used to do at the hospital, long after the war had ended. Would the other women miss her, she wondered? How she longed for their evenings chatting – during the last few months, it had been more of a salvation for her than any of them could possibly have known.

The cabin door opened. ‘Guess what?’ Gerry said, leaning against the doorframe. He brought a draught of cold in air with him and his hair had been blown about by the wind.

‘First night and we’re on the captain’s table.’

She smiled. Even now, after three years of marriage, the blue of his eyes still caught her off guard and she saw him as others must do – handsome and successful. Sometimes, she couldn’t quite believe that a man like him had chosen her for his wife, and seeing him now, standing there, gave her a feeling like tumbling through the air. Even with his windswept hair and his crumpled linen jacket, he had an air of confidence about him that authority brings. He wore it like armour, she thought, and nothing seemed able to pierce it.

‘Wouldn’t it be better,’ she asked, putting the curl of hair away and snapping her locket closed, ‘if we dined alone? It’s been such a long time since it’s been just the two of us.’

‘But it’s such an honour,’ he said.

‘Fine,’ she said. ‘But let’s not make it a late night.’

She wore her best navy silk dress and sat between the captain, who was wearing his dress uniform, and Lim Bo Seng, a quiet, serious man in his fifties. She wondered which knife and fork to use and which glass was for white wine or red. The food was rich – terrine of pork, sole meunière, and chocolate mousse or apple charlotte, followed by stilton and port. When they’d finished, a band struck up and they danced – a waltz, the foxtrot, even an attempt at the tango – until suddenly it was well past midnight.

When they finally got to bed, Miranda couldn’t sleep. Despite her earlier reservations, she had enjoyed the evening. And it struck her anew that Gerry’s new job in Singapore as a colonial officer meant she would be meeting important guests like Lim Bo Seng and Beryl Keppel on a regular basis. It was both thrilling and terrifying at the same time: so many

complicated rules, such as which way to pass the port – was it to the left or the right? She never could remember, and she didn’t want to let Gerry down by showing herself to be a fool.

At three o’clock, she switched on the bedside lamp, got up quietly so as not to wake up Gerry, and sat at the desk where she’d left her grandmother’s writing case. Loneliness and uncertainty rose through her and the desire to be close to her parents and all that was familiar caught her off guard. She picked up her pen, wanting to write to them, needing to be close, but all the words she’d been wanting to write thundered around in her head, making her temples throb.

She glanced across at Gerry sleeping. His mouth was open and a small bead of saliva clung to his lower lip. She couldn’t let him down, not now that his career in the Colonial Office was taking off. And what was more, there was the secret she carried with her every day, the one that she could never let him know. It shamed her to think of the small items she’d stolen from the shops after Henry had died, the caution from the policeman, the spiralling of her emotions that had led her down such a stony path. The pain of it still stung, and she wondered if the humiliation would ever go away.

A burst of laughter from a couple passing on the other side of the closed door made her lift her head. She imagined them – the man wrapping his arm around the woman’s waist, them kissing, their faces shining with love. Her eyes smarted with tears. How could this new life in Singapore possibly undo the past? She knew she had to try to forget her mistakes, however hard it might be, but she wasn’t certain she could be the wife that Gerry needed in Singapore. She needed to ask her mother’s advice, but all she could do was stare at the open writing case as the words in her head stuck fast and her pen hovered over the paper.

‘Miranda, what are you doing?’

There was a rustle of sheets as Gerry sat up.

‘Nothing.’

‘Well, switch off the light and come back to bed, then.’

She hesitated, then placed the lid back on her pen.

***

England seemed another world as she watched the mesmerising blues and greens of the sea, the hills in the distance and the unfamiliar buildings looming into view. Never had she imagined Singapore to be like this. And it wasn’t just the land – the water was heaving with boats carrying huge bags of rice or crates of bananas, with children swimming in the water and men hauling fishing nets on to the quay.

The cry of a heron startled her, and she lifted her head. She followed its flight as it dipped and dived up the Singapore River and as it moved towards the shore, over the sampans and junks and the crates of bananas, then as it darted beyond the crumbling tenements and rows of washing hanging on long poles, like festive banners welcoming the Queen Mary in.

The port was full of even more activity – yet more men in fishing boats tugging in their catch, trishaws and bullock carts transporting strange-looking fruits and vegetables, labourers staggering beneath the weight of heavy baskets on their backs. As she noted the rainbow clothing of the local women, she could hear the distant jingling of temple bells, and the aroma of spices that punctured the air made her giddy.

‘We’d better get a move on. There’s quite a queue.’ He headed towards the passengers filing down the gangway.

While standing in line, passengers began to throw coins into the sea. As they fell, men and boys from the sampans jumped into the air or dived into the water to catch them.

‘What’s going on?’ she asked, leaning over the handrail to get a better look.

‘It’s for good luck. The Chinese are the most superstitious creatures on earth.’

She watched the coins tumbling and falling.

‘Gerry?’

‘Mmm?’

‘I don’t suppose you have a penny, do you?’

He raised an eyebrow and dug around in his pocket, then jingled some coins in his palm. ‘I didn’t think you believed in all that good luck nonsense.’

‘Well,’ she replied – she tossed the coins into the sea, and as they fell, she glanced back at the children and mothers on the shore – ‘I don’t suppose it can do any harm.’



@PGreenlees

@penguinrandom

@arrowpublishing

Wednesday, 21 April 2021

A Postcard from Paris

A Postcard from Paris 
by
Alex Brown
I am delighted to be a part of the blog tour for this author’s latest novel and you can read my lovely friend Julie Williams review below.
https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1L5BgPOkDTPNRsBZjMaPUFTzdIYwGaAHS
Review
This lovely story is mainly about how Annie travels to Paris on a mission for her elderly neighbour Joanie who has unexpectedly inherited an apartment and shop in the city, to try and find out why and by whom. 
 Whilst there, Annie meets two other women, Maggie who owns the B&B where she is staying and the delightful café downstairs and American divorcee Kristen.
 Although these three women are very different they share resilience and a bond that makes for great friendships. Together they uncover hidden secrets into the life of the previous owner Beatrice while also discovering more about each other and themselves. 
 I found the English and French history in this book fascinating as is the link to Tindledale, which is always a joy to revisit.
 My thanks to Net Galley and publishers Harper Collins for the digital ARC and to Julie for sharing my thoughts on A Postcard from Paris on her wonderful blog.

Tuesday, 30 March 2021

Cilka’s journey

Cilka’s Journey
By
Heather Morris


Review
Having read The Tattooist of Auschwitz a while ago, I felt the time was right to read the sequel to find out what happened to Cilka. I must admit, I was mortified to read that after escaping Auschwitz, some prisoners were then transferred to other "camps" to serve sentences for so called crimes against the Russian government.

Cilka is one of those statistics. Having escaped the torture and hideous conditions of Auschwitz, she is arrested and sent to Siberia to a Russian prison, but it is more like another camp with terribly basic conditions as they were not treated much better than at Auschwitz. Her punishment is 15 years imprisonment in a prison in Siberia where the summers are harsh and the winters even more so. 

At such a young age, Cilka has had to deal with and witness so much heartache and tragedy, but her spirit will not be broken and she is determined to get out of whatever prison or camp she is put in and to live a normal life again. 

Josie is also a prisoner and Cilka takes her under her wing and they become friends. Cilka tries her hardest to protect Josie from the evils that lurk in these institutions, but sometimes it just isn't enough.

When a kind and caring Doctor by the name of Dr Yelena meets Cilka, she takes pity on her and helps her to obtain work as a nurse in the hospital wing of the prison and this is where Cilka feels most comfortable, helping others. 

This is a fabulously moving, heart wrenching novel that I read in a couple of days because I literally couldn't put it down. I wanted to find out what happened to Cilka and all of those poor people who survived Auschwitz, only to be put in prison for crimes that were unjustified. 

This is a story that will stay with me for a long time...