Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Historical Fiction, Saga

Home to the Hills Dee Yates 5* #Review @HoZ_Books @Aria_Fiction #DeeYates #HistoricalFiction #Saga #PostWar #WW2 #BlogTour #BookReview #guestpost

1945.

After the Second World War, Ellen and her daughter Netta make the journey from Germany back to Scotland. Nestled in the hills of the Southern Uplands is the farm where Ellen grew up – the home she left to be with the only man she’s ever loved. She is still haunted by her memories… and the secrets she dare not share with anyone.

Having grown up in Freiburg, farm life is new and exciting to Netta. Determined to be useful, she offers to help new shepherd, Andrew Cameron. But doing so might put her bruised heart at risk…

The war took so much from Ellen and Netta. But maybe now the sanctuary of the hills can offer them the hope of a new beginning.

A heartwrenching Scottish saga.

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I received a copy of this book from Head of Zeus via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

At the end of ‘A Last Goodbye’, Ellen decides, after the death of her husband Tom, to follow her love, an ex-prisoner of war in WW1, to his native Germany. I looked back to my review and noted I thought Ellen’s new life deserved a sequel, and this is it.

‘Home to the Hills’ is set predominately at the end of WW2. Ellen and her daughter return to the place of her birth to a make a new life, after suffering the atrocities of the war. Like with the first book, a different minor storyline, is also explored in this book, which adds depth and enriches the story.

The characters in this story are authentic and complex, damaged from what has gone before, but strong and resolute to carry on with their lives. The emotion and hardship faced by the characters, make them realistic, and they draw you into their story. The plot is nicely paced and has enough historical references to allow the reader to appreciate the post WW2 period.

This is addictive reading for anyone who enjoys a beautifully written, immersive and well researched, historical family saga.

Read my review of A Last Goodbye

Dee Yates

Born and brought up in the south of England, the eldest girl of nine children, Dee moved north to Yorkshire to study medicine. She rem

ained there, working in well-woman medicine and general practice and bringing up her three daughters. She retired slightly early at the end of 2003, in order to start writing, and wrote two books in the next three years. In 2007 she moved further north, to the beautiful Southern Uplands of Scotland. Here she fills her time with her three grandsons, helping in the local museum, the church and the school library, walking, gardening and reading. She writes historical fiction, poetry and more recently non-fiction. Occasionally she gets to compare notes with her youngest sister Sarah Flint who writes crime with blood-curdling descriptions which make Dee want to hide behind the settee.

HOME TO THE HILLS – Guest Post – Dee Yates

A remote valley of the Southern Uplands of Scotland was my home for a year when I first moved over The Border. The beautiful Southern Uplands is little known and under-explored, visitors to Scotland usually passing straight through on their way to Glasgow, Edinburgh and The Highlands.

My cats and I made the move from Yorkshire in 2007, eager to be near growing family. I had decided to rent a property, so I could look at leisure for a cottage to buy. On a farm sitting on the valley side was a shepherd’s cottage waiting for an occupant. It was ideal. For miles in each direction I could see nothing but hills and sheep. I knew nothing about farming but that year, with the help of the farmer, I learned a lot.

I also learned some of the history of the valley. A couple of miles east of where I was staying is a large reservoir, planned before the start of WW1, to supply water to the growing industrial towns further north. Building of the reservoir was being hampered because labourers were enlisting in the army and going off to The Front. Many did not return. To ease the shortage of labour, German POWs were brought into the valley.

I learned all this from the farmer. He showed me where the prisoners had camped, across from the farm, in the autumn of 1916, until the weather became too bad and they had to build accommodation further into the valley. I walked east to where the peaceful reservoir lies cupped in the hills and reflects in its water the coniferous forests that clothe  the valley sides.

This was the background for my first book, ‘A Last Goodbye’. Its sequel, ‘Home to the Hills’, continues the story of a mother and her daughter, returning home after many years away from the valley. For the mother it holds many memories, both good and bad; for the daughter it is a place she can barely remember and she now has to make a new life for herself in this beautiful but remote part of a strange country. What can she do? Will she be accepted or will she be forever an outsider? And will she and her mother be able to put behind them the horrors of the recent years? Part of this horror was the treatment of Jews in Germany, something that has been the subject of a number of recent books. It is something that should never be forgotten. It is up to succeeding generations to build relationships and learn to live together with all people. I am proud of the way my daughters have become Europeans, one of my daughters studying German and French, living in both and teaching in the south of Germany for a year. To my mind this is the way to prevent the horrors of the World Wars from ever happening again. My family has been immensely saddened at the decision to pull out of the European Economic Community. Togetherness brings a widening of vision and depth of understanding of humans and human nature.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Family Drama, Friendship, Historical Fiction, Romance, Saga

The Girl From The WorkHouse Lynn Johnson 4* #Review @LynnJohnsonJots @HeraBooks @rararesources #Saga #Family #20thCentury #HistoricalFiction #BlogTour #BookReview

#TheGirlFromTheWorkHouse

Even in the darkest of times, she never gave up hope

Staffordshire, 1911. Ginnie Jones’s childhood is spent in the shadow of the famous Potteries, living with her mother, father and older sister Mabel. But with Father’s eyesight failing, money is in short supply, and too often the family find their bellies aching with hunger. With no hope in sight, Ginnie is sent to Haddon Workhouse.

Separated from everything she has known, Ginnie has to grow up fast, earning her keep by looking after the other children with no families of their own. When she meets Clara and Sam, she hopes that she has made friends for life… until tragedy strikes, snatching away her newfound happiness.

Leaving Haddon three years later, Ginnie finds work as a mouldrunner at the Potteries but never stops thinking about her friends in the workhouse – especially Sam, now a caring, handsome young man. When Sam and Ginnie are reunited, their bond is as strong as ever – until Sam is sent to fight in WW1. Faced with uncertainty, can Ginnie find the joy that she’s never had? Or will her heart be broken once again? An emotional, uplifting and nostalgic family saga that will make you smile, while tugging on your heart-strings.

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I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review

My Thoughts…

Good historical family sagas require believable and complex characters who are easy to empathise. Detailed historical knowledge of the place and time, which filters into the story, making it authentic, and allowing the reader to share the sights, smells and sounds of the era. Finally, angst and hardship that allows the protagonist’s character to develop positively, giving hope that they will find a way out of their plight. ‘The Girl From the Workhouse’, encompasses all of the above and is a heartrending, heartwarming and motivational story.

Ginnie is a young girl who has always grown-up in poverty. Sadly, life becomes increasingly difficult and she and her parents have to go on Poor Relief and live in the workhouse. The family are split up and the first part of the story explores Ginnie’s experiences as a girl in the workhouse environment. Her motivations and emotions are in keeping with her years, and you feel for her, she is so alone. Despite, this she works hard and makes friends, and forms a new family which makes her days bearable. Her life continues to be dogged by hardship and tragedy until she finally leaves the workhouse to live with her older sister who is married and needs an extra wage coming into the household.

The second part of the story follows Ginnie’s transition into a young woman, how she copes with coming of age, and her reacquaintance with her workhouse friend Sam. At this point, you hope for some genuine happiness in her troubled young life, but WW1 draws Sam into its conflict and once again her future and happiness is uncertain.

The setting in ‘The Potteries’ gives the story its authenticity and richness, the author’ connection and feeling for the area make this fictional story more believable. The saga is enriched with historical detail and events, and its characters are authentic to the period and very engaging.

Lynn Johnson was born in the Staffordshire Potteries and went to school in Burslem, where the novel is set. She left school with no qualifications and got a job as a dental nurse (and lasted a day), a nursery assistant, and a library assistant before her ambition grew and she enrolled at the Elms Technical College, Stoke-on-Trent and obtained six O’levels. She obtained a Diploma in Management Studies and a BA Hons in Humanities with Literature from the Open University while working full-time.

Most of her working life was spent in Local Government in England and Scotland, and ultimately became a Human Resources Manager with a large county council.

She started to write after taking early retirement and moving to the north of Scotland with her husband where she did relief work in the famous Orkney Library and Archives, and voluntary work with Orkney’s Learning Link. Voluntary work with Cats Protection resulted in them sharing their home with six cats.

She joined Stromness Writing Group and, three months after moving to Orkney wrote a short story which would become the Prologue to The Girl From the Workhouse.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Historical Fiction, Saga

The Children From Gin Barrel Lane – Lindsey Hutchinson 5* #Review @BoldwoodBooks @LHutchAuthor #BlogTour #boldwoodbloggers #Gin #Victorian #HistoricalFiction #Saga #BookReview

Broken hearts and broken bones are just a fact of life in a Gin Palace, but for orphan Dolly, the Crown is her last hope.

After the death of her mother, Dolly ran away from her sleazy step father Arthur, only to find herself living on the streets. When Jack discovers her hiding in the back yard of The Crown, he persuades his mother Nellie Larkin, to take Dolly in.

But Dolly has a secret – a very valuable secret – and Arthur is determined to get his clutches on her at any cost. And when local hard-man Ezra Morton joins in the hunt, the Larkins may have to risk everything to keep Dolly safe…

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I received a copy of this book from Boldwood Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Set in the Victorian era, this historical saga encapsulates the danger, depravity and dire circumstances the majority of the Victorian population endured. Despite this, the sense of community survives, and this is evident in this story.

Nellie runs a Gin Palace, which is well patronised by the local community, her young son Jack, friend Nancy, and Poppy, help her run it. The hours are long, the work is hard, and the atmosphere less than conducive for children, but there is food on the table, somewhere safe and warm to sleep, and love and understanding, which is more than most have. When Jack finds a young girl running away from an abusive step-father, he befriends her and soon she is part of the delightful, dysfunctional family.

The setting is atmospheric and vividly described, and lets you experience the sights smells and uproar of the gin palace. The characters are well crafted, it reminded me of Fagin’s boys and Nancy in Oliver, even though the children here are spared a life of crime. The camaraderie and banter draw you into their lives. The plot is simple but effective. It lets the characters shine, whilst delivering a smartly paced, suspenseful plot, that keeps you turning the pages.

The villains are what you’d expect in the Victorian era, and they threaten Nellie’s family and her livelihood. The story is the perfect length, encompassing, the sense of family, place and time, even though it is shorter than most sagas of this type.

Female characters take the lead in this story, which delivers an engaging family drama, amidst the sights sounds and smells of Victorian England.

Lindsey Hutchinson

Lindsey Hutchinson is a bestselling saga author whose novels include The Workhouse Children. She was born and raised in Wednesbury and was always destined to follow in the footsteps of her mother, the multi-million selling Meg Hutchinson.

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Posted in Book Review, Family Drama, Saga

A Home From Home Veronica Henry 5* #Review @veronica_henry @orionbooks #Lifestyle #Relationships #Secrets #ContemporaryFiction #FamilyDrama #Saga #BookReview

#AHomeFromHome

Curl up with a heartwarming family drama of love, cider and family secrets…

Dragonfly Farm has been a home and a haven for generations of Melchiors – arch-rivals to the Culbones, the wealthy family who live on the other side of the river. Life there is dictated by the seasons and cider-making, and everyone falls under its spell.

For cousins Tabitha and Georgia, it has always been a home from home. When a tragedy befalls their beloved Great-Uncle Matthew, it seems the place where they’ve always belonged might now belong to them…

But the will reveals that a third of the farm has also been left to a Culbone. Gabriel has no idea why he’s been included, or what his connection to the farm – or the Melchiors – can be.

As the first apples start to fall for the cider harvest, will Dragonfly Farm begin to give up its secrets?

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I received a copy of this book from Orion via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

You can almost smell the apples in the orchard, the descriptions are so real, in this lovely family saga set in Somerset.

The plot is layered and stretches across the generations, as the loves, losses, relationships and secrets of two warring families are revealed. Complex, relatable characters bring this story to life. The setting is rural and vividly described, and is interwoven with the history and the lives of the characters, it’s a character in itself.

The perfect read for a cold winter’s afternoon.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Family Drama, Friendship, Guest post, Saga

The Place We Call Home Faith Hogan 5*#Review @GerHogan @Aria_Fiction #FamilyDrama #Secrets #SmallTown #BlogTour #GuestPost #Lies #Irish #Fiction #Rural #saga #coastal #Ireland #Friendship #PublicationDay

#APlaceWeCallHome

Welcome to Ballycove, the home of Corrigan Mills…

Set against the backdrop of the beautiful Irish countryside the famed mills have created the finest wool in all of Ireland. Run by the seemingly perfect Corrigan family, but every family has its secrets, and how the mills came to be the Corrigan’s is one of them…

Miranda and her husband were never meant to own the mills until one fateful day catapults them into a life they never thought they’d lead.

Ada has forever lived her life in her sister’s shadow. Wanting only to please her mother and take her place as the new leader of the mill, Ada might just have to take a look at what her heart really wants.

Callie has a flourishing international career as a top designer and a man who loves her dearly, she appears to have it all. When a secret is revealed and she’s unceremoniously turfed out of the design world, Callie might just get what’s she’s been yearning for. The chance to go home.

Simon has always wanted more. More money, more fame, more notoriety. The problem child. Simon has made more enemies than friends over the years, and when one of his latest schemes falls foul he’ll have to return to the people who always believe in him.

Ballycove isn’t just a town in the Irish countryside. It isn’t just the base of the famous mills. It’s a place to call home.

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I received a copy of this book from Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

A family saga set in Western Ireland. The setting is vivid and provides the perfect ethos for this story. Family secrets, love, lies, hardship, loss, and after much angst and drama, the light at the end of the tunnel, make this a poignant but ultimately satisfying story. This immersive read draws the reader into a quintessentially Irish way of life, with a solid plot, that showcases the spectrum of human emotions. Authentic, complex characters and a chance to escape into another world.

This is a story to be savoured, the pace is gentle and you get to know the characters well, both in the past and present. Not all of them are likeable, but this is a reflection of life, so you wouldn’t expect them to be.

The mill is the lifeblood of the community, a character on its own. It witnesses so much, over the years, and is the source of happiness, sadness, poverty and riches. The details of its running and historical significance give the book depth and make the story more believable.

A flowing family saga of life, love and lies, beautifully told.

Guest Post – Faith Hogan

Welcome to Ballycove….

I’m so delighted to visit Jane’s lovely blog today and to tell you about my new book – THE PLACE WE CALL HOME. If you’ve read my other books, you’ll know by now that I write uplifting stories, about friendship, family, secrets, lies and sometimes, there’s a little romance thrown in!

This time we visit Ballycove – it’s a village that appeared fleetingly in an earlier book – The Girl I Used To Know. I wanted to create a place that represented the best of the place I call home. I live in the west of Ireland – in a little town that sits on one of the richest salmon rivers in Europe. Just over half a dozen miles away, the Atlantic Ocean breathes up its icy air on flawless beaches and you can walk for miles without meeting a soul. On the other hand, if you’re feeling more social you can ramble with the dog through the nearby Beleek woods where everyone has time to say hello.

Ten miles in the opposite direction, there’s a small town called Foxford. It is a fairly typical little town in the west of Ireland, with the River Moy flowing through it, plenty of hills to walk across and local shops and restaurants that serve great food and offer Irish hospitality at its best. At the bottom of the town, sits the Foxford Wollen Mills. The Corrigan Mills are loosely based around these world-famous mills.

Image Credit Geraldine Hogan

There are a number of differences, however – unlike the Foxford Mills which were built by a pioneering nun in response to the poverty she saw at the time; the Ballycove mills are a family-owned business.

And it is from this family business that the tension in the novel arises…

Still a young woman, Miranda Corrigan has found herself at the helm of the biggest employer in her locality – except that it looks like the mills will have to close. She must juggle raising her three children alone and saving the mills – it’s no wonder then that when the time approaches to hand them on she does so reluctantly since there appear to be no safe hands available to pass them onto.

The problem is that her children don’t agree and the divisions that are setting in between them all look as if they may never heal.

Until David Blair arrives in town and reader, I will not say she married him, but he proves to be the wild card that may just blow the whole family apart – or could he be the person who manages to bring them all together?

You’ll have to read it to find out for yourself…

#Faith Hogan

Faith lives in the west of Ireland with her husband, four children and two very fussy cats. She has a Hons Degree in English Literature and Psychology, has worked as a fashion model and in the intellectual disability and mental health sector.

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Posted in Book Review, Christmas Read, Family Drama, Festive Read, Historical Romance, Romance, Saga, Victorian Romance

The Christmas Wedding Dilly Court 4*#Review @DillyCourt @HarperFiction @HarperCollinsUK @fictionpubteam #Christmas #Wedding #HistoricalFiction #saga #TheVillageSecrets #BookReview #VictorianRomance

Holding the letter in trembling hands, Daisy’s future crumbled before her – the words engraved on her heart forever.

The village of Little Creek, the long winter of 1867

The first flakes of snow are falling when Daisy Marshall, secretly engaged to her master’s son, finds herself jilted at the altar.

Heartbroken, Daisy flees to the small village of Little Creek, nestled on the coast of Essex. There she is warmly welcomed – but the village is poverty-stricken, suffering under a cruel Lord of the manor. And when cholera hits, the villagers are truly in dire straits.

Determined to help, Daisy makes new friends in earnest doctor Nicholas and dashing smuggler Jay – but also dangerous new enemies, who threaten to destroy everything she’s built. Can Daisy save the village and find happiness in time for Christmas?

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I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins UK – Harper Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

A well researched historical saga, of family drama, mystery, poverty and romance. The social divide apparent in Victorian England is explored here.

Daisy, a governess lives in no man’s land, somewhere between upstairs and downstairs. In love with the heir to the household, she hopes her position will be confirmed, but he lets her down, and she returns home, heartbroken and unemployed. Moving to a small Essex village with her family, she feels at home, but the cruelty of the ruling classes blights the villagers’ lives who live in fear, poverty and squalor.

Daisy finds friendship and a warm community, but evil lurks and threatens the life she builds. This is a detailed, passionate tale of Victorian life, which draws you in, as the descriptive writing and authentic characters bring this era of change to life.

A festive start, to what promises to be a riveting series for romantic saga devotees.

Posted in Book Review, Family Drama, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Saga

The Rector’s Daughter Jean Fullerton 5* #Review @CorvusBooks @JeanFullerton_ @rararesources #BlogTour #PublicationDay #HistoricalFiction #RomanticSaga #RegencyLondon #1825 #Engineering #FamilyDrama #Poverty

#TheRectorsDaughter

Charlotte, daughter of Reverend Percival Hatton, has been content to follow the path laid out for her. Charlotte has an understanding with Captain Nicolas Paget – every inch the gentleman – who she expects someday to marry. But then she meets Josiah Martyn and everything changes…

A driven and ambitious Cornish mining engineer, and the complete opposite to Captain Nicholas, Josiah has come to London to help build the first tunnel under the river Thames. When unpredictable events occur at the inauguration of the project, Josiah and Charlotte are suddenly thrown into an unexpected intimacy.

 But not everyone is happy with Charlotte and Josiah growing closer. As friends turn to foes, will they be able to rewrite the stars and find their happy ever after, although all odds seem to be stacked against them…?

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I received a copy of this book from the author and Corvus Books in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Set in 1825, this romantic family saga explores the engineering feat of building the first underwater tunnel in London, by Brunel. The vision of this late Regency event comes across well in this story, but so does the human cost, of such a dangerous undertaking.

Charlotte is the Rector’s daughter, who since her mother’s untimely death has fulfilled the parish duties expected of a Rector’s wife. She is compassionate, clever and courageous, and does what she can to help the parish’s poor and unfortunate. The Rector is judgemental about his poorer parishioners. He is the antithesis of his daughter and prepared to put his material needs above his pastoral duties.

Charlotte meets Josiah, an engineer working for Brunel on the tunnel when he averts a near-tragic accident for her. The attraction although immediate and powerful builds through friendship when they meet on many occasions, through Charlotte’s parish duties and mutual acquaintances. Their romance appears ill-fated, when her father’s desire to maintain his reputation overrides the needs and wishes of his daughter, leading to an angst-ridden emotional climax to this story.

The historical background is well researched and written in a vivid real-time way that allows the reader to experience some of the events of the era. The characters are complex. Many are disagreeable but add to the story. All act in a way that fits with this exciting historical period. The social class divide is marked, but the evidence of change that the future Victorian era witnessed is seen here.

An absorbing plot, with vividly written characters, historical events, and a believable but utterly romantic love story, makes this the perfect book to curl up with on a cold winter’s afternoon.

#JeanFullerton

Jean Fullerton is the author of thirteen novels all set in East London where she was born. She also a retired district nurse and university lecturer.  She won the Harry Bowling Prize in 2006 and after initially signing for two East London historical series with Orion she moved to Corvus, part of Atlantic Publishing and is halfway through her WW2 East London series featuring the Brogan family.

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