Two small boys grieving for lost sisters — torn between family and other loves. Can keeping a new promise make up for breaking an old one?
When Gorgito Tabatadze sees his sister run off with a soldier, he is bereft. When she disappears into Stalin’s Gulag system, he is devastated. He promises their mother on her death-bed he will find the missing girl and bring her home, but it is to prove an impossible quest.
Forty years later, Gorgito, now a successful businessman in post-Soviet Russia, watches another young boy lose his sister to a love stronger than family. When a talented Russian skater gets the chance to train in America, Gorgito promises her grief-stricken brother he will build an ice-rink in Nikolevsky, their home town, to bring her home again.
With the help of a British engineer, who has fled to Russia to escape her own heartache, and hindered by the local Mayor who has his own reasons for wanting the project to fail, can Gorgito overcome bureaucracy, corruption, economic melt-down and the harsh Russian climate in his quest to build the ice-rink and bring a lost sister home? And will he finally forgive himself for breaking the promise to his mother?
A story of love, loss and broken promises. Gorgito’s story told through the eyes of the people whose lives he touched.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
I love reading stories set in far-flung places I have never visited and this story set in Russia, mainly in the 1990s has so much intrinsic interest. The author’s knowledge of the area and period brings it to life, full of vivid descriptions, you can visualise the setting and the bureaucracy that dominates life there.
The story. as the title suggests is about Gorgito, a forty-something factory owner who wants to build a professional ice rink in his hometown of Nikolevsky. The primary motivation is to bring his goddaughter home, from where she is training in the USA. Her brother misses her, and Gorigito knows what that feels like.
The story slips back over forty years when Gorgitos sister left him to follow her heart, with tragic results, his quest to build the ice rink is as much for her. as his goddaughter. His sister’s story, full of love and loss is particularly poignant, capturing the danger and sacrifice of Stalin dictatorship.
The ice rink project’s most virulent opponent is the mayor, who has his reasons, which are another memorable strand to this story.Emma a British engineer helps Gorgito with more than his factory, and she finds unexpected solace in return.
A delightful mix of family, friendship and romance are tempered with bureaucratic frustrations and emotional angst, to make this a complex, poignant story, in an enigmatic setting,
When Elizabeth Ducie had been working in the international pharmaceutical industry for nearly thirty years, she decided she’d like to take a break from technical writing—textbooks, articles and training modules—and write for fun instead. She started by writing travel pieces but soon discovered she was happier, and more successful, writing fiction. In 2012, she gave up the day job and started writing full-time. She has published four novels, three collections of short stories and a series of manuals on business skills for writers.
Everyone that meets Kat Keating is mesmerised. Beautiful, smart and charming, she is everything a good girl should be.
Her sister Eleanor, on the other hand, knows she can’t compete with Kat. On the awkward side of tall, clever enough to be bullied, and full of the responsibilities only an older sibling can understand, Eleanor grows up knowing she’s not a good girl.
This is the story of the Keating sisters – through a childhood fraught with secrets, adolescent rivalries, and on into adulthood with all its complexities and misunderstandings. Until a terrible truth brings the sisters crashing together and finally, Eleanor begins to uncover just how good Kat really was.
Good Girls is a love story, a coming-of-age story, a mystery and a tear-jerker. But most of all it’s a reminder of who to keep close and who to trust with your darkest secrets.
I received a copy of this book from Boldwood Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Two sisters, once close, but who have become estranged as they grew older. Eleanor, the older has her own reasons, but she’s never understood her sister Kat’s. Drawn together again, by a cruel stroke of fate, is it too late to reconnect?
This is an excellent family drama, with dark family secrets that devastate the once close sisterly bond. The story begins with Eleanor rushing to be with her sister, and them drifts back in time to the mid-1980s when they were young girls, and then the early 1990s, when Eleanor left for university.
The historical events slowly illuminate the present discord and misunderstanding, but all is not revealed until it is in some ways, too late to make amends. Serendipity plays a part in this story, as it often does in reality, and Eleanor gradually comes to terms with her past and the possibility of a hopeful future.
The cast of characters resonate, they all play a part in Eleanor’s life but have their own motivations and flaws, which makes them real. The story is realistically peppered with laughter, sadness, anger and despair. It is a poignant reminder that you cannot sometimes trust those closest to you, and of the rollercoaster nature of life.
An emotional family drama, with a realistic plot and memorable characters.
Author Interview – Amanda Brookfield – Good Girls
What inspired you to write ‘Good Girls’?
My original idea was to write about two sisters who are driven apart and then re-connected by the same man, deciding to get in touch by email after twenty years. But then the story took off in a hundred other directions, as stories do!
What interests you about family drama? Why are stories about sisters so absorbing?
We all come from families of one kind or another – our upbringings forge us, whether we like it or not – and I love looking at the myriad ways we try to deal with that. Sisters are a prime and rich example (I have two of my own!), being a relationship that is full of rivalries and ups and downs. But there are also, always, the ties of love and loyalty that continue to bind us as siblings, long after we have gone our separate ways in the adult world. This is a fascinating seam to explore as a novelist.
Dialogue is very important in a family drama story. How do you make your dialogue realistic?
You can have the most gripping plot, but if the voices of the characters do no ring true then it will fall flat. The way I work is to hear my characters speak inside my head. In fact, often snatches of dialogue – of how my characters would communicate – arrive at unexpected moments when I am away from my desk, driving the car say, or walking the dog. I have learnt to trust these snatches and write them down – it is my imagination working overtime, and 9 times out of 10 it is absolutely right. I guess it is like being an actor, trying to get inside the psyche of a protagonist.
How do you create your characters? What makes them believable and real?
Constructing a character is a bit like doing a jigsaw. You decide what they look like, and where they live; what age they are and what they do for a living. You give them hopes, hobbies and fears. Then you throw events at them and see what they do! If there is enough substance to your creations, enough humanity, the the way they behave under pressure will feel real and credible for the reader.
What sort of books do you enjoy reading and why?
I read as widely as possible – mostly fiction, but also memoir, travel and some history. I love being surprised by what I find on the page and always have my antennae up to learn new things, both creatively and factually. If someone recommends a book to me passionately enough, then I will always give it a go! I also try to avoid reading books that I think might be similar to whatever I am working on – I hate the idea of being influenced or feeling that someone has already gone where I am trying to go.
What are you currently writing?
I am halfway through a novel about a woman plucking the courage to leave her abusive husband – one of those subtle monsters that no one else knows about. I am writing the story from my heroine’s point of view, so it has an intensity that feels new and exciting. It is important for me to feel that each new writing project is stretching the boundaries of what I have done before.
Extract from ‘Good Girls’ – Amanda Brookfield
CHAPTER ONE January 2013
Eleanor decided to take a taxi from the station, even though she knew it would cost ten precious pounds and mean a wait. Being so rural, only a handful of cars served the area, but she didn’t want to be a bother to Howard, her brother-in-law. She texted both him and Kat to say she would be there within the hour and stayed as warm as she could in the small arched station entrance. It was a cold, dank morning, not raining for once but with air like icy metal against her skin.
The taxi driver who pulled up some twenty minutes later exuded an attitude of reluctance that made Eleanor disinclined to make conversation. When they hit a tail-back, thanks to a loop round the old Roman bridge, still not fixed from the heavy flooding over the New Year, he thumped his steering wheel. ‘A bloody joke. We can land men on the moon and still it takes three weeks to fix a few old stones.’ Eleanor murmured agreement but found that she didn’t mind much. The fields on either side of the road were still visibly waterlogged. After the grimy mêlée of south London, it was a visual feast – ethereal, shimmering silver bands engraved with the black reflections of leafless trees and smudgy January clouds.
The usual criss-cross of feelings was stirring at being back in such proximity to the landscape of her childhood. Just twenty miles away, her father was a resident in a small care home called The Bressingham, which he had once included in his rounds as a parish priest, days long since lost to him through the fog of dementia. Howard and Kat’s substantial Georgian house was ten miles in the opposite direction, on the fringes of a town called Fairfield. They had moved from Holland Park seven years before, a year after the birth of their third child, Evie. At the time, Eleanor had been surprised to get the change of address card. She had always regarded her little sister and husband as life-long townies, Kat with her posh quirky dress-making commissions to private clients and Howard with his big-banker job. It was because they saw the house in a magazine and fell in love with it, Kat had explained at one of their rare subsequent encounters, in the manner of one long used to plucking things she wanted out of life, like fruits off a tree.
But recently life had not been so cooperative. A small tumour had been removed from Kat’s bowel and she was in bed recovering. Howard had reported the event earlier in the week, by email, and when Eleanor had got on the phone, as he must have known she would, he had said that the operation had gone well and that Kat was adamant that she didn’t need sisterly visits. No further treatment was required. She would be up and about in a matter of days. Their regular babysitter, Hannah, was increasing her hours to plug gaps with the children and he was taking a week off from his daily commute into the City. ‘But I am her sister,’ Eleanor had insisted, hurt, in spite of knowing better. ‘I’d just like to see her. Surely she can understand that.’ Howard had said he would get back to her, but then Kat had phoned back herself, saying why didn’t Eleanor pop down on Saturday afternoon.
‘Nice,’ said the driver, following Eleanor’s instructions to turn between the laburnums that masked the handsome red-brick walls and gleaming white sash windows and pulling up behind the two family cars, both black, one a tank-sized station wagon, the other an estate. He fiddled with his satnav while Eleanor dug into her purse for the right money. I am not the rich one, she wanted to cry, seeing the visible sag of disappointment on his sheeny unshaven face at the sight of her twenty-pence tip; I am merely the visiting elder sister who rents a flat by a Clapham railway line, who tutors slow or lazy kids to pay her bills and who has recently agreed to write an old actor’s memoirs for a sum that will barely see off her overdraft.
Howard answered the door, taking long enough to compound Eleanor’s apprehensions about having pushed for the visit. He was in a Barbour and carrying three brightly coloured backpacks, clearly on the way out of the house. ‘Good of you to come.’ Brandishing the backpacks, he kissed her perfunctorily on both cheeks. ‘Brownies, go-carting and a riding lesson – pick-ups in that order. Then two birthday parties and a bowling alley. God help me. See you later maybe. She’s upstairs,’ he added, somewhat unnecessarily. ‘
‘The Big Sister arrives,’ Kat called out before Eleanor had even crossed the landing. ‘Could you tug that curtain wider?’ she added as Eleanor entered the bedroom. ‘I want as much light as possible.’
‘So, how are you?’ Eleanor asked, adjusting the offending drape en route to kissing Kat’s cheek, knowing it was no moment to take offence at the Big Sister thing, in spite of the reflex of deep, instinctive certainty that Kat had said it to annoy. At thirty-eight she was the big sister, by three years. She was also almost six-foot, with the heavy-limbed, dark-haired, brown-eyed features that were such echoes of their father, while Kat, as had been pointed out as far back as either of them could remember, had inherited an uncanny replication of their mother’s striking looks, from the lithe elfin frame and flinty-blue feline eyes to the extraordinary eye-catching tumble of white-blonde curls. ‘You look so well,’ Eleanor exclaimed, happiness at the truth of this observation making her voice bounce, while inwardly she marvelled at her sibling’s insouciant beauty, utterly undiminished by the recent surgery. Her skin was like porcelain, faintly freckled; her hair in flames across the pillow.
‘Well, thank you, and thank goodness, because I feel extremely well,’ Kat retorted. ‘So please don’t start telling me off again for not having kept you better informed. As I said on the phone, the fucking thing was small and isolated. They have removed it – snip-snip,’ she merrily scissored two fingers in the air. ‘So I am not going to need any further treatment, which is a relief frankly since I would hate to lose this lot.’ She yanked at one of the flames. ‘Shallow, I know, but there it is.’
‘It’s not shallow,’ Eleanor assured her quietly, experiencing one of the sharp twists of longing for the distant days when they had been little enough and innocent enough to take each other’s affections for granted. They had been like strangers for years now in comparison, shouting across an invisible abyss.
Amanda Brookfield is the bestselling author of 15 novels including Relative Love and Before I Knew You, and a memoir, For the Love of a Dog starring her Golden Doodle Mabel. She lives in London and is currently a Visiting Fellow at Univ College Oxford. Her first book with Boldwood, Good Girls, will be published on 8th October 2019.
In the sleepy town of Lost Maidens Loch, people sometimes disappear…
Down a quiet lane in town sits a little shop full of oddities you’d probably miss if you weren’t looking for it. This is Love’s Curiosities Inc., and its owner, Temerity Love, is sought by experts all over the world for her rare and magical gift: the ability to find lost things and learn their stories.
When Lost Maidens’ pretty local school teacher is found murdered by a poisoned cup of tea, a strange antique hand mirror is discovered nearby. Temerity – with the help of witchy sister Tilda, their cats Scylla and Charybdis and the lovingly eccentric local townspeople – is determined to divine the story behind the mirror and its part in Miss Molly Bayliss’ untimely death.
If only grumpy out-of-towner Angus Harley of Lost Maidens Police wasn’t on the scene. Temerity can’t solve the crime without him, but he’s distracting, and in more ways than one. Can this unconventional duo solve the most mysterious murder ever to blight Lost Maidens Loch before the killer strikes again?
I received a copy of this book from Bookouture via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This story has all the ingredients for a perfect escape. Cozy mystery, with a touch of magic, and vividly created characters and setting. Set in a small town in the Scottish Highlands, the loch has a mystical significance, well understood by psychic Temerity, and her herbalist sister Tilda. Temerity’s gift manifested when her first love died tragically at the Loch, something she feels inherently guilty for. Both women feel tied to the small town and they are intrinsic to its wellbeing.
The villagers accept the women, although gossip has it that they are witches, with their two seemingly lazy cats and an opinionated parrot. Temerity’s give for psychometry, has proved useful to the police in the past, but the new officer in the town isn’t convinced. Maybe he’s worried about his secrets?
There is so much in this first book to absorb the reader and capture their interest. The setting is authentic and described so well that you can visualise it. The mystical ethos, and legend that surrounds it add to its appeal. The protagonists are complex characters full of flaws and hidden layers. Some of which, are revealed in this book. Some are hinted at, to be revealed later in the series? The small-town dynamic works, the sense of community and gossip is evident. The cast of characters colourful and mostly easy to like.
The magical, witchy element is the icing on the cake, not too far-fetched, but outer-worldly enough to appeal. The cozy mystery is cleverly plotted, with lots of suspects, a dastardly murder, and plenty of clues and misinformation, to engage those who enjoy this.
A brilliant start to what promises to be an enchanting series, with wide appeal because we all need a little magic in our lives.
One December wedding. One
runaway bride. One winter’s day to bring everyone together again.
Today is the day Caro and Cammy are due to walk up the aisle.
But Caro’s too caught up in the trauma of her past to contemplate their happy
Stacey’s decision to return from L.A. is fuelled by one thing – telling Cammy how she feels before it’s too late.
Wedding planner, Josie, needs to sort the whole mess out, but she’s just been dealt some devastating news. Can she get through the day without spilling her secret? On a chilly winter’s day, they have twenty-four hours to prove that love can lead the way to a brighter future…
I received a copy of this book from Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review,
The last book in a memorable series is full of family and friends. Humour, lies and poignancy. Romance, secrets and serendipity. It all comes together beautifully.
Four lives change on one fateful day. The characters are complex and relatable. Like old friends you want them to work out their conflicts and get the best out of their lives.
Told from multi-points of view, you follow each character. The plot has many twists and turns. The reader is on an emotional rollercoaster throughout. The ending makes it all worthwhile, happy and hopeful.
A lovely winter escape, in a vibrant contemporary setting.
Guest Post – Shari Low – The Last Day of Winter
When I was a teenager, I used to think that by
the time I was an adult, I’d have life all figured out. I’d know what I was
doing. I’d be sorted. I’d exist in a bubble of confidence and be sure of my
destiny. I might even be – shock – wise.
Now? My grey hairs are running riot. A new wrinkle pops up every
morning. Several sections of my body are in a landslide situation.
And most of the time, I still have absolutely no idea what’s going
on and what’s around the corner.
But the silver lining to this cloud of unpredictability?
I can share it with the characters in my books.
The Last Day In Winter follows four lives that are precariously
balancing on shifting sands.
It opens on the day Caro is supposed to marry Cammy, but she wakes
up that morning with two things on her mind – a thumping hangover and a sinking
realisation that she can’t go through with the wedding.
Meanwhile, two planes carrying a whole heap of turmoil touch down at Glasgow airport.
Arriving from Spain is Seb, who has just found out his ex-girlfriend
had a child called Caro nine months later. Could he really have a daughter he
knew nothing about?
And from LA, TV presenter Stacey has one thing on her mind – telling
Cammy that he’s making a mistake marrying Caro.
The one person who will always have Caro’s back is her friend and
wedding planner, Josie. But Josie has just been dealt her own life-changing
blow that morning so she has her own troubles to sort out.
Caro. Seb. Stacey. Josie. Over the course
of the day, their lives will twist and turn, their fates will collide and we’ll
see that just like real life, none of them has it all sussed. None of them knows
what’s around the corner.
The only thing they know for sure is that
everything will have changed by the time they go to sleep on The Last Day of
Last Day Of Winter will be published by Aria on Oct 3rd.
Shari Low is the No1 best-selling author of over 20 novels, including One Day In Winter, A Life Without You, The Story Of Our Life, With Or Without You, Another Day In Winter and her latest release, This Is Me.
And because she likes to over-share toe-curling moments and hapless disasters, she is also the shameless mother behind a collection of parenthood memories called Because Mummy Said So. Once upon a time she met a guy, got engaged after a week, and twenty-something years later she lives near Glasgow with her husband, a labradoodle, and two teenagers who think she’s fairly embarrassing except when they need a lift.
In the darkest days of the Blitz, family is more important than ever.
With her family struggling amidst the nightly bombing raids in London’s East End, Ida Brogan is doing her very best to keep their spirits up. The Blitz has hit the Brogans hard, and rationing is more challenging than ever, but they are doing all they can to help the war effort.
When Ida’s oldest friend Ellen returns to town, sick and in dire need of help, it is to Ida that she turns. But Ellen carries a secret, one that threatens not only Ida’s marriage but the entire foundation of the Brogan family. Can Ida let go of the past and see a way to forgive her friend? And can she overcome her sadness to find a place in her heart for a little boy, one who will need a mother more than ever in these dark times?
I received a copy of this book from Atlantic Books – Corvus via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
The sense of community, family and the austerity of wartime London is conveyed well in this historical family saga. Part of the ‘Ration Book’ series, none of, which I have read, it works well as a standalone. However, the engaging characters, historical detail and sense of place, make me want to read the earlier books.
1941, London has suffered two long years of war, rationing makes living difficult, and the ever-present threat of nightly bombing means that living each day to the full, and appreciating your family is vital. Ida Brogan is a character who does this, she values her family and still loves her husband, but the return of an old friend in need makes her question everything that has gone before. The main plot focuses on her struggle to come to terms with this unwanted knowledge, and how it affects the family she holds so dearly.
There are many subplots interwoven into the story that gives it authenticity, depth and variety, which keeps the reader turning the pages. Outstanding characters are Ida, Jeremiah and Queenie. They are complex and believably flawed. The plot is well-paced and gives enough detail for you to appreciate the ambience of London’s EastEnd in WW2, without slowing the pace. The relationships, rationing and sense of community are beautifully conveyed and relatable. They made me recall my grandparents’ and parents’ wartime experiences, retold on numerous occasions during my childhood.
A lovely blend of family drama and history, with a realistic balance of humour and poignancy.
Jean Fullerton is the author of twelve 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.
Born in 1973 to a Greenlandic mother and an English-Explorer father, Malik has always been something of a misfit. He has one black eye and one blue. As a child, his mother’s people refused to touch him and now his own baby daughter’s family feel the same way.
On his own now, Malik’s only companion is a guiding spirit no-one else can see, but one day a white man with a nose like a beak and a shadow like a seagull appears on his doorstep and invites him to England.
Martha has had enough of living with domestic abuse. She compares bruises with her friend Neil, who regularly suffers homophobic attacks. With Martha’s baby, they go on the run to Shetland, where Martha has happy childhood memories of summers spent with her aunt.
On their way up north in a camper van, they come across a dejected Malik, alone again after a brief reconciliation with his father’s family.
They arrive safely together in the Shetland Isles, but Malik still needs answers to the identity of the beak-nosed man who casts a shadow over his life, and must now embark on a further journey of his own.
The Seagull’s Laughter is an immersive read, intertwined with nature and the magic of Greenlandic folk tales.
I received a copy of this book from Wildpressed Books in return for an honest review.
I love the colourful cover of this book. It makes you want to pick it up and read it, but what lies within, is even more enticing.
An original tale of differing cultures, family, friendship, magic, myths, prejudice and self-realisation. Set in the 1970s, with flashbacks to the late 1940s, it has so many layers. Each one has a purpose, and all it demands from the reader is time to absorb and enjoy it.
To begin with, this is Malik’s story, he lives in Greenland in the early 1970s. His life isn’t easy, but he accepts it, even though his people, don’t embrace him. You realise early on that he has a differing set of beliefs to an urbanised man. He has a spirit guide, and it is his importance that leads Malik on a journey that covers many miles geographically, culturally and spiritually.
Mythical quests are never easy, and neither is Malik’s journey of self-discovery, he encounters misunderstanding and prejudice. Emotionally raw, he meets two similarly, damaged people Martha and Neil, who share part of his journey and make him appreciate true friendship. He realises that family is sometimes not only those you share blood with.
The appearance of a strange man who resembles a seagull plagues Malik. The last part of his journey is solitary and demands the most courage. The descriptions of the cultures, settings and time periods are vivid and illuminate Malik’s story. The ending is powerful and uplifting.
Holly grew up in Derbyshire but has always been drawn to the sea. She has written from a young age. Her love affair with island landscapes was kick-started on a brief visit to the Faroe Islands at the age of eighteen, en route to Iceland. She was immediately captivated by the landscape, weather, and way of life and it was here that she conceived the idea for her first novel, The Eagle and The Oystercatcher.
Holly studied Icelandic, Norwegian and Old Norse at University College London. She also studied as an exchange student at The University of Iceland (Háskóli Íslands) and spent a memorable summer working in a museum in South Greenland.
She decided to start a family young and now has three small children. Holly helps run Life & Loom, a social and therapeutic weaving studio in Hull. She likes to escape from the busyness of her life by working on her novels and knitting Icelandic wool jumpers.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year… but not for Angie Martinelli…
Having lost her boyfriend, job, and apartment all in the space of
a week, Angie has no choice but to leave California and return to her family in
Determined not to let life
weigh her down, Angie finds work at the local mall where she worked as a
teenager. After an embarrassing run-in with a handsome stranger, Nick, she’s
convinced her luck is about to change.
But Nick has secrets of his own…
and as the first flakes of snow begin to fall, Angie can’t help but
wonder if she’ll ever find love.
I received a copy of this book from HQ Digital UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
A second chance romance with the lovely festive backdrop of New England. Angie never thought she go back east, but when her life implodes thanks to her cheating ex, she has little choice. Moving in with mum and dad is not ideal, not to mention overcrowded, so she needs a plan.Nick’s life is far from easy, but a serendipitous meeting with Angie, maybe just what he needs, but is it really?
This is a story of family and friendships, secrets and lies, with a small town ethos. The romance is gentle and slow, both are hurting, and they have many conflicts to overcome. Thankfully, this is a heartwarming festive read and so the ending is hopeful and romantic.
The perfect escapist read, full of family drama, interference and love, good friends, and a chance to start again for Angie and Nick.
Coming from a small town in Western Massachusetts, Katlyn Duncan
always had her head in the clouds. Working as a scientist for most of her adult
life, she enjoyed breaking down the hows and whys of life. This translated into
her love of stories and getting into the minds of her characters.
Currently, she’s a full-time author and freelance writer. When
she’s not writing, she’s obsessing over many (many) television series’.
She currently resides in Southern New England with her family.
Check out more about her writing and current TV addiction in her newsletter,
and on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!
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