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

Squadron Airborne EllestonTrevor 5*#Review @I_W_M #EllestonTrevor @RandomTTours #WW2 #BattleofBritain80 #RAF #1940 #Summer #Britain #BlogTour #BookReview #SquadronAirborne @angelamarymar #wartimeclassics #WartimeBritain

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Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from The Imperial War Museums in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Like other books in the wartime classics series, It’s a fictional story based on the author’s first-hand experiences. Originally published in 1955, it focuses on a week during the Summer of 1940, the Battle of Britain. The book is prefaced, by an introduction describing the historical background to the Battle of Britain.

The story focuses on everyone on the airbase, pilots, ground crew and ancillary staff. Everyone played an essential role in this iconic victory in WW2. The camaraderie is evident, as is the commitment and courage from young individuals. With little life experience, their bravery and skill thwarted an enemy and possible invasion.

The book captures the claustrophobic, intense atmosphere at the airbase. The frenetic periods of the missions contrasting with long periods of waiting. Both defining life on the airbase during the Summer of 1940.

Authentic relatable characters endear themselves to the reader, you fear for their safety, and admire them. The perfect read if you are looking to explore the people behind the headlines. The wartime ethos is well described and gives the reader an omnipotent view of this WW2 event.

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

Green Hands Barbara Whitton 5*#Review @I_W_M #BarbaraWhitton @RandomTTours #WW2 #WomensLandArmy #LandGirls #1940s #Britain #BlogTour #BookReview #GreenHands @angelamarymar #wartimeclassics #WartimeBritain

I received a copy of this book from The Imperial War Museums in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

This story is an authentic representation of what life in the Women’s Land Army (WLA) was like for many. The land girls worked on the land and maintain the food supply chain for Britain at War. They endured relentless work and ridicule until their vital contribution to the war effort was recognised.

This story prefaced by an introduction from the Imperial War museum which provides salient historical, and social details. Historical details of farming in the war years provides the backdrop for a lovely story of acceptance, friendship, romance, and humour.

Told from Bee’s point of view, the story shows how three young girls coped or didn’t with life in the land army. The author employs sensual imagery allowing the reader to imagine the characters, events and setting.

There are some important social differences in this book, compared to contemporary society. Women were doing men’s work and seen as filling in. After the war, many women didn’t remain in the workforce especially in the farming industry.

The book highlights the importance of working as a community and the hardships faced by the land girls and the country as a whole from rationing. It shows another often overlooked contribution to women in the workforce in the 1940s. It provides a dramatic representation of historical facts through relatable characters and events.

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

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

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Spotlight, Memoir, Non-Fiction

Other Girls Like Me Stephanie Davies #Spotlight @Stephanie5Davie @BedazzledInk @midaspr #NonFiction #OtherGirlsLikeMe #ComingofAge #Memoir

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

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

Amazon UK


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

“Other Girls Like Me is funny and sad, powerful and inspirational, especially in these times that are calling for all of us to become activists. And Stephanie Davies can write. Her prose is lyrical, even at times mesmerizing.”Beverly Donofrio, Riding in Cars with Boys

“Other Girls Like Me is about women being concerned about the horrors in our world and being willing to protest and take nonviolent direct action – which is a very good thing. I do hope that lots of people read it and are inspired to take action themselves!” Angie Zelter, Founder, Extinction Rebellion Peace

“Other Girls Like Me is a lyrical, fluent and elegant read—it is also funny and poignant in equal measure. In the pre Greta Thunberg era, this personal account of one young woman’s journey into activism is captivating and compelling—and a salient reminder of how the power and solidarity of communities of people with shared values can shape and change our lives—for good!”Ann Limb, Chair of the Scouts, #1 2019 OUTstanding List of LGBT+ Public Sector Executives

Stephanie Davies Image credit Nyra Lang

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

Image Credit Ming de Nasty.

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

Posted in Contemporary Fiction, Cover Reveal, Memoir, New Adult Romance

A Stranger in Paris Karen Webb #CoverReveal @bookwormpegg @impressbooks1 @lovebooksgroup #lovebookstours #AStrangerinParis

Aberystwyth University, 1986 – and another year of torrential rain. Bad hair days and a rugby-fanatic fiancé are part of her drab existence so who can blame Karen for falling into the arms of a handsome Parisian?

Hastening across The Channel with stars in her eyes, she speeds to the city of light only to discover that her lover is nowhere to be found. Nor what he seemed.

Life takes a turn for the better when her old school-friend Jessica makes a dramatic entrance, encouraging Karen on a downward spiral of adventure – including a brush with the Parisian underworld which places both girls in peril.

Karen’s childhood is a constant anguish reminding her that when things go wrong, not everyone has a home to return to, as the dark shadows of the past merge with her troubled French life.

Where to go, when there’s no going home?

Based on a true story, A Stranger in Paris is the first of a three-part series. This honest memoir recounts with humour and poignancy the search for love and family.

Amazon UK

Karen graduated from Aberystwyth University with a Degree in English Literature. She then moved to Paris, where she worked for 16 years as an English language teacher for business professionals before settling in rural South West France. With few employment opportunities other than stuffing geese or picking melons, she qualified as a licensed real estate agent.

Karen then attended Lancaster University where she graduated with a Masters in Creative Writing in 2015, after which she set up a series of Creative Writing retreats, “A Chapter Away”, inviting world famous authors, literary agents and publishers to teach aspiring novelists. Inspired by the comments of tutors on the memoir writing course, she began “A Stranger in Paris.”

Passionate about theatre, and script-writing, Karen has also written plays, several short stories and a novel – all of which are lurking in the bottom drawer. “A Stranger in Paris” is her first published work, and is the first novel of the trilogy La Vie Française.

Karen now lives in Gascony with her husband and son, and has a grown-up daughter who works in London. Much of her writing is inspired by the North West of England where she grew up, and France which became her country of adoption.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Memoir, Motivational, Non-Fiction

Leaves of Love Lucy Aykroyd 5*#Review @AykroydLucy @unbounders @RandomTTours @unbound_digital #Paperback #Guide #nonfiction #caring #carers #ageing #experiences #BookReview #BlogTour #motivational #LeavesofLove

 

Are you a carer or companion to someone who is ageing? Are you looking to enhance every moment of their lives to the end yet feel full of trepidation at the prospect? Leaves of Love is a simple yet essential guide for both layman and expert to keep by your side as you learn the beautiful and ancient art of accompanying another over these final transitions.

Leaves of Love is laced with inspiring real-life stories that depict the rich gleanings to be found within ageing and the unexpected opportunities that can reveal themselves when we embrace the reality of our dying. These stories bring with them a tool bag of ideas and practical tips to empower the carer within all of us to value our own unique gifts and love as we have never loved before.

With nature as our guide we learn how to be present when we visit a care home, what matters most as we sit with someone and how and what to expect when we are accompanying a dying person.

Amazon UK Waterstones

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

My Thoughts…

Dying is one of life’s certainties and also one of its greatest mysteries.

Experienced in helping people with ageing and dying well, the author shares her personal and professional experience in this friendly, short, but informative book. Divided into case studies and reflections, practical considerations and a helpful glossary this book is user-friendly and full of sensitively delivered information.

The book emphasises the positive aspects of this final journey and the importance of respecting the person’s wishes whatever they may be.

Worth reading to add to your knowledge, but invaluable if you are facing this eventuality. I wish I’d had something like this or someone like the author when my mother died.

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Lucy Aykroyd, a life-enhancing caregiver and end-of-life doula, raised a large family in Aberdeenshire. She paints, pots and prints, practises yoga and travels about with a massage couch. Passionate about the land and the environment, she lives out her wilderness training, disappears for hours into her garden and springs to life with her dogs on the shoreline near her East Lothian home. Lucy celebrates her own ageing and helps others to make the most of theirs with a lightness of touch, a compassionate heart and a good smattering of humour. 

This is her first independent publication. Her short stories have been included in some anthologies by The Huntly Writers

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Posted in Audiobook Review, Blog Tour, Book Review, Humour, Memoir, Motivational, Non-Fiction

Fresh Eggs and Dog Beds 2 4*#Review @Nickalbertautho #Audiobook #AudiobookReview #BlogTour #RuralLife #Ireland #Memoir #NonFiction #AudibleUK #FreshEggsandDogBeds2 @rararesources

Nick and Lesley’s desire for a better life in the countryside was a long-held dream. Unforeseen events and a leap of faith forced that dream into reality, but moving to rural Ireland was only the beginning of their story.
Foreigners in a foreign land, they set about making new friends, learning the culture and expanding their collection of chickens and unruly dogs. But their dream home was in desperate need of renovation, a mammoth task they attacked with the aid of a DIY manual, dwindling funds and incompetent enthusiasm. With defunct diggers, collapsing ladders, and shocking electrics, what could possibly go wrong?
Will their new life live up to expectations, or will the Irish weather, dangerous roads, and a cruel twist of fate turn this dream into a nightmare?

KindleAmazon UK Paperback Amazon UK Audible UK

Kindle- Amazon Paperback- Amazon Audible US

I received an audiobook from the author in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Living the country dream in Ireland was how we left Nick and Lesley at the end of book 1. Book 2 details what life is like and the ups and downs of renovation. The honesty and humour are the unique selling point of this series. It’s not just the good bits it’s the bad bits too. There are many poignant events in this memoir that make the listener empathise.

For anyone who’s ever renovated their home, you’ll be agreeing with Nick’s observations and chuckling at the mistakes and the near disasters. Add in the peculiarities of an unfamiliar country and its a recipe for misunderstandings and subsequent laughter.

The animals are still front and centre in Nick’s life, and there are many anecdotes some hilarious, some sad in this story. What shines through is the sharing of a dream, the courage and the innate sense of humour of the storyteller and his wife.

I’m looking forward to reading the next instalment. The narration is first-class brings the characters to life.

Nick Albert was born in England and raised in a Royal Air Force family. After leaving College he worked in retail management for several years before moving into financial services where he quickly progressed through the ranks to become a training consultant. As a very passionate and reasonably talented sportsman, Nick had always wanted to use his training skills towards creating a parallel career, so in the mid 1980’s he qualified and began coaching sport professionally. After a health scare in 2003 and in search of a simpler life, he and his wife Lesley, cashed in their investments, sold their home and bought a rundown farmhouse in the rural west of Ireland – a country they had never before even visited. With little money or experience and armed only with a do-it-yourself manual, they set about renovating their new home, where they now live happily alongside a flock of chickens, two ducks and several unruly, but delightful dogs.
In 2017 Nick was signed to Ant Press to write a series of humorous memoirs about his life in rural Ireland. Fresh Eggs and Dog Beds (book one) was published in September 2017 and soon became an Amazon bestseller. Book two in the series was published on 1st June 2018 and book 3 in August 2019. Book four is due out in 2020.

Nick is also the author of the twisty thriller, Wrecking Crew, the first in a series of books featuring reluctant hero Eric Stone.

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Posted in Biography, Book Review, Memoir, Non-Fiction

Love in the Biltz Eileen Alexander 4*#Review @WmCollinsBooks #EileenAlexander #LoveintheBlitz #Biography #Memoirs #LoveLetters #WW2

When the papers say that people in London are behaving normally, they’re telling the truth. Everyone is pretending as hard as possible that nothing is happening … I don’t think Hitler will destroy London, because London, if its legs are blown away, is prepared to hobble on crutches.

In summer 1939, war was brewing. Eileen Alexander was a bright young graduate just leaving Cambridge and newly smitten with Gershon Ellenbogen, a fellow student who had inadvertently involved her in a car crash. Her first letter to him, written from hospital, sparked a correspondence that would last the length of the war and define the love of their lifetimes.

Love in the Blitz is a remarkable portrait of one woman’s coming-of-age. Her previously undiscovered letters are vivid, intimate, and crackling with intelligence. She is frank about sex and her ambitions, hilariously caustic about colleagues, rationing rules and life on the homefront, and painfully honest about loving a man away at war. The discovery of these magical letters must count as the greatest literary find of the 21st century.

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts….

A chance discovery, these love letters give a young woman’s insights into wartime Britain. The book begins with a history of the letters and a history of the woman and the wartime period. There are many letters, only a few are featured. They are honest and reveal the young woman’s beliefs, feelings and motivations.

This educated and privileged perspective of wartime living is intrinsically valuable. The letters ramble in parts and are full of the writer’s idiosyncrasies. Rather like a good fictional character, these are flawed but more relatable because of this.

This is a book for those who like wartime history, love stories, personal observations and reflections.

Posted in Biography, Blog Tour, Book Review, Memoir, Non-Fiction

Living Among The Dead – My Grandmother’s Holocaust Survival Story of Love and Strength -Adena Bernstein Astrowsky 5* #Review #memoir #BlogTour #BookReview @adena_astrowsky @AmsterdamPB #RandomThingsTours #AmsterdamPublishers #FridayReads #NeverForget #LivingAmongTheDead @annecater

This is the story of one remarkable young woman’s unimaginable journey through the rise of the Nazi regime, the Second World War, and the aftermath. Mania Lichtenstein’s dramatic story of survival is narrated by her granddaughter and her memories are interwoven with beautiful passages of poetry and personal reflection. Holocaust survivor Mania Lichtenstein used writing as a medium to deal with the traumatic effects of the war. Many Jews did not die in concentration camps, but were murdered in their lifelong communities, slaughtered by mass killing units, and then buried in pits. As a young girl, Mania witnessed the horrors while doing everything within her power to subsist. She lived in Włodzimierz, north of Lvov (Ukraine), was interned for three years in the labor camp nearby, managed to escape and hid in the forests until the end of the war.

Although she was the sole survivor of her family, Mania went on to rebuild a new life in the United States, with a new language and new customs, always carrying with her the losses of her family and her memories.

Seventy-five years after liberation, we are still witnessing acts of cruelty born out of hatred and discrimination. Living among the Dead reminds us of the beautiful communities that existed before WWII, the lives lost and those that lived on, and the importance to never forget these stories so that history does not repeat itself.

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

This memoir is something everyone should read. It’s honest, sad and shocking. It gives a personal testament to the atrocities of The Holocaust during WW2. The contrast of ordinary family life and the genocide that ripped it apart is portrayed poignantly and effectively in this first-hand account.

The childhood and family memories are relatable, but what follows is unimaginable. The courage Mania Lichtenstein demonstrates as she survives, the horror that destroyed so many resonates and is a lesson to us all.

The importance of never standing by and letting something so terrible happen again is the message of this memoir. It makes its point eloquently but with transparent emotion.

Mania’s writing is poignant and shows the reader the life sentence of grief she carried with her, despite her remarkable survival and the life she achieved.

Praise for ‘Living With The Dead –

Adena Bernstein Astrowsky

Adena Bernstein Astrowsky describes an important and tragic chapter in world history in “Living among the Dead.”  In sharing the story of her grandmother through WWII and the Holocaust, she reminds us that we must remember these experiences so that they are never allowed to happen again. – Harvey Mackay, author of the #1 New York Times Bestseller Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive

I was honored when asked to read and review Adena Astrowsky’s book, Living among the Dead. What stood out for me is how different this book is from many of the other Holocaust books. I was most impressed with two things: 1) the amount of important documentary information which is often not known or forgotten, and 2) the details about her grandmother’s life in labor camps. I feel it is a very important and well-written book that the world needs to read. As I told Adena, she did a “Mitzvah” (a good deed) for the world by documenting her grandmother’s story in such an excellent way. – Ben Lesser, Holocaust Survivor, Author, Speaker, and Founder of Zachor: Holocaust Remembrance Foundation

An inspiring story of values and tradition from generation to generation by a granddaughter who has dedicated her life’s work to being a prosecutor of victim-crimes. Narrative history of the Holocaust through discussions with her grandmother “Bubbie” who wrote poetry during the Holocaust as well as her thoughts through the years.  “Bubbie’s” poems, such as The Nostalgic Past, could easily be adapted to middle and high school class lesson plans. – Jay Levinsohn, teacher

Even though it is incredibly difficult to read about the soulless cruelty inflicted upon Jews and other groups during World War II, it is imperative that we do so. The idea that the recurrence of the demonization of an entire race could ever happen again should seem not just implausible, but impossible. Tragically, however, we find ourselves in a world reeling from a resurgence of hate and violence. Against this backdrop, Adena Bernstein Astrowsky’s Living among the Dead can help serve as an important wakeup call. Kudos to Astrowsky, Mania Lichtenstein’s granddaughter, for preserving her grandmother’s wartime experiences. “I was in elementary school when I first learned that my grandmother was a Holocaust survivor,” says Astrowsky. That early exposure to stories of the unthinkable cruelty inflicted on her grandmother left an indelible mark. Through their eyes, Living among the Dead — a collection of Lichtenstein’s writings and her granddaughter’s observations — becomes a gift of immeasurable importance for us all. This book should be found in every library from middle school on up. Readers will come away feeling a range of emotions. Mine is of enormous sadness tempered with gratitude and the eternal hope that these lessons are not lost on this and future generations.Linda F. Radke, President, Story Monsters LLC, formerly Five Star Publications, Inc.

Living among the Dead is Adena Bernstein Astrowsky’s loving and careful reflection of passages from her grandmother’s private journal that Mania Lichtenstein kept as a way of coping with the memories of what she’d survived in World War II. In addition to these notes written by Mania Lichtenstein, Astrowsky also spent years talking with her grandmother about her experiences, difficult as though many of these conversations were.  So do we need another Holocaust book? The answer becomes obvious when one sees the rise of hate groups. Jews, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, agnostics, and atheists— we are all brothers and sisters. But when hatred and discrimination, born almost entirely from ignorance and fear, enter the mainstream of our lives, we very much need this book. Living among the Dead is another valuable brick in the “never again” wall that demands constant attention and refortification.Paul M. Howey, writer and editor

Wonderful book – a treasure of individual strength, family love, community solidarity and Jewish History. – Marcia Ruth, retired writer and editor

Using both her own words and her grandmother’s, Astrowksy weaves the story of survival against all odds during the Holocaust.  Before I had even finished the book, I felt I knew “Bubby” and could hear her unwavering voice through her poetry and her amazing story of war and strife in Eastern Europe. – Kimberly Klett, Museum Teacher 2003-04, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and Executive Deputy Director, Educators’ Institute for Human Rights

Living among the Dead is a riveting, heart-felt glimpse into one young girl’s path into and out of the Holocaust. A childhood once filled with joy and innocence was replaced with utter despair as she lost her entire family and had to learn to survive on her own. While her survival was nothing short of a miracle, the true significance of this story is the ultimate triumph of good over evil through a life well lived, and a legacy secured. Living among the Dead transforms the study of the Holocaust from a distant event to a personal journey. As a teacher, I believe reading this book will help my students develop a richer, more intimate understanding of this period in history, and better equip them to do the important work of sharing the lessons of the Holocaust with future generations.Sarah Armistead, M.P.A., 8th Grade History Teacher

Adena Bernstein Astrowsky

Adena Bernstein Astrowsky has dedicated her career to helping the most vulnerable of our society. She did this by prosecuting child sexual abuse cases and domestic violence cases within the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office. She became the local expert concerning the prosecution of domestic violence related strangulation cases and taught extensively on that subject. Currently, she handles post-conviction cases on appeal and foreign extradition cases. Adena taught Sunday School at her temple for eight years, and in her last two years she co-taught “Character Development Through the Studies of the Holocaust.” Adena contributes articles to MASK (Mothers Awareness on School-age Kids) Magazine, often writing about children’s safety, drugs, law and order, etc. Once a month Adena volunteers at a local Scottsdale library with her therapy dog, Charlie, as part of the Tail Waggin’ Tales Program. Adena has also chaired events to raise money for the Emily Center of Phoenix Children’s Hospital. Recently, Adena was recognized for her professional and philanthropic work with an Amazing Woman Award from the Phoenix Suns and National Bank of Arizona. Adena’s greatest role, however, is as the mother of three very active children. She, and her husband, Brad, are kept very busy with their respective dance, theater, music, and athletic activities.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Memoir, Poetry

The Princess of Felling Elaine Cusack 5*#Review #poetry #Felling #Memories #GrowingUp #ThePrincessofFelling #Tyneside #1970s #1980s #memoir #BlogTour #BookReview #RandomThingsTours @annecater

The Princess of Felling was published in April 2019 by Northumbrian publisher Limelight Classics. The book describes my childhood and adolescence growing up on Tyneside in the 1970s and 1980s. 

The book features a Foreword by TV, radio and book author Michael Chaplin, photographs of Felling taken in summer 2018 by Bulgarian photographer Rossena Petcova and unique maps inspired by my memories by poet and artist Steve Lancaster. 

It also features appearances from David Almond, the Rev Richard Coles, Tracey Thorn, Sir Kingsley Amis, Bloodaxe Books, Nick Heyward and Gyles Brandreth.

The Princess of Felling resonates with readers of all ages in the North East and beyond. 

As actor and Felling lass Jill Halfpenny says in the book, “Reading Elaine’s stories and poetry takes me back to my childhood in Felling and all of the smells, sounds and tastes of that time. Her words allow me to remember things that I didn’t know I’d forgotten.”

Buy Links

Buy your copy in person from selected outlets including Hexham’s Cogito Books, Felling Volunteer Library, Newcastle Central Library, Happy Planet Studio and Gallery in Whitley Bay.

Purchase online from Elaine’s publisher www.limelightclassics.com.

Find out more about Elaine’s writing and forthcoming gigs by visiting http://www.dipdoomagazoo.wordpress.com, http://www.ticketsource.co.uk/cusackmansions and by liking her Elaine Cusack writer page on Facebook.

Website

My Thoughts…

The author says “The Felling I describe belongs to me” and that personal connection dominates the writing and makes it immersive. The introduction describes how The Princess of Felling got its name and the years of memories, scrapbook items, notes written from conversations with her family and old poems and writing that the author kept for several years before this book’s creation.

The writing uses the dialect and words used by those who lived in The Felling, for those who are unfamiliar with it, there is a helpful glossary at the back of commonly used colloquial words. How she learnt to say familiar words like street names is the subject of an early chapter, and it makes me think back to my childhood, and what it was like in the 1970s, when I was growing up.

The Princess of Felling is a beautifully produced bright and glossy book that contains engaging writing and lovely photographs.

Elaine Cusack

The book has been promoted by differing events every month including a gig in a pie and mash shop in Tynemouth and  a London book launch in a Bloomsbury pub. 

The Princess has ruled my life since 2017 when my Mam died after living with dementia for almost four years.  The 2,000 word essay I was working on morphed into  a 22,000 word manuscript.  

The Princess project includes  a  prequel, The  Princess  and the Goose  plus a “mini musical” called  The  Princess and the Piano. I’ve written with musician Mike Waller. The vibe is Gilbert and Sullivan meets Rogers and Hammerstein. We’ve performed it about five times this year and at the weekend we recorded the songs. I will be releasing them on digital platforms and possibly as a limited edition CD in the spring.

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Readers’Comments

READERS’ COMMENTS

“It’s perfect! I picture it like the Hundred Acre Wood…only in Felling. Just as magic, though.”

“Was so tempted to gobble this down in one sitting but forced myself to savour small delightful morsels. Just beautiful. And I’d forgotten all about skinshees!”

“In parts it’s educational, nostalgic, humorous, sometimes evoking sad memories for me and lovely memories too. The story telling is seamless and impressive; I summed it up as being a delight!”

“It isn’t long enough! You get to the end and you want more! I love that it’s full of nostalgia and gentle pathos, but shot through with such a delightful, whimsical humour. It’s made me do what I never imagined I’d do: roam around the streets of Felling on Google Earth, looking for the places where these magic events occurred.”

Posted in Author Guest Post, Blog Blitz, Guest post, Memoir, Non-Fiction, Travel

Through Dust and Dreams. An African Adventure Roxana Valea ​#GuestPost @roxana_valea @rararesources #Travel #memoir #Africa #ThroughDustandDreams #BlogBlitz #SundayThoughts #RachelsRandomResources

At a crossroads in her life, Roxana decides to take a ten-day safari trip to Africa. In Namibia, she meets a local guide who talks about “the courage to become who you are” and tells her that “the world belongs to those who dream”.

Her holiday over, Roxana still carries the spell of his words within her soul. Six months later she quits her job and searches for a way to fulfil an old dream: crossing Africa from north to south. Teaming up with Richard and Peter, two total strangers she meets over the Internet, Roxana starts a journey that will take her and her companions from Morocco to Namibia, crossing deserts and war-torn countries and surviving threats from corrupt officials and tensions within their own group.

Through Dust and Dreams is the story of their journey: a story of courage and friendship, of daring to ask questions and search for answers, and of self-discovery on a long, dusty road south.

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Guest Post – Roxana Valea

Through Dust and Dreams.

Follow your dreams

“The world belongs to those who dreams.” he told me looking deep into my eyes.

I was a tourist on a ten day safari trip in Namibia. He was the tour guide. We were finishing our drinks late at night under the full moon. The rest of the tourists were already asleep but I didn’t want to go to sleep. It was my last night in Africa and I didn’t feel ready to go back and face my job, my life, my flat, and all the emptiness I left behind.

I thought it was only a big statement called in by too much alcohol. I pretended I didn’t hear it. But somewhere deep down, it touched me. What are my dreams? I asked myself. I didn’t know. I hadn’t asked myself the question.

I went back the next day and returned to a life that was a far cry from what I really wanted. Not that I actually knew what was it that I really wanted. But then, something magic happened. I started to dream again. New things came into my mind, at the beginning like a shy day dreaming thought that would quickly disappear. Slowly, these thoughts turned into constant companions. Thoughts  like “I want to go back to Africa. I want to travel. I want to find a job that has meaning. I want to explore where I really want to live and what type of job I really want to do.” And then another though hit me with the power of a hammer: these were more than wishes.

These were my dreams.

And then, six month later, when I was offered a moment of choice, I took it. I chose to get up and go follow these dreams and turn them into reality. I left my job and went back to Africa.

Dreams are not wishes. They are not frustrations about things that should have happened in a certain way and didn’t. They are also not the product of imagination, some bubble that comes and stays with us for a while and then departs as unexpectedly and suddenly as it came. Dreams come from somewhere deep down, from the bottom of our soul. Dreams originate from the very fabric of who we really are and come to tell us a story about why we were born and what we are meant to do here, on earth. Dreams are the way your soul talks to us.

In the high Andes, the shamans, the medicine men and women of the descendants of the Incas, say that we dream the world into being. What they mean is that the reality that surrounds us – where we live, who we marry, what type of job we do – all this is a product of a dream that we have dreamed at some point. We might have done this unconsciously and didn’t fully understand what reality we had called into our life. But we may choose to do this consciously, select the dreams that we dream and then watch how this unfolds in reality.

Because, you see, in order to dream your world into being, it’s enough to hold your dreams in your consciousness. Be aware of them. Let them live in you. Let them inspire you.

So I kept these dreams alive and  six months after my return from the ten day safari in Namibia, I found a once in a life time opportunity to cross Africa from North to South, in a Land Rover, in the company of two others.

And here’s the last catch. Things come to us because we dreamed them. But then we need to take the decision to follow them. The opportunity could have come and gone and I could have stayed in my  meaningless job and carried on with my  empty life in my small flat. But I decided differently.

And with this, a whole new world opened up. Because my African guide was right, the world does belong to those who dream.

If you want to know the whole story, read my travel memoir, “Through Dust and Dreams – The Story of an African Adventure”

Roxana Valea

Roxana Valea was born in Romania and lived in Italy, Switzerland, England and Argentina before settling in Spain. She has a BA in journalism and an MBA degree. She spent more than twenty years in the business world as an entrepreneur, manager and management consultant working for top companies like Apple, eBay, and Sony. She is also a Reiki Master and shamanic energy medicine practitioner.

As an author, Roxana writes books inspired by real events. Her memoir Through Dust and Dreams is a faithful account of a trip she took at the age of twenty-eight across Africa by car in the company of two strangers she met over the internet. Her following book, Personal Power: Mindfulness Techniques for the Corporate World is a nonfiction book filled with personal anecdotes from her consulting years. The Polo Diaries series is inspired by her experiences as a female polo player–travelling to Argentina, falling in love, and surviving the highs and lows of this dangerous sport.

Roxana lives with her husband in Mallorca, Spain, where she writes, coaches, and does energy therapies, but her first passion remains writing.

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