Posted in Book Review, Family Drama, Friendship, Historical Romance, Romance, Travel

The Second Marriage Gill Paul 5*#Review @GillPaulAUTHOR @AvonBooksUK @RandomTTours #HistoricalRomance #1960s #1970s #HistFic #BlogTour #BookReview #TheSecondMarriage

JACKIE
When her first marriage ends in tragedy, Jackie Kennedy fears she’ll never love again. But all that changes when she encounters…

ARI
Successful and charming, Ari Onassis is a man who promises her the world. Yet soon after they marry, Jackie learns that his heart also belongs to another…

MARIA
A beautiful, famed singer, Maria Callas is in love with Jackie’s new husband – and she isn’t going to give up.

Little by little, Jackie and Maria’s lives begin to tangle in a dangerous web of secrets, scandal and lies. But with both women determined to make Ari theirs alone, the stakes are high. How far will they go for true love?

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

This is a modern Greek tragedy, an epic love triangle, played out amidst the political and social turbulence of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.

This fictional story delves behind the headlines to the people who make them. Two iconic women, one with an incredible musical gift and the other a magnet for power are drawn to an enigmatic man. One wants his love the other wants his protection. He wants them both surely a recipe for disaster?

Compelling and enthralling, this is an enticing mix of fact and fiction. Flawed, fragile and glamorous characters authentically written with flaws and incredible presence drive this story. Research underpins every scene making them believable and relatable.

Sensitively portrayed tragedy and sensual romance make this a must-read story.

Gill Paul

Gill Paul’s historical novels have reached the top of the USA Today, Toronto Globe & Mail and kindle charts, and been translated into twenty languages.

They include THE SECOND MARRIAGE (titled JACKIE AND MARIA in the US), two bestselling novels about the Romanovs – THE SECRET WIFE and THE LOST DAUGHTER – as well as WOMEN AND CHILDREN FIRST, which was shortlisted for the 2013 RNA Epic Novel of the Year award, NO PLACE FOR A LADY, shortlisted for a Love Stories award, and ANOTHER WOMAN’S HUSBAND, about links you might not have suspected between Wallis Simpson and Princess Diana.


Gill also writes historical non-fiction, including A HISTORY OF MEDICINE IN 50 OBJECTS, and she speaks at libraries and literary festivals on subjects ranging from the Titanic to the Romanovs.
Gill lives in London, where she is working on her tenth novel, and she swims daily in an outdoor pond.

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Posted in Book Review, Family Drama, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction

Hashim & Family Shahnaz Ahsan 4*#Review @shahnazahsan @johnmurrays #HashimFamily #literaryfiction #hisfic #Manchester #1960s #1970s #1980s

It is New Year’s Eve, 1960. Hashim has left behind his homeland and his bride, Munira, to seek his fortune in England. His cousin and only friend, Rofikul, introduces Hashim to life in Manchester – including Rofikul’s girlfriend, Helen. When Munira arrives, the group must learn what it is to be a family.

Over the next twenty years, they make their way in the new country – putting down roots and building a home. But when war breaks out in East Pakistan, the struggle for liberation and the emergence of Bangladesh raises questions about identity, belonging and loyalty.

Waterstones Hive Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

‘Hashim & Family’ is an educational and emotional journey back in time to Britain and Pakistan during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. It explores the reasons for migration. What is left behind? The concept of family and home. The story captures the brutality and hope of a migrants’ life. The tenacious spirit of Hashim and his family portrayed through authentic and believable characters. The characters are flawed and vulnerable, but mostly easy to empathise.

The political and social history aspect of the story is fascinating. The imagery is often graphically detailed to emphasise the horror and terror of racial and religious war. In contrast, the ordinary family bonds which Hashim’s family share is heartwarming and uplifting. Life is challenging and often cruel, but Hashim sees only the positives.
This story is insightful and memorable.

Posted in Blog Blitz, Book Spotlight, Historical Fiction, Motivational

Billy Tapper Zillionaire Gary Finnan #BookBlitz @GaryFinnan @LoveBooksGroup #HistFic #LoveBooksTours #1950s #1960s #BillyTapperZillionaire

Amazon UK

This colourful novel of adventure, family, and courage shows young Billy McTaggart coming of age as a tapper in a British railyard during the bitter years following World War II. Bullied for his small stature but endowed with a sharp mind, the fierce ambition of his sweetheart Meg, and the love of his Mam, Billy navigates a rapidly changing world where steam engines give way to rock and roll, Elvis, and the Beatles. Everything changes for Billy in one breathtaking moment when he uncovers an amazing secret hidden inside a rail car. Romance, loss, pain, and elation follow his path up and out of England’s rigid class system. Through it all, Billy maintains his generous spirit and sense of what is right. Billy Tapper Zillionaire captures the humanity of simple relationships for an accidental bystander to history growing up in the 1950s and 60s.

Amazon UK

Born in Scotland and raised in Zimbabwe and South Africa, Gary Finnan splits his time between Sonoma Wine country in California and his farm in Aiken South Carolina, along with his wife Eva and two daughters. Gary is an award-winning inspirational author.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Family Drama, Historical Crime Fiction

A Fatal Truth Faith Martin 5* #Review @HQStories @FaithMartin_Nov #hisfic #CrimeFiction #Mystery #Retro #Oxford #1960s #BookReview #bookbloggers #BlogTour #RyderandLoveday #AFatalTruth

As the Hughes family celebrate bonfire night, a terrible accident leaves the garden shed in flames – and father and grandfather Thomas trapped inside.
 
Tragic though it is, Thomas’s death passes without suspicion – until a local journalist makes accusations of a police cover-up in the press. WPC Trudy Loveday is sent to investigate, and asks coroner Clement Ryder to help.
 
But the more questions the two ask the less clear the case seems. There’s no evidence of foul play, and yet the dead man’s family are obviously hiding something. Then there are Thomas’s dubious business practices – was someone out for revenge?
 
All Trudy and Clement know for sure is that everyone is lying – and that they must find the truth…
 

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

The fifth book in the ‘Ryder and Loveday Mystery’ series, ‘A Fatal Truth’ captures the 1960s perfectly. The mystery is a standalone but to appreciate the partnership between coroner Ryder and police officer Loveday read the previous books in the series.

Loveday’s confidence needs a boost, at the beginning of this story, and she’s apprehensive about working with Ryder again. The story portrays the misogyny prevalent in the 1960s’ police force showing that intelligence and solving crimes aren’t enough for women to succeed.

The story relies on observation and astute detection skills rather than forensics and technology. The clever plot has authentic characters and dialogue. The character development of Loveday is notable and contrasts with Ryder’s ailing health. There is a feeling of the end drawing near for this enigmatic partnership.

Posted in Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Family Drama, Friendship, Historical Fiction, Romance

The Things We Left Unsaid- Emma Kennedy 4*#Review @PenguinUKBooks @EmmaKennedy @arrowpublishing #FamilyDrama #BookReview #comingofage #1960s #relationships #HistoricalFiction #mothers #daughters #Contemporaryfiction #bookbloggers #Secrets

Rachel’s relationship with her mother, Eleanor, has always been far from perfect. Eleanor is a renowned artist born from the swinging sixties, and Rachel has forever lived in the shadow of her success.

When Rachel is left by her fiancé on the morning of their wedding she has no choice but to move back into her family home and spend an unbearably hot summer with a mother she feels distant from – in the presence of many painful memories.

It will take another turn of events before Rachel realises that sometimes the past holds exactly the comfort we need. And that behind the words left unsaid are untold stories that have the power to define us.

Amazon UK

Waterstones

I received a copy of this book from Random House UK – Cornerstone- Century in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

An emotional. vibrant coming of age story, highlighting the relationship between a mother Eleanor, and her daughter, Rachel. Still reeling from the loss of Charlie, her father, she is jilted at the altar and has to return home to heal, and decide what to do next, Her complex relationship with Eleanor makes this emotional and difficult, and despite Eleanor’s efforts, they remain estranged.

With secrets untold, Rachel faces her third life-altering event and begins to realise what she has lost. She begins to look back into her mother’s life and discovers, she suffered her own pain and setbacks despite her glamorous persona. Told from dual points of view we revisit Eleanor’s life, coming of age, in the swinging sixties and Rachel solves a family secret that gives her hope for the future, whilst she comes to terms with her present, with the help of family and new friends.

The characters are complex and easily draw you into their lives. The snapshot of life in the sixties highlights the decadence, but also the prejudices that still need to be overcome. There are many poignant episodes in this story, which has an authentic ethos.

The plot is simple, and I have read similar stories, but this doesn’t detract from the excellent storytelling.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Family Drama, Historical Crime Fiction

A Fatal Secret Faith Martin 5*#Review @HQDigitalUK @FaithMartin_Nov #PublicationDay #CrimeFiction #Mystery #Retro #Oxford #1960s #BookReview #bookbloggers #BlogTour #RyderandLoveday

#AFatalSecret

A family day out at Briar’s Hall ends in tragedy when a young boy goes missing – and his body is found at the bottom of a disused well in the orchard.

It looks like a simple case of an eleven-year-old exploring where he shouldn’t: a tragic accident. But Coroner Clement Ryder and Probationary WPC Trudy Loveday aren’t convinced. If Eddie had been climbing and fallen, why were there no cuts or dirt on his hands? Why would a boy terrified of heights be around a well at all?

Clement and Trudy are determined to get to the truth, but the more they dig into Briar’s Hall and the mysterious de Lacey family who live there, the murkier things become.

Could it be that poor Eddie’s death was murder? There are rumours of blackmail in the village, and Clement and Trudy have a horrible feeling that Eddie stumbled on a secret that someone was willing to kill for…

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

This is the second Ryder and Loveday historical crime mystery I’ve read. Although the mysteries are standalone, the relationship between the two unusual detectives develops with each book. So, if you get the opportunity, start with book one.

Clement Ryder, former surgeon, now coroner, and Trudy Loveday, a probationary policewoman in the Oxford constabulary, in the early 1960s investigate cases referred to Ryder by various powerful sources. After their first meeting, Ryder sees the intelligence and potential detecting skill in Loveday, and always requests her assistance, despite the resistance of her misogynous bosses in the police force.

Loveday, is ambitious, intuitive and hard-working, the perfect police officer, yet in the 1960’s she is thwarted every time she seeks practical experience in police work, by jealous and bigoted colleagues and bosses. Their attitude to a working woman reflects the societal view of women in the workplace, and society. The idea of the 1950’s woman as a homemaker was challenged in the 1960s by women like Loveday and forward-thinking intelligent men like Ryder. The book showcases 1960s’ society and attitude well. I was a child in the 1960s, and recognise many of the attitudes and societal norms portrayed in this series, which is well- researched.

The plot is in the murder mystery style, nothing too graphic, although serious crime and issues are explored throughout the investigation. There are many suspects and numerous clues, many of which lead nowhere. The pacing is good, even though you follow Ryder and Loveday’s investigative pace. This is detective work in the 1960s, so forensics and technological help are minimal. Deduction and observation are key skills used here, and it makes interesting reading.

Perfect if you’re a fan of ‘Inspector Gently’, ‘Morse’ and ‘Prime Suspect. This series explores policing in the 1960s, with a unique partnership, astute observations of 1960’s society, and a well-plotted murder mystery.

Posted in Book Review

5* Review – The Quaker – Liam McIlvanney

Amazon UK

Amazon 

My Thoughts…

Atmospheric and authentic are the best adjectives to describe this story. The menacing ethos of 1960s Glasgow is apparent on every page and is compelling.

The characters’ prejudices and secrets vividly depicted make them realistic. The sinister undercurrent as people wonder when ‘The Quaker’will kill again makes for a tense thriller. The murders are described in painstaking detail but not overly graphic, just enough to inform the plot and allow the reader to glimpse the horror of the crime.

Police procedural is the mainstay of the plot, but the suspense and supernatural impressions from the Quaker’s victims add a twist that makes this even more chilling to read. McCormack is a complex detective, a loner he is dedicated to his job at the cost of his relationships.

The ending draws from all the clues laid earlier in the plot, it is convincing and clever and with a final sting in its tail.

‘The Quaker’ is not an easy read, the dialogue and complexity of Glasgow society at this time needs to be understood to get the most of this story.

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

Posted in Book Review

Blog Tour: Summer of Love – Caro Fraser- Extract – 5* Review

 

The dark days of the war are over, but the family secrets they held are only just dawning.

 In the hot summer of 1949, a group of family and friends gather at Harry Denholm’s country house in Kent. Meg and Dan Ranscombe, emerging from a scandal of their own making; Dan’s godmother, Sonia; and her two young girls, Laura and Avril, only one of whom is Sonia’s biological daughter. Amongst the heat, memories, and infatuations, a secret is revealed to Meg’s son, Max, and soon a terrible tragedy unfolds that will have consequences for them all. Afterwards, Avril, Laura and Max must come of age in a society still reeling from the war, haunted by the choices of that fateful summer. Cold, entitled Avril will go to any lengths to take what is hers. Beautiful, naive Laura finds refuge and love in the London jazz clubs, but Max, with wealth and unrequited love, has the capacity to undo it all.

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 Extract –

1

1949

The air was full of the fresh, damp scents of early spring as Meg and Dan Ranscombe turned off the road and walked up the narrow path that led to the back of Woodbourne House. They made a handsome couple – Meg, in her early thirties, was vividly pretty, with dark eyes and chestnut hair curling to her shoulders; Dan, a few years older, was by contrast fair-haired and blue-eyed, his clean-cut features marked by a faint arrogance, a remnant of youthful vanity. They walked in thoughtful silence. It was four years since they had last been to Woodbourne House, the home of Sonia Haddon, Meg’s aunt and Dan’s godmother.

‘I’m glad we took the train instead of driving,’ said Dan, breaking the quiet. ‘I have fond memories of this walk.’

They paused by a big, whitewashed stone barn standing at the foot of a sloping apple orchard.

‘Uncle Henry’s studio,’ murmured Meg. ‘I remember that summer, having to traipse down every morning with barley water and biscuits for him while he was painting.’

Sonia’s husband, Henry Haddon, had been an acclaimed artist in his day, and in pre-war times to have one’s portrait painted by him had had considerable cachet. In Britain’s post-war modernist world, his name had fallen out of fashion.

Dan stood gazing at the barn, lost in his own memories: that final day of the house party twelve years ago, when he had come down to the studio to say farewell to his host. Finding Henry Haddon, his trousers round his ankles, locked in an embrace with Madeleine, the nanny, against the wall of the studio had been absurd and shocking enough, but what had then transpired had been even worse. He could remember still the sound of the ladder crashing to the floor, and the sight of five-year-old Avril peeping over the edge of the hayloft. Presumably the shock of seeing his daughter had brought on Haddon’s heart attack. That, and unwonted sexual exertions. The moments afterwards were confused in his memory, although he recalled setting the ladder aright so that Avril could get down, then sending her running up to the house to get someone to fetch a doctor, while he uselessly attempted to revive Haddon. Madeleine, unsurprisingly, had made herself scarce. And the painting – he remembered that. A portrait of Madeleine in her yellow sundress, seated on a wicker chair, head half-turned as though listening to notes of unheard music, or the footfall of some awaited lover. Haddon had been working on it in the days running up to his death, and no doubt the intimacy forged between painter and sitter had led to that brief and ludicrously tragic affair. The falling ladder had knocked it from the easel, and he had picked it up and placed it with its face to the wall next to the other canvases. He didn’t to this day know why he had done that. Perhaps as a way of closing off and keeping secret what he had witnessed. To this day nobody but he knew about Haddon’s affair with Madeleine. Had the painting ever been discovered? No one had ever mentioned it. Perhaps it was there still, just as he had left it.

Meg glanced at his face. ‘Penny for them.’

‘Oh, nothing,’ said Dan. ‘Just thinking about that house party, when you and I first met.’

What a fateful chain of events had been set in motion in the summer of 1936. He had been a twenty-four-year-old penniless journalist, invited to spend several days at Woodbourne House with a handful of other guests. Meeting and falling in love with Meg had led to the clandestine affair they had conducted throughout the war years behind the back of her husband, Paul. Its discovery had led to estrangement with much of the family. Paul, a bomber pilot, had been killed on the way back from a raid over Germany, and the possibility that his discovery of the affair might have contributed in some way, on some level, to his death, still haunted them both. They never spoke of it. Meg and Dan were married now, but the guilt of what they had done remained. Meg’s mother Helen had been trying for some time to persuade her sister, Sonia, to forgive Meg and Dan, and today’s invitation to Woodbourne House was a signal that she had at last relented.

They walked up through the orchard, and when they reached the flagged courtyard at the back of the house, Meg said, ‘I’m going to the kitchen to say hello to Effie. I don’t think I can face Aunt Sonia quite yet. I’ll let you go first. Cowardly of me, I know, but I can’t help it.’ She gave him a quick smile and a kiss and turned in the direction of the kitchen.

My Thoughts…

Such an atmospheric book, immersing you in the post-war decades of the 1950s and 1960s. ‘Summer of Love’ is the sequel to ‘ The Summer House Party’, which I haven’t read but it is a complete story, and there is an adequate backstory to make this read well as a standalone.

A tragedy, a mystery and oodles of deceit and passion make this an absorbing story. The vivid setting provides the perfect backdrop for Avril, Laura and Max to find out who they are as adults.

Avril is the least empathetic character, she has a dark nature, which threatens to blight both hers and Laura’s lives. Laura lacks self-esteem, a symptom of her parentage and upbringing as the ‘poor relation’, in the Haddon household. Her lack of self-worth coupled with naivety makes her vulnerable to manipulation. Max discovers a secret that changes his life, reaching adulthood, he is confused about his identity and who indeed to love.

Full of fateful decisions, decadence and prejudice, the story vividly portrays Avril, Laura and Max’s Summers of love, against the evolving times of the 1950s and 1960s. Their character development is believable, and although flawed they are compelling and make the reader eagerly turn the pages to find out what they do next.

A perfect escapist read for the summer.

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

Caro Fraser is the author of the bestselling Caper Court novels, based on her own experiences as a lawyer. She is the daughter of Flashman author George MacDonald Fraser and lives in London.

Facebook: @CaroFraserAuthor

Posted in Book Review

‘That Girl’ Blog Tour – Kate Kerrigan Extract – 5* Review

That Girl blog tour banner.png

 Extract From ‘That Girl’ Kate Kerrigan

Chapter one

HANNA

Sligo, Ireland, 1961

‘It was her first visit to Dr Dorian Black’s surgery, and Hanna liked him straight away.

She had only been living in Killa for a few weeks at the time. After her father died suddenly, two years before, her mother Margaret decided they needed a new start and rented a small cottage in Killa, a fishing village on the north-west coast of county Sligo. Margaret hoped proximity to the sea would help heal their ongoing grief. Indeed, Margaret’s spirits lifted as she began a new life among people who knew little or nothing about her, fitting easily into the friendly new parish. Hanna, just thirteen, had settled well into the local convent school. Their home was at the end of the pier, and Hanna developed an appetite for the fresh, salty air, spending hours sitting on the front wall reading and watching the sea. However, this time spent in the chilly air had also resulted in a nasty cough. Margaret, overly protective of her only child, had brought her straight up to the local surgery where she had been greeted by this kind, handsome Dr Black.

‘Now, we’re going to have to take a little look in your mouth, Hanna. Can you open wide for me?’

Hanna opened her mouth widely and he peered in. He smelt of soap and she felt strangely pleased to be in the company of a nice man, even if he was only their doctor. Most of the men they knew from home were farmers, rough and ready, smelling of manure or beer. This man was clean and gentle, like her father. She missed him. It had been two years now and Hanna had started to find it hard to call his face to mind.

‘Now, that doesn’t look too bad.’ Dorian leaned back and took his stethoscope from around his neck. Hanna smiled at him. His accent was refined, barely detectable as Irish. She reminded him of a Jane Austen hero, handsome and dapper like Darcy, but friendly and open too, like Bingley.

‘Well, young lady,’ he said, ‘I think you’ll live.’ Hanna laughed.

Then he turned his attention to Margaret. ‘But, I am writing you a prescription for some antibiotics to clear this nasty cough.’

‘Thank you, Doctor,’ Margaret said.

‘Please,’ he said, smiling, ‘call me Dorian.’

‘Thank you, Dorian.’

Hanna noticed her mother blushing. Margaret was taken with him and, for a moment, Hanna felt pricked with possessive irritation. She reminded herself that her father was dead and it was nice, after all, to see her mother smiling.

As they were leaving, Dorian signalled Margaret to stay back for a private word. For a split second she had a dreadful feeling that there was something wrong with Hanna. After losing Liam, she knew she had become unnaturally attached to her daughter. There was just the two of them now. She couldn’t face it if Hanna were sick.

‘I was wondering,’ Dr Black said, his eyes downcast in shyness, ‘if you would do me the honour of allowing me to take you and Hanna out to dinner this evening.’

*

Over the coming weeks, Dorian courted Margaret. It was like a dream. This charming, erudite man had come into their lives after all the pain, hurt and shock of the last two years. She could hardly believe her luck in finding love again and, although she was as head over heels as a schoolgirl, it was Dorian’s kindness towards Hanna that truly won Margaret’s heart. Most men would have baulked at taking on another man’s daughter, but every time they went out for a drive, to a nice hotel for dinner or to a movie theatre, he always made sure to invite Hanna. Even when they went to Dublin for a weekend, Dorian insisted she and Hanna shared their own room in the Shelbourne rather than have Hanna enduring the upset of her mother being with another man.

That, he said, was the reason for his marriage proposal just two months after their initial meeting.’

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You can escape a place. But you can’t escape yourself.

Hanna flees the scene of a terrible crime in her native Sligo. If she can just vanish, re-invent herself under a new name, perhaps the police won’t catch up with her. London seems the perfect place to disappear.

Lara has always loved Matthew and imagined happy married life in Dublin. Then comes the bombshell – Matthew says he wants to join the priesthood. Humiliated and broken-hearted, Lara heads to the most godless place she can find, King’s Road, Chelsea.

Matthew’s twin sister, Noreen, could not be more different from her brother. She does love fiance John, but she also craves sex, parties and fun. Swinging London has it all, but without John, Noreen is about to get way out of her depth.

All three girls find themselves working for Bobby Chevron – one of London’s most feared gangland bosses – and it’s not long before their new lives start to unravel.

Amazon UK

Amazon

My Thoughts…

This is a well- written character driven story, set against the background of the ‘swinging sixties’ in London. There’s crime, fashion and sex but this all takes second place to the stories of the three Irish girls Hanna, Lara and Noreen. Their courage, humour and tragedies keep the reader enthralled, empathic and shocked in this page-turning read.

The  girls share a common heritage and their lives become increasingly interlinked as the story progresses with devasting consequences for one of them, The setting of a gangland club in Chelsea, captures the vibe of the sixties and the unique mix of fashionable and sordid which made this time in London iconic and a honey trap for naive  girls.

The story doesn’t shy away from abuse and violence because this is integral to the plot but it is sensitively written and ensures the reader empathises with the heroines instantly.  The ending is suspenseful, as you begin to wonder if everything the girls have achieved will be lost.

This is a memorable story, punctuated with vivid imagery and believable characters, not to be missed.

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

 

 

 

 

Kerrigan_KateBio Kate Kerrigan

Kate Kerrigan lives in County Mayo, Eire, with her husband and children. Her novels include Recipes for a Perfect Marriage, shortlisted for the 2006 Romantic Novel of the Year Award and Ellis Island, which was a TV Book Club Summer Read.

Kate Kerrigan Contact:

Twitter: @katekerrigan

Facebook: @KateKerriganAuthor

Website: www.katekerrigan.org

Links to Buy:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2kJHqN3

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2kg4gwo

iBooks: http://apple.co/2Bvc9FJ