Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Family Drama, Friendship, New Books, Romance

A Family Affair Julie Houston 5* #Review @JulieHouston2 @Hoz_Books @Aria_Fiction #Family #Friendship #Romance #SecondChance

Joining the family business was never going to be easy…

Frankie Piccione is done running away from her responsibilities, well for now anyway. Having escaped Westenbury after suffering a shattered heart, it’s time to take up her place on the family board. Piccione’s Pickles and Preserves needs Frankie. Frankie knows she can make the business work. But with her brother Luca and the new, rather attractive, Cameron Mancini watching her every move, she’s going to have to come up with something special to get them off her back and recognising she belongs on the board just as much as they do.

With the help of her Aunt Pam and best friend, Daisy, Frankie is thriving with her new sense of purpose. Until someone from her past walks right back into it…

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

My Thoughts…

This story took me a little longer to get into than the previous books about Westenbury, but it’s emotional, insightful and wonderfully romantic. When I finished, it was one of my favourite books in the series.

Frankie returns to the family business after two years away. Her motivations for leaving are understandable and easy to empathise with. Pam sees Frankie as her second daughter. Pam’s story takes place in the 1970s. The seventies are well-described, especially the differences in attitudes and prejudices in comparison with the present day.

The characters are relatable, and the pacing keeps the reader engaged. This is a family centred story with pertinent social history and two believable and satisfying love stories.

Julie Houston

Julie lives in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire where her novels are set, and her only claims to fame are that she teaches part-time at ‘Bridget Jones’ author Helen Fielding’s old junior school and her neighbour is ‘Chocolat’ author, Joanne Harris. After University, where she studied Education and English Literature, she taught for many years as a junior school teacher. As a newly qualified teacher, broke and paying off her first mortgage, she would spend every long summer holiday working on different Kibbutzim in Israel. After teaching for a few years she decided to go to New Zealand to work and taught in Auckland for a year before coming back to this country. She now teaches just two days a week, and still loves the buzz of teaching junior-aged children. She has been a magistrate for the past nineteen years, and, when not distracted by Ebay, Twitter and Ancestry, spends much of her time writing. Julie is married, has a twenty-four-year-old son and twenty-one-year-old daughter and a ridiculous Cockerpoo called Lincoln. She runs and swims because she’s been told it’s good for her, but would really prefer a glass of wine, a sun lounger and a jolly good book – preferably with Matthew Mcconaughay in attendance.

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Guest Post: The inspiration behind the Family Affair – Julie Houston

It was the evening before the very first lockdown back in March last year and I was getting desperate. I’d stared at a blank screen for several days but nothing was forthcoming. I knew I had a good eight months to write this novel – my ninth for Aria Head of Zeus – but to be absolutely honest I really didn’t have a clue what direction this new story would take.
And then, a seed, a little germ of hope and inspiration was planted: why wasn’t I using my own Italian heritage as a basis for the story? I knew then that I was going to write Frankie Piccione’s story.
My own grandmother was born Madeleine Scaramuzza and was the daughter of Antonio who’d left Naples to find work in the woollen mills here in Yorkshire. In my home town there are many Italian and Sicilian families and those I’m friendly with are wonderfully warm and extremely sociable as well as great cooks and hosts! I immediately headed down to my Sicilian friends, Joe and Luanda and, armed with notebook and pen, almost drafted the first plan there and then. They told me of wonderful Sicilian food, but especially the crema limon (lemon curd) that Frankie would eventually take on in the quest for manufacturing the best preserve at her Nonno Angelo’s factory. They gave me insights into Italian families and sayings, including the lyrical “bedda mia” – my beautiful one – that Joe’s mum uses all the time when greeting her family.

I’ve loved writing this story. I wanted to embrace the idea of economic migrants coming from different parts of the world – India and Italy – and how they worked hard to establish themselves in the north of England: Frankie’s grandfather, Nonno Angelo, with his pickles and preserves company and Daler’s Indian grandfather with his sandal factory. Both had to overcome prejudice, but fought against the odds to do exceptionally well in their chosen industries. I wanted to show how Pam, introducing a bit of seventies nostalgia, found herself part of the Piccione family at the age of just sixteen, and the prejudices she also had to fight against from her stand as a woman in a company dominated by men at the top.

But mainly, I just loved writing two parallel love stories – Frankie’s and Pam’s – one starting in the seventies and one just two years earlier, but both coming together and bang up to date by the end of the book. I fell a little bit in love with both Rob and Daler. I hope the reader will too!

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?

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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.

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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 Cover Reveal, Family Drama, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction

The Banjo Book Two Elaine Spires #CoverReveal @ElaineSWriter @rararesources #1970s #1980s #Banjo #Community #Social #history #20thCentury #preorder #21August

The 1970s. Zany fashions brought the Decade That Taste Forgot. Change is in the air. Decimal currency; the Common Market; widespread strikes; the Winter of Discontent; IRA bombings; the sale of Council houses and quickie divorces make their mark on the whole country including the community of the Banjo. The eight households who live in Cromwell Close experience births, deaths, marriages, shocks and surprises but as the 70s become the 80s and beyond Dagenham undergoes great transformation. The once close-knit Community is changing.

Publication Date: 21st August

Pre-Order Link

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Elaine Spires is a novelist, playwright, screenwriter and actress. Extensive travelling and a background in education and tourism perfected Elaine’s keen eye for the quirky characteristics of people, captivating the humorous observations she now affectionately shares with the readers of her novels. Elaine has written two books of short stories, two novellas and seven novels, four of which form the Singles Series – Singles’ Holiday, Singles and Spice, Single All The Way and Singles At Sea.  Her latest book, Singles, Set and Match is the fifth and final book in the series.  Her play Stanley Grimshaw Has Left The Building is being staged at the Bridewell Theatre, London in May 2019.  Her short film Only the Lonely, co-written with Veronique Christie and featuring Anna Calder Marshall is currently being in shown in film festivals worldwide and she is currently working on a full length feature film script. Only the Lonely won the Groucho Club Short Film Festival 2019. Elaine recently returned to UK after living in Antigua W.I. She lives in East London.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Family Drama, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Travel

A Question of Country Sue Parritt 4* #Review @rararesources #RachelsRandomResources #Australia #Emigrating #Migrants #1970s LiteraryFiction #social #feminisim #women #marriage #career #family #relationships #historicalfiction #BlogTour #BookReview

On Christmas Eve 1969, a letter from Australia House, London, brings welcome news for newly-weds Anna and Joseph Fletcher.

Young and idealistic, Anna falls passionately in love with their adopted land. Seven months later, an unexpected event causes their life to take a stressful turn.

Years pass, and Anna retreats to a fictional world she has created. But when a different challenge presents itself, does she have the courage to take the risk… or will she take refuge in fantasy?

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

My Thoughts…

An interesting novel. Set predominately in Australia, in the 1970s, it traces the lives of a young couple who emigrated from England to Australia in 1970. Prejudice and social injustice are explored, on their voyage to their new home. The details of life as a migrant in Australia, build the world Anna and Joe find themselves in. Anna loves her new country but when her circumstances change the rose coloured glasses cloud a little.

Told in the third person, it reads like a memoir. Anna’s emotional struggles are believable, and her escape into literature is relatable. A flawed, pioneering woman, Anna highlights the forgotten in society insightfully.

This historically based novel is intrinsically interesting and thought-provoking.

Sue Parritt

Originally from England, Sue worked in university libraries until taking early retirement in 2008 to concentrate on creative writing. Since then she has written short stories, articles, poetry, a short TV drama script and six novels:

Sannah and the Pilgrim, first in a trilogy of a future dystopian Australia focusing on climate change and the harsh treatment of refugees from drowned Pacific islands. Odyssey Books, 2014. Commended in the FAW Christina Stead Award, 2014.

Pia and the Skyman, Odyssey Books, 2016. Commended in the FAW Christina Stead Award, 2016.

The Sky-Lines Alliance, Odyssey Books, 2016.

Chrysalis, the story of a perceptive girl growing up in a Quaker family in swinging sixties’ Britain. Morning Star Press, 2017

Re-Navigation recounts a life turned upside down when forty-year-old Julia journeys from the sanctuary of middle-class Australian suburbia to undertake a retreat at a college located on an isolated Welsh island. Creativia Publishing, 2019.

Feed Thy Enemy, based on her father’s experiences, is an account of courage and compassion in the face of trauma as a British airman embarks on a plan that risks all to feed a starving, war-stricken family. Creativia Publishing, 2019.

A Question of Country explores the migrant experience through the protagonist’s lifelong search for meaningful identity. Next Chapter (formerly Creativia Publishing), 2020.

Sue’s current project, working title: Twenty-eight Days, first in The Doorkeeper series,isset in Southern Australia in 2100. It deals with overpopulation and extended life expectancy in an increasingly climate-challenged world and the inhumane solutions adopted by a government determined to rid Australia of unproductive citizens.

Passionate about peace and social justice issues, Sue’s goal as a fiction writer is to continue writing novels that address topics such as climate change, the effects of war, the treatment of refugees, feminism and racism.  Sue intends to keep on writing for as long as possible, believing the extensive life experiences of older writers can be employed to engage readers of all ages.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Gangland Crime, Historical Crime Fiction, Noir, Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Thriller

Silent Money G.D.Harper 4*#Review @harper_author @rararesources #Thriller #PsychologicalThriller #noir #crime #Glasgow #1970s

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#SilentMoney

Glasgow, 1972. Michael Mitchell is ambitious, talented and determined to succeed. But he learns the hard way that he will never achieve his goals in life – unless he plays by a different set of rules.

He partners with a small-time crook to help the Glasgow underworld launder the proceeds of their crimes. As the operation grows, Michael is forced to become more and more ruthless to protect what he has built.

Shocked by who he has become, he vows to leave the criminal world behind and start a new life. But the past has a way of catching up. Finally, he gambles everything on one last desperate attempt to break free.

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#SilentMoney

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

My Thoughts…

Set in Glasgow in the 1970s, this story’s ethos is gritty and full of moral dilemmas. Michael is a hard worker and he wants to succeed, but his efforts are overlooked, and soon he uses his powerful intelligence to become successful in a less orthodox way.

Like the author’s previous book set in 1970s Glasgow and London, Love’s Long Road, this story has excellent characters, a clever plot and you constantly question Michael’s choices, there are so many grey areas,

The pacing is fast, and there is a good balance of action, dialogue and introspection. The setting once again steals the show for me, it encompasses the desperation of the 1970s, a time of high unemployment, and the demise of British industry like coal, shipbuilding and steel. When for many crime was the only way out of poverty.

A good, thought-provoking thriller.

#SilentMoney #Blogtour

I was placed third in the 2015 Lightship Prize for first-time authors, won a 2016 Wishing Shelf Award Red Ribbon, been shortlisted at the UK Festival of Writing for Best First Chapter, longlisted in the 2017 UK Novel Writing Competition.

In 2017, I was one of twelve authors selected for Authors in the Spotlight at the Bloody Scotland book festival in Stirling, showcasing who they considered to be the best emerging talent in crime fiction, and was the only self-published author to be chosen. I have spoken at numerous other book events, including Blackwells’ Writers at the Fringe at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe; a stand-alone slot at the Byres Road Book Festival in Glasgow, and the Aye Write! Book Festival, also in Glasgow.

I went to Glasgow University in 1975 and lived in the city’s West End, the time and place for the setting of the majority of Love’s Long Road.


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Read my #review of Love’s Long Road
Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Crime, Noir, Psychological Thriller, Thriller

Love’s Long Road G.D.Harper 4*#Review @harper_author @rararesources #Thriller #PsychologicalThriller #noir #crime #Glasgow #1970s #Guilt

Glasgow, 1975. How do you cope when your boyfriend kills himself because of you?

WhenBobbie Sinclair’s boyfriend commits suicide and blames her, she vows never to love again. Instead, she chooses to lead a double existence, kind-hearted by day and promiscuous by night. She increasingly struggles to maintain the balance between light and dark and soon finds herself sucked into the world of a controlling and ruthless crime lord from which she must escape.

Set against a vibrant but seedy 1970s Glasgow backdrop, Love’s Long Road plots Bobbie’s desperate plight. Starting a new life but constantly afraid of her past catching up with her, she battles danger, adversity and drug addiction on the long and perilous road back to love.

Love’s Long Road is about dealing with the guilt of terrible events in your past and the risk of being corrupted by the world around you; it is a story that captures to perfection what it was like to be young and single in the 1970s. 

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

My Thoughts…

Whilst this type of story is not new, it is given a unique interpretation by the author, told from Bobbie’s point of view in the first person. The reader sees the world, and the decisions she makes, through her eyes. This gives this story undeniable originality.

Bobbie is a young, naive woman, riddled with guilt when her boyfriend who she recently broke up with kills himself. She attends his funeral out of respect but feels so responsible for his death that she feels she shouldn’t be there.

What follows, is a painful journey of self-recrimination and ultimately, self-awareness. Her indiscriminate one-night stands, lead her a dangerous path, where she meets Michael, he is dangerous, but she is too naive to appreciate this until her life is irrecoverably altered.

The pacing is fast, and the story follows Bobbie’s experiences as she tries to build a new life, there are sacrifices and victories, but constant running, until a final twist, means running is not an option. At this moral crossroads, Bobbie has to decide what to do, and it here the reader witnesses her character’s maturity and you want her life to be something worthwhile.

The setting is Glasgow and London in the mid to late 1970s, the culture and ethos of the period are faithfully recreated, and gives the story its authenticity and depth.

Overall this is a well-paced journey of self-discovery, with many intense and suspenseful moments and a believable, yet hopeful conclusion,

#LovesLongRoad

I was placed third in the 2015 Lightship Prize for first-time authors, won a 2016 Wishing Shelf Award Red Ribbon, been shortlisted at the UK Festival of Writing for Best First Chapter, longlisted in the 2017 UK Novel Writing Competition.

In 2017, I was one of twelve authors selected for Authors in the Spotlight at the Bloody Scotland book festival in Stirling, showcasing who they considered to be the best emerging talent in crime fiction, and was the only self-published author to be chosen. I have spoken at numerous other book events, including Blackwells’ Writers at the Fringe at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe; a stand-alone slot at the Byres Road Book Festival in Glasgow, and the Aye Write! Book Festival, also in Glasgow.

I went to Glasgow University in 1975 and lived in the city’s West End, the time and place for the setting of the majority of Love’s Long Road.


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Posted in Book Review, Family Drama, Friendship, Literary Fiction, Mystery

4* #Review The First Time Lauren Pailing Died – Alyson Rudd @HQStories @allyrudd_times #LiteraryFiction #timeslip #love #grief #family #friends #mystery

Lauren Pailing is born in the sixties and a child of the seventies. She is thirteen years old the first time she dies.

Lauren Pailing is a teenager in the eighties, becomes a Londoner in the nineties. And each time she dies, new lives begin for the people who loved her – while Lauren enters a brand new life, too.

But in each of Lauren’s lives, a man called Peter Stanning disappears. And, in each of her lives, Lauren sets out to find him.

And so it is that every ending is also a beginning. And so it is that, with each new beginning, Peter Stanning inches closer to finally being found…

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

My Thoughts…

This story may not appeal to everyone. You have to be willing to accept the concept of parallel lives that exist but only come to your notice, if you act in a certain way. Lauren Paling as a young girl, sees snapshots of her other possible lives, she learns not to share these insights with others who don’t understand, but then she dies and the emotional rollercoaster journey begins.

In each life she is different, and although surrounded by those who love her, they may relate to her, in different ways. The stories explore, love friendship, relationships loss and grief in a poignant way.

Lauren is searching for a mystery man in each life, without knowing his significance to her, if any. This is a story that can be read more than once, and perhaps needs to be, to fully grasp everything it is about, but that might just be me?

The historical scene-setting is well done, I grew up in this time frame, and I enjoyed the mid to late 20th Century references. Each life has subtle differences to authenticate it to Lauren, as part of her struggles to accept her new present and forget what has gone before.

The plot is detailed and the characters are likeable and believable, despite the extraordinariness of the storyline. This has a uniqueness, because of its emotional content and characterisation, even though the parallel lives concept is often used in science- fiction literature.

If you enjoy variety in your reading and enjoy a lovely, out worldly story this is for you.

Posted in Book Review

3* Review: City on Fire – Garth Risk Hallberg

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Mystery Thriller Blurb

It’s New Year’s Eve, 1976, and New York is a city on the edge. As midnight approaches, a blizzard sets in – and an unmistakable sound rings out across Central Park. Gunshots. Two of them.

The search for the shooter will bring together a rich cast of New Yorkers. From the reluctant heirs to one of the city’s greatest fortunes, to a couple of Long Island kids drawn to the nascent punk scene downtown. From the newly arrived and enchanted, to those so sick of the city they want to burn it to the ground. All these lives are connected to one another – and to the life that still clings to that body in the park. Whether they know it or not, they are bound up in the same story – a story where history and revolution, love and art, crime and conspiracy are all packed into a single shell, ready to explode.

Then, on July 13th, 1977, the lights go out in New York City.

Mystery Thriller Buy Links

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Mystery Thriller My Review

City on Fire

The characters, setting and plot of this story are engaging; unfortunately it is too long for these positives to retain their impact. This book may appeal to the ‘one book a year reader’ but not someone, who reads for escapism and variety.
I really wanted to like this book, as I grew up in the seventies. I love reading about different reactions and actions to a memorable incident but there were so many superfluous details in this story, the ethos and vintage quality of it got lost.

Reviewing a book is a subjective thing and once again the opinions of those who influence book purchases, are not necessarily those of the readers who buy the books, on their recommendation.
I received a copy of this book from Vintage, Penguin Random House Jonathan Cape via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg

Garth Risk Hallberg

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Posted in Book Review, New Books

4* Review: The Girl Who Lived By The River -Part 4 – Mark Daydy

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Winter Blurb

It’s 1978. Will Tom’s chances of finally taking his relationship with Claire to the ultimate levels of ecstasy be affected by her being in a different country? What exactly is Tom’s musical destiny? And is he the man to finally sort out his mixed-up family?

Winter Buy Links

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Winter My Review

The Girl Who Lived By The River: Part FourThe final part of ‘The Girl Who Lived by the River’ takes place in 1978.
Tom, now eighteen realises what it means to be an adult and starts to reassess his teenage aspirations and dreams. His on/off relationship with Claire is ongoing but with the release of her group’s first single, the chance she will want what Tom has to offer her seems remote.
Tom’s reactions to the political and industrial unrest of this time show how he has matured from the beginning of the book.
The final instalment of Tom’s teenage angst reveals the secrets of the family mystery and answers the question of when he will lose his virginity. There are certainly a few surprises along the way.
If you enjoy ‘retro’, I recommend this book, which captures the late seventies perfectly and introduces the reader to realistic, memorable characters. This is an enjoyable read.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.

 

The Girl Who Lived By The River: Part Four by Mark Daydy

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


The Girl Who Lived By The River Part Four by Mark Daydy

Mark Daydy

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