Posted in Blog Tour, Extract, Historical Fiction, New Books, Saga

Wartime Blues for the Harper Girls #Extract #AudioExtract @AnneHerries @bookandtonic @BoldwoodBooks #boldwoodbloggers @rararesources #HistoricalFiction #Saga #WW1 #WartimeBluesfortheHarperGirls

LONDON 1917

As the Americans enter the War, there is renewed energy in the war effort.  

With husbands and sons fighting for freedom, the women of Harpers are left to tackle the day-to-day affairs at home and work.

With Ben Harper away, Sally fears she is being followed by a mysterious woman. Who is she and what does she want?

Maggie Gibbs collapses seriously ill in the frontline hospitals and is brought back to England close to death. Can she be saved and what does the future hold for her and her broken heart? 

Marion Jackson’s father is on the run from the Police already wanted for murder. She fears he will return to threaten his family once more.
And Beth Burrows is pregnant with her second child, worried and anxious for her husband Jack, who has been many months at sea.

As Christmas 1917 approaches what will the future hold for Harpers, its girls and their men at War?

Amazon UK

Extract from Wartime Blues for the Harper Girls – Rosie Clarke  

Chapter 1

London, April 1917

Sally Harper turned to speak to her husband Ben and saw that he’d fallen asleep again in his chair. His newspaper lay beside him – the headlines declaring that America had entered the war – and the cup of tea she’d poured for him ten minutes earlier, untouched by his side. Despite several warnings to Germany from the USA, its submarines had carried on attacking neutral ships carrying cargo bound for Britain. The American President had therefore signed the declaration of war. The news had delighted Ben, who considered that his country ought to have joined long before this so that they could throw the weight of the United States behind her allies in a common desire to bring peace and stability. He considered himself British these days and thought the way an Englishman would that the Americans had dragged their feet.

Sally had no idea where her husband had been for the past couple of weeks but had immediately seen how tired he was on his return home late the previous evening. He was sleeping soundly and though she ought to be leaving for work soon, there was no reason why Ben shouldn’t snooze in his chair if he wished. He worked long hours in his job for the British War Office. She had hoped to have time to talk about what they needed to do for the best at Harpers, the prestigious store he and his sister Jenni owned in Oxford Street. Jenni had her own ideas, but Sally was their chief buyer and for once she wasn’t in agreement with her sister-in-law. Normally, they got on really well and were the best of friends, but just lately Sally had found that she didn’t agree with some of the things Jenni wanted to do in the store.

Her unease was partly due to the fact that Jenni seemed grumpy and distracted, which was probably down to problems in her own life rather than disagreements between them. Jenni now lived in her own apartment and had an entirely independent life after work. She was trying to negotiate a divorce from her husband, who was a General in the American Army, and Sally believed that it was proving difficult for her, though Jenni didn’t speak of it much. The problem at the store was simply that Jenni believed they should just fill the shelves of Harpers’ departments with whatever they could get, regardless of quality, including substandard goods, but Sally was wary of lowering standards too much. Yes, Jenni was right to say it was expected when there was a war on. People had to accept less than they’d been able to insist on in normal times and would be grateful for whatever they could get. While Sally agreed to a certain extent, she still felt they had to be careful. However, she was just the buyer and she needed Ben’s backup if she wanted to fight her corner. Jenni was part owner so therefore her opinion carried a lot of weight and if she insisted, Sally must, of course, give way. It would help if she knew what Ben felt about it.

He’d carried on with his war work throughout these past months, leaving Sally to run the store with the help of the manager, Mr Stockbridge, and various supervisors, though Jenni was a big help now she was living in London. It was her stubborn refusal to return to America that had widened the rift between her and her husband, and her feelings for Mr Andrew Alexander, a brilliant surgeon, that had made her ask for a divorce. Something her husband seemed reluctant to grant.

Jenni’s problem with her husband was perhaps the underlying cause of her recent moods, but the problem with Harpers was ongoing. As the war bit ever deeper, and Britain was more and more reliant on home-produced goods, it was becoming harder to find enough decent stock to fill their departments. Of late, one or two of their regular suppliers had let them down, supplying either poor-quality materials that Sally had had to return or sending only partial orders. Sally wasn’t sure which annoyed her the most. Jenni said she was too fussy and that they needed to keep their shelves stocked even if some goods were not as good as they were accustomed to selling.

‘We’re in the middle of a war,’ Jenni was fond of reminding her. ‘If a customer complains, remind them of that fact, Sally. It’s not your fault the Government has ordered manufacturers to cut down on production of certain goods – or that we can’t get enough imported goods these days.’

‘No, it’s the Kaiser’s and our Government,’ Sally had replied the last time Jenni had brought it up. ‘Why they had to start fighting and ruin everything, I do not know…’

Jenni had simply laughed at her frustration. ‘That’s men all over! It’s centuries since your last civil war, not so very long since ours back home in America – and that’s even worse, when you fight your own people. Shortages are annoying, Sally but it isn’t like you to let it get you down?’

‘I know—’ Sally had sighed deeply. ‘I think it is just Ben being away so much of the time – and Jenny has been a bit fractious recently. It must be because she misses Ben. She is far more aware of the fact that he isn’t home now than when she was just a baby.’

Their lovely little daughter was now a lively toddler of three years and into all sorts of mischief. Named after her aunt, she was everyone’s little darling. Sally was no longer able to take her to work and settle her in a cot in her office, because she wanted to be into everything. Pearl, her nurse, still came in a few days a week, but also worked three days at the hospital, where the wards were overflowing with injured men sent home from the war. Mrs Hills, Sally’s housekeeper, was very good with little Jenny, but whenever she could, Sally tried to work from home. However, that was not always feasible and sometimes she did take the little girl into the office. Jenny loved it because all the staff fussed over and she was thoroughly spoiled, not least by her adoring aunt and namesake.

‘She’s an absolute imp but adorable,’ Jenni had replied, because she loved her niece and was always indulging her with little gifts and treats of all kinds. ‘If Ben being away is getting you down, you should tell him, Sally. I’m sure if he knew, he could cut down on these trips. I mean, have you any idea what he does when he is away?’

‘None at all…’ Sally had frowned. ‘He says the official title for his job is logistics controller – whatever that is.’

‘It means he’s buying and moving stuff on behalf of the Armed Forces, as you well know,’ Jenni had replied with a frown. ‘But why can’t he do that from an office in London?’

‘He says that he needs to prod officious store managers into sending what is needed for the troops,’ Sally had said and made a wry face. ‘Ben says that if he simply puts a chit in for them to send ammunition to a certain location, it might take weeks for it to be actually sent. By going himself and overseeing the packing and transportation, choosing the men escorting it himself, he gets results in a tenth of the time…’

Jenni had nodded her agreement. ‘Yes, I can see how that would work. We like to get on with things back home, Sally. You English tend to take your time – and the amount of red tape is maddening.’

‘Yes, Ben is forever complaining about that…’ Sally had laughed. ‘You two are so alike in so many ways. Did you know that?’

‘We’re both Americans,’ Jenni had shrugged and then smiled. ‘And we did have the same father. I suppose we may think alike in many ways…’

‘You do…’

Jenni had just laughed, clearly pleased to be compared to her brother.

Now, on this sunny morning, Sally’s thoughts were interrupted as Ben opened his eyes and smiled at her. ‘You look pensive,’ he said and yawned. ‘Something wrong, sweetheart?’

‘In a way… but it needn’t concern you, Ben…’

He held out his hands to her, indicating she should sit on his lap. ‘Come and tell me what is wrong, Sally.’

‘Oh, just a little niggle concerning Harpers. It’s the quality of some of the stock these days… it isn’t what we’re used to, Ben.’

‘Ah…’ He nodded but looked resigned. ‘I know just what you mean. I made a stink about some boots that were delivered to an Army depot while I was there. The leather was not up to standard and they will probably fall to pieces after a couple of weeks of marching. I sent them back, but the quartermaster was furious. He said he’d been on to the suppliers every day for months to get them and what was he going to do now…’

‘What did you say?’ Sally was interested.

‘I went to see the factory myself and inspected what they were doing. We sorted out the problem between us and we’ve been promised replacements for next month.’

‘How did you manage that?’

‘Part bribery, part threats,’ Ben said. ‘It is a game we play all the time, Sally. They will pass off faulty goods if they can, but if you put your foot down hard, they normally come through. I threatened to take the contract away from them unless they pulled their socks up sharpish.’

‘Could you do that?’

‘Yes.’ Ben’s mouth set hard. ‘I’ve done it before now. Men need decent boots to march in, Sally – just as they need to get their ammunition when they require it and to be sure that the rations they receive are enough to keep them fighting fit.’

Sally nodded and smiled at him. She supposed she’d always known that what he was doing was important work, but she’d never seen it in terms of men’s lives before, but now she understood more of what he had to do. ‘No wonder you look worn out when you get home sometimes.’

‘It isn’t always easy,’ Ben said with a smile. ‘It involves a lot of driving from one end of the country to the other and hundreds of forms to fill in – and that’s when everything goes to plan. When it doesn’t, I have to spend ages trying to find the right person and that is sometimes more difficult than it sounds.’

‘And then I worry you with my trivial complaints…’

Ben pulled her on to his lap and kissed her. ‘Nothing you do or say is trivial to me, my love. Is anything else worrying you?’

‘What happens if I can’t find enough of the right stock to fill our shelves? Harpers is a big store, Ben, and our stockroom is getting emptier by the week – soon we shan’t have any reserves.’

‘Remember what you did to raise money for the wounded?’ Ben asked. ‘You bought seconds cheaply and sold them for very little, giving a contribution to the fund for wounded men. Do something similar again… take the poor-quality goods but at a lower price and make a thing of civilians sacrificing for the sake of our men over there…’

Sally nodded, looking at him with respect. It was more or less what Jenni was saying. ‘Yes, that could work. Those boots you rejected for the Army for instance—’

‘Would probably last civilians for a few months – bought cheaply enough they would be fine.’ He grinned at her. ‘I think a certain factory manager would be delighted to sell them to you very cheaply, Sally…’

‘Good. I’ll get on to it in the morning,’ she said, smiling and feeling much better than she had in a while. ‘Yes, I can just see the signs we’ll put up – and for each pair of substandard boots we sell, we’ll give something to the wounded fund again…’

Rosie Clarke

Rosie Clarke is a #1 bestselling saga writer whose most recent books include The Mulberry Lane series. She has written over 100 novels under different pseudonyms and is a RNA Award winner. She lives in Cambridgeshire. Rosie’s brand new saga series, Welcome to Harpers Emporium began in December 2019.

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

A Ration Book Daughter Jean Fullerton 5*#Review @AtlanticBooks @CorvusBooks @JeanFullerton_ #HistoricalRomance #WW2 #EastEnd #London #1942 #LondonBlitz #BlogTour #saga #Family #Friendship #Rationing #HistFic #RationBookSeries @rararesources #BookReview #Giveaway #PublicationDay #ARationBookDaughter

Not even the Blitz can shake a mother’s love.

Cathy was a happy, blushing bride when Britain went to war with Germany three years ago. But her youthful dreams were crushed by her violent husband Stanley’s involvement with the fascist black-shirts, and even when he’s conscripted to fight she knows it’s only a brief respite – divorce is not an option. Cathy, a true Brogan daughter, stays strong for her beloved little son Peter.

When a telegram arrives declaring that her husband is missing in action, Cathy can finally allow herself to hope – she only has to wait 6 months before she is legally a widow and can move on with her life. In the meantime, she has to keep Peter safe and fed. So she advertises for a lodger, and Sergeant Archie McIntosh of the Royal Engineers’ Bomb Disposal Squad turns up. He is kind, clever and thoughtful; their mutual attraction is instant. But with Stanley’s fate still unclear, and the Blitz raging on over London’s East End, will Cathy ever have the love she deserves?

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

I always enjoy reading books in the Ration Book series because of the authentic settings, historical detail and believable characters. The simple plot allows this character-driven story to draw the reader into London during World War two, making it an immersive reading experience.

This story follows Cathy, a young mother, married to an abusive and bigoted man currently fighting in North Africa. The story reads fine as a standalone, but the series is engaging, and it’s best to read all the books in the series.

This is a story of forbidden love and making the best of your life. Cathy is a courageous and likeable character, as is Archie, her new lodger, and the reader empathises with them. Realistically paced and well-researched. It’s easy to visualise the setting. It incorporates serious issues but manages to keep the story entertaining.

Jean Fullerton

Born and bred in East London Jean is a District Nurse by trade and has worked as a NHS manager and as a senior lecture in Health and Nursing Studies. She left her day job to become a full-time writer in 2015 and has never looked back.

In 2006 she won the Harry Bowling Prize and now has seventeen sagas published over three series with both Orion and Atlantic all of which are set in East London.

She is an experienced public speaker with hundreds of WI and women’s club talks under her belt, plus for the past fifteen years she has sailed all over the world as an enrichment speaker and writing workshop leader on cruise ships.

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Giveaway to Win one of 6 copies of A Ration Book Daughter Paperbacks (Open to UK Only)

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*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the giveaway link above.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for the fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Posted in Blog Tour, Extract, Historical Fiction, Saga

The Hat Girl From Silver Street Lindsey Hutchinson #Extract @LHutchAuthor @BoldwoodBooks #TheHatGirlFromSilverStreet #boldwoodbloggers @rararesources #Saga #historicalfiction #HistFic #BlogTour

Let bestselling author Lindsey Hutchinson take you back in time to the Victorian Black Country, for a tale of love, hardship and fighting against the odds to succeed.

Life is tough for Ella Bancroft. After her father, Thomas, is wheelchair-bound by an accident at the tube works, the responsibility for keeping a roof over their head falls to Ella. Ella’s mother died when she was ten, and her sister Sally lives with her no-good, work-shy husband Eddy, so is no help at all.  If she and her father are to keep the bailiffs from the door, then Ella must earn a living.

But Ella is resourceful as well as creative, and soon discovers she has a gift for millinery. Setting up shop in the front room of their two-up, two-down home in Silver Street, Walsall, Ella and Thomas work hard to establish a thriving business. Before long, the fashionable ladies of the Black Country are lining up to wear one of Ella’s beautiful creations, and finally Ella dares to hope for a life with love, friendship and family.

Meeting the man she longs to marry should be a turning point for Ella, but life’s twists and turns can be cruel. As the winter grows colder, events seem to conspire to test Ella’s spirit. And by the time spring is approaching, will the hat girl of Silver Street triumph, or will Ella have to admit defeat as all her dreams are tested.

The Queen of the Black Country sagas is back with a heart-breaking, unforgettable, page-turning story of love, life and battling against the odds.  

Amazon UK

Extract from The Hat Girl From Silver Street Lindsey Hutchinson

Ella Bancroft looked down at the tangled mess in her fingers and stifled a sob. She pulled at the ruined hat in an effort to rectify her error, but the steaming process had set the blunder in place. 

A tear slipped from her eye and rolled down her cheek. This was her second mistake in a week. Her first was sticking her finger with a pin and leaving a blood spot on a piece of white tulle. Ivy had ranted and raved as she had snipped off the offending piece of material to rescue the hat. 

Now Ella had spoilt the crown of a felt winter hat, having steamed it into the wrong shape entirely. Thinking quickly, she wondered whether, if she held it over the steamer again, she could re-form it. 

About to try, Ella caught her breath as she heard footsteps on the bare wooden staircase. It was too late, Ivy was on her way up. 

Ella had been employed at Ivy Gladwin’s shop for two years and yet suddenly she had begun making errors. Why? Was it because she was unhappy in her work? 

‘How are you getting on with that order?’ Ivy called as she entered the bedroom, which had been converted to a work room. 

‘Erm… I…’ Ella mumbled as she looked again at the floppy felt monstrosity. 

‘What the…?’ Ivy gasped. Snatching the article from Ella, she held it up between thumb and forefinger. ‘How on earth…? Good grief, girl, can’t you do anything right?’ 

The sob Ella was holding back escaped her lips. ‘I’m sorry, Miss Gladwin, I don’t know what happened.’ 

‘Neither do I!’ Ivy snapped, throwing the felt onto the table. ‘It’s completely ruined! An expensive piece of material at the outset and now it’s a – oh, do stop snivelling!’ 

The sharp slap to her cheek caused Ella to catch her breath and she raised a hand to cover the stinging skin. 

Ella sniffed and tried hard to halt the sobs racking her body. 

‘I… I’m really sorry,’ she managed at last. 

‘Well, you will have to pay for it out of your wages. Now, start again and for God’s sake mind what you’re doing!’ With that, Ivy strode from the room, her long bombazine skirt swishing against her side-button boots. 

Ella stared at the hat on the table and thought about the last two years of her life. She had seen the advert in the local newspaper for an apprentice hat-maker. Having applied and been interrogated by Miss Gladwin for over an hour, she was given the post on a month’s trial. The pay, she was told, would be one pound and ten shillings a week but she must work a week in hand first. Any damages would be taken out of her money before she received it. 

Now she was halfway through this week and already there would be two stoppages from her salary. Ella sighed as she worked out just how much she would have in her hand come Friday. 

The gold flecks in her hazel eyes were accentuated as more tears brimmed before falling. Pushing a stray dark curl from her forehead, Ella moved to the workbench. With a sniff and a sigh, she began her work again, this time selecting the correct block to steam the material over. 

Ella thought once more about her earnings – would there be enough to feed herself and her father? The food in the larder was running desperately low, and she knew if there was only enough for one of them to eat she would make sure it was her dad. 

Lindsey Hutchinson

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

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Spotlight, Friendship, Guest post, Historical Fiction, Romance, Saga

Wartime with the Tram Girls Lynn Johnson #guestpost @lynnjohnsonjots @HeraBooks #WW1 #Romance #Saga #BlogTour @rararesources #WartimewiththeTramGirls

July 1914: Britain is in turmoil as WW1 begins to change the world. While the young men disappear off to foreign battlefields, the women left at home throw themselves into jobs meant for the boys.

Hiding her privileged background and her suffragette past, Constance Copeland signs up to be a Clippie – collecting money and giving out tickets – on the trams, despite her parents’ disapproval.

Constance, now known as Connie, soon finds there is more to life than the wealth she was born into and she soon makes fast friends with lively fellow Clippies, Betty and Jean, as well as growing closer to the charming, gentle Inspector Robert Caldwell.

But Connie is haunted by another secret; and if it comes out, it could destroy her new life.

After war ends and the men return to take back their roles, will Connie find that she can return to her previous existence? Or has she been changed forever by seeing a new world through the tram windows?

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Guest Post – Lynn Johnson – Wartime with the Tram Girls

I cannot believe that, as I write this post, I have two books out in the big, wide world, a scary but happy situation to be in. Before I start, I would like to introduce to you an acquaintance of mine who would like to have a few words.

“My name is Connie. Don’t call me Constance. It is important that everyone knows me as Connie. I have a secret, you see and if it becomes known, I will most probably lose everything. Besides, I like being Connie, the Tram Girl. She is far more interesting than Constance Copeland who has little if anything to do with her life. Connie has more freedom for a start and Father has less control over me. I like it that way. The name change was partly Ginnie’s idea. You might know her as The Girl from the Workhouse. She thought that Constance sounded too posh for my plans. I thought Connie would be just about perfect. Ginnie’s younger than me but she makes an awful lot of sense sometimes.”

This is the voice of Constance Copeland, and Wartime with the Tram Girls tells her story against the backdrop of WW1. As with the first book in my Potteries Girls series, I wanted to write about the Homefront, what happened to the families and friends of those who kept the country going during the Great War, and how they managed when their men came home again, many of them changed forever. Coming from a different social class, writing about Connie gave me the opportunity to look at many events, both good and bad, from a different perspective. I loved getting inside Connie’s head and looking at the world through her eyes – always asking the question – what would Connie do?

When I really want to know my characters, particularly major characters, I interview them – perhaps a result of my past life as a personnel manager. By asking characters what they like, don’t like, favourite pastimes, which books they read – or can’t read, I really have to delve deep inside their psyche. A key part of my process is to get each of these characters to talk about their backstory. What they say and what their feelings are about other characters can often give pointers to where the story is/should be going.

When writing from an individual character’s point of view, it is important to relate only thoughts, feelings and speech that that character would be aware of. This makes it rather difficult to get input from others, so writers need to find creative ways to overcome that through such using more than one point of view character, showing through actions and letters and so on, seeing behaviour and emotions reflected through the demeanour of others. An omniscient narrator might tell the reader a lot about the events leading up to the denouement. How much more exciting it becomes when your characters are happy to communicate with you directly.

I love seeing my characters come to life in this way. It’s as if they are sitting on my shoulder watching the words become sentences, paragraphs, chapters, stories. And woe-betide me if I get it wrong!

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

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

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

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

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Posted in Blog Blitz, Family Drama, Saga

Unspoken T.A. Belshaw #BookBlitz @tabelshaw@lovebooksgroup #lovebookstours #unspoken

A heart-warming, dramatic family saga. Unspoken is a tale of secrets, love, betrayal and revenge.

Unspoken means something that cannot be uttered aloud. Unspoken is the dark secret a woman must keep, for life.

Alice is fast approaching her one hundredth birthday and she is dying. Her strange, graphic dreams of ghostly figures trying to pull her into a tunnel of blinding light are becoming more and more vivid and terrifying. Alice knows she only has a short time left and is desperate to unburden herself of a dark secret, one she has lived with for eighty years.

Jessica, a journalist, is her great granddaughter and a mirror image of a young Alice. They share dreadful luck in the types of men that come into their lives.

Alice decides to share her terrible secret with Jessica and sends her to the attic to retrieve a set of handwritten notebooks detailing her young life during the late 1930s. Following the death of her invalid mother and her father’s decline into depression and alcoholism, she is forced, at 18 to take control of the farm. On her birthday, she meets Frank, a man with a drink problem and a violent temper.

When Frank’s abusive behaviour steps up a level. Alice seeks solace in the arms of her smooth, ‘gangster lawyer’ Godfrey, and when Frank discovers the couple together, he vows to get his revenge.

Unspoken. A tale that spans two eras and binds two women, born eighty years apart.

Amazon UK

T A Belshaw is from Nottingham in the United Kingdom. Trevor writes for both children and adults. He is the author of Tracy’s Hot Mail, Tracy’s Celebrity Hot Mail and the noir, suspense novella, Out Of Control. His new novel, The family saga, Unspoken, was released in July, 2020

His short stories have been published in various anthologies including 100 Stories for Haiti, 50 Stories for Pakistan, Another Haircut, Shambelurkling and Other Stories, Deck The Halls, 100 Stories for Queensland and The Cafe Lit anthology 2011, 2012 and 2013. He also has two pieces in Shambelurklers Return. 2014

Trevor is also the author of 15 children’s books written under the name of Trevor Forest. The latest. Magic Molly The Curse of Cranberry Cottage was released in August 2015

His children’s poem, Clicking Gran, was long-listed for the Plough prize (children’s section ) in 2009 and his short poem, My Mistake, was rated Highly Commended and published in an anthology of the best entries in the Farringdon Poetry Competition.

Trevor’s articles have been published in magazines as diverse as Ireland’s Own, The Best of British and First Edition.

Trevor is currently working on the sequel to Unspoken and the third book in the Tracy series; Tracy’s Euro Hot Mail.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Romance

Sea of Dreams Susan Sallis 3*#Review @TransworldBooks @RandomTTours #BlogTour #BookReview #1999 #2000

As one millennium ends, can they look forward to a new and better world?

Somerset, Christmas 1999. Holly and Mark Jepson find themselves again looking after an assortment of guests at Mark’s uncle’s holiday chalets.

Each guest is fascinating in their own way – from the eccentric artist and his young daughter to the young married couple expecting their first baby and the wife escaping from a violent past.

Each will have a part to play in the events – unexpected and shattering – which take place before the new millennium dawns…

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Random House UK – Transworld Publishers via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Set at the end of the twentieth century at a holiday village in Somerset it has lots of characters all facing life issues. The characterisation is good, the characters are diverse and relatable, but not everything is as it first appears.

The characters are believably flawed, and some unlikeable, but this adds to the story’s realism. The setting is quintessential British seaside out of season and has a retro quality which many will recognise.

The timing at the end of the twentieth century adds depth to the story.

This is an easy book to read character-driven and gently paced.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Family Drama, Romance, saga

No Man’s Island Susan Sallis 3*#Review #SusanSallis @TransworldBooks @RandomTTours #Secrets #BookReview #BlogTour

ON A WILD AND WINDSWEPT ISLAND, THE SECRETS OF THE PAST UNRAVEL…

When she hears the news of the death of her ex-husband, Binnie feels like her tranquil life in the West Country is over.

To her surprise, she discovers that he has left her the island in the beautiful archipelago off the coast of Cornwall and the dilapidated house where he spent his childhood, and Binnie has to take her family to the island – revisiting it for the first time in years – and work out what to do.

As she becomes involved in the life of the island, and its inhabitants, she has to embark upon a whole new life and discovers many things about her husband – and her own past – that will change everything forever…

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Random House UK, Transworld Publishers- via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

This story’s setting and ethos are slightly dated. If you accept its retro quality, the characters are delightfully eccentric, and the setting is a dramatic backdrop for this story of life, love and secrets. The pacing is gentle, and you get to know the characters well. It is an engaging blend of drama, friendship, mystery and romance.

If you are looking for an insight into a time and way of life gone by, this book will take you there.

Posted in Extract, Historical Fiction, Saga

Minnie’s Orphans Lindsey Hutchinson #Extract @LHutchAuthor @BoldwoodBooks #MinniesOrphans #boldwoodbloggers @rararesources #Saga #historicalfiction #HistFic #BlogTour

The Fitch children are finally safe, after they and their friends were rescued from the grim orphanage Reed House by Minnie and Billy Marshall. Their children’s home Marshall’s is full of love and laughter, and a world away from their terrible ordeal of being sold to Una Reed for five shillings.There are many more children who still need a home, especially in a world where the workhouse is the last option for desperate families, and so Minnie makes it her mission to build Marshall’s into a refuge for all the waifs and strays. 

But kind hearts can be taken advantage of, and before long, Marshall’s in under attack. Can Minnie and Billy keep their family together and keep all the children safe, or will they be torn apart again? 

The Queen of the Black Country sagas is back with a heart-warming, unputdownable and unforgettable tale of triumph against the odds.

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Extract from Minnie’s Orphans Lindsey Hutchinson

Adam Fitch and Billy Marshall stood waiting at the front of Stafford Gaol as they had done once a month for the last five years.

The door in the huge brick-built gatehouse was firmly locked and was flanked either side by a tall concrete wall.

Adam’s eyes glanced over the women leaning against the wall, awaiting a visit to their menfolk inside. Dressed in rags, some had scruffy children clinging to their worn skirts. Others stood alone as if trying to hide from the stigma of being a convict’s spouse. No one spoke. They simply waited patiently for the echoing sound of the key grating in the lock which heralded that their visit time was imminent.

Shuffling from foot to foot, Adam was eager for the wrought iron gates to swing open. He shivered. The spring sunshine gave very little warmth, but Adam realised it was anticipation which was making him shake rather than the cool air.

Lifting his flat cap, he pushed his dark hair back before replacing it. He heard a whisper from a small girl hiding behind her mother.

‘Is he a peaky blinder?’

‘Don’t be so daft!’ the woman scolded, but she eyed Adam warily nevertheless.

‘Won’t be long now, lad, and then we’ll not be coming again, God willing,’ Billy whispered as he laid a hand on the boy’s shoulder.

Adam nodded and glanced around again at the small group of people who were also waiting. Young men with their own flat caps pulled low over watchful eyes, everyone keen to see whoever it was they had come to the prison to visit.

As he attempted to quell his excitement, Adam’s mind ran swiftly over the last few years of his fifteen-year-old life. His natural father, a pugilist, had been killed in the boxing ring. Adam and his sister were sold to Reed’s Orphanage by his stepfather, who died by the hand of his brother James in a freak accident. When Polly was then sold again to a wealthy family, Adam and his friends broke out to rescue her.

Feeling strong fingers squeeze gently at his arm, Adam glanced at the big man at his side. Billy Marshall, champion pugilist, now retired, had taught him how to box and so defend himself if and when the need arose. Billy had married Adam’s mum Minnie four years previously, and they had bought a massive property in Major Street, which was now a children’s home.

Whilst on the run from Reed’s, Adam and his friends had met up with three boys who were living together, thieving and scavenging to survive. Two of them, Echo and Flash, had joined Adam’s ever-expanding family; the third had been apprehended by the police, which was the reason for their visit here today. Adam and Billy were awaiting the release of Digit, who had served five years for theft.

So lost in his thoughts was he that Adam had not heard the warder come to unlock the doors. The squeal of hinges drew his attention and he again glanced at Billy.

‘They will let Digit out today, won’t they?’ he asked in barely more than a whisper.

Billy nodded confidently, and the two watched the small group of people shuffle forward into the yard. Then the huge wooden doors began to close and Adam felt his stomach lurch. Where was Digit? Had something happened since they had last seen him? Was he ill – had he died? Adam pushed the thought aside as he stared at the huge wooden doors, willing them to open.

‘Bloody hell, Digit – come on!’ Adam muttered.

‘Patience, lad – all in good time,’ Billy said.

Suddenly the door opened, and a young man stepped out into the yard. Toby Hanley, aka Digit, stood for a moment with the sun shining on his thick black hair, which was long and lank and badly in need of a wash. His dark eyes blinked at the bright sunlight, then they searched for the two friends who had promised to be there on his release. His clothes hung on his frame which had once been thickset and muscled but now after five years in gaol, appeared to have lost a little of that mass, although there was still strength beneath the bedraggled appearance.

Lindsey Hutchinson

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

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

The Boat Girls Margaret Mayhew 4*#Review @TransworldBooks @RandomTTours #TheBoatGirls #WW2 #HistFic #England #BookReview #BlogTour #MondayBlogs

THREE GIRLS GO THE EXTRA MILE TO DO THEIR BIT FOR THE WAR EFFORT.

1943: three very different girls are longing to do their bit for the war effort.

Frances – her life of seeming privilege has been a lonely one. Brave and strong, stifled by her traditional upbringing, she falls for a most unsuitable man. Prudence – timid and conventional, her horizons have never strayed beyond her job as a bank clerk in Croydon until the war brings her new experiences.

Rosalind – a beautiful, flame-haired actress who catches the eye of Frances’s stuffy elder brother, the heir to an ancestral mansion.

The three become friends when they join the band of women working the canal boats, delivering goods and doing a man’s job while the men are away fighting. A tough, unglamorous task – but one which brings them all unexpected rewards…

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

Told from three young women’s points of view The Boat Girls highlights the largely unsung contribution this female workforce made to the second world war effort. The three women are from diverse backgrounds in terms of social class and life experience. They form strong friendships as they train and work on the inland waterway ferrying essential supplies from the docks to the factories in the Midlands.

The characters are relatable and easy to empathise, their experiences are interesting as they try to gain acceptance from the traditional boating communities. There’s friendship, laughter, poignancy and romance for the three women who mature and emerge independent and stronger than before.

There are some interesting historical details, in this character driven historical saga which add depth to an enjoyable story.

Margaret Mayhew

Margaret Mayhew was born in London and her earliest childhood memories were of the London Blitz. She began writing in her mid-thirties and had her first novel published in 1976. She is married to American aviation author, Philip Kaplan, and lives in Gloucestershire.

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

Our Yanks Margaret Mayhew 4*#Review @TransworldBooks @RandomTTours #OurYanks #WW2 #Northampton #Airforce #HistFic #England #BookReview #BlogTour #MondayBlogs

August 1943. A fighter group of US airmen descends upon the quiet and sleepy village of King’s Thorpe in Northamptonshire. The village has never seen the like of them before: they are glamorous, rich, exciting and full of bravado.

While some of the older residents are dismayed, many of the younger ones cannot help but be won over by their charms.

And for many – including young Sally Barnet from the bakery, Agnes Dawe – the Rector’s daughter, and newly-widowed Lady Beauchamp, they will have a long lasting impact.

It will be a summer many will never forget…

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

This is a gently paced WW2 historical saga novel set in 1943 in Northamptonshire England. This story captures the ethos of an English village during the second world war. The rationing, the loss of loved ones, the loneliness and the realistic mix of community spirit and village gossip.

The American airmen’s impact on the cosy villagers is perfectly pitched in this novel. The villagers are worried about their daughters and how they airmen will alter the village’s ambience. The American airmen are lonely, scared of war and dismayed with the lack of facilities and the villagers’ reluctant acceptance of them.

There’s animosity, friendship and romance in this historical saga with poignancy, humour and some happy endings.

Margaret Mayhew

Margaret Mayhew was born in London and her earliest childhood memories were of the London Blitz. She began writing in her mid-thirties and had her first novel published in 1976. She is married to American aviation author, Philip Kaplan, and lives in Gloucestershire.