Anne Bonny #BlogTour #BookReview Blackpool Lass by Maggie Mason 5* @Authormary #Saga #Blackpool @LittleBrownUK @littlebookcafe Orphaned and alone, she’ll make her own way in the world. . .

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Blackpool Lass by Maggie Mason
Review Copy
Synopsis:

Orphaned and destitute, will Grace find her own way in the world?

When Grace’s Ma passes away and her Da’s ship sinks with all hands, Grace is utterly alone in the world. She’s sent to an orphanage in Blackpool, but the master has an eye for a pretty young lass. Grace won’t be his victim, so she runs, destitute, into the night.

In Blackpool, she finds a home with the kindly Sheila and Peggy – and meets a lovely airman. But it’s 1938, and war is on the horizon. Will Grace ever find the happiness and home she deserves?

My Review:

The novel opens in Blackpool 1932, we follow protagonist Grace as she tries to navigate a life of hardship and poverty. I will admit that this is possibly the darkest saga, I have EVER read! It really shines the light on the vulnerability of young women in the 1930s/1940s era. The blatant and systemic sexual abuse of young women and the choices they are forced to make.

Family life for Grace changes substantially throughout the years. Whilst various characters are never kind to Grace, she is shown some hope via her friendship with Sheila and Peggy.

Part one of the novel reveals the year 1932-1933. Grace is 13yrs old and already learning to avoid the unwanted advances of her father. Her mother is bedridden and unable to protect her daughter. When Grace’s pa’s ship is sunk off the coast of island; her mother simply loses the will to live. Which places Grace in the unfortunate circumstance of being an orphan.

Grace is taken in by her granny. However, although this offers Grace some structure and stability with schooling. Her granny is forgetful and has ‘episodes’ of forgetfulness. We as readers gather that Grace’s granny is within the stages of the onset of dementia. This being 1933, the level of understanding and support simply isn’t there for Grace or her granny and ultimately this leads Grace taking up residency at Halford House a children’s refugee founded by the Christian fellows of Manchester.

Only at Halford’s house, life is far from Christian. Grace strikes up an instant friendship with fellow orphan Jeanie. When Jeanie informs Grace of EXACTLY how the children’s home is run, she is understandable terrified. This children’s home is the stuff of most people’s WORST nightmares!
‘She couldn’t take in what these girls seemed to accept as normal’

With no hope of a future at the home and no voice to speak out against the conditions. Grace is left with only one option, that of escape. But escape will not come easy to Grace and in her attempt to flee, Jeanie refuses to leave. Which leave Grace carrying not only a dark secret but a feeling of extreme guilt for many years to come. . .

Grace eventually ends up with Sheila and her mother Peggy in Blackpool. The family know just how to hide Grace in case the authorities are searching for her.
‘Grace you’re in a circus family now. Such things as turning a girl into a boy are natural to us’ – Sheila

Part two of the novel covers the year 1938-1939, Grace is blossoming into a beautiful young woman that enjoys regular nights out at the Blackpool tower ballroom. But happiness never lasts long for Grace. I began to wonder how much hardship can one woman survive? It was far from over yet!

The saga is much darker than I assumed. That being said I feel it is possibly very accurate to the way in which children and women have suffered throughout history.
Maggie Mason/Mary wood can certainly spin a yarn and this novel as dark as it is, is my favourite of hers so far! 5*

MM
Maggie Mason – Mary wood
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My Review of, The Street Orphans by Mary Wood
My review of, Brighter Days Ahead by Mary Wood

Author Bio:

Maggie Mason is a pseudonym of author Mary Wood.

Mary writes historical sagas for Pan Macmillan covering the late nineteenth century to mid-twentieth including both wars. She has 9 books in print and another – THE FORGOTTEN DAUGHTER is released in December.

Under her pen name of Maggie Mason, Mary writes regional sagas set in Blackpool, again covering the time period as above. She has her first THE BLACKPOOL LASS published this week – 20th September.

Mary lives in Blackpool and enjoys researching the history of her home town, coming up with some surprising facts and excited to uncover material for future books.

Born the 13th child of 15 children, Mary experienced life at the raw end. Though she says of her childhood that though poor they were happy and were rich in love.

Mary writes full time now having ended her 9 – 5 working life in the Probation service. This experience gave the grittiness she brings to her writing as Mary says she feels compelled to tell it how it is.

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Anne Bonny #BlogTour Q&A with #Author @MarianneHAuthor #ALittleBirdToldMe #LiteraryFiction #CrimeFiction #Mystery #LittleBird @AgoraBooksLDN We’re all about secrets in this family. . .

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A Little Bird Told Me by Marianne Holmes
Review To Follow
Synopsis:

Besides, if you were one half evil, wouldn’t you want to know about the other half?

In the scorching summer of 1976, Robyn spends her days swimming at the Lido and tagging after her brother. It’s the perfect holiday – except for the crying women her mum keeps bringing home.

As the heatwave boils on, tensions in the town begin to simmer. Everyone is gossiping about her mum, a strange man is following her around, and worst of all, no one will tell Robyn the truth. But this town isn’t good at keeping secrets…

Twelve years later Robyn returns home, to a house that has stood empty for years and a town that hasn’t moved on, forced to confront the mystery that haunted her that summer.

And atone for the part she played in it.

Q&A:

Q) For the readers, can you talk us through your background and the synopsis of your new novel?

A) My father was in the RAF so my family moved around a lot. I live in London now and really enjoy the fact that my neighbours might be from anywhere in the world; it’s liberating and exciting. I studied both Classics and Linguistics at university and have a lifelong love of things ancient, the way language evolves and how meaning is preserved in translation.
A Little Bird Told Me is really about the struggle of the narrator, Robyn, to make sense of the family secrets that resulted in tragedy when she was a child. The novel switches between 1976 and 1988 to tell both parts of the story.

Q) Can you talk us through the journey from idea to writing to publication?

A) The emotionally damaged Robyn and her brother Kit initially stepped off that train into a town that felt full of menace and secrets in a slightly spooky short story that I read out at my writing group. The story prompted questions that I didn’t know the answer to myself, so I set about working out exactly what Robyn was up to, how she had got her mysterious scar and why Kit was against their return. I wrote pretty much as the fancy took me and for the sheer joy of it.
I ended up with a huge tangle of plot and characters and had to edit heavily. When I was longlisted for the Bath Novel Award in 2016, I started submitting to agents. With every piece of feedback I received, I edited again.
Just when I was about to put it in the bottom drawer, Agora Books got in touch. Curiously, there’s a little mystery around how Agora Books came to know about Robyn and Kit – it seems it literally was a case of a little bird told me.

Q) What are your favourite authors and recommended reads?

A) This is such a difficult one and changes every day. I love The Secret History by Donna Tartt, All The Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy, A Song for Issy Bradley by Carys Bray, Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell and anything by Iain Banks, Umberto Eco, Kate Atkinson, Margaret Atwood… I could go on for pages!

Q) What were your childhood/teenage favourite reads?

A) My mother found The Flambards trilogy, mentioned in A Little Bird Told Me, at the library for me and I thought it was fantastic along with the Nancy Drew stories and a great deal of pony and fantasy stories.
I lived in the library as a teenager and read pretty much whatever they had indiscriminately, from Mills & Boon to Iris Murdoch. I particularly enjoyed the mysteries of Mary Stewart, Daphne Du Maurier, Norah Lofts and all things Roman or Greek.

Q) What has been your favourite moment of being a published author?

A) It’s a dead heat between watching my daughter take a copy into school because she wanted to show her friends and hearing from readers who’ve enjoyed the book. Making people happy is wonderful!

Q) Who has been your source of support/encouragement, throughout the writing process?

A) My husband and family, particularly my children who’ve had to get used to mummy ‘just finishing one more thing’ and who’ve remained accepting and good humoured throughout!
I also have a small group of writing friends with whom I share drafts and the ups and downs of writing life. It’s their encouragement that kept me going whenever it felt too hard.

Anne Bonny: Thank you for taking part in the Q&A on my blog, I wish you every success with your writing career.
MH: Thank you so much for having me, it’s been a real pleasure to answer your questions.

Marianne Holmes - Author Photo (B&W)
Marianne Holmes
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Author Bio:

Marianne Holmes was born in Cyprus to RAF parents and bounced between the UK, Germany, Kuwait and Belgium until firmly basing herself in London – well, apart from those years in the Peak District.

A love of language led to degrees in Classics and Linguistics from the University of London but her desire to pay the mortgage steered her to a career in Marketing. After distracting herself in all sorts of ways over the years – sailing, flying, volunteering and running away to India – she is now definitely, absolutely concentrating on her writing. Well, that and making sure her children get fed, clothed and entertained. Obviously.

A Little Bird Told Me is Marianne’s first novel.

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Anne Bonny #BlogTour #Extract #JoNesboMacbeth #ScandiNoir #CrimeFiction #NewRelease @HarvillSecker @DeadGoodBooks

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Macbeth by Jo Nesbo
Review to follow
Synopsis:

He’s the best cop they’ve got.

When a drug bust turns into a bloodbath it’s up to Inspector Macbeth and his team to clean up the mess.

He’s also an ex-drug addict with a troubled past.

He’s rewarded for his success. Power. Money. Respect. They’re all within reach.

But a man like him won’t get to the top.

Plagued by hallucinations and paranoia, Macbeth starts to unravel. He’s convinced he won’t get what is rightfully his.

Unless he kills for it.

Extract: From Chapter One

The shiny raindrop fell from the sky, through the darkness, towards the shivering lights of the port below. Cold gusting north-westerlies drove the raindrop over the dried- up riverbed that divided the town lengthwise and the disused railway line that divided it diagonally. The four quadrants of the town were numbered clockwise; beyond that they had no name. No name the inhabitants remembered anyway. And if you met those same inhabitants a long way from home and asked them where they came from they were likely to maintain they couldn’t remember the name of the town either.

The raindrop went from shiny to grey as it penetrated the soot and poison that lay like a constant lid of mist over the town despite the fact that in recent years the factories had closed one after the other. Despite the fact that the unemployed could no longer afford to light their stoves. In spite of the capricious but stormy wind and the incessant rain that some claimed hadn’t started to fall until the Second World War had been ended by two atom bombs a quarter of a century ago. In other words, around the time Kenneth was installed as police commissioner. From his office on the top floor of police HQ 4 Chief Commissioner Kenneth had then misruled the town with an iron fist for twenty-five years, irrespective of who the mayor was and what he was or wasn’t doing, or what the powers-that- be were saying or not saying over in Capitol, as the country’s second-largest and once most important industrial centre sank into a quagmire of corruption, bankruptcies, crime and chaos. Six months ago Chief Commissioner Kenneth had fallen from a chair in his summer house. Three weeks later, he was dead. The funeral had been paid for by the town – a council decision made long ago that Kenneth himself had incidentally engineered. After a funeral worthy of a dictator the council and mayor had brought in Duncan, a broad-browed bishop’s son and the head of Organised Crime in Capitol, as the new chief commissioner. And hope had been kindled amongst the city’s inhabitants. It had been a surprising appointment because Duncan didn’t come from the old school of politically pragmatic officers, but from the new generation of well educated police administrators who supported reforms, transparency, modernisation and the fight against corruption – which the majority of the town’s elected get-rich-quick politicians did not.

And the inhabitants’ hope that they now had an upright, honest and visionary chief commissioner who could drag the town up from the quagmire had been nourished by Duncan’s replacement of the old guard at the top with his own hand-picked officers. Young, untarnished idealists who really wanted the town to become a better place to live.

The wind carried the raindrop over District 4 West and the town’s highest point, the radio tower on top of the studio where the lone, morally indignant voice 5 of Walt Kite expressed the hope, leaving no ‘r’ unrolled, that they finally had a saviour. While Kenneth had been alive Kite had been the sole person with the courage to openly criticise the chief commissioner and accuse him of some of the crimes he had committed. This evening Kite reported that the town council would do what it could to rescind the powers that Kenneth had forced through making the police commissioner the real authority in town. Paradoxically this would mean that his successor, Duncan the good democrat, would struggle to drive through the reforms he, rightly, wanted. Kite also added that in the imminent mayoral elections it was ‘Tourtell, the sitting and therefore fattest mayor in the country, versus no one. Absolutely no one. For who can compete against the turtle, Tourtell, with his shell of folky joviality and unsullied morality, which all criticism bounces off?’

In District 4 East the raindrop passed over the Obelisk, a twenty-storey glass hotel and casino that stood up like an illuminated index finger from the brownish-black four-storey wretchedness that constituted the rest of the town. It was a contradiction to many that the less industry and more unemployment there was, the more popular it had become amongst the inhabitants to gamble away money they didn’t have at the town’s two casinos.

‘The town that stopped giving and started taking,’ Kite trilled over the radio waves. ‘First of all we abandoned industry, then the railway so that no one could get away. Then we started selling drugs to our citizens, supplying them from where they used to buy train tickets, so that we could rob them at our convenience. I would never have believed I would say I missed the profit-sucking masters of industry, but at least they worked in 6 respectable trades. Unlike the three other businesses where people can still get rich: casinos, drugs and politics.’

In District 3 the rain-laden wind swept across police HQ, Inverness Casino and streets where the rain had driven most people indoors, although some still hurried around searching or escaping. Across the central station, where trains no longer arrived and departed but which was populated by ghosts and itinerants. The ghosts of those – and their successors – who had once built this town with self-belief, a work ethic, God and their technology. The itinerants at the twenty-four hour dope market for brew; a ticket to heaven and certain hell. In District 2 the wind whistled in the chimneys of the town’s two biggest, though recently closed, factories: Graven and Estex. They had both manufactured a metal alloy, but what it consisted of not even those who had operated the furnaces could say for sure, only that the Koreans had started making the same alloy cheaper. Perhaps it was the town’s climate that made the decay visible or perhaps it was imagination; perhaps it was just the certainty of bankruptcy and ruin that made the silent, dead factories stand there like what Kite called ‘capitalism’s plundered cathedrals in a town of drop-outs and disbelief’.

The rain drifted to the south-east, across streets of smashed street lamps where jackals on the lookout huddled against walls, sheltering from the sky’s endless precipitation while their prey hurried towards light and greater safety. In a recent interview Kite had asked Chief Commissioner Duncan why the risk of being robbed was six times higher here than in Capitol, and Duncan had answered that he was glad to finally get an easy question: it was because the unemployment rate was six 7 times higher and the number of drug users ten times greater.

At the docks stood graffiti-covered containers and run-down freighters with captains who had met the port’s corrupt representatives in deserted spots and given them brown envelopes to ensure quicker entry permits and mooring slots, sums the shipping companies would log in their miscellaneous-expenses accounts swearing they would never undertake work that would lead them to this town again.

One of these ships was the MS Leningrad, a Soviet vessel losing so much rust from its hull in the rain it looked as if it was bleeding into the harbour. The raindrop fell into a cone of light from a lamp on the roof of one two-storey timber building with a storeroom, an office and a closed boxing club, continued down between the wall and a rusting hulk and landed on a bull’s horn. It followed the horn down to the motorbike helmet it was joined to, ran off the helmet down the back of a leather jacket embroidered with norse riders in Gothic letters. And to the seat of a red Indian Chief motorbike and finally into the hub of its slowly revolving rear wheel where, as it was hurled out again, it ceased to be a drop and became part of the polluted water of the town, of everything.

Behind the red motorbike followed eleven others. They passed under one of the lamps on the wall of an unilluminated two-storey port building.

The light from the lamp fell through the window of a shipping office on the first floor, onto a hand resting on a poster: ms glamis seeks galley hand. The fingers were long and slim like a concert pianist’s and the nails 8 well manicured. Even though the face was in shadow, preventing you from seeing the intense blue eyes, the resolute chin, the thin, miserly lips and nose shaped like an aggressive beak, the scar shone like a white shooting star, running diagonally from the jaw to the forehead.

‘They’re here,’ Inspector Duff said, hoping his men in the Narcotics Unit couldn’t hear the involuntary vibrato in his voice.

JN
Jo Nesbo
Website

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