Anne Bonny #BlogTour #Extract Goodbye For Now by @MikeHollows #NewRelease #HistoricalFiction #WW1Fiction @HQDigitalUK

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Goodbye For Now by M J Hollows
Synopsis:

Two brothers, only one survives.
As Europe is torn apart by war, two brothers fight very different battles, and both could lose everything…

While George has always been the brother to rush towards the action, fast becoming a boy-soldier when war breaks out, Joe thinks differently. Refusing to fight, Joe stays behind as a conscientious objector battling against the propaganda.

On the Western front, George soon discovers that war is not the great adventure he was led to believe. Surrounded by mud, blood and horror his mindset begins to shift as he questions everything he was once sure of.

At home in Liverpool, Joe has his own war to win. Judged and imprisoned for his cowardice, he is determined to stand by his convictions, no matter the cost.

By the end of The Great War only one brother will survive, but which?

Extract:

Chapter 1

‘It’s war!’

George Abbott would never forget where he was that day, when those very words were spoken. He was sat at the family kitchen table, a roughly cut dark wooden frame, with an off-white cloth draped across it to hide its wear and tear. He leaned over a bowl of oats, playing them around with his tarnished spoon. Beside it was an enamel plate with some bread and milk.

His sisters, Catherine and Elisabeth, sat either side of him. Catherine was looking over at George to see if he would eat his bread, or if she could take it. Her hair was a deep black mess of curls, the same as their mother’s, framing a pale, chubby face, whereas little Elisabeth’s hair was a distinct copper colour, more like their father’s. At the other end of the table, across the other side was George’s brother Joe, gaunt and long like their father, although with a growth of unkempt curly black hair. He wore the deep brown suit that he always wore to work, even at the breakfast table. He was careful not to get any food on it.

The back door had burst open and their father limped in clutching the Daily Post to his chest and calling to the family. If George were to look him in the eye, it would be like looking in a mirror, except his father was older and thinner. Their faces were exactly alike and the resemblance was uncanny. It was only his father’s eyes that looked different, like they had seen a thousand things, and crow’s feet pulled at the edge of his face.

‘It’s war!’ he said. ‘We’ve declared war.’ He carried on as if unheard. ‘Britain has declared war on Germany.’

Everyone stared, not knowing quite what to say. War had been brewing for some time, so they weren’t surprised.

‘Pass your father the kedgeree,’ their mother said to Catherine and she did as bid, passing the dish of flaked fish and rice that everyone but their father despised. He must have picked up his taste for it in India.

‘I thought we were allies with Germany?’ Their mother was ever the practical woman. She carried on eating while the rest of the family grew excited and agitated. George pushed his plate of bread towards Catherine to distract her, but she just stared at it, then at him.

Their father finally found his seat, hanging his cheap coat behind him as he wrestled his body onto the chair.

‘No, no, love. Belgium. They’re the ones. They invaded there, so ol’ squiffy told ’em where to go.’

‘Belgium invaded Germany?’

‘No. The other way round!’

She didn’t appear to be listening and smiled conspiratorially in her husband’s direction, before collecting up more plates.

Joe stared across the room at the news their father had brought with him, wringing his hands in front of his face. Joe was older than George, but in this moment he looked even older, worry lining his face. His hair threatened to grow too long on his head and his feeble attempts to grow a beard in patches on his chin was a constant source of ridicule. The object of Joe’s gaze was a faded photograph of their dad dressed in his uniform, beaming with pride at the South Africa medal pinned to his breast. He still often wore his medal, stroking the silver disc absent-mindedly. Father turned to Joe, putting the paper down.

‘D’you know what this means, son?’ Joe didn’t respond and their father looked around the room, at the rest of them, testing everyone’s reaction. ‘The papers say they’re going to issue a call. They’re gonna need more men.’

George carried on playing with his oats, knowing that this was between Joe and their dad. Joe looked into the middle distance, the edges of his mouth moving as if about to form words but thinking better of it.

After a tense pause, Joe spoke. ‘I won’t do it,’ he muttered under his breath, so quietly that George almost didn’t hear.

Their father banged a fist on the table, and cutlery jingled as it was disturbed.

MJH
M J Hollows
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Anne Bonny #BookReview The Lost Daughter by @GillPaulAUTHOR 5* Genius #NewRelease #HistoricalFiction #RussianHistory @headlinepg ‘It is a beautiful story of the hardships people can endure and their desire for a better life. A story of hope’ #TheLostDaughter

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The Lost Daughter by Gill Paul
Giveaway winner copy
Synopsis:

A Russian princess. An extraordinary sacrifice. A captivating secret…

From the author of The Secret Wife, a gripping journey through decades and across continents, of love, devastating loss and courage against all odds.

1918
With the country they once ruled turned against them, the future of Russia’s imperial family hangs in the balance. When middle daughter Maria Romanova captivates two of the guards, it will lead to a fateful choice between right and wrong.

Fifty-five years later . . .
Val rushes to her father’s side when she hears of his troubling end-of-life confession: ‘I didn’t want to kill her.’ As she unravels the secrets behind her mother’s disappearance when she was twelve years old, she finds herself caught up in one of the world’s greatest mysteries.

I was super lucky to win a very early proof via Twitter which came with a box of treats which I have to share……
cof cof cof cof

My Review:

When I opened this novel, it was so much more than I was expecting. It is a story of endurance, sacrifice and humanity, that spans the decades. It is undeniably moving and emotive. I shed so many tears. I cannot recommend this novel highly enough!

The novel centres around the plight of the Romanov family and specifically middle daughter Maria. It is set from 1918 onwards, when the Russian government turned against the aristocracy. I personally found that the novel struck at the chords of your heart by focusing on one family’s struggle to survive. There are obviously historical/political references and the accuracy is outstanding. But by keeping the focus on one family in particular, you begin to question the humanity of their situation. You begin to feel as though you are with the family in their struggle against oppression.

Maria’s father was a Tsar and her mother a Tsarina. Their titles entitled them to a life of luxury and wealth, that few Russian citizens had ever known. Commissar Avdeyev removes them from Alexander palace (their previous home) and places them under house arrest. They are forbidden to leave the house and are told they will be exiled. They spend 14 months as prisoners and begin to wonder when and how it will all end.

‘It’s more like a mausoleum in which we have been interred’ Anastasia

The novel focuses on the siblings, sisters Anastasia, Olga and Tatiana and brother Alexei. Maria is the chatty and inquisitive child, who dreams of marriage to a Russian officer. She is young and naïve, which shows when she decides to befriend the officers on guard. A situation she will later come to regret.

Under house arrest are the seven members of the Romanov family and several members of their staff. Eventually the staff are slowly stripped away; and the family must learn to fend for themselves without servants for their every whim. Which is more difficult for Alexei, who suffers from haemophilia and requires extra supervision. Tatiana is fearless and outspoken, she makes regular demands of Avdeyev.
She is also determined to find the family a way out.

Maria continues to befriend the guards and on her 19th birthday Ivan Skorokhodov even brings her a birthday cake. A luxury they have not been afforded in captivity. However, this simple act of kindness will have much greater repercussions when the commander and guards are all replaced.

‘He never looked directly at any of them; it was as if to him they were not human’

The new commander Yakov Yurovsky, allows his guards to make lurid comments towards the daughters and treat the family with utter contempt. When Maria mistakenly attempts to befriend guard Anatoly Bolotov, it will have a devastating impact on her future and emotional state.
Tatiana has a daring plan, but before it can be executed. . . .
The family are. . .

‘Tsar Nicholas Romanov guilty of countless bloody crimes against the people, should be shot’ Yurovsky

Maria is saved, but what will become of the young woman who trusts so easily. . .

The novel then jumps to its other narrative, the life of Val in 1973 Australia. Val has known a difficult childhood, with her Chinese mother walking out on the family. Leaving her to be raised by a cold and heartless father. She has been married to husband Tony for 18yrs and they have a daughter Nicole (3yrs).
But it is a marriage tainted by domestic violence control and fear.

Val receives a call from Sandy bay nursing home, where her aging father resides. They have been estranged for many years and he is not suffering with dementia. The staff inform her, he has been making wild claims and ask if she can shed any light on the meaning. . .

‘I didn’t mean to kill her’
‘There was so much blood’

The novel fully explores Val’s childhood and marriage. It also draws from the 1970s attitudes towards domestic violence; as something that can be justified and explained away. The only positive in her life, is her love for her daughter Nicole. Which gives her life a form of meaning. But when Tony crosses the line and physically disciplines Nicole. Val knows she has a choice to make.

The novel jumps between the narratives of Val and Maria. Weaving its magic through the decades. I was absolutely captivated by the story and couldn’t put the book down. There are so many themes, it is impossible for me to cover them all in one review. I think this novel is perfect for book groups and historical groups.

It is a beautiful story of the hardships people can endure and their desire for a better life. A story of hope. 5* Genius

GP
Gill Paul
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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 #BookReview The House Across The Street by Lesley Pearse 4* #NewRelease 1960s #Saga #HistoricalFiction @MichaelJBooks @ed_pr #LoveLesley25

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The House Across The Street by Lesley Pearse
Review Copy
Synopsis:

Twenty-three-year-old Katy Speed has always been fascinated by the house across the street . . .

The woman who lives there, Gloria, is the most glamorous neighbour on the avenue, owning a fashionable dress shop in Bexhill-on-Sea. But who is the woman who arrives in the black car most Saturdays while Gloria is at work? Sometimes she brings women to the house, and other times the women come with children.

Hilda, Katy’s mother, disapproves of Gloria. She wonders where these mysterious visitors have come from, and what they want. Does Gloria have sinister reasons for secretly bringing strangers into the heart of the community?

Then one night, the house burns down. In the wreckage, the bodies of Gloria and her daughter are found. Katy is sure the unexplained strangers must be responsible, until her father is arrested and charged with murder.

Surely the police have arrested the wrong person?

Is the rest of the street safe?

Can Katy find the truth before it’s too late?

My Review:

I am a huge fan of Lesley Pearse and her novel Remember Me, is one of my all-time favourites. I recently enjoyed The Woman In The Wood, but noticed the author had taken a much darker spin on her usual saga type novels. It was still a cracking read, but I was surprised at some of the tough/violent themes.
This time she has written a similar dark novel, set in the 1960’s. The era really sets the tone, as this was an era of fundamental change for women and the beginnings of the female sexual revolution.

The prologue opens in Bexhill-On-Sea, Essex 1964. Katy (22yrs) is busy spying on her neighbours, when she is interrupted by her brother Rob. He is currently home from university and appears to not feel too welcome in his own home.
It becomes quite clear why upon the introduction of Hilda. Katy and Rob’s mother, is far from ‘mothering’. She appears to enjoy belittling and making nasty remarks to others including her own daughter, son and husband. But no one is a bigger target for Hilda than the glamour neighbour Gloria.

Mrs Gloria Reynolds is a local business owner. She owns ‘Gloria’s Gowns’ and Katy is in complete awe of her. Something which sees to incense Hilda even further. Gloria is considered a ‘glamourous divorcee’ locally. With divorce still being considered a taboo subject. Katy is desperate to know more information about her, but aware of the social restrictions to simply ask…..
‘It was rude to ask personal things of someone you didn’t know’ – Katy

Gloria had often taken the time to give Katy advice and guidance, which led to a growth in her confidence and self-esteem. Which enrages Hilda as she feels the slip of her control over her daughter growing.
Especially when Gloria recommends a life in London for Katy.

Hilda is a battle-axe and all-round snob, but as her character develops, we uncover there is more going on inside her own head.
As the saying goes, damaged people, damage people.

In January 1965, there is a terrible fire in the middle of the night at Gloria’s. A fire that will take the lives of two souls, including Gloria. Albert (Katy’s long-suffering father) rushes to help. Whilst Hilda continues to make vicious snide comments and be opinionated beyond the realms of human decency.

When the fire is discovered to be arson and Katy’s father is arrested. Katy must turn amateur sleuth to separate fact from fiction. Albert denies any such affair or knowledge of a motive for the fire. Whilst Hilda turns on her own husband.
‘By consorting with that woman right under my nose, he deserves all he gets’ – Hilda

Katy seeks out Gloria’s friend Edna, is a desperate search for clues of who would want Gloria dead. What she uncovers is a world of domestic abuse, hidden and hushed up amongst middle-class society.

The plot is very moving, and protagonist centred around Katy. I struggled with the constant reminders of this being an issue impacting ‘middle-class’ people. Anyone can be a victim of domestic violence, it certainly doesn’t discriminate due to wealth. 4*

Lesley Pearse Copyright Charlotte Murphy 2014
Lesley Pearse
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Anne Bonny #BookReview The Dark Inside by @Rod_WR 5* #CrimeFiction #HistoricalFiction #AmericanNoir In this town. No one is innocent #CharlieYates @FaberBooks

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The Dark Inside by Rod Reynolds
My own copy
Synopsis:

1946, Texarkana: a town on the border of Texas and Arkansas. Disgraced New York reporter Charlie Yates has been sent to cover the story of a spate of brutal murders – young couples who’ve been slaughtered at a local date spot. Charlie finds himself drawn into the case by the beautiful and fiery Lizzie, sister to one of the victims, Alice – the only person to have survived the attacks and seen the killer up close.

But Charlie has his own demons to fight, and as he starts to dig into the murders he discovers that the people of Texarkana have secrets that they want kept hidden at all costs. Before long, Charlie discovers that powerful forces might be protecting the killer, and as he investigates further his pursuit of the truth could cost him more than his job…

Loosely based on true events, The Dark Inside is a compelling and pacy thriller that heralds a new voice in the genre. It will appeal to fans of RJ Ellory, Tom Franklin, Daniel Woodrell and True Detective.

My Review:

I am a HUGE historical fiction fan and I love American noir. That being said, this series was recommended to me by Liz Barnsley over at Liz Loves Books. I was stuck with a lost book mojo and spotted her review and praise for this series. Initially I was most drawn to the synopsis/plot in book #3. But I decided with the rate in which I read books and their only being 3 released so far, it would be best to start at the beginning. Which I am glad I did, as I now feel that I would have missed out on key pieces of the characterisation.

‘I arrived in town four days after the latest killing’ – Charlie

Our protagonist is a failing husband/reporter Charlie Yates. He doesn’t want this assignment and almost from the moment he arrives in town, it appears the town doesn’t want him either!

He is a veteran crime reporter of 15yrs experience but is currently being exiled due to internal issues at the paper. Someone wants him out the way, all the damn way to Texarkana. Something that doesn’t sit easy with Charlie, at all.

The first couple attacked in this series of brutal slayings are young couple Alice Anderson (17yrs) and Dwight Breems. Alice survives her injuries, but Dwights are fatal.
The second attack killed both Patty Sumer (17yrs) and war hero Edward Logan. Who is targeting these young couples? And why?

‘Someone knew what was happening – and why’

Jimmy Robinson is Charlies contact in Texarkana. He warns Charlie that the locals are devastated by the recent murders and that the local Sheriff’s are far from friendly.
Sheriff Bailey is holding several men at the local jail and it appears to be, just to appease the locals from worry.
There is no real link between these murders and the men being held.
Not forgetting this is an era in American history, where just your skin colour can be enough for suspicion.

Charlie seems to be the only person with the train of thought that the killer maybe an unhinged GI. A thought he knows he must keep to himself, with no credible link.
He attempts to speak to the surviving victim Alice at Pine Street hospital. But she is uncooperative. She accuses the local police of bullying and berating her.
She is distressed with virtually no memory of the attack.

Then the police release a statement allegedly from Alice stating that the killer is a black male. Charlie knows what this will mean for the local black population and becomes desperate to find the real culprit.

After another attack the local chamber of commerce offers a $20K reward, for capture of the killer. Now, every black man in Texarkana has a bounty on his head!
That doesn’t sit too well with Charlie either. The Charlie receives cryptic notes…….
‘Red River is the key. Pull the thread and it all unravels. Watch yourself’

When Alice goes missing, Charlie must work with her sister Lizzie to identify the killer. Lizzie insists that Alice was adamant in an admission to her, that the killer was a white male. But that the police refuse to listen to her.
The bond between Charlie and Lizzie grows, as the plot picks up its pace.
This is the perfect post-ww2 American noir 5*

RR
Rod Reynolds
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