blog tour, books, reviews

Blog tour: Goose Road – Rowena House

In 1916, in France, Angelique is making Hay on her family’s farm when the postman delivers news – her father is dead. Angelique is not sorry – he was a cruel, drunkard of a man – but she is deeply relieved her brother, Pascal, is still alive. She makes a promise – then and there – that the farm will remain exactly the same until he beloved brother returns home. She hopes, desperately, that if nothing changes at home, he won’t either.

Of course, nothing goes to plan. The harvest is ruined by a storm, her mother falls ill and the bailiffs arrive, ready to repossess the farm after her father has gambled it away. Angelique sets off with her treasured flock of Toulouse geese to sell them to make enough money to save her family home and await her brother’s return…….

About the author;

Rowena studied journalism at LSE and spent several years on Fleet Street, reporting for various news agencies. She has lived and worked in France, Africa and Belgium as a Reuter’s foreign correspondent and covered the fall of Addis Ababa at the end of Ethiopia’s 30-year civil war. She now lives in Devon and works as a freelance journalist. In 2013, Rowena won a competition run by Andersen Press, which published her winning entry, “The Marshalling of Angélique’s Geese” in War Girls, a collection of short stories about WWI as seen through the eyes of young women. The Goose Road is her novelization of that story.

Here Rowena shares her thoughts on historical fiction:

Why I love (some) historical fiction

As a reader, when I say that I love historical fiction what I mostly mean is that of all the novels I’ve ever read, my favourites tend to be set in the past.

That doesn’t mean I only read historical fiction. I like detective stories as well. Sherlock Holmes and Raymond Chandler, especially, which just happen to be set in the past.

I like some Sci-Fi and fantasy writers, too: Larry Niven, Tolkien, Terry Pratchett.

So I find it odd when someone assures me they don’t like historical fiction as if it’s all one and the same. How do they know beforehand what book will capture their imagination or speak to something in their souls?

Personally, I won’t ever say ‘I like this’ if it carries the implication ‘I don’t like that’.

As a writer, however, I can say with a hand on my heart that I absolutely love historical fiction. I love the research, and the honest attempt at resurrecting the past by uniting insight and imagination with that research.

Historians when faced with gaps in their knowledge must rely on evidence that meets defined standards of academic rigour, ‘facts’ which they then sift and prioritize, and speculate upon, and rearrange to suit their own logic and reason – and prejudices. In that way, all histories are constructed. Fiction is just further along that line.

In particular, storytellers aren’t restricted by written records from their chosen period, with all the limitations that typically implies about the wealth, power and gender of those who did the writing.

For The Goose Road I read many books about rich, powerful men in the First World War, but I was free to write about a poor, semi-literate girl from a peasant underclass, even though I never once found a first-hand account from such a person despite months of research.

Instead I made up her life from snatches and scraps I found here and there, fleshed out with practical, personal experiments with scything hay and watching the behaviour of geese, combined with memories from my time as a journalist when I meet African girl farmers, working the hard soil by main strength with crude, manual tools.

So one thing I loved most about writing the book was giving my protagonist her strong, independent voice.

Another thing I love about historical research is the way it primes the mind for time travel. The heat and dirt, strange towns, exotic scents, hungry crowds, the fear and excitement. The ‘other’. Let me give you an example of what I mean.

When I went with my family to the labyrinthine medinas of the ancient Moroccan city of Fez, donkey trains shoved us aside in narrow streets crowded with shoppers and hawkers with their baskets of wares.

Cages of ducks, chickens and pigeons spilt out from the butcher’s shops. There were spices on stalls, fabrics, and leather goods from the stinking tanneries, their dye-pits gaudy with reds, yellows, orange and green.

The noise was constant, the faces fascinating.

Squint, and the occasional wrist watch or smart phone would disappear. Stop for sweet mint tea or mud-thick coffee, and it took no effort at all to imagine a slight alteration in clothing, a sword or a dagger worn at the belt…

Stories of the crusades sprang to mind and the tales of Scheherazade. The place felt familiar, but also more confident than I’d ever imagined: busier, buzzing, and entirely caught up with itself. The place belonged to the people. But their time was also ours, and what felt old and distant was suddenly here and now.

I experienced a similar sensation of time collapsing when exploring the muddy back-streets of the French Channel port of Étaples for The Goose Road.

A 1913 map I found in the local library showed that the old town’s layout – even the names of its twisting lanes – hadn’t changed from the days when British Empire troops and nurses walked there, and veiled widows slipped by in the shadows, and the great military trains of the First World War rattled past, carrying infantrymen to the Western Front, and the wounded to hospital.

Only ghosts from that war walk there now, but I felt them brush past me all the same.

I found the book really interesting, I’m fascinated by stories about ordinary people during extraordinary times, like this. Angelique is a farmer’s daughter who defies the odds to do something unusual and quite unprecedented.

This book has a lot of sad moments, some really tragic points, but Angelique is a strong heroine and one filled with determination, like my childhood literary hero Anne of Green Gables, stubborn and headstrong. Wartime France is not a safe place for a teenage girl and a flock of geese, including her pet gosling Armandine, travelling at times alone on trains with dodgy men or through encampments of striking munitions workers.

The writing is good, it keeps you interested and the characters are well defined. I know this isn’t written for young adult readers but I think it would appeal to any teens interested in history, especially if you enjoyed Michelle Magorian’s war books like Goodnight Mister Tom and A Little Love Song.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Devil’s Poetry – Louise Cole

Today I’m hosting a review stop on the blog tour for Louise Cole’s The Devil’s Poetry.

Questions are dangerous but answers can be deadly.

Callie’s world will be lost to war – unless she can unlock the magic of an ancient manuscript. She and her friends will be sent to the front line. Many of them won’t come back.

When a secret order tells her she can bring peace by reading from a book, it seems an easy solution – too easy. Callie soon finds herself hunted, trapped between desperate allies and diabolical enemies.

The Order is every bit as ruthless as the paranormal Cadaveri.Callie can only trust two people – her best friend and her ex-marine bodyguard. And they are on different sides.

She must decide: how far will she go to stop a war?Dare she read this book? What’s the price – and who pays it?

Commended in the Yeovil Prize 2016, this is an action-packed blend of adventure, fantasy and love story.

Goodreads

Amazon

Louise Cole has spent her life reading and writing. And very occasionally gardening. Sometimes she reads as she gardens. She can be seen walking her dogs around North Yorkshire – she’s the one with a couple of cocker spaniels and a Kindle. She read English at Oxford – read being the operative word – and hasn’t stopped reading since.

In her day-job she is an award-winning journalist, a former business magazine editor and director of a media agency. She writes about business but mainly the business of moving things around: transport, logistics, trucks, ships, and people.

Her fiction includes short stories, young adult thrillers, and other stuff which is still cooking.

Her YA and kids’ fiction is represented by Greenhouse Literary Agency and she is also published on Amazon as one of the Marisa Hayworth triumvirate.

My thoughts: I wasn’t too sure about this book when I started it, ending wars with poetry is something I can get behind but also know it doesn’t work (see the WW1 poetry and the almost non-existent effect it had).

But this book ramps up the action from the moment two teenage girls blow up a barn to escape the creepy Cadavari.

A lot happens very quickly and the writing is pacy and plotting neat.

I liked the routing the more fantastical elements in reality, from the North Yorkshire setting of much of the story to the pop culture references. It made it much more relatable and easier to connect to the characters, especially Callie and Amber.

The sequel On Holy Ground is also out now, which hopefully will explain a bit more about the background of the Order and the sinister Cadavari.

blog tour, books, giveaway

Blog Tour: Something Changed – Matthew Williams

Today I’m hosting a stop on the blog tour for Matthew Williams’ Something Changed, his debut novel.

Life can change forever in a moment…

In the aftermath of marriage breakdown how do we pick ourselves up and start again?

In August 2014 Matthew Williams was forced to do just that. In Something Changed he navigates us through his journey with wit and wisdom, taking in divorce, dating and self-discovery while facing the dark spectre of depression.

Hopes and fears, laughter and tears – all are encountered along the way to learning some important lessons about love, loss and life.

‘Have you ever noticed how life’s biggest lessons are also the most painful? Maybe that’s just life’s way of making sure we don’t forget them…’

Needle in a Haystack – Dating for the Divorced

Who’d have thought dating could seem so much like, well, hard work?
Now, the obvious point to highlight from the off is that I can only speak for myself; if Brad Pitt or, errrrrrr, Harry Styles somehow found themselves on Tinder or Plenty of Fish, chances are it might not be much of a chore. But, for this forty-something from Middlesbrough, it ain’t easy, I can tell you. Even for a Brian Cox lookalike.
In the first flush of single life entering the brave new world of online dating (well, new to someone that has been in a relationship for nineteen years anyway), the overriding sense was one of excitement and possibility. And, in spite of an odd detour (dating, bloody hell…) my first experience of online dating – where I met a wonderful woman very quickly – turned out to be far from representative of the reality of seeking your perfect partner online.
Cards on the table time – I’m a bit weird. Although I’m not detecting many sharp intakes of breath here, let me explain what I mean by that: I’m not really designed for casual relationships and one night stands. I know, I know, I’m a bloke but what can I say, faulty wiring, I guess. I’ve always been the same, I prefer to get to know somebody and want to meet somebody that I can really connect with, someone that I can laugh with as we navigate life’s ups and downs together. Someone whose presence in my life makes me a better person and brings out the best that I have to offer. So you see, basically I’m soft as shite.
Anyway, so far she’s not on Tinder. Or Plenty Of Fish. Or OK Cupid… Hell, I’m getting depressed just typing those out. And really, I haven’t done too badly, I suppose. I’ve met eight or nine women for dates. One week I had dates with three woman planned (separately I might add). To many that might sound great, but you know what? It isn’t. Well, not for me anyway, because it’s not about numbers, it’s about meeting somebody that’s right. And that’s harder than I guess I thought it would be. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve met plenty of nice people. I don’t really have any dating disasters to speak of (sorry to disappoint you) and I’m glad for the experiences that I’ve had – in the end you learn from them and when one day in the future I am with that special person I expect I will appreciate her all the more. But when you are looking for that special someone, especially at a relatively advanced age and after nearly nine years of marriage, it can all get… dispiriting. The dating treadmill has tired me out, many times. And not in THAT way.
There are only so many times that you can get to know somebody new, only so many times you can go on a first date, only so many times you can have the same conversation with different people, and there are only so many photos of forty-something women pouting (or suffering the effects of drinking vinegar?) that I care to see.

Goodreads

Amazon

Matthew Williams is an author, blogger, speaker and coach. He lives in the North East of England with his two young children. Matthew is passionate about positive change and turning life’s challenges into lessons for creating a better future. He hopes that by writing about his own experiences he will be able to inspire others to make positive changes in their lives.

Something Changed is Matthew’s first book. More of his writing can be found at his blog, Love, Laughter & Truth.

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To win a copy of Something Changed and a £10 Amazon voucher (two prizes available) click here and follow the instructions.

blog tour, books, reviews

Book Review: The Big Event by Anne John-Ligali

Hello, today is my stop on the blog tour for The Big Event by Anne John-Ligali.

The Big Event is part one of the Friendship Online Short Story Series.

Constance Jeffries is excited when she gets the chance to meet up with virtual friends at a
get-together in a London hotel. She’s been tweeting and messaging her lovely friends for years and feels they must be just as excited to finally meet her in person too.
Or so she hopes.

A short story about the importance of ‘real’ friendships and how it’s the little things that matter the most.

About the author:

Anne John-Ligali is a writer and the founder of Books and Authors UK, a popular website featuring author interviews and book reviews. She loves all things books: reading, writing, going to book events, and meeting other book lovers. She has written a series of short stories and is currently writing her first novel.

Anne has always loved stories and read many books as a child, including the entire Sweet Valley High and Caitlyn series. Her interest in writing fiction came years later, when she began writing for pleasure in 2007. Since then, Anne has been writing on and off and enjoys participating in writing groups. Twice in 2014, she won the monthly Novelicious Pintrest Prompt Fiction Competition.

When Anne is not writing, she is likely to be at soft play with her kids, taking long evening walks in Hyde Park, making green smoothies, window shopping, or having a pampering session at her local beauty salon (whenever she gets the chance). She can also be found watching box sets (albeit with a bit of shame at still having to catch up on Scandal, Grey’s, and Downton).

Originally from Peterborough, Anne now lives in London. After moving to London, she studied graphic design at the University of Arts and has held a number IT administration jobs in the city. Anne continues writing and aspires to write more women’s fiction books, a non-fiction book and several children’s books.

You can find Anne at the following places:

website Twitter Facebook Instagram

For more info about the book check out:

Book Blog website Twitter Facebook

My thoughts:

I really enjoyed this short story, it was a light fun read about friendship,of the virtual kind. Perfect for your commute to work as it’s quick to digest and hopefully unless it’s a very short trip, you won’t miss the stop!

Constance is an author and she’s at a Christmas party filled with people she knows, but not really.

We all portray ourselves a certain way online that often isn’t exactly the truth and these party goers are no exception. But sometimes what we’re hiding has a lot more heart to it.

There’s a sequel due out this year following on from The Big Event.

You can buy The Big Event here.

blog tour, books, reviews

Book Review: Traitor – David Hingley*

Today I’m hosting a stop on the blog tour for the excellent historical romp Traitor.

This is the third book in the Mercia Blakewood series – I recommend reading Birthright and Puritan first as the book references characters and events from the previous ones.

Following her adventures in the American colonies, Mercia Blakewood returns to England determined to make the King stand by their agreement and reclaim her family’s home.

However the royal court has other plans for Marcia in this third outing by David Hingley. It’s 1665, war with the Dutch looms and Charles II believes there is a spy in his Court. He needs Mercia’s skills and intelligence to rout the mysterious Virgo and prevent the Dutch from getting information about the fleet and their plans.

I love historical fiction, and Hingley’s blend of real and imagined people and events brings the Restoration vividly to life. Mercia is a fantastic heroine, smart, resourceful and determined.

Hingley has clearly researched the period well, having lived in both the UK and the US (near where the action of his books takes place) which is good as the Restoration isn’t covered in school, so although the plot is an invention, the books really gives you a feel for the late 1600s.

I really enjoyed the first two books but this is definitely the strongest so far (fingers crossed Hingley decides to continue the series).

Book one (Birthright) is currently £5.99 direct from the publisher if you want to get into the series.

Check out the rest of the tour

Today a really interesting and relevant article was published- talk about kismet. Mercia’s adventures start with an attempt to find Charles I’s lost art and now it is finally being reunited in part. Worth a read, just like these books!

*I received this product in exchange for an honest review, all opinions and words are my own.

blog tour, books, fun stuff, giveaway

Book Tour: Trust Me – Gemma Metcalfe 

Today I’m hosting a stop on the blog tour for thriller Trust Me by Gemma Metcalfe. Read on for more. 

One phone call. Two lives. Their darkest secrets.
Lana needs to sell a holiday, fast. Stuck in Tenerife, in a dead end job, she never expected a response quite like Liam’s.

Thousands of miles away a phone rings. Liam never intended to pick up, he’s too busy choosing the quickest way to die. But at least someone should know the truth before he goes, even if that someone is a stranger.

As time runs out both are drawn to the other, expressing thoughts they never thought they would share.

When you’re about to die will your secrets even matter?
Find the book on Amazon and Goodreads

Gemma Metcalfe is a Manchester born author who now lives in sunny Tenerife with her husband Danny and two crazy rescue dogs Dora and Diego. By day, Gemma can be found working as a Primary school teacher, but as the sun sets, she ditches the glitter and glue and becomes a writer of psychological thrillers. An established drama queen, she admits to having a rather warped imagination, and loves writing original plots with shocking twists. The plot for her debut novel ´Trust Me,´ is loosely based on her experiences as a call centre operative, where  she was never quite sure who would answer the phone…

Find Gemma on Twitter

Read on for an extract from the book and an exciting giveaway. 

Lana, 3.47 pm

‘Are you still there, Liam?’ I ask, realising he has been worryingly quiet while I have been telling my story. I begin to feel ridiculous, sat here complaining about such trivial things when his life has been shattered into a million pieces. But of course my story is still in its early stages. The things that came after were anything but trivial.

‘I’m here, Lana.’ His voice travels down the line flatly, like he has already given up.

I sigh, my eyes lifting up into my head as I contemplate how to proceed. I want to get to the bottom of what has happened to him, why he feels there is nothing left for him, but I am doubting my capabilities more and more. I’m not a counsellor. I don’t know how to unlock people’s demons.

‘Is it because the baby died?’ I ask through pursed lips, my face so tightly squished up I can barely see. I hold my breath, wondering if I have got to the bottom of why he wants to die.

He laughs. A laugh so cutting it sends chills down my spine.

‘That was years ago, Lana. It was heartbreaking, and a turning point for me and Jess. Our relationship never really recovered. I always blamed her deep down, but what was I to do? I was married to her and I was desperate to keep her son in my life. He is the single most important thing to me.’

I hear Liam’s voice fracture down the line. I have an urge to go to him, to pull him close to me and make it all all right. But I can’t. I can’t do that because I can’t even enter the UK.

‘So what then? If not the baby, what went so drastically wrong?’

To celebrate the release of Trust Me, here’s a little giveaway for you. 

UK only. One winner will receive a Boots voucher, a copy of Trust Me and some surprise Boots treats. 

Enter Here and don’t forget to visit the other stops on the tour.