How to Keep a Secret by Sarah Morgan book review

how to keep a secret

How to Keep a Secret written by Sarah Morgan, publisher HQ, is available NOW in ebook, paperback, audiobook and audio CD format.

The paperback is available from all good book retailers and the ebook is available for kindle, kobo and ibooks.

To buy link (amazon UK):  https://amzn.to/2JT7aBL

Product Details (as per amazon page)

Three generations of Stewart women, all with secrets to keep…
Matriarch Nancy knows she hasn’t been the best mother but how can she ever tell her daughters the reason why? Lauren and Jenna are as close as two sisters can be and they made a pact years ago to keep a devastating secret from their mother – but is it time to come clean? Lauren’s teenage daughter Mackenzie masks her own pain by keeping her mother at a distance. Her mother, aunt and grandmother keep trying to reach her but will it take a stranger to show her the true meaning of family?
When life changes in an instant, the Stewart women are thrown together for a summer and suddenly they must relearn how to be a family. And whilst unravelling their secrets might be their biggest challenge, it could also be their finest moment . . .

Beach houses Martha's Vineyard

Whilst reading this novel I was drawn to the descriptions of the houses in Martha’s Vineyard especially those on the beach. This image is taken from a google search.

I voluntarily reviewed an arc of this book. All opinions are my own and no content may be copied. However, authors and publishers may use elements of my reviews for quotes.

This was a wonderful, descriptive story of life, love, letting go of the past and new beginnings. A story of three generations of women from one family all holding back secrets until one night when one of the Stewart women’s lives is turned completely upside down. She turns to her family for support and the past they all thought they’d left locked away starts opening up bit by bit.

A mother, a daughter, a sister, a granddaughter all facing different junctions in their lives. What they thought they knew of each other from the past wasn’t always the true picture and once the ladies start opening up and revealing their secrets that were kept hidden in dark places they start to see a different picture of how their attitudes and feelings to each other were like as a child and now as an adult.

Lauren with her teenage daughter, Mack, have to face drastic changes to their lives after a tragic event. When further revelations are revealed can this teenager and mum ever have the closeness they once had? Lots of questions need to be asked and the answers rake up many emotions that have been safely secured.

Jenna the younger sister of Lauren has been holding back on her own emotions from her mother and sister in particular. Emotions at home with her husband are becoming strained and the couple are struggling with how to help each other.

Nancy the mother and grandmother has for so long been the strong independent figure of the family but for the last few years she’s struggled. Her secrets can no longer be hidden as they’ve reached a point of no return. Secrets she knows that will upset and shake the family.

Mack has always struggled to fit in with the ‘cool’ crowd. Reinventing herself to be liked but not really letting herself be the truer version. It takes strength and courage for her to overcome her feelings of loss, grief, desperation and isolation.

I loved how the author Sarah Morgan wove this story of relationships between one family. It was interesting to see that once the secrets came tumbling out that the bond between them all was becoming stronger.

A truly gorgeous story that at times were emotive however, the general feeling was of warmth and uplifting, life affirming and full of unexpected romances at a time when you weren’t looking.

To learn more about the Author Sarah Morgan please visit the following pages:

Website:  http://sarahmorgan.com/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/SarahMorgan_

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/AuthorSarahMorgan

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Her Mother’s Secret by Rosanna Ley blogtour book review

her mother's secret

Her Mother’s Secret written by Rosanna Ley, publisher Quercus, is available NOW in ebook, hardcover, paperback and audiobook format.

To buy link:  https://amzn.to/2sQDEpU

Product Details (as per amazon page)

For many years Colette has avoided returning to her homeland – the magical island of Belle-Île-en-Mer in Southern Brittany – afraid to confront the painful memories she left behind. She is living on the Cornish coast when she hears about her mother Thea’s failing health and realises that the time has come for her to go home. But can Colette ever forgive Thea for what she has done?
Despite Colette’s wariness, romantic Belle-Île still fascinates her. She takes on the running of her mother’s flower shop and makes friends with Élodie from the Old Lighthouse where Thea once worked as a nanny and with the enigmatic Étienne who shares Colette’s mixed feelings about the island. As Thea opens up to her for the first time, Colette finds herself softening and being drawn back into the landscape of her past. But can Belle-Île also be a part of her future?
The ghosts of that past still linger. What happened all those years ago and how did it cause the rift between mother and daughter? It becomes clear that the beauty of Belle-Île hides a devastating family secret – one that Colette is determined to unravel at any cost.

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I voluntarily reviewed an arc of this book. All opinions are my own and no content may be copied. However, authors and publishers may use elements of my reviews for quotes.

I am so pleased to be involved in the blogtour celebrating and promoting the launch of the paperback of Her Mother’s Secret which is the seventh published book by Rosanna Ley.  For reasons I cannot fathom Her Mother’s Secret is my first introduction to the work of Rosanna Ley.  Her Mother’s Secret has everything I love in a story; it was beautifully written, you could feel the atmosphere of the stunning coastal location, the characters were well drawn out and you could easily picture the scenes in your head.  Rosanna Ley is definitely in my reading radar now and I will be checking out her back catalogue of work.

This story was beautifully woven around the lives of five different characters that all were linked to the stunning coastal island of Belle-Île-en-Mer in Southern Brittany.  The island was privy to many secrets and has also witnessed it’s fair share of tragedies that have left a scar on many peoples lives.  Colette, Thea, Mathilde, Elodie and Etienne all with tortured hearts and souls brought together by this area of outstanding natural beauty.  Their shared experiences and feelings of loss, guilt and uncertainty were accepted and a bond was formed, although at times the bond was not as tight as it could be.

Colette was unsure of returning back home to the island of Belle-Île-en-Mer as she left under a dark cloud.  But with her mother Thea seriously ill Colette needed to make this journey, as much to care for her mother but also for herself, to try and unearth the secrets that have left so many emotional scars.

Colette’s mother was the proprietor of the little flower shop and as a child Colette loved helping her mother out and learning about this trade.  With her mother’s wish Colette started working back in the florists and she was relishing matching flowers to fit a customers requirements. I loved this part of the storyline and appreciated the research the author undertook on the alternative therapies and treatments using flowers.

I loved the throwbacks to the late 1960’s/early 1970’s when we learn about Thea in her first flush of love, new beginnings, new adventures and then life casting it’s spell throwing in twists and turns that no-one can predict.  When this new journey for Thea took her to the south of France working for a young French family her life was to be embroiled in a secret that would change the course of the future for many.

Her Mother’s Secret is a beautifully atmospheric read full of secrets that the idyllic island in the south of France can no longer keep hidden.  It is a story of life, of loves, of grief and of letting go of the past.  Such a stunning, emotive storyline drawing you in to the lives of the characters.

As the setting of the sun for one person is approaching it brings enlightenment to others giving them the strength to make almost radical changes to their lives.  Beautiful story, I loved it!

To learn more about the author Rosanna Ley please visit the following pages:

Website:  http://www.rosannaley.com

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/RosannaLey

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/RosannaLeyNovels

 

 

 

The Beauchamp Betrothals Books 2 & 3 by Janice Preston book review

Scandal and Miss Markham and Lady Cecily and the Mysterious Mr Gray written by Janice Preston, publisher Mills & Boon Historical are available NOW in ebook and paperback format.

To buy links:

The books can be purchased direct from the Mills & Boon website:  https://bit.ly/2t21MFf

Amazon UK:  https://amzn.to/2MkJHuY and https://amzn.to/2t2LaNE

Mills & Boon Historical novels are also available on the high street from WHSmith and Waterstones.

Product Details (as per amazon page)

Scandal and Miss Markham

A scandalous journey…
Glassmaker’s daughter Thea Markham is devastated when her brother Daniel goes missing. Then a mysterious lord turns up asking questions about Daniel and offers to find him. Unsure she can trust the handsome peer, Thea dresses up as a boy and follows him!
Lord Vernon Beauchamp feels his life lacks direction. Meeting Thea gives him a renewed purpose. And when they are thrown together on their scandalous adventure, friendship soon gives way to desire…

Lady Cecily and the Mysterious Mr Gray

Love or family…
How can she choose between them?
Lady Cecily Beauchamp has always put her family first. Until she falls under the spell of the mysterious Zachary Gray—a man of Romany descent. Knowing her family will forbid their match, Cecily steels herself to do her duty and marry elsewhere. Only she finds herself irresistibly drawn to Zach as the spark between them ignites a passion neither can deny!

The Beauchamp Betrothals series books in order are:

  • Cinderella and The Duke (you can find my review  here
  • Scandal and Miss Markham
  • Lady Cecily and the Mysterious Mr Gray

I voluntarily reviewed an arc of the books. All opinions are my own and no content may be copied. However, authors and publishers may use elements of my reviews for quotes.

Reviews

Scandal and Miss Markham:  This is book two in The Beauchamp Betrothals, although each story can be read as a standalone characters from each story will crop up and have relevance to each storyline.  I would therefore, highly recommend reading all the books in the series in order (see above).

This is the story of Thea (Dorothea) Markham and Vernon Beauchamp, the younger brother to Duke Leo Beauchamp who we met in Cinderella and The Duke.  Thea Markham is the daughter of a glass manufacturer and since her father’s illness Thea and her brother Daniel have taken over the reigns of running the business.  Thea is feeling quite anxious at the moment as her brother Daniel failed to return home 5 days ago and she is becoming increasingly concerned.  When an unexpected visitor turns up with details of a letter from Daniel Thea is unsure to trust this stranger.  This stranger is non other than Vernon Beauchamp, who has turned to Thea for help with regards to his cousin, who is also missing, and he believes Daniel may have the answer.

With a few clues as to Daniel’s last whereabouts Vernon sets off to help unravel this mystery of a missing brother and his cousin.  Unbeknown to Vernon the headstrong Thea follows Vernon into the darkness to help with the unexplained absence of her beloved brother.

Thea was such a great character; she was headstrong, loyal to her family, set in her ways and so oblivious to the etiquette of ladies of Regency England.  However, Thea did have a vulnerable side and she had suffered greatly with her heart and was struggling with guilt and trust.

Could Thea learn to trust this rather handsome rakish stranger Vernon Beauchamp?

As Thea and Vernon unearth many secrets along their journey to find Daniel they come face to face with danger.  Along with danger the duo are fighting with their heightened emotions they are experiencing working so close together.  A gorgeous Regency Romance filled with drama, mystery with a fabulous budding relationship filled with banter, intrigue and passion.

Lady Cecily and the Mysterious Mr Gray:  Book 3 in The Beauchamp Betrothal series.  Lady Cecily is the sister to Leo and Vernon Beauchamp and with recent changes to her brother’s lives Cecily is feeling a little at lost in her life.  She’s not sure where she stands now within the family and when a handsome stranger is concerned with Cecily’s health and wellbeing she starts to consider her options for the future.

This handsome stranger is Zachary Gray who is a good friend of Thea Markham’s brother Daniel.  Zachary is not your typical Regency gent, for starters his attire is more flamboyant and casual looking.  Zachary is a Romany traveller and has quite a free spirited lifestyle.  However, when he sees the forlorn looking Cecily he feels a spark of a flame slowly igniting inside him.

Cecily feels that she has limited options being a spinster in Regency time, she feels like she needs to follow her head and find a husband fast.  However, her heart is leaning towards the mysterious Zachary Gray.  Cecily knows that this partnership would be unthinkable, a Lady from society and a Romany man with a mysterious past would be an improper relationship.  But this unlikely duo are drawn to each other and Cecily is soon fighting with her principles and those of her brothers.

I loved Cecily and Zachary’s story, at a time when diversity was unheard of and ladies in society were programmed to behave in a certain fashion, the duo were trying to brake the mould.  Another gorgeous instalment in The Beauchamp Betrothal series.  Janice Preston has created a series filled with charm, drama, intrigue and mystery all finished off with a big dose of passion.

To learn more about the author Janice Preston please visit the following pages:

Website:  https://janicepreston.co.uk/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/JaniceGPreston

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/janice.preston.author

 

 

 

 

The Guernsey Novels blogtour excerpt from Book 5 Echoes of Time by Anne Allen

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I’m so pleased to be involved in the blogtour for The Guernsey Novels written by Anne Allen, publisher Sarnia Press.  To-date there are 6 books in the series, each one can be read as a standalone and I’ve had the pleasure of reading books 4 and 6.  In a nutshell I would describe Anne’s novels as historical time-slip romances that are evocative, atmospheric and intriguing.

I have the pleasure of sharing today an excerpt from Book 5: Echoes of Time.

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Excerpt
Echoes of Time – The Guernsey Novels Book #5
Guernsey – 1987

Olive was cooking her usual meagre supper of scrambled eggs on toast when the sound of heavy footsteps outside made her jump. No-one ever visited and this was how she liked it. Always had. Her heart pounded as she moved the pan off the blackened range and turned to face the back door. Unlocked as was the custom in safe little Guernsey. Or was it safe? Grabbing a knife she watched, immobile, as the knob turned and the door began to open. The man stood silhouetted against the early evening sky and she stared hard at his shape, puzzled. There was something familiar about the slope of the shoulders and the angle of his head. Her mouth went dry in the moment before the door closed and he moved into the light.
It couldn’t be! Not after all this time…She felt her legs tremble and leant back against the range.
‘Hello, Olive. Bet you didn’t expect to see me again, did you?’ He chuckled, humourlessly.
She hid the knife up her sleeve and pulled the darned cardigan around her thin body. Old memories surfaced as she fought to stay calm.
‘We…we heard you were dead. You didn’t come back–’
‘No, well, I found someone and something better, didn’t I? But it doesn’t look as if you have.’ His gaze was contemptuous as he looked her up and down, and Olive was conscious of how unkempt she looked. Poverty does that to a person. Whereas he was immaculately dressed in what looked like a designer suit. A successful man. She watched, helpless, as his gaze wandered over the kitchen, and she registered, for the first time in years, how dirty and shabby it looked. The kitchen which had once been kept spotless. Feelings of shame, mixed with overriding fear, flooded her mind. What did he want?
His eyes alighted on the only personal item in the room. And the last thing she wanted him to see. She moved forward, attempting to block his view, but he pushed her aside and picked up the photo in its cheap wooden frame.
‘Who’s this?’ he demanded, his face flushed with anger.
A look she knew all too well.
Her stomach clenched. Could she lie? Pretend it was someone else? As her head whirled with possibilities he seized her arm, twisting it. She cried out in pain and the knife clattered onto the granite floor. Swiftly he grabbed it while still holding onto her arm. Olive’s knees buckled.
He thrust the knife towards her chest and she screamed.
‘Please…’
‘Don’t even think of lying,’ he hissed.
‘It’s…it’s my…our daughter–’
The world went black.

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The blogtour is also running a fabulous giveaway.  To enter please click on the link below.

The Guernsey Novels Prize Draw

About the Author

Anne AllenAnne Allen lives in Devon, by her beloved sea. She has three children and her daughter and two grandchildren live nearby. She was born in Rugby, to an English mother and Welsh father. As a result she spent many summers with her Welsh grandparents in Anglesey and learnt to love the sea.

Her restless spirit has meant a number of moves which included Spain for a couple of years. The longest stay was in Guernsey for nearly fourteen years after falling in love with the island and the people. She contrived to leave one son behind to ensure a valid reason for frequent returns.

By profession Anne was a psychotherapist but has long had creative ‘itches’, learning to mosaic, paint furniture, interior design and sculpt. At the back of her mind the itch to write was always present but seemed too time-consuming for a single mum with a need to earn a living. Now retired from the ‘day job’, there i’s more time to write and Anne has now published six books in The Guernsey Novels series. She will be publishing her seventh novel later in the year.

Website:  https://anneallen.co.uk/

Twitter:  http://www.twitter.com/AnneAllen21

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/Anne-Allen-Author

Searching for Steven by Jessica Redland blogtour book review

Searching for Steven HIGH RES (1)

Searching for Steven written by Jessica Redland, publisher Little Bear Books, is available NOW in ebook format.  The ebook is also included in the kindleunlimited scheme.

To buy link:  https://amzn.to/2JfuDB3

Product Details (as per amazon page)

What if you already know your future… but not the path to take you there?

When Sarah Peterson accepts her Auntie Kay’s unexpected offer to take over her florist’s shop, she’s prepared for a change of job, home and lifestyle. What she isn’t prepared for is the discovery of a scarily accurate clairvoyant reading that’s been missing for twelve years. All her predictions have come true, except one: she’s about to meet the man of her dreams. Oh, and his name is Steven. Suddenly Stevens are everywhere. Could it be the window cleaner, the rep, the manager of the coffee shop, or any of the men she’s met online? On top of that, she finds herself quite attracted to a handsome web designer, but his name isn’t even Steven… During this unusual search, will Sarah find her destiny?

Search For Steven Full Banner

I am so pleased to be involved in the blogtour celebrating and promoting Searching for Steven (Welcome to Whitsborough Bay Book 1).  I was recently introduced to the work by Jessica Redland when I read Raving about Rhys (the prequel to Welcome to Whitsborough Bay) and I fell in love with her writing style and was completely comforted and entertained.  Searching for Steven has given me a full dose of Jessica Redland’s charming Yorkshire coastal stories of love, life and the paths you take that make it all the more interesting.  Each of the books in the series can be read as a standalone but I would encourage you to read them all to fully appreciate and enjoy all the great character descriptions and locations.

The books in the series are:

  • Searching for Steven
  • Getting over Gary
  • Dreaming about Daran
  • Raving about Rhys

When a new career opportunity comes Sarah’s way that it too good to miss Sarah feels that this is fate giving her a helping hand when her life is at a low after her recent relationship woes.  Moving from the city of London back home to Whitsborough Bay on the Yorkshire coast could be just the tonic Sarah needs.  With the start of a new creative venture in the florist shop life for Sarah is starting to bloom again surrounded by her family and friends.  However, when an old tape cassette of a clairvoyant reading from her teens is found Sarah is struck by similarities that have occurred in her life but there are a few things that are still left unresolved that Madame Louise predicted many years ago.  Sarah starts to become slightly obsessed with her mission to find the one, the Steven that Madame Louisa predicted and goes on a journey to find the perfect Steven with hilarious results.

Can Sarah’s Mr Right be found by the mystical views of a fortune teller?

Whilst Sarah is searching for Steven is she missing out on the perfect one and will a love from her past be the flame that she needs to reignite?

Once again the author Jessica Redland has created a gorgeous heartwarming, funny tale of love, life and the paths that we take or are stumbled upon that make life that little bit more interesting.  I love stories set in Yorkshire there is a certain charm in the locations and locals with their dialect that makes you feel at home.  I have found a gem in the author Jessica Redland and will look forward to catching up with her other stories.

About the Author

Jessica had never considered writing as a career until a former manager kept telling her that her business reports read more like stories and she should write a book. She loved writing but had no plot ideas. Then something happened to her that prompted the premise for her debut novel, Searching for Steven. She put fingers to keyboard and soon realised she had a trilogy and a novella!

She lives on the stunning North Yorkshire Coast – the inspiration for the settings in her books – with her husband, daughter, cat, Sprocker Spaniel, and an ever-growing collection of collectible teddy bears. Although if the dog has her way, the collection will be reduced to a pile of stuffing and chewed limbs!

Jessica tries to balance her time – usually unsuccessfully – between being an HR tutor and writing.

Social Media Links –
Twitter:   @JessicaRedland
Facebook:   https://www.facebook.com/JessicaRedlandWriter/
Website and blog:   http://www.jessicaredland.com

 

When Archie Met Rosie by Lynda Renham excerpt

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When Archie Met Rosie written by Lynda Renham, publisher Raucous Publishing, is available NOW in ebook format.  The ebook is also included in the kindleunlimited scheme.

To buy link:  https://amzn.to/2Jh1NjW

Product Details (as per amazon page)

*An Unexpected Love Story*
Rosie Foster has two dreams. The first is to get off the Tradmore Estate and the second is to go to Paris. When she wins at the Gala bingo it looks like her dreams may come true. But is money the root of all evil?
Archie wants for nothing. He has his five bedroom house but no one to share it with now his beloved wife Cathy has died.
And then … Holly has a disastrous night out and Archie meets Rosie against all odds.
A funny, sad and poignant tale of how love can be found in the strangest places.

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I am so pleased to be able to share with you all today Chapter One to Lynda Renham’s latest romcom, When Archie Met Rosie.  Lynda Renham’s writing style is very witty with great character descriptions, you can’t help but have a smile on your face when you read her romcoms.  If you find yourself enjoying chapter one do check out the ‘to buy’ link above; the story sounds like the perfect summer read.

Chapter One
Rosie

Don’t you just hate those people who win at everything without even trying? A flutter on the horses or a scratch card at the newsagent and they’re laughing all the way to the bank. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed all the way to the bank. I’ve cried maybe, but that’s usually on the way back from the bank. I once considered robbing our local Barclays. I did seriously. That’s what desperation does to you. I don’t often think about robbing banks, just in case you think I do. It was only the once. Times can be hard sometimes, especially when Frank blows all our money on Millwall. The football club, that is, not the town. Not that anyone in their right mind would spend their money on Millwall, the town or the football club, but then I do sometimes wonder if Frank is in his right mind. Anyway, I digress. There’s a lot of expense involved in robbing a bank, I discovered. I’m telling you this now, just in case you were thinking of robbing a bank yourself. You need a pair of tights for a start. Not just any old pair either. A decent pair costs you a fiver. Now, I don’t know about you, but I can think of better things to spend a fiver on than a pair of nylons, that I’m just going to pull over my face. I did try an old laddered pair, but you could see my features. Not as good as you normally would, admittedly. It resembled a balaclava with one too many holes. Frank said I ought to wear it all the time.
‘It’s a great improvement,’ he’d laughed.
Cheeky bugger.
And then there’s the rucksack. You’ll need one of those. All the best bank robbers have rucksacks. We have one, but the zip is broken. It would be just my kind of luck to have the newly stolen banknotes scattered through the streets of Essex. The expense of a new rucksack was a bit daunting too, especially as Frank only uses it when he trudges down to the off-licence. It nicely holds a six-pack, he’s fond of telling me. It takes a lot of planning, does this bank robbery business. After all, you don’t want to be bursting into Barclays brandishing your P’tit Clown 74560 automatic plastic gun at the wrong time of day, do you? Midday would be a perfect time for me because it’s when I have my lunch break, but have you seen the queues? There’s bound to be one pissed off customer wanting to be a hero, who’d think nothing of wrestling me and my P’tit Clown 74560 plastic gun to the ground, while I’d be yelling, ‘Get your hands off my P’tit, you moron.’
I know what you’re thinking. I have no idea why it’s called P’tit. I imagine, because most of the people who buy it are tits, like me. Let’s be honest, how many bank robbers buy their plastic guns from Amazon? Bank robbers like me, that’s who. Anyway, last but not least, you need a getaway car. If you saw our old Fiesta you’d understand why it wouldn’t have worked. For a start, there’s no door on the driver’s side. Actually, that’s not strictly true. Obviously, there is a door. It would be a touch chilly without one and clearly illegal. It just doesn’t open. No one is sure why. Sam offered to replace it with a spare yellow door he had lying around the garage. Our Fiesta’s black and I didn’t fancy driving around in a lookalike stripy tiger, so I said no and anyway, everyone would have recognised it on the Crimewatch reconstruction. It also takes forever to climb over onto the passenger seat. It’s okay climbing over when you’ve got plenty of time. If your pantyhose got caught on the gearstick, you’ve got time to sort yourself out, haven’t you? But when you’ve got a fleet of police cars after you it’s a whole other ball game. I’m okay getting one leg over the gearstick but it’s my dodgy hip in the other leg that’s the problem. I’ve been known to get stuck in the Lidl car park before now, my crotch nestling nicely on the gears while some kind passer-by hoists my gammy leg over it. Frank says I only do it to pull the blokes. Huh, like I need another one. Although, I have to admit, it is often men who come to my rescue. I guess women are suspicious of a woman sitting on a gearstick. It’s not something you see every day is it? They probably think I’m doing something sordid. I think the men just want a gander up my skirt. They certainly get that. Anyway, the point is, I don’t imagine a kind passer-by is going to give me a leg over after I’ve just robbed Barclays bank, and quite right too.
Anyway, I never did rob the bank. I’m Rose Foster by the way, but everyone calls me Rosie. I like that. It makes me feel young. I live on the Tradmore Estate in Dagenham, Essex. It’s quite well known. Ask anyone where it is, and they’ll be able to tell you. They’ll no doubt look at you with fear in their eyes and advise you to stay away. Tradmore Estate is a regular feature in our local paper. We’re quite famous, although I suppose infamous is the correct word. We’re well known for our raves and raids, usually in that order. We’ve been on Jeremy Kyle too. That is, a few of my neighbours have, not us. I really don’t have the time to go on Jeremy Kyle. I’d love to live somewhere else, but Frank doesn’t believe in mortgages, says they’re a noose around your neck. We can’t afford to rent a house, so I guess I’ll stay on Tradmore Estate until they bring me out feet first. Although, knowing Frank, he’ll bury me on the allotment if it means saving some money. It is expensive dying, isn’t it? More expensive than living if you ask me. Frank works at the greyhound track in Walthamstow and I work three half days at Waitrose and two evenings at Cineworld in Romford. I like that job. They give us free popcorn on Saturdays. It’s rare to get something for nothing these days isn’t it?
Anyway, I’ve seriously digressed. Frank says I can talk the hind legs off a donkey. The reason I began talking about people who easily win things is because, I actually think, any minute now, I’m going to win something. Yes me, Rosie Foster, who never wins anything. I’m desperately wishing I’d had that glass of white wine that Shirl had offered earlier. It would calm my shaking hands. I’m at the Gala Bingo. That’s a joke isn’t it? After I’ve just rabbited on about how I don’t bet. I only come once a fortnight. It’s our girly night out. It’s cheap, cheerful and a bit of a laugh. I’ve never won so much as a quid, until now … right now. All I need is two fat ladies and number one. I can barely breathe. If I win this … Oh God, if I win this, it will be five thousand quid. My head spins at the thought. What would I do with five thousand pounds? Apart from pay the back rent of course.
‘Twenty-two,’ shouts the caller. ‘Two little ducks …’
‘Quackety quack,’ yells Shirl beside me.
I feel sick. This is all I need. It would be just like me to throw up just as I’m about to shout house and win five thousand quid.
‘On its own, number one,’ shouts the caller.
That’s me. Oh bejesus, I’m starting to think robbing the bank might have been easier. I’m likely to have a heart attack if this isn’t over soon. I’ll be carried out feet first from the Gala Bingo Hall instead of our flat. Oh well, at least the funeral directors will be pleased. There’s no stairs at the Gala Bingo. I hold my breath. I just know that someone is going to call ‘house’ any minute, and I feel sure it isn’t going to be me. I’m Rosie Foster, from the Tradmore Estate. I don’t win the bingo. I never win anything, not even a goldfish at the funfair, and everyone wins a goldfish, don’t they?
‘Eighty-eight …’
‘Two fat lad …’ Shirl begins but she doesn’t get to finish because I almost knock her off her stool as I jump up.
‘House,’ I yell. ‘House.’
‘I’ve only gone and won,’ I say turning to Shirl.
‘You haven’t,’ she says, straightening up.
I’m shaking so much, I can barely speak.
‘Let’s see your card darling,’ says the caller.
What if I got a number wrong? I wasn’t concentrating properly at the start. What if …?
‘Congratulations darling, you’ve won five thousand pounds.’
‘I have?’ I stammer.
‘Lucky cow,’ says Shirl, squeezing my arm.
‘Well done,’ says Doris, draining her wine glass and struggling not to look jealous.
‘I can’t believe it,’ I say finally. ‘I never win anything.’
‘Well, you have now.’
‘Shall we quit while we’re ahead,’ suggests Doris.
I nod. I want to go home and tell Frank. Maybe we’ll open that bottle of Prosecco that Waitrose gave me last Christmas. After all, five grand is something to celebrate isn’t it? Not that I have any intention of telling Frank exactly how much I’ve won. I’m soft but I’m not that soft. Money burns a hole in Frank’s trousers quicker than a firelighter. I’d like it to last us a bit longer than twenty-four hours.
‘Shall we go up west on Saturday?’ asks Shirl, ‘Now that you’re flush and all that.’
‘I’m saving it,’ I say.
Shirl and Doris look at me.
‘Saving it for what?’
‘I’d like to go to Paris,’ I say without thinking.
The fact is, I’ve always wanted to go to Paris. I fancy climbing up the Eiffel Tower. The view from there must be amazing, I imagine.
‘What do ya want to go there for? It stinks by all accounts.’
‘That’s Venice, you dopey mare,’ laughs Doris, zipping up her fake Mulberry. ‘Paris is romantic.’
‘So, you won’t be taking Frank then,’ giggles Shirl.
I try Frank’s mobile, but it goes to voicemail. He’s probably got the tele up loud. You have to in our flat to cover the noise of the neighbour’s shouting. If you like Jeremy Kyle, you should come to ours for the day. You’d love it.
We walk home arm in arm. We feel safer like that. I’ve got my five thousand quid tucked into the corner of my old Top Shop tote. The man at the Gala Bingo was reluctant to give me the cash at first.
‘It’s normally a cheque,’ he’d said.
I didn’t want a cheque. It would go straight into our bank account and straight out again to pay the overdraft. It was Frank’s fault we had that. He’d wanted part ownership in a greyhound. So now, not only do we have an overdraft but also part of a dog. I don’t know which part, the useless part probably, knowing our luck.
‘We’ll get our money back,’ Frank had assured me.
But, of course, we hadn’t and instead had accumulated interest on our overdraft. I’ve had this tote bag for donkey’s years and I keep checking that there are no rips in it. That’s sods law isn’t it? You put five thousand quid in your bag thinking it’s perfectly safe and don’t realise you’re dribbling tenners along Romford High Street. I’m not though. I know that, because I keep checking behind me. We arrive at the Tradmore Estate and I try to ignore the used condoms that litter the grass verge outside our block. A policeman hovers outside the main doors but I don’t think anything of it. There are always police around the estate. It makes me feel safe to tell you the truth.
He straightens as we approach the doors.
‘Mrs Foster?’ he asks.
Doris and Shirl look at me anxiously.
‘I’m Mrs Foster,’ I say.
‘What’s ‘appened?’ asks Doris worriedly.
‘I’ve got bad news I’m afraid,’ he says removing his hat.
It’s got to be bad hasn’t it, if they take off their hat? I must have had a tear in my bag after all. They’ve no doubt been collecting ten-pound notes all over Romford.
‘Oh,’ I say, glancing into my bag.
‘Your husband, Frank Foster, is dead I’m afraid.’
‘Dead?’ I repeat.
I sway, and Shirl supports me by the arm.
‘You could ‘ave waited until she was sitting down,’ says Doris crossly.
How can Frank be dead? He was watching the tele.
‘Sometimes it’s best just to say it,’ says the policeman.
‘Are you sure?’ I ask.
Oh dear, that didn’t sound good, did it? It’s as though I want to be sure he’s well and truly brown bread.
‘He fell into the road I’m afraid. He’d had a bit too much to drink and the Domino’s Pizza van …’
Frank was killed by a Domino’s Pizza van?
‘Domino’s Pizza?’ I repeat.
‘He liked pizza,’ says Doris.
That’s wonderful isn’t it? I win five thousand on the bingo and Frank decides to walk in front of a pizza delivery van. Now I’m most likely going to have to spend my winnings on Frank’s funeral.

 

To learn more about the author Lynda Renham please visit the following pages:

Website:  http://www.renham.co.uk/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/Lyndarenham

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/lyndarenhamauthor/

 

Wojtek – War Hero Bear by Jenny Robertson blogtour book review

Wojtek book cover (1)

Wojtek – War Hero Bear written by Jenny Robertson, illustrated by Tim Archbold, publisher BC Books (Birlinn Limited).  The book is available NOW in ebook and paperback format.

To buy link:  https://amzn.to/2JndZPj

Product Details (as per amazon page)

When a tiny orphaned bear cub is adopted by Polish soldiers during World War II, little does anyone know that little Wojtek will become one of the bravest fighters of them all. As the soldiers train to take part in some of the fiercest fighting of the war, Wojtek grows up, providing headaches and laughter in equal measure as he learns to drink beer, chase horses and wrestle with his human friends. But at Monte Cassino, as the Allies try and dislodge German troops from their mountain-top eyrie, Wojtek, now a fully signed-up solider with his own rank and number, comes into his own, dodging the bullets to carry ammunition to his comrades as they inch their way to victory. After the war, the Polish solders move to Scotland. Wojtek comes too and soon becomes the centre of attention in a new country. But with hostilities ended, how long can he keep his freedom?

Wojtek

I voluntarily reviewed an arc of this book. All opinions are my own and no content may be copied. However, authors and publishers may use elements of my reviews for quotes.

I am so pleased to be involved in the blogtour celebrating this remarkable story of Wojtek – War Hero Bear.  Last summer I visited Edinburgh myself and whilst walking through Princes Street Gardens I came across a beautiful commemorative statue of a soldier with a bear and was instantly captivated by this story of humanity and bravery.  This is the photo I took of the statue.

Wojtek statue Edinburgh park July 2017

I’ve often said that fiction brings history to life and the author Jenny Robertson’s story based on the actual experiences of the Polish soldiers and of their new recruit a little brown bear cub was enchanting, poignant and gave you a little hope and comfort in a very difficult time to many.  I found myself charmed by Wojtek and his relationship with Piotr and at times I was overcome with emotion.  This story would be wonderful read out aloud to a class of primary aged children learning about WWII.  The book also could be read by children aged 9+ and equally could be enjoyed by adults.

Wojtek’s story takes on a different aspect to the horrors of war.  This little bear cub lovingly named Wojtek (meaning someone who enjoys a good fight) was to become an essential member of the Polish Army; this army of men of differing ages and backgrounds forced to flee their family and homes.  The men had dark moments of the time they left their beloved homeland.  The men are now united with the hope of returning home.  Wojtek gave them another focus, a sort of light relief and he was definitely a morale booster.

Jenny Robertson’s story touches on friendship, especially finding and accepting new friends through difficult times.  We learn of humanity, care and trust.  With Jenny Robertson’s words and the wonderful line drawings by Tim Archbold (which I believe fit perfectly for Wojtek rather than cartoon-esque images as Wojtek wasn’t a fictional cartoon creation, he was very real) the story was informative, entertaining, emotive and inspirational.  Wojtek will be remembered by many for a long, long time.

About the Author

Jenny Robertson WojtekJenny Robertson has written numerous books for children and adults – fiction, non-fiction and poetry.  Her children’s novels and Bible stories have been widely translated and also read on Yorkshire Television and STV.

Author Blog:  https://jennyroberston.com/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/Jenny_Writes