Mary Rosie’s War by Catherine M Byrne blogtour excerpt

Mary Rosie's War - Cover

Mary Rosie’s War written by Catherine M Byrne, publisher Overtheord Publishing, is available NOW in ebook and paperback format.  The ebook is also included in the kindleunlimited scheme.

To buy link:  https://amzn.to/2K4BJZq

Product Details (as per amazon page)

WW2 has been declared. A strange find on the beach gives Mary Rosie the chance to fulfil her dreams and contribute to her country, but all is not what she imagined.

After witnessing the first bomb to be dropped on mainland Britain, Mary watches her friends leave to join the forces and longs to be with them, but is held back by loyalty to her widowed mother.

France has capitulated. Johnny Allan’s regiment has been annihilated by German troops. Johnny has to evade capture and somehow get home to the girl who no longer waits for him.

Liesel is a German Jew who lost her family to the Nazis and has to make her way in Britain, a strange new country, while harbouring a desire for revenge.

Their lives become entangled in a way that no one could have envisaged.

A story about war, family ties, love, loyalty and loss.

Mary Rosie's War Full Tour Banner

I am so pleased to be involved in the blogtour celebrating and promoting the launch of Catherine M Byrne’s latest novel: Mary Rosie’s War.

Catherine M Byrne has kindly offered to share an excerpt from the book for you all:

WW2. France. As the sole survivor of a German attack on his platoon, Johnny finally makes his way to the south of France from where he has to attempt the perilous journey across the Pyrenees to freedom.

When the clock struck midnight they entered the mission where the six weary soldiers, now dressed in the new clothes, stood waiting for instructions. Stuart opened the door. ‘Good, there’s no moon. Collect your gear now.’
He led the men inside where each was issued with a stout pair of boots, a padded jacket and a backpack. ‘These are all donated by helpful French,’ explained Stuart, to Johnny’s unasked question. ‘You will be climbing in the mountains. Be assured, this is no easy walk.’
Once kitted out, the party filed through the door. ‘Keep close to the wall until you get into the country, then stay among the trees as far as you can. Make as little noise as possible until then and stay in single file. You have the map?’
Marie, dressed like a boy, nodded an affirmative. No one spoke until the streets gave way to scattered farm houses. When there was no sign of pursuit, they relaxed and began to chat quietly.
‘Have you always lived here?’ Johnny said to Marie as she fell in step beside him.
She didn’t reply immediately.
‘I think I know your accent,’ she said at last. ‘You are from Scotland, yes?’
‘How do you know that?’ Most foreigners could not tell the difference between the dialects.
‘Many of your countrymen pass through here.’
‘Really? Maybe I know them if they speak like me.’
‘I never ask their names.’
The night was still, with only the whisper of the men’s feet and their low voices.
They walked for a while in silence. ‘Where are you from?’ asked Johnny at last.
‘I will only tell you that I work for the German army, but that is a cover. Leading stranded servicemen to safety, this I chose to do myself. We had to find a way to get your servicemen out of France. Also there are many British living here. They are in grave danger of being incarcerated.’ She fell into silence.
‘Are you English?’ he asked, amazed by her command of the language.
She shook her head. ‘No, but I’ve already said too much.’

When a grey dawn broke the horizon, Marie held up her hand. We will rest during the daytime,’ she said, ‘and travel by night. Ahead is Perpignan and an innkeeper there will provide us with refreshments, then we’ll grab some sleep in his basement.’
The mountains were tall and rugged, sharp peaks reaching into the sky. They looked almost impossible to navigate on foot, but he had to trust Marie to know what she was doing.
Johnny hoped to get her by herself, to get more information from her, but it was as if from then on, she purposely avoided him.
The innkeeper gave them soup, bitter chicory coffee and bread, and he provided them with blankets. In the morning, after a breakfast of broth and coffee, Marie, looking perturbed, held up her hand. ‘I have news that our route has been blocked. We will have to take the alternative.’
Once more, Johnny fell into step beside her. ‘You don’t look too happy,’ he said.
‘I don’t have an easy feeling. This is most unusual, but it is possible the pass has been blocked by an avalanche. And the message seems genuine enough.’
He tried to engage her in further conversation, but she held her fingers to her lips. ‘It is better we remain silent,’ she whispered.
As they ascended, the temperature dropped and the men changed into their boots and heavy jackets. Before long, it began to snow. They had all fallen silent, no sound but the crunch of boots on snow and the high wind through thin pines. In places the ascent was steep and they slipped and struggled to keep a footing. Tired, cold, hungry and footsore they continued to drag themselves uphill. Johnny tried to remember how much he’d loved the snow as a child. It meant many hours of fun: sledging, snowball fights, snowmen, snow houses, running indoors to warm frozen fingers and toes, just to rush out again as soon as possible. He imagined a blazing range, leaping flames, hot soup. Ahead of them, Marie stopped and held up a hand. She tilted her head as though sniffing the air.
‘Get down,’ she shouted, too late.
German soldiers suddenly appeared from behind high rocks and out of gullies, firing indiscriminately. The men dropped like skittles. Johnny grabbed Marie’s arm and together they rolled into a ditch, miraculously dodging the flying bullets. Hardly daring to breathe, they lay still until they could not feel their hands and feet.
Even after the gunfire had ceased, they did not move. Unsure if she was still alive, Johnny reached out to touch Marie, relieved when he heard her intake of breath. He indicated that she should remain as she was, and he inched his way to the top of the chasm where he raised his head enough to see what was happening. A few other men hid nearby. He heard the Germans crashing through the undergrowth, shouting at the men they uncovered to get on their feet, then marching them away at gunpoint, hands on heads.
Johnny slipped back down, put his hand on Marie’s head and held her face against the freezing ground. He dare not even whisper, only hoped she understood the need to lie still, half buried in snow. Surely, after all he had endured, it could not end now, here like this, when he was so near freedom he could almost taste it. All he could do was press his own forehead against the snowy earth, now warmed by his tears.

 

To learn more about the author please visit the following sites:

Website:  http://www.catherinebyrne-author.com/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/Katrine66

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

Blog:  http://isabellacatherinebyrne.blogspot.com/

 

The author has kindly offered a Giveaway:

Mary Rosies War - one set of four for prize give a way1st Prize – all 4 of Catherine Byrne’s previous books in paperback .
6 x Runners Up Prizes – PB copy of Broken Horizon (UK Only)

To enter please click on the link below:

 

 

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c6949493/

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

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Wartime at Woolworths by Elaine Everest book review

wartime at woolworths

Wartime at Woolworths written by Elaine Everest, publisher Pan Macmillan, is available NOW in ebook, paperback and audiobook format.

The paperback is available from all good retailers and the ebook is available to download on kindle, kobo and iBooks.

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

Product Details (as per amazon page)

The Woolworths girls have come a long way together . . .
Fun loving Maisie, is devoted to her young family and her work at Woolworths. But her happy life with her RAF officer husband, their baby daughter leads her to think of the family she left behind . . . With the war now into its fourth year, what will she find when she sets about searching for them?
Sarah and her husband, Alan, are blissfully happy and long for a sibling for their daughter. But dark days lay ahead for this close family.
Freda heads home to Birmingham, to go in search of her family, back to the life she fled – far from the safety of Woolworths and her new friends.
With families’ separated by war, will the Woolworths girls be able to pull together?

Woolworths in 1940s

Woolworths store front, 1940s

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 such a lovely treat to return to Kent and to the girls that spend their days working in Woolworths but their hearts belong to the people they love and the community of Erith.

Elaine Everest has created a wonderful series centred around the girls working in the emporium store called Woolworths.  Every town back in the day had a Woolworths that was lovingly called Woolies.  Back then it sold a lot more than the pick ‘n mix that most of us would remember.  Woolies was a store you could get most things from and you could also include a chat with the counter assistant, a cuppa and piece of cake in the café and your day would be made.

We step back to 1943 to Wartime Britain, to a time when many of the menfolk were overseas at war and the women were taking on many of the tasks and roles that were previously held by men.

Sarah, Maisie and Freda the young women who have become great friends are coping with their own lives with Sarah and Maisie now having their own little family to look after.  Their friendship has helped them through many struggles in the past but these next couple of months the friends will need each other more then ever with conflict and casualties of war reaching their own ‘backyard’.

Once again Ruby, the stalwart to all that live around Erith provides much comfort, assurance and wise words.  I love Ruby, she has this tough exterior and is so calm in a crisis but has the biggest heart of gold.

I really appreciated how the author, Elaine Everest, used authentic dialect within the storyline and we were treated to some charming sayings that have long been forgotten.  I could picture the characters and scenes in my head with the great dialogue bringing the story to life.

Another nostalgic trip down memory lane.  A story of friendship, of community spirit, of making do, of coping under adverse conditions and always of a hope for a silver lining.  I don’t want this series to end.

To learn more about the author Elaine Everest please visit the following pages:

Website:  http://elaineeverestauthor.blogspot.com/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/ElaineEverest

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

 

Walking Wounded by Anna Franklin Osborne book review

walking wounded

Walking Wounded written and published by Anna Franklin Osborne is available NOW in ebook and paperback format.

To buy link:

Product Details (as per amazon page)

Born at the end of the First World War, a young girl struggles to find her own identity in her big family and is pushed into a stormy marriage through a terrible misunderstanding from which her pride refuses to let her back down. As her own personal world begins to crumble, the foundation of the world around her is shaken as Germany once again declares war and her brothers and young husband sign up with the first wave of volunteers.

Walking Wounded tells the story of those left behind in a Blitz-ravaged London, and of the web of loyalty, guilt and duty that shapes the decisions of the women awaiting the return of their men-folk as the war draws to a close.

Spanning the period from the Armistice of the First World War to the exodus of the Ten Pound Poms to Australia in the 1950s, Walking Wounded is a family saga whose internal violence is mirrored by the world stage upon which it is set.

london station blitz

This was such a profoundly emotive story that deeply moved me.  At one point I had to pause from reading due to the tears blurring my vision.  Anna Franklin Osborne has taken me on a very real emotional journey, a journey that millions took that had no choice but to “Keep Calm and Carry On” but behind the smiles lay troubled souls and broken hearts.

This family saga started back in 1918 travelling through to 1952 on the life of one family coping and trying to survive what life through at them.  Through pivotal moments in Britain’s history and through life’s own harsh battles.  Women waiting patiently for news of their loved ones; be it fathers, brothers, sons, husbands and lovers.  Dreading the post for fear of bad news.  However, when the men came back they were scarred both physically and mentally and the scenes that they have endured will never leave them.  The joy of seeing and being with your family again was tinged with the fear of what the war did to the minds of their men.

Whilst the men did their duty the women were left to hold the fort back at home and at work, struggling to make ends meet and struggling to keep morale high.  Anna Franklin Osborne’s female characters were all very strong young women full of vitality and hope at the beginning of the war but life was very cruel and hearts were shattered and minds were tested.  The walking wounded were not just the soldiers of war but of those left behind wounded by life and all it threw at them.  A smile can hide a multitude of emotions.

This is a very special story, a fictional story based loosely around Anna Franklin Osborne’s three great uncles, her great aunt and her grandmother who all played a part during the war years.  I do believe fictional stories bring history to life and Anna Franklin Osborne has taken me on this historical journey.  A stunning story spelling out life in it’s raw detail.  5/5*

To find out more about Anna Franklin Osborne please do visit the following pages:

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/GooseWingPublications/

 

 

Bamboo Road Trilogy by Ann Bennett blogtour

bamboo road trilogy blogtour poster

I am so pleased to be involved in the blogtour celebrating and promoting the launch of Bamboo Road, which is volume three in a Southeast Asian WWII Trilogy.  The trilogy includes Bamboo Heart, Bamboo Island and Bamboo Road and can be read in any order.

Product Details (as per amazon page)

Bamboo Heart – is available in ebook, paperback and audio download format.

Set in the Far East before and during the Second World War, Bamboo Heart captures the suffering and courage of prisoners of war of the Japanese. It tells the story of Tom Ellis, a prisoner enslaved on the infamous Death Railway in Thailand, and charts the journey of his daughter, Laura, who turns her back on her yuppie existence in eighties London to investigate her father’s wartime experience.

To buy link:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Bamboo-Heart-Trilogy-1/dp/9814423734/ref=pd_bxgy_14_img_3?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=N92RM8EE04KMXMZWCG93

Bamboo Island – is available in ebook and paperback format.

A stranger appears on Juliet s plantation in Malaya, inspiring a journey to Singapore and Indonesia to uncover family secrets hidden since World War Two Juliet Crosby has lived a reclusive life on her Malayan rubber plantation since the Second World War robbed her of everyone she loved. However, the sudden appearance of a young woman from Indonesia disrupts her lonely existence and stirs up unsettling memories. Juliet is forced to recollect her prewar marriage, her wartime ordeals in Japanese-occupied Singapore and the loss of those she once held dear.

To buy link:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/Books/Bamboo-Island-Trilogy-Ann-Bennett/9814625175/ref=pd_bxgy_14_2?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=XYPK5PWQTXVKC1YVBY99

Bamboo Road – is available in ebook and paperback format.

Thailand 1942: Sirinya and her family are members of the Thai underground, who risk their lives to resist the World War Two Japanese occupation and to and help British prisoners of war building the Thai-Burma railway. The events of those years have repercussions for decades to come. The book tells Sirinya s wartime story and how in the 1970s she returns to Kanchanaburi after a long absence abroad, to settle old scores from the war years.

To buy link:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/cka/Bamboo-Road-Trilogy-3-Ann-Bennett/9814625256/ref=pd_bxgy_14_3?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=GSJ331533N34V58KH76C

MY REVIEW OF BAMBOO HEART

Bamboo Heart is one of the books in the Bamboo Trilogy written by Ann Bennett, publisher Monsoon Books.  The books can be read in any order however, I chose to read Bamboo Heart first and I was soon captivated by this time slip historical fiction novel with the idea of the story coming to Ann Bennett whilst she was researching her father’s history who had been a POW on the Thailand-Burma Railway.

A fascinating, insightful story travelling back to 1938 to a young man starting out in the working world.  His career started out in the legal field and returned back to law many years later but what happened in between these years will stay with this young man forever.  A time during a pivotal moment in history.  A time that was kept hidden to the rest of the world as thousands of men were tortured and even killed in POW camps in Burma.  This was a truly terrifying time that was equally shocking, distressing and so traumatising.

Bamboo Heart’s time slip story journeys from London 1986 with Laura Ellis, a young career girl in the law industry taking time out to trace her father’s history.  We then travel back to 1943 to when Thomas Ellis was captured by the Japanese and held captive in a POW camp and forced to work on The Death Railway.

The author, Ann Bennett, wrote with such passion and honesty.  She left no scene without telling the shocking truth of a young man’s struggle to survive in the most terrifying of ordeals.  The story sounds quite oppressive but it wasn’t as you were dealing with real people’s emotions and even during times of war love always found a way to bring sunshine and hope to your days. 

A truly compelling historical time slip work of fiction that will stay with me for a long time 5/5*

About the Author Ann Bennett

ann bennett

Ann Bennett was born and raised in a small village in Northamptonshire, UK. She read Law at Cambridge and qualified and practised as a solicitor. During a career break, to have children, she started to write. Her father had been a prisoner of war on the Thailand– Burma Railway and the idea for a Southeast Asian WWII trilogy came from researching his wartime experiences. The research took her back to Asia, a place she loves and has returned to many times. She lives in Surrey with her husband and three sons and works in London as a lawyer.

To find out more about Ann Bennett and her books please visit the following links:

Website: http://www.bambooheart.co.uk

Blog: http://www.annbennettbambooheart.com

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/annbennett71

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Ann-Bennett

The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan book review

 

the-chilbury-ladies-choir

The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir written by Jennifer Ryan, publisher The Borough Press, is available from the 23rd February 2017 in ebook, hardcover, audio download and audio CD format.

To pre-order/buy link:

 

Product Details (as per amazon page)

The village of Chilbury in Kent is about to ring in some changes.
This is a delightful novel of wartime gumption and village spirit that will make your heart sing out.

Kent, 1940.

In the idyllic village of Chilbury change is afoot. Hearts are breaking as sons and husbands leave to fight, and when the Vicar decides to close the choir until the men return, all seems lost.

But coming together in song is just what the women of Chilbury need in these dark hours, and they are ready to sing. With a little fighting spirit and the arrival of a new musical resident, the charismatic Miss Primrose Trent, the choir is reborn.

Some see the choir as a chance to forget their troubles, others the chance to shine. Though for one villager, the choir is the perfect cover to destroy Chilbury’s new-found harmony.

Uplifting and profoundly moving, THE CHILBURY LADIES’ CHOIR explores how a village can endure the onslaught of war, how monumental history affects small lives and how survival is as much about friendship as it is about courage.

 

amazing-grace-song-sheet

I have just finished reading this delightful, uplifting, inspiring, heart warming novel and I’m flabbergasted that The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir is Jennifer Ryan’s first novel.  The words written by Jennifer Ryan were so profound I could visualise the scenes and characters in my head played out on a big screen and I’m hoping one day we will get the chance to see this wonderful story on our TV screens.

This story is set in 1940 in a quiet, sleepy village in Kent that up-to-yet hasn’t seen much devastation with the war.  Most of the men in the village have joined up with the war help so the village is pretty much left with just the women to hold the fort.  The Vicar has declared that the choir is to close due to all the male voices currently indisposed.  The ladies of the choir are not pleased and feel lost without the choir.  The ladies between themselves and with the help of Prim, a music tutor who has just moved to the village, decide to keep the choir up and running.  The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir is born and sets to keep spirits up during this unsettling time.  The joy of singing together in a choir brings the ladies of the village together and the worries of those missing loved ones are shared.  The choir becomes a formidable force and gain strength within themselves and their voices become clearer and sweeter.

Diary keeping was encouraged in these tough times to write down their thoughts, their daily routines and rituals, their hope for the future.  I loved how the author, Jennifer Ryan, split each chapter up with these journal entries from different characters in the story.  We see the story set out from different perspectives.  From women and girls of all ages seeing the war with different eyes.  One young woman in particular in the village was using the war and the choir to cover for the most immoral agreement between one of the village’s high ranked and obnoxious men and herself.  Greed was in the forefront between these two unscrupulous people.

Disaster was to strike shattering the very soul of the village but the ladies of the choir came together offering respite for themselves and also giving hope and encouragement to others.

This story was just so lovely.  It wasn’t all hearts and flowers though.  Jennifer Ryan opened our eyes to the world as it was in a very upsetting time.  Lives and livelihoods were lost but life had to go on and the women all over the country found an inner strength to keep everything going.  From the devastation of loss we could feel light and warmth with love finding its way through.  A truly, wonderful debut novel that I simply adored.  5/5*

To find out more about Jennifer Ryan please do visit the following pages:

Website:  http://www.jenniferryanbooks.com/

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

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/JenniferRyanBooks/

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