Book Review

Just – Jenny Morton Potts

I have been waiting (im)patiently, but it is finally my stop on the blog tour for Just by Jenny Morton Potts. If everyone has their beverage of choice, let’s get started. Make sure you read it all because there is a lovely little giveaway tucked at the bottom of the page.

BLURB:

How far would you go to save a life?

On golden Mediterranean sands, maverick doctor Scott Langbrook falls recklessly in love with his team leader, Fiyori Maziq. If only that was the extent of his falling, but Scott descends into the hellish clutches of someone much more sinister.

‘Just’ is a story of love and loss, of terror and triumph. Set in idyllic Cambridge and on the shores of the Med and Cornwall, our characters fight for their very lives on land and at sea.

An unforgettable novel which goes to the heart of our catastrophic times, and seeks salvation.

Jenny Morton Potts on Amazonhttps://www.amazon.co.uk/Jenny-Morton-Potts/e/B00OIYYVPY/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1527096532&sr=1-1

REVIEW:

I’m not going to lie, this isn’t the easiest review that I have ever written, simply because it is difficult to say too much without giving anything away, and I do always try to keep my reviews spoiler free. There is nothing worse, in my opinion, than reading a review that gives away the twist at the end of the book. What I can say is that this book was a real eye-opener for me regarding the situation in Libya, the corruption within so-called aid agencies, and the brutality doled out by people smugglers. These are all such important issues in today’s world, and Jenny Morton Potts brings them to the reader’s attention in a way that will ensure a heightened interest moving forward.

The book is written in a very disjointed style, jumping around through a variety of locations and skipping through time periods. At times it felt like there was information that was missing and I found I was skipping back in case I had missed something. However, as I continued to read, I started to feel that this style of writing and exclusion of some details was a deliberate act on the part of the author, as it kept you as much in the dark as the characters were themselves. Really, it was quite genius as it prevented me from spending the whole book second-guessing how it was going to end, which I frequently do in thrillers, and instead left me experiencing the same whirlwind of emotion as the characters did.

In terms of the characters themselves, there were one or two that I struggled with a little, but I will leave you to work out who, rather than skew your judgement or give anything away. One thing I will say though is that I loved loyal, devoted Fin and his tree-house in the woods.

I wish there was more I could tell you, but really, you just have to read it for yourself.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Just - jennyJenny is a novelist, screenplay writer, and playwright. After a series of ‘proper jobs’, she realized she was living someone else’s life and escaped to Gascony to make gîtes. Knee deep in cement and pregnant, Jenny was happy. Then autism and a distracted spine surgeon wiped out the order. Returned to wonderful England, to write her socks off.

Jenny would like to see the Northern Lights but worries that’s the best bit and should be saved till last. Very happily, and gratefully, settled with the family. She tries not to take herself too seriously.

Social Media Links – http://www.jennymortonpotts.com/

https://twitter.com/jmortonpotts?lang=en

https://facebook.com/jennymortonpotts

https://www.goodreads.com/jennymortonpotts

GIVEAWAY:

Win  5 x e-copies of Just by Jenny Morton Potts (Open Internationally)

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*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  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.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c6949489/?

Many thanks to Jenny Morton Potts, and to Rachel’s Random Resources for the opportunity to take part in this blog tour, and for providing me with a copy of the book. If you would like to read more about this book, why not head over to some of the other blogs on the tour.

Just Full Banner

Meet the Author

Catherine M. Byrne

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About Catherine:

Catherine Byrne always wanted to be a writer. She began at the age of eight by drawing comic strips with added dialogue and later, as a teenager, graduated to poetry.  Her professional life however, took a very different path.  She first studied glass engraving with Caithness Glass where she worked for fourteen years. During that time she also worked as a foster parent.  After the birth of her youngest child she changed direction, studying and becoming a chiropodist with her own private practice.  At the same time she did all the administration work for her husband’s two businesses, and this continued until the death of her husband in 2005.  However she still maintained her love of writing, and has had several short stories published in women’s magazines.  Her main ambition was to write novels and she has now retired in order to write full time.

Born and brought up until the age of nine on the Island of Stroma, she heard many stories from her grandparents about the island life of a different generation. Her family moved to the mainland at a time when the island was being depopulated, although it took another ten years before the last family left.

An interest in geology, history and her strong ties to island life have influenced her choice of genre for her novels.

Since first attending the AGM of the Scottish Association of Writers in 1999, Catherine has won several  prizes, commendations and has been short-listed both for short stories and chapters of her novels. In 2009, she won second prize in the general novel category for ‘Follow The Dove’

In 2016 The Road to Nowhere  won second prize in the Barbara Hammond competition for Best Self Published novel. The follow up, Isa’s Daughter won 1st prize in the same competition the following year.

Although the books follow the fortunes of the same family, they are all stand-alone.

The fifth book in the Raumsey series is  Mary Rosie’s War.

Catherine Byrne lives in Wick, Caithness.

Social Media Links –

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

www.catherinebyrne-author.com

https://twitter.com/Katrine66

http://isabellacatherinebyrne.blogspot.co.uk/

Q&A with Catherine

What authors do you enjoy reading? Did any of these inspire your writing?

I read a wide variety of authors. I especially love Peter May and Anne Cleeves.  I can’t say they inspired my writing as they write murder mysteries, a different genre, although that was what I originally wanted to do. Maybe next time I’ll have a go.

Another couple of writers I am fond of are Ken Follett and Barbara Erskine.  Read all books by them. In between times I make a point of reading self-published authors, and I have found some gems there. I must admit to having a penchant for stories set on islands, and have read all the Isle of Bute mysteries by Myra Duffy.

Why did you choose the particularly period of history that you write about?

I always wanted to write a book set on my native Stroma. A factual book had already been done, so I decided to go for fiction. While I was rifling my brain for a story, an elderly Lady from Canada got in touch. She was doing her genealogy and she couldn’t find any trace of where her grandfather, who had lived on Stroma, died or where he was buried. I did my best to find out for her, but to no avail.

The saga begins in 1899 so obviously I’ve had to do a fair bit of research. However, I was lucky to, not only have been born there, but to have grown up hearing stories from my mother and grandmother of the different generations.

The Canadian lady did, however, give me inspiration for a story, and with her permission, I created two characters based on her grandparents. They got married in 1900, so that was where my series started.

Stroma is a very small Island so, as not to offend anyone, I set my story on a fictional island, Raumsey and used surnames that were never native to Stroma.

Book number one, Follow the Dove, proved to be more popular than I had anticipated, and my fans wanted to know more. Delighted by my relative success, I decided to write a trilogy. Once again, after book three, I was besieged with request to carry on. Subsequently I’ve written another two, Isa’s Daughter and Mary Rosie’s War.

I have also written a couple of other books, Song for an Eagle, a contemporary novella, and a non-fiction about modern day slavery, The Locket and a Five Taka Note.

Do you listen to music when you write? If so, do you have particular playlists for particular characters?

No, I don’t. I know many of my writerly friends who do, but I find it distracting. I need quiet to get into my character’s heads. However, a recording of the sea and seabirds sounds like a good idea.

Do you have any tips for writers who are just starting out?

Join a writers’ circle. I have had so much help and support, I don’t think I would have finished my first novel without them. Authors are generally a very helpful bunch, so don’t be afraid to ask. Also be open to criticism, develop a thick skin and always strive for perfection. Most of all, read, read, read and keep writing. Don’t ever give up.

What do you enjoy doing when you are not writing?

My other hobby is painting, although I’ve neglected that lately to concentrate on writing. I do always have a book to read at hand, and enjoy my garden.  Walking my two dogs gets me out into the fresh air!

I do volunteer work, one day a week in the local hospice shop, watch my granddaughter when needed, and have coffee with friends.

Book Review

Mary Rosie’s War – Catherine M. Byrne

Mary Rosie's War - Cover

BLURB

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 north of Paris. Johnny has to find a way to get home and to the girl who no longer waits for him.

Leisel 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.

Purchase from Amazon UKhttps://www.amazon.co.uk/Mary-Rosies-War-Catherine-Byrne-ebook/dp/B07D9W7QTC

REVIEW

For me, Mary Rosie’s War felt slightly reminiscent of books by Maeve Binchy and Mary Jane Staples. Although it is set during a very definite period of time, which clearly had a profound effect on each of the book’s characters, the specifics of history are less important than how this history changed the people living through it. Where some historical fiction, and particularly fiction set during the World Wars, in my experience, can become hung up on the facts and figures of the period, losing the flow of the story along the way, Mary Rosie’s War does not do this. The warmth and strength of the characters telling their story shines through in Catherine M Byrne’s writing as each of them faces a very different set of challenges. The sudden arrival of a stranger in their midst, and how each of the main characters deals with this, shows an amazing generosity of spirit at a time when quite the opposite would not have been unexpected.

I fell in love with each of the three strong female voices in this book, although I did have a particular affection for feisty Aunt Agatha, and with the truly good men that surrounded them. Although Mary Rosie’s War is the fifth book in the Raumsey series, it is the first that I have read, and it stands up well as a standalone novel. That said, the style of writing has drawn me in and left me wanting more, so I fully intend to go back and read the series from the beginning.

GIVEAWAY

I am delighted to be able to share with you details of a giveaway being offered by Catherine to celebrate the release of Mary Rosie’s War.

Mary Rosies War - one set of four for prize give a way

Giveaway – 1st Prize – all 4 of Catherine Byrne’s previous books in paperback .
6 x Runners Up Prizes – PB copy of Broken Horizon  (UK Only)

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries only.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter link below.  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.

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

Blog

Made With Love

IMG_1017  I want to take a break from the book chat today to talk about another subject close to my heart. Some of you will know that when I am not reading, or talking about reading, I can usually be found up to my neck in one craft or another. When ill health meant that I was no longer able to work full-time, I felt a bit lost and alone, and trying out new crafts helped keep me sane. One day I was lucky enough to come across a fabulous fabric shop in a town near where I live, and even more lucky to, quite literally, stumble through the door just in time to bump into one of the lovely ladies from the shop’s weekly “Sew Social” sewing group. After giving me the grand tour of the shop, she encouraged me to come along to the group the following week. When the big day came around, I found myself, quite uncharacteristically for me, headed off to spend the morning with a group of complete strangers for a couple of hours sewing. Cut to almost two years later and those strangers have become some of my closest friends, and have been an absolute lifeline for me.

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Anyway, enough about me, that is not really what I want to talk to you about today. What I really want to do is tell you all about a beautiful quilt that these talented ladies have been working on for the past few months. Using the “quilt-as-you-go” technique, they have each produced some lovely squares for the quilt, which have now all been stitched together to produce a 6ft x 7ft quilt (think double bed sized). This quilt is now being auctioned off to raise money for Home-Start Butser, the charity that the recently appointed Town Mayor of Petersfield has chosen to support.

hs-logo   Home-Start Butser is a fantastic charity which operates a team of equally fantastic volunteers who step in to help local families during times of crisis. You can read all about their good work and other fund-raising activities here.

If you would like the chance to make our quilt your own, you can bid in the silent auction from today until Saturday 21st July. Because of the amount of love and hard work that has gone into making the quilt, we are only able to accept bids in excess of £100, and I would stress that we are not able to arrange delivery of the quilt, so if you do bid, you must be able to collect from the Petersfield, Hampshire area. All the details of how to do this can be found on the Facebook page, which I would love if you could share the link to:-

Petersfield Town Mayor’s Charity Silent Auction

 

The full terms and conditions for taking part in the auction are as follows (these are also available on the Facebook page):-

  • Please send your bid to madewithloveauction@outlook.com stating your bid, full name, e-mail address and contact telephone number.
  • Bids will be accepted from 21st June 2018 until 21st July 2018.
  • The minimum bid we will accept is £100.
  • Bids will only be accepted from people aged 18 or older.
  • The successful bidder will be notified via e-mail or telephone by 23rd July 2018.
  • Payment is to be made via BACS to the Town Mayors Charity account by 1st August (full details will be sent following notification of the successful bid).
  • If payment is not received by 1st August, the quilt will be sold to the next highest bidder
  • Owing to the size of the quilt, it must be collected by the successful bidder (full details will be agreed following the notification of a successful bid). We are not able to post the quilt.
  • All personal data collected will be used for the purpose of the auction only, and will be deleted upon completion of the auction. With the possible exception of the winner’s name, with their consent, this will not be shared with any third parties.

Happy bidding, and good luck everybody. xx

Blog

Blog Tour – Mary Rosie’s War

I am thrilled that today is my blog tour date for Mary Rosie’s War by Catherine M. Byrne. I was able to put a few questions to Catherine, and am delighted to share her responses with you here. You can also read my full review of the book here, but in the meantime, Catherine was kind enough to share an extract from the book with us. At this point in the book, WW2 has been declared and Mary Rosie’s brother has already been called up. Many of Mary’s friends have volunteered and she longs to be with them. However, her widowed mother does not want to let her go and since she is only seventeen she needs parental permission.

From the distance came the deep drone of a solitary plane.

‘Doesn’t sound like one of ours,’ said Ellie, pulling a moue of distaste. ‘Could that be Jerries?’

The girls looked at each other, smiles slipping, their hands clutching their cups. At dusk on 16th March an attack had been made on Scapa in Orkney by fifteen enemy bombers. Four officers were killed and several officers and ratings wounded. That event, though many miles to the north, made the war real.

‘I’m no sure…’ Rita’s voice was lost as the thunder of the plane became so loud it could have been right outside. The girls rose as one and crossed to the window. ‘Bloody hell, that’s close,’ said Sally.

Suddenly the world around them seemed to erupt. Cups rattled in saucers, the building trembled.

Customers leapt to their feet and ran out of the door into High Street, desperately looking for a place of safety. A pall of smoke belched from the direction of the harbour as another explosion rent the air and flashes of fire and thick black clouds rose from down-river.

‘Oh my God,’ someone screamed. ‘They’re bombing the town.’

A woman dropped her shopping basket and ran past the girls. ‘Ma bairns,’ she screamed, ‘I left them playing…’

Everything seemed to happen at once. The clanging of the fire engine’s bell, children crying, people running around like confused ants as the managers of shops and banks herded them into the relative safety of their cellars.

‘It’s personal now,’ screeched Sally. ‘Why are they bombing us?’

An old man stood with one hand against the wall, the other clutching his walking stick. ‘I knew it’d happen,’ he said, as he struggled to catch his breath. ‘I knew that airport would attract them. The devil’s work if you ask me. And all these servicemen. What are they doing here? They should be away fighting, not billeted in good folk’s houses…’ He stopped and coughed, phlegm rattling in his throat.

Mary didn’t pause to answer him, but made to go across the bridge towards River Street.

‘Get inside, in the basement,’ someone shouted, grabbing her arm as air raid sirens, woken from their reverie, shrieked too late. She shook the hand off. Many of the lads and lassies she knew worked at the harbour which was the obvious target. Her uncle Jimmy ran his own coopering business there.

Nevertheless, she followed her friends into the cellar of the Royal Bank which was by now crowded with shocked pedestrians.

The all-clear sounded as, having unleashed its deadly cargo, the plane turned up river, guns rat-a-tat-tatting until they faded into the distance. The shaken shoppers emerged into the acrid afternoon. Coughing, Mary inhaled air dense with smoke. The sea of bodies scattered erratically as two heavy horses thundered towards them, ears flat, eyes white and rolling in terror. Mary squashed herself against the wall as they passed.

Word bounced from person to person, desperate voices shouting the news, ‘They’ve hit Bank Row. They’ve hit Bank Row.’

There had been no warning, no siren, no previous bombs dropped anywhere on mainland Britain, no reason for folk to suspect that death and devastation would rain down from a sunny blue sky on a residential area. Bank Row was a busy place with several shops, kilns and a pub. It had been a toss-up whether the girls went to the tea rooms there or the cafe in High Street.

The air seemed to have been sucked from the day. All around her people were crying or standing motionless. An ashen-faced policeman with shocked eyes stepped in front of her holding out both arms, barring the way. ‘Sorry, girls, no one’s allowed down there. It’s dangerous.’

She stopped and took a backward step. ‘The harbour…?’ she asked, icy fingers clutching a heart that beat all the way up to her neck. Apart from Uncle Jimmy, many of her friends worked down there gutting the herring.

‘I’ve no idea. Now keep back. Please…just…keep back.’

Numb with shock, the girls watched until the first of the stretchers was carried towards the waiting ambulance. A small mound completely covered by a blanket. A child.

From the centre of town the clock struck the hour. ‘I…I have to get my bus.’ She didn’t want to leave, wanted to know the extent of the devastation, needed to know. She would have gladly stayed in town had there been any way of getting word to her mam, who would be worried sick and, also, there was no other means of transport home to John O’Groats that night.

I would like to say a massive thank you to Catherine M Byrne, and to Rachel’s Random Resources for the opportunity to take part in this blog tour, and for providing me with a copy of the book. If you would like to read more about this delightful book, have a look at the other blogs taking part in the tour.

Mary Rosie's War Full Tour Banner

 

Book Review

Legendary (Caraval #2) – Stephanie Garber

51bmaeHrI-L._SY346_I am a massive fan of Stephanie Garber’s debut, Caraval, so, as my friends could tell you, I was more than a little excited to get my hands on this little beauty. The enticing world of Caraval is full of magic that is both wonderful and terrible in equal measure. The vivid descriptions of the world that the mysterious Legend creates draw you in and make you wish that you could join the game, but at the same time make you pray that you never find yourself there. In a world of games and make believe, you can drive yourself crazy trying to make sense of what is real, and what is just a performance for the participants.

Legendary starts just hours after the end of Caraval, but although the game is over, it is still impossible to tell who can really be trusted and who is playing a role. Told from Tella’s point of view, the new game of Caraval, held in honour of the Empress Elantine, has an altogether darker feel. Set in the very real streets of Valenda, rather than a magical world of Legend’s creation, it becomes harder than ever to know what is real and what is just part of the game. This lends a sinister air to the whole book, and creates an even higher level of tension.

Whilst Scarlett remains my personal favourite of the sisters, this book would not have worked if she was the one playing the game. I find that Tella comes across as somewhat conceited, but it is her impetuous nature that is essential for the game to play out as it must.

Stephanie Garber’s world building, with its beautiful descriptions and fatally flawed characters, draws you into the book, much as the Dragna sisters were each drawn into the game of Caraval, and leaves you doubting whether you can truly believe what you have read. All I can say is, I hope there is a third book to follow this one, because I have many, many questions that need answers! Now, if I can just track down my very own Deck of Destiny…