The Garden of Lost and Found by Harriet Evans | @HarrietEvans @headlinepg @annecater | #blogtour #bookreview #publicationday

Delighted to host a stop on publication day for The Garden of Lost and Found by Harriet Evans. My thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for the invitation to join and to the publisher for my beautiful review copy.

Author : Harriet Evans
Title : The Garden of Lost and Found
Pages : 480
Publisher : Headline
Publication date : April 18, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Nightingale House, 1919. Liddy Horner discovers her husband, the world-famous artist Sir Edward Horner, burning his best-known painting The Garden of Lost and Found days before his sudden death.

Nightingale House was the Horner family’s beloved home – a gem of design created to inspire happiness – and it was here Ned painted ‘The Garden of Lost and Found’, capturing his children on a perfect day, playing in the rambling Eden he and Liddy made for them.

One magical moment. Before it all came tumbling down…

When Ned and Liddy’s great-granddaughter Juliet is sent the key to Nightingale House, she opens the door onto a forgotten world. The house holds its mysteries close but she is in search of answers. For who would choose to destroy what they love most? Whether Ned’s masterpiece – or, in Juliet’s case, her own children’s happiness.

Something shattered this corner of paradise. But what?

| MY THOUGHTS |

It’s been a while since I read a family saga but I was quickly reminded of why they make such engrossing stories. Especially when they are as brilliantly written as this one. It took just a few pages for me to be swept along and become absolutely captivated.

The Garden of Lost and Found is centred around the Horner family and a painting. Ned Horner used to be quite the well-known artist and “The Garden of Lost and Found” was his masterpiece. It captured his children on a beautiful day, playing in the garden of their beloved home, Nightingale House. But in 1919, a few days before his death, Ned destroys the painting.

Now, Ned’s great-granddaughter Juliet returns to Nightingale House for the first time since her grandmother died. True to form, there are a lot of family secrets to discover but most importantly, there is a mystery to be solved. Because what could possibly have driven Ned to destroy his most famous painting?

The Garden of Lost and Found is full of complex characters, some a bit more flawed and unlikeable than others, yet all incredibly realistic and believable. For most of the novel, I was mostly drawn to the chapters set in the past. I suspect that’s the crime fiction lover in me, who was desperately trying to figure out the answers before Juliet did in the modern day setting. And to be quite fair, her children drove me up the wall. Yet it also brought home how different things were generations back when the kind of behaviour they display wouldn’t have been tolerated for a second.

Despite having had The Wildflowers on my shelf for the longest time, this was my first introduction to Harriet Evans. I really enjoyed her writing style as it’s beautifully descriptive. At times it felt as if I was right there at Nightingale House, hearing the rain patter on the windows, smelling the glorious scents from the garden, maybe even hear a mouse skitter across the floorboards.

At almost 500 pages, this isn’t exactly a quick read but at no point did it drag or become boring. It never felt like a long book as I became completely immersed and invested in these characters’ lives, losing myself within the pages. The Garden of Lost and Found is an engrossing, enchanting and sometimes emotional story about family, love and secrets. I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with these characters and I will definitely be reading more by Harriet Evans.

The Garden of Lost and Found is available to buy!

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Waterstones | Wordery

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Harriet Evans is the author, Going Home, A Hopeless Romantic, The Love of Her Life, I Remember You, Love Always, Happily Ever After and Not Without You. Before becoming a full time writer Harriet was a successful editor for a London publishing house. She lives in London with her family.

This Week in Books (April 3)

Hosted by Lipsy Lost and Found, my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I’m reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words.

| LAST BOOK I FINISHED READING |

Nightingale House was the Horner family’s beloved home – a gem of design created to inspire happiness – and it was here Ned painted TheGarden of Lost and Found, capturing his children on a perfect day, playing in the rambling Eden he and Liddy made for them.

One magical moment. Before it all came tumbling down…

When Ned and Liddy’s great-granddaughter Juliet is sent the key to Nightingale House, she opens the door onto a forgotten world. The house holds its mysteries close but she is in search of answers. For who would choose to destroy what they love most? Whether Ned’s masterpiece – or, in Juliet’s case, her own children’s happiness.

Something shattered this corner of paradise. But what?

| THE BOOK I’M CURRENTLY READING |

A serial killer is burning people alive in the Lake District’s prehistoric stone circles. He leaves no clues and the police are helpless.

When his name is found carved into the charred remains of the third victim, disgraced detective Washington Poe is brought back from suspension and into an investigation he wants no part of.

Reluctantly partnered with the brilliant but socially awkward civilian analyst, Tilly Bradshaw, the mismatched pair uncover a trail that only he is meant to see. The elusive killer has a plan and for some reason Poe is part of it.

As the body count rises, Poe discovers he has far more invested in the case than he could have possibly imagined. And in a shocking finale that will shatter everything he’s ever believed about himself, Poe will learn that there are things far worse than being burned alive…

| WHAT I’M (PROBABLY) READING NEXT |

Every marriage has secrets. Everyone has flaws. Your wife isn’t perfect – you know that – but then again nor are you.

But now a serial killer is on the loose in your small town, preying on young women. Fear is driving your well-behaved young daughter off the rails, and you find yourself in bed late at night, looking at the woman who lies asleep beside you.

Because you thought you knew the worst about her. The truth is you know nothing at all.

Don’t be surprised if my next read changes. I’m a tad indecisive this week 😂

What are you reading this week? Do let me know! You wouldn’t want to be responsible for my TBR running out, now do you? 😉

Happy reading! xx

Wartime Brides and Wedding Cakes by Amy Miller @AmyBratley1 @bookouture #blogtour

Delighted to host a stop on the blog tour for Wartime Brides and Wedding Cakes by Amy Miller today! My thanks to Kim Nash at Bookouture for the opportunity and the review copy!

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Author : Amy Miller
Title : Wartime Brides and Wedding Cakes
Series : Wartime Bakery #2
Pages : 230
Publisher : Bookouture
Publication date : March 7, 2018

aboutthebook

January 1941: As Charlie Barton tiptoes silently out of the house one cold winter morning to go off and fight for his country, his wife Audrey is left to run the family bakery on her own.

Times are tougher than ever, but at the Barton Bakery in Bournemouth, Audrey is determined as always to serve the town with love, loaves and cakes, even as the town is reeling from the struggles of the Blitz.

Audrey’s brother William has returned from battle with serious wounds. His fiancé Elsie is waiting for wedding bells, but William is a changed man, and will her hopes be in vain?

Bakery helper Maggie has her heart set on dashing officer George. But will George still want to marry her when he discovers the truth about her family?

And Lily, Audrey’s stepsister, is struggling to raise her illegitimate baby and facing judgement from many in the town. The man who broke her heart returns with an offer, and Lily faces a hard decision about where her future lies.

When disaster strikes the bakery, Audrey fears that everything she has worked for may be ruined. With her shop threatened and her family in turmoil, can she fight to save everything she holds dear?

mythoughts

If you’ve been following my reviews, then you know this isn’t exactly the type of book I tend to go for but as soon as I finished the previous book in the series, Heartaches and Christmas Cakes, I knew I couldn’t wait to catch up with Audrey and her family and friends again. All these characters wormed their way into my heart from the beginning and I very much care about what happens to them.

Audrey’s husband Charlie has gone off to war, leaving her and Uncle John to run the bakery. Meanwhile Audrey’s brother William has returned injured and is clearly struggling with something, while stepsister Lily is having a tough time dealing with motherhood. On top of that, either Audrey is losing her mind or someone has been stealing her supplies. But as we’ve learned in the first book, Audrey isn’t one to take things lying down and she will do whatever it takes to get her family through this war as unscathed as possible.

I find this series immensely entertaining and uplifting. Full of likeable characters, it’s incredibly easy to sympathise with them and their circumstances and I adore that the spotlight is very firmly on all the women who showed immense strength on a daily basis to make sure their families were safe, that there was food on the table, that they managed to find joy in the little things when the world around them was falling apart while all the time worrying about fathers, husbands and sons who were off fighting.

Audrey, her family and friends and indeed their entire little community are an inspiration to us all. As hard as the times were, life went on and they had to make the most of what they had. Life is short, you never know what tomorrow will bring so live for today. And in the case of this story, that does indeed include wartime brides and wedding cakes. I look forward immensely to catching up with these characters again in future!

Wartime Brides and Wedding Cakes is available for purchase!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

Amy Miller lives in Dorset with her husband and two children. New to saga, she has previously written women’s fiction under a different name.

Twitter

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Alice’s Secret by Lynne Francis @Sabah_K @AvonBooksUK #blogtour #extract

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Alice’s Secret by Lynne Francis. I have an extract to share with you all today but first, here’s what the novel is all about.

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Author : Lynne Francis
Title : Alice’s Secret
Series : The Mill Valley Girls #2
Pages : 400
Publisher : Avon UK
Publication date : March 5, 2018

aboutthebook

Alys’s life hasn’t quite turned out the way she thought… By now she should be married, have children and working in a career she loves. How did she end up making all the wrong choices? Escaping to Yorkshire to help out her aunt by baking cakes and cookies for her café might be just the change she needs. Only to uncover a long-buried family mystery, one that Alys can’t let go…

1890s Alice is the sole bread-winner for her family, working at the local cotton mill. She enjoys her job, until she suddenly begins to attract the wrong attention.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

extract

Oh, my goodness.’ Kate, Alys’s mother, had stopped, cup halfway to her lips, peering at the screen over the top of her glasses. She’d got a new pair of those ready-readers, Alys noticed. Bright-green frames this time: they worked rather well with her silver hair. Kate said that she kept losing them, so that was why she needed to buy more pairs, but Alys suspected that they were a fashion accessory rather than a necessity. Alys had once picked up a pair belonging to her mother and looked through them. The lenses could just as well have been plain glass for all the difference they seemed to make.

‘What’s up, Mum?’ Alys was only half interested. She was used to her mother’s exclamations. Kate had a tendency to be alarmed by the warnings of fraud scams or deadly computer viruses emailed to her by her friends.

‘It’s your Aunt Moira,’ said Kate, glancing up at her youngest daughter over the top of her laptop screen. She paused a moment, arrested – as usual – by Alys’s appearance. Wild hair, scraped back into an elastic band, from which crinkly blonde curls escaped at random. Forget-me-not blue cardigan, rather shrunken, buttoned over one of her signature crêpe-de-Chine dresses, orange flowered this time. 1940s vintage, surely. Where did she get them from? Kate wondered.

And not a scrap of make-up, at a guess. Kate favoured the woven- or knitted-linen look once spring had arrived, in the sort of tasteful shades that also graced her walls. She couldn’t understand her daughter’s taste and style – or rather, her lack of it. She must have inherited it from her father’s side of the family, Kate decided.

abouttheauthor

Lynne Francis grew up in East Yorkshire in the UK but studied, lived and worked in London for many years. It was while she was on a writing course in West Yorkshire that the characters and setting for The Mill Valley Girls novels came into being. She draws her inspiration from landscapes and the countryside, as well as the history of an area, and now that she has moved to east Kent she’s begun work on a new novel, to be set there in the late 1700s.
Ella’s Journey is her debut and the first of three novels about the same family, covering the period 1850 to the present day.

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Tall Chimneys by Allie Cresswell @Alliescribbler @rararesources #blogtour #extract

It’s my pleasure to join the blog tour for Tall Chimneys by Allie Cresswell today! My thanks to Rachel for the invitation! I have a wonderful extract to share with you, right after I tell you a little something about the novel.

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Author : Allie Cresswell
Title : Tall Chimneys
Pages : 417
Publisher : n/a
Publication date : December 12, 2017

aboutthebook

Considered a troublesome burden, Evelyn Talbot is banished by her family to their remote country house. Tall Chimneys is hidden in a damp and gloomy hollow. It is outmoded and inconvenient but Evelyn is determined to save it from the fate of so many stately homes at the time – abandonment or demolition.

Occasional echoes of tumult in the wider world reach their sequestered backwater – the strident cries of political extremists, a furore of royal scandal, rumblings of the European war machine. But their isolated spot seems largely untouched. At times life is hard – little more than survival. At times it feels enchanted, almost outside of time itself. The woman and the house shore each other up – until love comes calling, threatening to pull them asunder.

Her desertion will spell its demise, but saving Tall Chimneys could mean sacrificing her hope for happiness, even sacrificing herself.

A century later, a distant relative crosses the globe to find the house of his ancestors. What he finds in the strange depression of the moor could change the course of his life forever.

One woman, one house, one hundred years.

extract

Tall Chimney’s remote and secluded situation means that it is the ideal place for clandestine political meetings. In 1936, its owner, Colin Talbot, uses the house to entertain his right wing friend Oswald Mosley and to try to espouse others to the Fascists’ cause. One of those invited is Edward VIII, a known admirer of Hitler’s Nationalism, and, with the King, comes Mrs Simpson.

Tea with Mrs Simpson

She was huddled into a small armchair she had pushed as close as possible to the fire. She was poking ineffectually at it but it hardly emitted any heat – somebody had put damp logs on it and only a thick, acrid, yellowish smoke rose from the grate. Mrs Simpson wore a thin cardigan over a plain blouse. The scarf she had worn earlier was draped across her shoulders. I have no doubt the cardigan was cashmere and the blouse and scarf both silk, but they seemed to provide no warmth. Her face was pinched; a deep frown slashed her bony forehead which her starkly parted hair made very prominent in her face. I could see she wore a good deal of make-up but it did not disguise her discomfort. Bright red lipstick made her mouth seem very wide, and emphasised a blemish on the left side of her chin. Apart from the poker her hands were empty; she didn’t seem to have any reading material with her, or anything at all to occupy the lonely hours she must have known she faced while the men talked.

I bobbed a curtsey – probably wrong – and went across to fire to mend it, taking the poker from her hand, which was ice cold.

‘I’ve been sent to see if you need anything, ma’am,’ I said. ‘I can see immediately that you do.’

She gave me a wan smile and leant back in her chair as though exhausted. I soon had the fire burning better, and pulled the thick curtain across the window, to block out the draught. I lit the lamps and rang the bell. ‘Bring tea,’ I said, ‘hot tea, and toast, and that thick mohair blanket from the settle in the hall.’

I took the liberty of tucking the blanket around her legs while she dozed, easing off her high heeled shoes and chafing her feet, which were frozen. She allowed my ministrations without a murmur, and when the tea came I poured her a cup without asking and placed it on a table at her side. She roused herself enough to drink it, both hands cupping the fine porcelain, before lapsing back into sleep. Satisfied I had done everything I could to bring her ease, and with the fire now burning very brightly and the room altogether more cheerful and comfortable, I gingerly took another armchair and settled to my sewing.

Presently I looked up to find her eyes on me. ‘What’s your position here?’ she asked.

I decided it was pointless to prevaricate. ‘I hardly know,’ I admitted, putting down my work. ‘I am Colin Talbot’s sister. I live here permanently but you wouldn’t call me the lady of the house. Up until a few weeks ago I lived here alone, practically.’

‘Ah! You’re the reclusive sister.’ Her American accent was pronounced; it would be clichéd to call it a drawl but it certainly had a languorous quality to it.

I felt a brief surge of anger. Her privacy had been protected at all costs, I fumed. Everything had been cloak-and-dagger to the extent I hadn’t even known she was coming. My affairs, in contrast, it seemed, had been thoroughly discussed. ‘I’m not a recluse,’ I retorted. ‘At least, not by choice. It seems to have been my fate, though. It’s the part that has fallen to my lot, for good or ill. I can’t deny, before the visit of these gentlemen, and yourself, Tall Chimneys has had no visitors since 1929.’

‘Good God!’ she ejaculated, and then, more musingly. ‘What bliss.’

We sent for more tea. She smoked cigarettes. I told her what I could about the house – its history, as far as I knew it, about my brother George and the difficulties his death had caused. She seemed very interested to know how I had coped, all alone. ‘I wasn’t quite alone,’ I mumbled, ‘not all of the time, anyway.’

‘I see,’ she said, knowingly. ‘Now I think about it, something was mentioned. I know Mr Cressing’s work, in fact. I attended an exhibition of his, I believe.’

I said, wryly ‘It seems you know all my secrets.’

‘Don’t you know, dear, there are no secrets,’ she replied, bitterly.

We spoke of John for a while, and of the art scene in general. Mrs Simpson was surprisingly well informed. As I described John’s work I was conscious of a pit of longing for him deep in my stomach. ‘I wish he was here,’ I blurted out at last.

‘I’m sure you do,’ she said, warmly.

From the library the hum of masculine voices had been growing louder as we talked. Subliminally I had heard the tread of feet along the corridor, the chink of glasses on a tray. ‘The men have called for drinks,’ I said. ‘They must want whisky instead of tea. Perhaps the meeting has come to a close.’

‘I’d like some whisky too,’ Mrs Simpson said, stretching her feet out and groping with a silk-stockinged toe for her shoes. ‘I ought to go and freshen up. Will you show me the way?’

I showed her up to her room where, I was pleased to see, a fire burned and the best towels had been laid ready. Her maid stood by to draw her a bath, evening clothes were laid across the bed and on the dressing table a case of jewels stood open.

‘You won’t join us for dinner, I am told,’ she said to me as she paused on the threshold. I shook my head.

‘That’s a pity. Send the whisky, will you?’

***

Tall Chimneys is available for purchase!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

Allie Cresswell was born in Stockport, UK and began writing fiction as soon as she could hold a pencil.

She did a BA in English Literature at Birmingham University and an MA at Queen Mary College, London.

She has been a print-buyer, a pub landlady, a book-keeper, run a B & B and a group of boutique holiday cottages. Nowadays Allie writes full time having retired from teaching literature to lifelong learners.

She has two grown-up children, one granddaughter and two grandsons, is married to Tim and lives in Cumbria, NW England.

Tall Chimneys is the sixth of her novels to be published.

Twitter | Facebook | Website

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The Liverpool Girls by Pam Howes @PamHowes1 @bookouture #blogblitz #extract

It’s my pleasure to welcome you all to my stop on the blog blitz for The Liverpool Girls by Pam Howes. This is the final book in The Mersey Trilogy and I have an extract to share with you today to whet your appetite. Many thanks to Kim Nash at Bookouture!

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Author : Pam Howes
Title : The Liverpool Girls
Series : The Mersey Trilogy #3
Pages : 294
Publisher : Bookouture
Publication date : November 30, 2017

aboutthebook

Will tragedy tear them apart – once and for all?
It’s 1966 and in Liverpool two sisters are about to have their lives turned upside down…

Sisters Carol and Jackie haven’t had the easiest of childhoods, but as they grow up and begin their own lives both hope for happier times ahead. Stylish Carol works in Lewis’s department store, while Jackie dreams of drama school, and a career on the stage.

But the sisters are heartbroken when they discover they have been dating the same man, and an unexpected pregnancy causes a rift between them. Parents Dora and Joe must overcome their past hurts and help their daughters, despite the meddling of Joe’s second wife Ivy.

As the sisters’ troubles spiral and difficult decisions must be made, can the family pull together – or will Jackie and Carol’s sisterly bond be destroyed forever?

extract

Chapter One

Fazakerley, Liverpool, February 1966

Jacqueline Evans pulled the pillow around her head as her mam Dora bellowed up the stairs for the third time in as many minutes.

‘Jackie, come on, are you getting up today, or what? I’ve a lot to do. If you don’t want to come shopping in town with me, just say so. You can go and take some flowers to Granny’s grave for me, save me having to go over later.’

Jackie groaned and threw back the covers. She sat up slowly and dangled her feet over the bedside rug. Saturday morning, and she’d been hoping for a lie-in. She stared around the spacious bedroom that she’d once shared with her older sister Carol, who now lived in Allerton with their dad and his second wife Ivy. They’d seen little of Carol since she’d started working full-time at Lewis’s department store, and begun dating a new boyfriend. Carol had told Mam it was quicker to get to work as Dad’s house was closer to the city centre than here. Jackie secretly thought that was just an excuse to move out as Carol thought she’d get more freedom to do as she pleased at Dad’s. Mam hadn’t been too happy with her decision. They’d had a few arguments about it. But at eighteen, Carol was old enough to make her own choices and had told their mam so. Carol had lived with Dad for a time when their mam had suffered depression and then again when – due to a wrongful accusation against Mam of child neglect – the welfare department had decided Carol should be returned to Dad’s care. She’d eventually come back to live with their mam and Jackie, but had never been as close to Mam as Jackie was.

Jackie knelt up on her bed and pulled back the floral curtains. They did little to keep out the cold this morning. It was freezing. She chipped at the ice on the window with her fingernail. She’d bet anything that Carol didn’t have ice on her bedroom window; she’d told them they had central heating. For a brief moment she wished that she too had gone to live with Dad and Ivy in their new house, then immediately felt guilty. Mam did her best. Her job as an early-morning cleaner at Fazakerley hospital helped pay the rent and she also ran a small dressmaking business from the spare bedroom, having been a seamstress all her working life. They managed, just about. Mam was fiercely independent and refused to accept money for Jackie’s keep from Dad, even though he constantly offered it.

In a few months it would be Jackie’s turn to look for a job. She finished school in July after O levels, but didn’t have much of an idea of what she wanted to do. Well she did, but Mam didn’t have the money to support her dreams of going to drama school.

Slaving away in a factory was not an option Jackie fancied, she was adamant about that. Although Mam had mentioned Hartley’s paid good money; perhaps she could save a bit for the future and study drama at night school. Jackie yearned for more from life than factory work though. She loved to sing and dance, and as a child she’d attended dancing classes and even taken part in a few shows and Christmas pantos at the Empire Theatre. But the nearest she got to a stage these days was at school. She always involved herself with the annual summer and Christmas shows and enjoyed teaching dance routines to her fellow pupils.

Carol worked in Lewis’s wages office and had told Jackie she might be able to get a job in the store when she was ready, which would also be a great temporary measure. Carol got a discount on her clothes and makeup and always looked dead fab and trendy. Jackie envied her older sister, who was a Mod and had recently had her light brown hair cut short like the model Twiggy. She wore spiky lashes and pale lippy and had told Jackie that her new boyfriend had a scooter. The pair belonged to a crowd that went to all the clubs in town. Jackie hadn’t met the boyfriend, Alex, yet, but she aspired to be a Mod too. Maybe he’d have a mate with a scooter who Carol could introduce her to. She wouldn’t want her hair cutting short though; she preferred to keep it long.

Her friends at school often told her she had a look of Marianne Faithfull with her blonde hair and dark blue eyes. It was her clothes that left a lot to be desired, Jackie thought. Apart from her school uniform she’d hardly anything else to wear. She really needed something new before she was ready to meet a nice lad and start dating. She’d grown a few inches in the last twelve months and the clothes Mam had made her last year were far too short now, even shorter than would be acceptable as mini skirts and dresses. Mam kept saying she’d get cracking and make her some new clothes, but finding the time to do it on top of her cleaning and sewing work was almost impossible, and Jackie didn’t like to mither too much.

Maybe Carol could ask if there was a Saturday job for her at Lewis’s to be going on with, perhaps on one of the makeup counters. It would tide her over and give her a bit of spending money to treat herself. She’d try and see Carol soon. She could sneak a day off school and go into the city; meet her in the Kardomah for a bit of dinner. If they lived in the same house Carol would probably lend her something nice to wear. She may just take up her dad’s invite to stay over at the new place occasionally at the weekend.

‘Jackie!’ Mam’s repeated yell broke her thoughts. ‘I won’t tell you again. If you’re coming with me you need to be ready in ten minutes tops. I’m waiting to go.’

Jackie ran down the stairs and stood shivering in the hall in her nighty. ‘Mam, you get off. I need breakfast first, and then I’ve got some homework to do. I’ll get the bus up to Knowsley this afternoon and take some flowers to Granny’s grave. Shall I put some on Esther’s grave as well?’

Esther was the late wife of her mam’s old boss, who’d been like a second grandma to Jackie when she was little.

‘That would be lovely, chuck. Tidy them both up for me as well, if you will. But go before it gets dark. You don’t want to be hanging around graveyards in the dark and by the time you get back from Knowsley it will be. We’ll be able to get some daffodils to brighten the graves up in a week or two. Esther loved her daffs. So did my mam. I do miss them both.’

Jackie nodded. ‘So do I. Poor old Gran. It was a shame she went so quickly in the end.’

‘I know, love, but her memory loss was bad. It must have been so frightening for her at times and she was in shocking pain with her joints. I don’t think her body could take much more. Her passing was for the best. She’s at peace now.’

Dora’s mother had spent her final years in a nursing home, after being transferred from a residential home where she’d lived previously. A bump to the head a few years ago had set her on the road to losing her memory. Coupled with crippling arthritis in her knees and hips, it had meant she’d been wheelchair-bound for the last few months of her life. She’d been laid to rest in St Mary’s churchyard in Knowsley village, alongside her late husband and baby granddaughter Joanna, Carol’s twin, who’d died shortly after birth.

Dora handed Jackie a ten-shilling note. ‘That should be enough for the flowers and your bus fare. I’ll see you later, love.’

‘Okay, don’t forget I’m going over to Patsy’s tonight.’ Jackie kissed her mam on the cheek and closed the front door behind her.

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The Liverpool Girls is available for purchase now!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

Pam Howes was born in Cheshire. She is a retired Interior Designer who began writing seriously in the mid nineties. 

Pam is mum to three adult daughters, grandma to seven assorted grandchildren, and roadie to one musician partner. She still lives in Cheshire and is currently involved in raising awareness of her home-town’s musical heritage with campaigns to have Blue Plaques erected on the walls of local clubs, The Manor Lounge and The Sinking Ship, where the likes of The Walker Brother’s, The Who and Jimi Hendrix played; now closed, but still firmly in the hearts of Stockport’s recycled teenagers. 

Twitter | Facebook

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Heartaches and Christmas Cakes by Amy Miller @bookouture #blogblitz

** advanced copy received via publisher **

It is my absolute pleasure to join the blog tour for Heartaches and Christmas Cakes by Amy Miller today! Many thanks to Kim Nash and Bookouture for the opportunity and the advanced copy!

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Author : Amy Miller
Title : Heartaches and Christmas Cakes
Series : Wartime Bakery #1
Pages : 259
Publisher : Bookouture
Publication date : October 20, 2017

aboutthebook

December, 1940: All that Audrey Barton wants is her family together for Christmas. But the war changes everything…

The Barton family bakery in Bournemouth has been at the heart of the town for generations: Audrey and Charlie Barton have never been rich, but their bread and cakes – and their love and advice – have enriched the lives of others in the town for many years.

When war breaks out, it doesn’t take long for trouble to arrive on the bakery doorstep. Audrey’s brother William has joined up to fight, and William’s fiancé Elsie fears she may lose him before their life together has even begun. Audrey’s stepsister Lily comes to stay, but Lily is clearly hiding a dark secret.

And a silent and strange little girl is evacuated to the town – will Audrey get to the heart of what is ailing her?

mythoughts

Once again, you find me reviewing a book I wouldn’t normally pick up but I was swayed by the words “bakery” and “wartime” because weird as it sounds, stories set in World War II always seem to intrigue me. If like me, the word “romance” gives you the heebie-jeebies, let me tell you that while there is some of that going on here, it’s not the be all and end all of this tale. So please don’t let that put you off!

Charlie and Audrey Barton run a bakery in Bournemouth when war breaks out in Europe. Charlie wants to sign up to fight but is rejected as his bakery plays an important part in the war effort and for some people bread is the only food they’ll get. I love that the story centres around this bakery and its status in the community as I admit, I never really realised its value.

Audrey wants nothing more than a child of her own and her family around her. But then her brother William goes off to fight and everything changes. When Audrey’s stepsister Lily arrives unexpectedly and Audrey takes in Mary, a young evacuee, life will change forever. Because Lily has a secret and Mary doesn’t seem to talk.

This is such a wonderful story that shows the other side of war. It offers everything you could possibly want. Love, loss, secrets, family and friendships. We get to know these characters who are desperately trying to survive with what little they have. I feel the author truly showed the community spirit that was so important in those days by, for instance, coming together and somehow managing to create a lovely wedding day, seemingly out of nothing.

Charlie and Audrey have to be incredibly inventive to keep coming up with cakes in the middle of rationing when products they’d normally use are suddenly unavailable. It also shows how the world changed when women stepped up and took over jobs that used to be for men only.

I felt all these characters were extremely likeable and I warmed to them all quite quickly.  With a war raging and family members away fighting for months, unable to send news, it’s hard to imagine that life must go on somehow. And in doing so, these people showed amazing strength and resilience. War doesn’t just change lives, it also changes people and some will realise they’re stronger than they thought.

This is the first book in the Wartime Bakery series and I absolutely loved every minute of it! Heartaches and Christmas Cakes is a sometimes heartbreaking, yet also truly heartwarming and uplifting story and I honestly can’t wait to read more about the Barton family and their friends.

Heartaches and Christmas Cakes is available now!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

Amy Miller is the pseudonym of Amy Bratley, who started her writing life working on magazines and newspapers. She has previously written three women’s fiction novels published by Pan Macmillan, the first of which was a bestseller in Italy.

Her day job is being a freelance managing editor of both a vintage interiors magazine and a food magazine, two subjects she’s passionate about.

Amy lives in Dorset with her husband and two children.

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Heartaches and Christmas cakes - Blog Tour