#BookReview By Lou of Mothers and Daughters By Erica James @TheEricaJames @HQstories #MothersandDaughters #FamilyDrama #Fiction #BookRecommendation

Mothers and Daughters
By Erica James

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Today I am pleased to be on the blog tour for Mothers and Daughters By Erica James. Thanks to publisher – HQ for inviting me and providing the e-book. Mothers and Daughters is a compelling story of family life and revelations. Families can be more complex than what they may first appear to be in this sweeping family drama.
Find out more about it in the blurb and the rest of my review below.

Mothers and Daughters cover

Blurb

Even happy families have their secrets…

Since the sudden death of her husband, Naomi has steadily rebuilt the life they shared in the village of Tilsham by the sea.

Her eldest daughter, Martha, is sensible and determined – just like her father was – and very much in control of where her life is going. If she could just get pregnant with her husband, life would be perfect.

Willow, the youngest, was always more sunny and easy-going, yet drifted through life, much to her father’s frustration. But now, with charming new boyfriend, Rick, she has a very good reason to settle down.

The three women are as close as can be. But there are things Naomi has kept from her daughters. Like the arrival of Ellis, a long-lost friend from way back, now bringing the fun and spark back into her life. And she’s certainly never told them that her marriage to their father wasn’t quite what it seemed…

The Sunday Times bestselling author Erica James returns with this gloriously compelling tale of mothers and daughters, secrets and love.

Review

The beginning is rather fun and shows up some of the idiocincrasies of the English language. Mothers and Daughters has plenty of wit and warmth throughout it as well as well-kept secrets that seep out into the fore…

Martha, who has Tom, would really like nothing more than a baby. She’s not just sensible, she is one for following every single rule, plus she has a plan and direction for where she wants her life to go. She is also super organised with a list containing everything she is going to do. She also really cares about her mum, who likes to do her bit for the community they live in and is newly widowed. Willow is the complete opposite in manner as she is much more easy-going. There is also Rick, who is quite controlling.

Exploring the characters and the dynamics between them is compelling to read as you see how the relationships between them and the manner in-which they do, evolve and change, especially between the mother and her daughters as a crisis forces certain secrets to come to the fore. These have a major impact on the family, significantly shifting the dynamics and perceptions of each other. As the characterisations unfold, readers get a good chance of really getting to know them well and belong with them on the page until the end as the characters all navigate their way through their lives and the revelations that come out.

The book is gripping and not all is as cosy as the title may suggest with its darker themes that are explored alongside the lighter ones in its short, very engaging chapters.

MothersAndDaughters_BTB_V2

 

#Review of Letters From the Past by Erica James @TheEricaJames @orionbooks #LettersFromThePast #RandomThingsTours #BlogTour

Letters From the Past
By Erica James
Rated: 5 stars *****

Thud!!! The book hit my doorstep in quite a fashion, life no other. It is incredibly welcome post, rather than the anonymous letters the characters within this book recieve. It is a book I am so excited at being invited by Anne Cater for the blog tour. Today I present my review of Letters From the Past, which is a glorious read from start to finish and is highly addictive. I also thank the publisher – Orion Books for sending me a delightful advance review copy (ARC) of the book.
Here you will find out a bit about the author, the blurb and my review.

 

About the Author

Erica James Author PicErica James is the number one international bestselling author of twenty-two including the Sunday Times top ten bestsellers Summer at the Lake, The Dandelion Years and Song of the Skylark. She has sold over 5 million books worldwide and her work has been translated into thirteen languages.
Erica won the Romantic Novel of the Year Award for her novel Gardens of Delight, set in the beautiful Lake Como, Italy, which has become a second home to her. Her authentic characters are thanks to the fondness of striking up conversations with complete strangers.

Blurb

A compelling story of family, love and betrayal.

Autumn 1962, in the idyllic Suffolk village of Melstead St Mary, four women recieve anonymous letters which threaten to turn their lives upside down – and to unravel a secret that has been kept hidden for years.

Meanwhile, in the sunbaked desert of Palm Springs, Romily Devereux-Temple is homesick for her beloved Island House. But on her return, shocked by events in her absence, she finds herself reluctantly confronting her own long-held secret. Can Romily save the day, and seize some happiness for herself at the same time?

 

Letters From the Past cover

Review

Focussing on the late 30’s/ early 40s, but predominantly the early 1960’s, this is one totally fascinating story of secrets, posion-pen letters and relationships, history. This book has it all I loved it all. This is wonderful book that shows so much life and yet can be read with consummate ease as it has a magic of drawing you into everyone’s lives without a second thought. This is a book that spans across many generations and would appeal to many generations.

The book starts with the scars of the war. The book fascinates me because it mentions about the RAF (my step-great-grandfather was part of the RAF in both world wars). The book also takes readers to Bletchley Park, which has just always interested me.
Then there’s the 1960’s, such an interesting period of time. From beginning to end I just loved this book, it swept me up instantly and carried me away. Time didn’t matter, I was hooked and kept wanting to know more about the people within Melstad St Mary in Sussex and in Palm, Springs and the secrets that mount up.

Poisoned pen letters appear on people’s doorsteps. Every so often you get to see what the accusatory content of these letters are. There are twists and turns and abuses of power to be discovered in this book. It may be set in between the 40’s and the 60’s, but some of the themes feel very current.

Hope is an author and she and Romily helped get a small library off the ground. Again, this makes me smile because I know myself what it takes to do that, as I’ve done that in recent times. Funny how books can resonate with people, and that’s the thing with this book, there is plenty to capture people’s imaginations and plenty that people who did live through certain periods of time, will have memories of.

There are many characters to meet, but they are  nicely split up into short chapters of mostly the main characters, with others being weaved in. The book is just over 500 pages, but it really does not feel it because the chapters are so short, the story so absorbing from beginning to end. There is also the fact that the characters are divinely interesting and the more the book delves into them, the more I wanted to know about them, their lives and why they were getting the poisoned pen letters.

The book begins with Evelyn, such an interesting character with immense secrets from having worked in Bletchley Park. It is interesting seeing Evelyn’s life in the 1940’s and in 1962. There is Isabella, an actress who had finally made it and wasn’t only starring in films, but being recognised. Meanwhile there is Romily, who has impressively hidden a secret for a long time. There’s a love story going on with Stanley and Annelise (He is illiterate and insecure and yet reinvented his life, but still nervous around women. His scars from war and the way his own mother treated him are telling as his life story opens up more, revealing darker beginnings. Red is a Hollywood scriptwriter, but all isn’t well.
There’s also a glimpse into abusive relationships, abuses of power. There are twists and turns in all of the characters lives, no one’s life is straight forward.

This is a glorious book sweeping over history of the world war and 1962. Lots of the events are all mentioned from the storm, to Australia doing a £10 deal to attract UK citizens to set up residency there. It is fun reading about the dance moves to pop songs that were becoming trendy. The book glides along beautifully in its mix of fiction and historical facts and always at the centre of it all are the characters and their lives. I love that Erica James isn’t too heavy-handed on getting every fact down. The balance between fact and fiction is perfect. The story is perfect. This book has made me want to read many more books by Erica James. Of course I’d heard of her and I’d read a couple of years ago and enjoyed them, but this book has compelled me into wanting to read more.

All in all, I highly recommend this brilliant book, which was published just a few days ago.

*Please note, all views are my own and unbiased.

Erica James Letters From The Past BT Poster

 

An Online/Virtual Event with Erica James @EricaJames #LettersFromThePast #VirtualEvent #NewBook

So, regular readers of my blog will know, that I have been attending some online events and writing some of them up on my blog. Today I sat in a room and watched the author Erica James do a Q&A session. So take a look to find out a snap-shot of her new bestselling book and a little bit about this very successful author.

Letters From the Past cover

A New Book

She has a new Bestseller called Letters From the Past, set in the early 1960’s. It may be a large book, but the chapters are lovely and short and it sounds a book that many will enjoy. It is a sequel that to Coming Home to Island House, but stands perfectly well as a standalone.
Erica James talked of her sons living in Seattle and Tokyo and it was when she was in Seattle with her son there, driving by movie stars houses, that she then decided to set the scene for her character.
I have been very lucky in being given the opportunity to review this wonderfully interesting sounding book on the 20th of April, so you will find out my thoughts and a little more about the story then, that will hopefully inspire you.

Inspiration

A place, something she sees, something that touches a nerve can inspire her.

Swallowtail Summer is set in Norfolk and for research she read up on, which she sounded quite taken by, and then travelled there to be in situ.

Pastimes

Erica James likes watching  some sport such as ice-skating and  gymnastics, her icon there being Olga Korbut. Her favourite sport of all is F1 racing. She also likes to do gardening and knitting. She clearly enjoys reading too as she has many books on her shelves.

Writing and Reading

For budding writers, she says read, write words on the page and don’t worry about who will read it, it might just be for you and that’s okay and enjoy the process.

Erica started writing as a hobby for escapism and then went on a writers course and a conference and it sounded like someone helped her out and she got an agent from Curtis Brown, who she is still with and got published by Orion. The writing came from a love of reading and she wondered if it was as fun writing a book as it was reading and it turned out, for her, it is and she has now written many books.

The covers of books have changed over the years to suit a new audience and as fashions change, book covers change. 

She enjoyed writing Letters from the Past and many of her other books.
She really likes A Woman of Substance by Barbara Taylor Bradford, although perhaps one of its time and people find they themselves change over the years. It was interesting hearing her talk so candidly about going back to a book to re-read after many years.

She says A Breath of Fresh Air is a book of hers that would be great for escapism. I reckon, all of them are really good to try for that.  Also try out her latest, enticing sounding book – Letters From the Past.

A few of her many books

#StayAtHomeFest – A Story by Andrew Leach Event @4ndrewJames #Free #FreeEvent @JanetEmson @yearsofreading #Review

Today I took a look at the storytelling by author Andrew Leach. Over on Twitter he is doing around 20/25 tweets to create a story in 3 parts. If you missed today’s part 1, you can find the story on Twitter. It is called Maneki-Neko about two brothers, each of whom tells their part. 

For a story on Twitter, it reads surprisingly well and is worth reading the next installments. It’s interesting and has some drama and atmosphere to it. The second part is around 1:30pm on Wednesday and the 3rd and final part being on Thursday around the same time. It’s worth checking out to see the story unfold and how something can seem pretty decent when a tweet only allows so many characters. 

Follow for the next part and to check out part 1 via this link: Story by Andrew Leach

It is thanks to Andrew Leach for doing this, so innovately and to Janet, Clare and Carolyn for doing this festival of which it is a pleasure to blog about, when I can attend events. 

#Review of Paper Sparrows by Nathalie Abi-Ezzi – A Beautiful book about family, love, civil-war and more #PaperSparrows @EzziAbi @HhouseBooks #Fiction #libraries #readingcommunity #writingcommunity #readingforpleasure

Paper Sparrows
By Nathalie Abi-Ezzi
Rated: 5 stars *****

Thank you to Holland House Books for trusting me and my blog enough to approach me to choose a book to review. I chose 2 and one of them is Paper Sparrows by Nathalie Abi-Ezzi, which is highly praised by The Guardian, Publishers Weekly, Sunday Business Post, The Financial Times and more… The book is definitely, in my humble opinion worthy of such people praising it. It’s a fabulous book that will take you on a journey out of London to Lebanon to Beriuit. It will also take you on a journey of a perhaps, different life, but one that will have some resonance. It is emotive, powerful and yet subtle at the same time about what was going on in 2006. The book was published early March 2020.

About the Author

Nathalie Abi-Ezzi was born in Beirut, and has lived in Lebanon, Austria and the UK.
It was while working on her PhD in English Literature at King’s College London that she realised that she wanted to write her own novels, rather than just analyze other people’s. So, while working variously with an editor, teacher and tutor, she wrote and published several prize-winning short stories and her first novel, A Girl Made of Dust, was widely praised, and was shortlisted for the Desmond Elliot Prize and te Author’s Club Best First Novel Award, and was the winner of the liBeraturpreis in 2011.

Blurb

Back to Lebanon – to family, love and war…
Layla, a 19 year old music undergraduate, travels from London back to Lenanon for the summer holidays, only to find that her brother has gone missing. Without a second thought, she sets off to find him in Beirut. On her way, she picks up a stray dog, falls in love with Joe, another student, and sees her country through entirely new eyes. But just as she is beginning to pick up clues about where her brother might be, the July war breaks out and turns everything on its head.

Paper Sparrows

Review

What can I say? Amazing, Must Read, Beautifully written. The author captures music, love, civil war, family strains, compassion, warmth, anger incredibly well. I thought I would take a chance on this book and I am so pleased I did. Discover Layla, her family, the country she grew up in and what happens in her life and to the place she called home, all within this fantastic book. This is one of those books I hope many people read. It is more than what you may initially think it is. It is gently written, but the themes are anything but gentle. This is a book with substance and one I find myself hoping everyone takes a chance like I did and read it.

I cannot help but mention is the wonderful cover art. I absolutely love it, with the sparrow and pattern. It is so fitting for this book as, apart from it being called Paper Sparrow, it is set in London, Lebannon and Beirut. From the outset, this is a beautifully written book . It’s a book I felt caught up in and really hope others try reading this amazing and lovely book. This isn’t to say it is a cosy read. The words may drift easily along, but there is bite in this book as the plot builds and builds. It’s a book I highly recommend.

There is life, music and love in the air with the backdrop of civil-war. The way it is all written and joins together is encapsualting, beautiful and sensual. Wherever you live in the world, there is something that people will find relatable or familiar to what they’ve seen on the news, but written so much more subtly as this is also about the spaces in-between the war, where ordinary civilians lives go on.

19 year old Layla is the main character in this book. She is an under-graduate at the Royal College of Music in London and returns to Lebannon to attend a wedding. Imagine being away from your home country and returning to find things are just not quite the same? Layla did. She has been away for quite some time and people have changed. The book pronounces these changes and the feelings about them empathetically. There are also some wonderful and warm memories from her childhood that she reflects on from time to time, especially music.

Ziad – Layla’s brother goes missing. There’s been the pressure of exams put upon him, on-top of a worrying job-market situation and he may or may not want to take over the pharmacy. Something everyone, the world over can relate to, perhaps not the pressure of taking over a family business, but the rest of it. So, Layla goes on a road trip to Beirut to find him, picking up a stray dog along the way. It sounds trivial, it isn’t. The dog becomes more like a friend and she needs it. There is the desperate worry of what could have become of her brother.

This however is no ordinary story about growing up and life changing, this is a story taking place when there is civil war.
It is so well told and a great demonstration of how life can seem quite average and yet have different challenges from many other western countries as there are checkpoints to contend with, soldiers around and the news of what Hezbollah’s leader will do next and where his army will encroach on. This isn’t also your usual political story either. Find out the effects of civil war and family has on a person and find out where Layla goes and her geographical and life journey here. The book may be fiction, but the conflict in 2006 was very real.

There is something for most readers in this book.

Happy World Book Day #WorldBookDay 2020 #Books #Bookish #CrimeFiction #Fiction #NonFiction #Kidslit #PictureBook #HistoricalFiction #History #Romance #Biography #ContemporaryFiction

Happy World Book Day 2020

Happy World Book Day and I hope that everyone is having a fabulous day, however you are celebrating. There are many author events going on around the UK in public and community libraries as well as schools. There are also lots of other bookish events too that can be participated in as you read for pleasure. There are also other ways you can participate in World Book Day, if you cannot attend an event, such as, curling up with a good book and leaving an author a review on Waterstones and Amazon.

Today I am attending a World Book Day Event to hear a talk by rising star Alison Belsham, author of The Tattoo Thief and then it will be my turn to host an event up here in Scotland too on Monday with Liz Treacher – author of The Wrong Envelope and The Wrong Direction.

I also have some great books in my review pile for both adult and children that are being published between this month and summer.

In the pile I am currently reading are fiction and non-fiction books. In no particular order of publication or review dates, look out for book one of a new series by Ben Kane – Made in Battle, Forged in War; Us Three by Ruth Jones (yes, the actor/writer from Gavin and Stacey and author of Never Greener); Eileen – The Making of George Orwell, Eileen was his wife, but not much is known about her, until now…; Paper Sparrows; A Conspiracy of Bones – the latest book by Kathy Reichs; I return to reviewing again for Lesley Kelly for her book Murder at the Music Factory – the latest in the health of Strangers series (read as a series or stand alone); I return to The Bobby Girls series to review the latest book – The Bobby Girl’s Secrets to see what the police volunteers are up to in their second and newest book.

I return to Janey Louise Jones children’s books to see what else Princess Poppy has in store now she has worked out how to save the bees. This time she is tackling plastic. I also will be reviewing for a charity Helping Hands who have had the Duchess of York on board to craete books  about how to tackle bullying, first days at school and strangers. There is a fantasy book to continue the series about Akra The Healing Stone, by Vacyn Taylor and a new book – Snow Child by a new author – Larraine Harrison.

This is just a few of the books sitting on my pile to date that you will start to see full reviews for soon. So, lots of books for you to look forward to exploring and to see what I think of. Coming up very soon are some children’s books and then an adult thriller that Lee Child and many other authors have a lot of praise for.

I of course thank all the authors, publishers and blog tour organisers for all these amazing opportunities to review and of course I thank just as equally, the readers of my blog as without everyone, my blog couldn’t exist.