My #Bookreview of #Scifi #Fantasy The Things We Learn When We’re Dead by @claidlawauthor

The Things We Learn When We're DeadThe Things We Learn When We’re Dead by Charlie Laidlaw
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Things We Learn When We’re Dead is a paradox. It mixes the genres of fantasy and mild scifi. Lorna Love lives in Edinburgh; it is July 7th 2005 and she’s very upset by the news of the London bombings. Later, after a dinner party, she is disorientated and steps in front of a fast moving car.

Lorna wakes to find herself in a research facility called Heaven. Captained by God, Heaven is a ‘mother ship’ lost in space far from home. Irene is assigned to help Lorna with her transition to her new home. Irene, who I found latterly resembled Lorna’s best friend Suzie, is a chain-smoker who constantly calls her ‘petal’, ‘sweetie’ and ‘babe’. In her new home, Lorna can be anything, do anything, or request anything. All she desires is provided by Trinity, an all-purpose provider.

Why is Lorna here? Apparently God felt sorry for her and chose to rescue her over millions of other possibilities. During her transition period she looks back at her life through a series of dreams and memories. As these unfurl, people and events in Heaven reflect her old life.

The idea of this book was to write a modern-day adult version of The Wizard Of Oz. I can see the similarity with the use of the dream-coma scenario which is a well-used story arc. However, I found Laidlow’s Lorna unfeminine in mannerisms and thoughts, particularly in her use of bad language; she seemed more like a man in all but name. I didn’t, at any time, feel that I was inside the head of a woman; emotions, feelings and visual observations so typical of the female mind were generally missing from the narrative, and this excluded any connections I might have felt with the character. For me, I could easily see this book working better, if the author had lead with a male character.

The story is slow at times, due to over-long explanations that added little to the overall theme. I think with a little tweaking this book would be a good read for those with particular interest in the genre.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

With elements of The Wizard of Oz, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and The Lovely Bones, The Things We Learn When We’re Dead shows how small decisions can have profound and unintended consequences, and how sometimes we can get a second chance.

On the way home from a dinner party, Lorna Love steps into the path of an oncoming car. When she wakes up she is in what appears to be a hospital – but a hospital in which her nurse looks like a young Sean Connery, she is served wine for supper, and everyone avoids her questions. It soon transpires that she is in Heaven, or on HVN. Because HVN is a lost, dysfunctional spaceship, and God the aging hippy captain. She seems to be there by accident… Or does God have a higher purpose after all?

At first Lorna can remember nothing. As her memories return – some good, some bad – she realises that she has decision to make and that maybe she needs to find a way home.

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#BookTwins If You Like Game Of Thrones Then You Might Like Jasper By @tonyriches #wwwblogs

Book Twins

“If you read … you’ll like …”

When you’ve read a book, do you sometimes find yourself thinking “oh, that really reminds me of *insert name of another book*”?

Welcome to a new feature, in which my team and I make reading suggestions based on your favourites, be they classics, or newer best sellers.  Our recommendations consider not just genre, but writing style, plot—and that ‘feel’ you can’t quite put your finger on.

This week’s choice is from team member Terry:

If you liked A Game of Thrones by GRR Martin, you might like:


Jasper by Tony Riches

Jasper is the second book in Tony Riches’ Tudor Trilogy ~ you might think this historical fiction based on fact is a strange choice to pair with fantasy epic A Game of Thrones, from the A Song of Ice and Fire series, but all the time I was reading it, I was struck by the similarity.

Jasper Tudor, uncle of Henry VII and great-uncle of Henry VIII, is a fascinating character, and Riches portrays him as the charismatic, adventurous yet flawed hero I imagined—not unlike, say, Jamie Lannister or Robb Stark!  The story takes place during the later years of the Wars of the Roses, flies around England, Wales and France (rather than Westeros), and involves the switching allegiances of dukes and lords, a large cast of characters including a mercenary or two, double dealing, defeat, danger, love and revenge.

It’s every bit as magical, thrilling and exhausting as A Game of Thrones, or any of the others in the series, with one difference – it really happened.  A terrific book!

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Have you read Jasper? Would you agree with Terry?


Fionn: Defense Of Ráth Bládhma by Brian O’Sullivan #Irish #Mythology #TuesdayBookBlog

Fionn: Defence of Ráth Bládhma (Fionn mac Cumhaill, #1)Fionn: Defence of Ráth Bládhma by Brian O’Sullivan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fionn: Defence Of Ráth Bládhma book #1 is a novel set in Ireland in 192 AD. Based on narratives from the Fenian Cycle, this book is one author’s interpretation of the days surrounding the birth of Irish legend Fionn mac Cumhaill.

For those, like me, who are new to this great myth, the basic story is about Muirne Muncháem, fleeing for safety; heavily pregnant, she asks for refuge from her sister-in-law, druidess Bodhmhall. The babe has an ethereal shining spirit which is brighter than Bodhmhall has ever seen, and it quickly becomes apparent that dark forces also seek the child.

At their lonely outpost with just a handful of occupants, little defence and one trusted warrior, Bodhmhall reluctantly accepts help from Fiacail mac Codhna and his two men-at-arms. Together they must face a fifty strong army with a dark side Seer, who seem set on coming for the child.

Filled with magic, heroism, myth and danger, this book grew on me.

Liath Luachra was one of my favourite characters; her choice of body clothing at a crucial battle point was comedic, especially when she ran off in surprise, only to realise she hadn’t fully thought through her plan.

I also liked Fiacail; his persona as a lady’s man hid a noble warrior and wise leader. But it brought a light tone to a tense battle scene. The touches on humour lifted the story, for me, and kept me interested right up until the end. Book #2 will continue the story some six years later.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

The Fionn Series – Book 1: Defence of Ráth Bládhma:

Ireland: 192 A.D. A time of strife and treachery. Political ambition and inter-tribal conflict has set the country on edge, testing the strength of long-established alliances.

Following their victory over Clann Baoiscne at the battle of Cnucha, Clann Morna are hungry for power. Meanwhile, a mysterious war party roams the ‘Great Wild’ and a ruthless magician is intent on murder.

In the secluded valley of Glenn Ceo, disgraced druid Bodhmall and her lover Liath Luachra have successfully avoided the bloodshed for many years. Now, the arrival of a pregnant refugee threatens the peace they have created together.

Based on the ancient Fenian Cycle texts, the Fionn Series recounts the fascinating and pulse-pounding tale of the birth and adventures of Ireland’s greatest hero, Fionn mac Cumhal.

About the author

Brian O’Sullivan was born in county Cork, Ireland. On completing a degree at University College Cork, he went on to travel extensively. He is now based in New Zealand with his family but returns to Ireland on a regular basis.

Brian writes fiction that incorporates strong elements of Irish culture, language, history and mythology. These include literary short stories (The Irish Muse collection), mystery thrillers (The Beara Trilogy) and a contemporary version of the Fionn mac Cumhaill/ Fenian legends (The Fionn mac Cumhaill Series). Brian also edits and writes non-fiction through the ‘Celtic Mythology Collection’ series published by Irish Imbas Books,

Although he writes predominantly for an Irish audience, Brian’s unique style and humour has meant that his books have become firm favorites of readers all around the world.

Brian O'Sullivan

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Rosie’s Review Team #RBRT Novella Tempted By Mr Wrong by @JacqBiggar #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from Shelley, she blogs here

#RBRT Review Team

Shelley has been reading Tempted By Mr Wrong by Jacquie Biggar


Title: Tempted by Mr. Wrong

Author: Jacqui Biggar

Category: Romantic Suspense

My Rating: 4 Star

My Review:

We are introduced to Tammy-Jo as she wanders down the rain soaked street in broken heels after being humiliated by her husband at the Country Club. Immediately we get the impression of a strong woman who, despite her predicament, is still sassy.

Jason arrives on the scene like a knight in shining armour (or rather, a cute chap in a Mustang) and we begin to learn there’s a history between the two. Pulled together by their parent’s relationship, TJ and Jason are step-siblings, but ten years ago their teenage hormones got the better of them, and they explored a relationship. It was Jason who suddenly walked away without explanation and TJ is still hurting.

Married to Tim, a power-hungry man, TJ has tried to suppress her feelings for Jason but having him back in her life is quite a jolt.

Jason’s return is not as innocent as it seems. He wants to visit his mother who is dealing with dementia, but he also still loves TJ. Seeing her again stirs up all the old feelings. Unfortunately, there’s also the small fact that he is there to investigate TJ’s father with the intention of sending him to jail.

Within the first few pages, we uncover the simmering passion that TJ and Jason still have for one another all while falling over the dead body of TJ’s husband on the front lawn.

Who killed Tim? Is TJ involved? What secrets is her father keeping?

I liked this book. It was well written, and I could connect easily to the characters. If I’m honest, I don’t think it was long enough. It didn’t go deeply into the criminal activities or the investigation around the death of TJ’s husband, and I would have loved to find out more about the dark dealings. There were secondary characters whose stories didn’t get their full potential due to the short length. However, this means there’s scope for a spin-off.

It’s a sweet romance where the hero and heroine play tug of war with their feelings, but it’s wrapped up nicely at the end. There is also a sensitive side plot about dementia, and this is tastefully done. It’s a hugely distressing disease, and the author handles it well.

All in all, Tempted by Mr. Wrong was a good read.

Book description

How can something so wrong, feel so right?

Falling for her step-brother is a mistake T.J. doesn’t want to repeat, but one look into those sapphire blue eyes and she’s ready to give him whatever he wants.

Tammy-Jo Hawthorne’s marriage was floundering, but she never expected her husband to make her the laughing stock of Magnolia.

And she definitely didn’t expect to trip over him in their front yard after he’d been murdered.
Jason McIntyre was forced out of his home and the love of his life by the man who’d haunted his nightmares for ten long years.

Now Jason’s back–and he wants revenge.

About the author

JACQUIE BIGGAR  is a USA Today bestselling author of Romantic Suspense who loves to write about tough, alpha males and strong, contemporary women willing to show their men that true power comes from love.
She is the author of the popular Wounded Hearts series and has just started a new series in paranormal suspense, Mended Souls.
She has been blessed with a long, happy marriage and enjoys writing romance novels that end with happily-ever-afters.
Jacquie lives in paradise along the west coast of Canada with her family and loves reading, writing, and flower gardening. She swears she can’t function without coffee, preferably at the beach with her sweetheart.

Jacquie Biggar

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[Blog Tour] A Place Called Home by @TaniaCrosse @Aria_Fiction #WW2 family saga series

A Place to Call Home: An intense and emotive WW2 saga of love, courage and friendshipA Place to Call Home: An intense and emotive WW2 saga of love, courage and friendship by Tania Crosse
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A Place Called Home is a World War Two-based family saga, set mainly in Kent and follows characters which readers first met in Nobody’s Girl. The book spans the full duration of the war years, and shows how Meg Chandler coped and lived through the terrors.

Meg currently lives on the estate of industrialist Wigmore (known as Wig) Stratfield-Whyte, where she runs the farm. Having lost both her parents in an accident, Meg is offered a place in the home of Wig and Clarissa until her twenty-first birthday. She would dearly like a farm of her own, but with the looming war, her dreams must be put on hold.

Men from the estate are called up to serve in the war, but there’s just time for Meg to marry gardener sweetheart Ralph before he flies off with the RAF. Clarrisa and Wig have also opened their home to evacuees from London. Having previously lost a child, Clarissa is keen to step into a parental role for the London children.

What I liked about the book: I loved the setting with the large house, grounds and country living. Although I hadn’t read book #1 of the series, I often enjoy books about the homefront during war years.

What I didn’t like so much: The book has an epic list of characters, far too many for me to ever feel I got to know any of them very well. I was also in danger of being overwhelmed by the quantity of wartime nostalgia within the pages. I felt just a sprinkling of nostalgia would have worked better. Large chunks of dialogue are taken up with info dumping of wartime details, which should have been avoided for the sake of character realism.

I thought there was lots of potential to make the book edgy with the dangers and fears of the war, the suffering and the sinister threat to Meg, which overhang from book #1. But, for me, the book was watered down by nostalgia and lost the chance to make a voice for itself. It certainly covers the highs and lows of the war years, but I wasn’t convinced that it brought anything new to the genre.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

About the book

An intense and emotive WW2 story of love, courage and friendship in the face of the horrors and hardships of war. Perfect for the fans Jo Cox and Nadine Dorries.

Thrown together by tragic circumstances some years previously, Meg and Clarrie’s hard-won friendship eventually brought them both some sense of peace. But how deep do their feelings run, and how long can their happiness last?

The outbreak of war brings a new set of concerns and emotions, especially with the arrival of the evacuees who come to share their home and lives.
Can they unite to form a bond powerful enough to sustain them through the darkest days of war?
And what will happen when an enemy from Meg’s past comes back to haunt her?

The heart-warming sequel to Nobody’s Girl.

About the author

Delaying her childhood dream of writing historical novels until her family had grown up, Tania eventually completed a series of published stories based on her beloved Dartmoor. She is now setting her future sagas in London and the south east.

Follow Tania


Twitter: @taniacrosse

Available on NetGalley:

Buy links:




Google Play:

This blog tour was brought to you by Aria Fiction

Follow Aria


Twitter: @aria_fiction

Facebook: @ariafiction

Instagram: @ariafiction

My #BookReview Of cosy #Mystery Dark Clouds Over Nuala by @HarrietSteel1 #SundayBlogShare

Dark Clouds Over Nuala (The Inspector de Silva Mysteries Book 2)Dark Clouds Over Nuala by Harriet Steel
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Three Point Five Stars.

Dark Clouds over Nuala is book #2 of The Inspector De Silva Mysteries. Set in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) in the 1930s at the time of British Colonial Rule, this book combines, contrasts and conflicts with traditional culture.

Inspector Shanti de Silva enjoys a quiet life in Nuala; his English wife, Morris car and garden are his delights. He works with Sergeant Prasanna and Constable Nadar, whilst reporting directly to British Assistant Government Agent Archie Clutterbuck.

Clutterbuck has organised a hunting party at a mountain camp known as World’s End, but the police are called in when a suicide occurs. The case is complicated when the body cannot be found and several members of the party come under suspicion. The investigation becomes hampered by de Silva’s British bosses, who have their own political agendas which leave de Silva frustrated. In a slow unravelling, de Silva perseveres until he has solved the mystery.

Beside the main plot, Steel weaves multi-cultural aspects showing examples of both work and marriage relationships. I enjoyed the beautiful descriptions of food and local scenery. The book also includes interesting snippets of the British Empire. The narration and dialogue are both typically polite and drawn out, perhaps as one would expect of the time and setting. I often felt unable to read the book any faster than the speed of life dictated.

This is a slow paced mystery and one I would recommend to readers who enjoy learning about historical settings and cultures in equal parts to their love of a cosy mystery.

View all my reviews On Goodreads

Book description

Set in Ceylon in the 1930s, this second book in the Inspector de Silva Mysteries offers another colourful, relaxing read as the arrival in the hill town of Nuala of the heir to an English earldom signals more trouble for the hapless Inspector de Silva and a new mystery to solve. Throw in a mega-rich Romanian count, his glamorous countess and an enigmatic British army officer and the scene is set for an entertaining mystery.

About the author

Harriet Steel published four historical novels before turning to crime with the Inspector de Silva mysteries. Her work has also appeared in national newspapers and magazines. She is passionate about history and blogs about it at

Harriet Steel

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT #WW1 Michel and Henry Go To War by Avan Judd Stallard

Today’s team review is from Liz, she blogs here

#RBRT Review Team

Liz has been reading Michel and Henry Go To War by Avan Judd Stallard



My Review

This first book of The French Bastard Series is set in France more during the First World War.  We are plunged straight into the horror and detritus of trench warfare where Michel and Henry drop into, “a trench filled with a mix of blood, shit and dead men.”  Not content to die needlessly in no man’s land, Michel leads Henry into a dangerous attack on the German gunners.  As a result of their success they are granted R & R, which they choose to take in the mountains Michel knew from his youth.

Along the way we encounter other characters including Emile, a French soldier bound for the hell-hole of Verdun, Ernie a tall Australian truck driver whom everyone likes and Kranz, a German killing machine with a mission, who treats enemy warriors with respect.  Initially Michel and Henry spend their time drinking, fornicating and using foul language, but soon they are embroiled in more perilous adventures after a breakout by German prisoners of war.  Michel is always bold and courageous, Henry, a reluctant soldier but a faithful friend.  They move from one battle to another and the book is littered with carnage including intricate detail of the anatomical damage caused to bodies by each bullet or weapon.

Their final escapade runs in parallel to the completion of Franz’s mission and it is at this stage that the plot gains pace and excitement.  There is a satisfactory denouement to a tragic story.  If you want to read about the terror and inhumanity of World War One, described vividly and realistically then this is the book for you.  If you prefer your adventures to be more sanitised then look elsewhere.

Book Description

Book description

A Frenchman in the British Army fighting Germans on the Western Front? That’d be a bastard—the illegitimate son of the French President, forbidden by father to join the fray. Under an assumed name, Michel joins anyway. Except now he cannot escape the war that follows every step of the way as he and Henry—his comrade in arms—seek rest and recuperation in the mountains. Instead of wine and women, they find Germans and a secret plot to destroy France’s hub of munitions production. Cut off and outnumbered, they recruit a motley army comprising a women’s auxiliary and an old farmer with a big rifle and bad attitude. There’ll be no rest for these soldiers, not until Michel and Henry go to war. A cracking action–adventure story for fans of Flashman and The Guns of Navarone.

About the author

Avan now works as an editor—a job that was strangely absent from the TV of his youth. His TV is now a lot bigger and has more channels. He and his wife live in the north of Spain where Avan has been known to take a long winter dip in the cold Atlantic, after which his words are always slurred, though only sometimes on the page.

Along with The French Bastard action–adventure thriller series, he is the author of Antipodes: In Search of the Southern Continent, a history from Monash University Publishing, and the forthcoming novel, Spinifex & Sunflowers, from Fremantle Press. Avan continues to write novels, some of which he publishes.

Avan Judd Stallard

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My #BookReview of magical #Fantasy The Peach keeper by @SarahAddisonAll #fridayreads

The Peach KeeperThe Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Peach Keeper is a magical fantasy romance set in a town called Wall Of Water in North Carolina. The town, at the edge of a national park, is often shrouded in dense fog from the nearby falls.

Paxton Osgood and her family have been renovating an old building known as The Blue Ridge Madam. Once the home of a logging family, it fell into disrepair. Willa Jackson is a descendent of the owners of The Madam, but she’s never stepped into the house, once rumoured to be haunted.

Chairwomen of the Women’s Society Club, Paxton has sent out invites to the clubs 75th anniversary celebrations which will be combined with the grand opening of The Madam. Paxton wants to see the granddaughter of one of the founders of the club (Willa) to bring her grandmother along, but Willa is reluctant.

The discovery of a skeleton under a peach tree in the grounds of The Madam threaten Paxton’s plans. Believed to be the remains of magical travelling man Tucker Devlin, secrets from the past buried with the body come to light; none are more shocking than Nana Osgood’s revelations.

There’s a wonderful magical element to this book, from the storm that caused the invites to be delivered to wrong houses, the store bell that rang when no-one was there, to the magical smell of peaches wafting on the air. Love and true friendship mix with this cosy mystery.

Here are two of my favourite quotes from the book:

‘Happiness means taking risks, and if you’re not a little scared, you’re not doing it right.’

‘If you make room in your life- good things will enter.’

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

Walls of Water, North Carolina, where the secrets are thicker than the fog from the town’s famous waterfalls, and the stuff of superstition is just as real as you want it to be.

It’s the dubious distinction of thirty-year-old Willa Jackson to hail from a fine old Southern family of means that met with financial ruin generations ago. The Blue Ridge Madam—built by Willa’s great-great-grandfather during Walls of Water’s heyday, and once the town’s grandest home—has stood for years as a lonely monument to misfortune and scandal. And Willa herself has long strived to build a life beyond the brooding Jackson family shadow. No easy task in a town shaped by years of tradition and the well-marked boundaries of the haves and have-nots.

But Willa has lately learned that an old classmate—socialite do-gooder Paxton Osgood—of the very prominent Osgood family, has restored the Blue Ridge Madam to her former glory, with plans to open a top-flight inn. Maybe, at last, the troubled past can be laid to rest while something new and wonderful rises from its ashes. But what rises instead is a skeleton, found buried beneath the property’s lone peach tree, and certain to drag up dire consequences along with it.

For the bones—those of charismatic traveling salesman Tucker Devlin, who worked his dark charms on Walls of Water seventy-five years ago—are not all that lay hidden out of sight and mind. Long-kept secrets surrounding the troubling remains have also come to light, seemingly heralded by a spate of sudden strange occurrences throughout the town.

Now, thrust together in an unlikely friendship, united by a full-blooded mystery, Willa and Paxton must confront the dangerous passions and tragic betrayals that once bound their families—and uncover truths of the long-dead that have transcended time and defied the grave to touch the hearts and souls of the living.

Resonant with insight into the deep and lasting power of friendship, love, and tradition, The Peach Keeper is a portrait of the unshakable bonds that—in good times and bad, from one generation to the next—endure forever.

About the author

New York Times Bestselling novelist Sarah Addison Allen brings the full flavor of her southern upbringing to bear on her fiction — a captivating blend of magical realism, heartwarming romance, and small-town sensibility.

Born and raised in Asheville, North Carolina, in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Allen grew up with a love of books and an appreciation of good food (she credits her journalist father for the former and her mother, a fabulous cook, for the latter). In college, she majored in literature — because, as she puts it, “I thought it was amazing that I could get a diploma just for reading fiction. It was like being able to major in eating chocolate.”

After graduation, Allen began writing seriously. Her big break occurred in 2007 with the publication of her first mainstream novel, Garden Spells, a modern-day fairy tale about an enchanted apple tree and the family of North Carolina women who tend it. Booklist called Allen’s accomplished debut “spellbindingly charming.” The novel became a Barnes & Noble Recommends selection, and then a New York Times Bestseller.

Allen continues to serve heaping helpings of the fantastic and the familiar in fiction she describes as “Southern-fried magic realism.” Clearly, it’s a recipe readers are happy to eat up as fast as she can dish it out.

Sarah Addison Allen

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT #HistFic Everybody’s Somebody by @berylkingston @EndeavourPress

Today’s team review is from Jenny R,

#RBRT Review Team

Jenny has been reading Everybody’s Somebody by Beryl Kingston


Book review by Jenny Reeve

Everybody’s Somebody by Beryl Kingston

Chic Lit, Drama, History

This book deserves 5 stars

I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  There are so many historical accounts incorporated into the story, some of which I was unsure if they were true facts or fiction, so I literally Googled the accounts only to find they actually happened! I had a few excellent history lessons while having the pleasure of enjoying a good book. This made the story even more interesting and exciting.

I felt exhilarated moving from one chapter onto the next, desperately wanting to read more of Rosie’s life. There are many up’s and downs folded and blended into the tale and the way in which Beryl Kingston writes is very sympathetic to each situation. She writes with affection, thoughtfulness and care using words to create such heartfelt feelings, bringing the book to life completely.

The relationship between Rosie, her husband Jim and Gerry the artist is captivating. I thought I knew where the story was going but then there would be another unexpected turn and I was taken on a different route.

Wonderfully written, beautifully perceptive.  I loved this book.

Book description

“Life’s for real an’ you got to get on with it.”

Rosie Goodison is not one to shy away from life’s problems. Whether it’s finding work or challenging injustice, Rosie squares her shoulders, sets her chin high and faces it full on.

Born at the end of the nineteenth century, in the rural south of England and sent into service aged just twelve, Rosie quickly discovers that many good people spend their lives toiling for very little reward, whilst others ‘have it all’.

She decides it won’t be like that for her. Why can’t she ride in a car? Why can’t she work when she’s pregnant? Why can’t she live in a nice flat? Why can’t she be an artist’s model?

Whilst working as a housekeeper for two upper-class boys, Rosie starts to learn more and more about the world, gleaned from overheard conversations and newspapers left lying around. This triggers an ongoing thirst for knowledge, which shapes her views, informs her decisions and influences her future.

Rosie aspires to have a better life than that of her parents: better living conditions, better working conditions and pay, better education for her children, to be able to vote, to be able to control how many children she has…

Without realising it, this young woman is blazing a trail for all those who are to come after.

Whilst working in London, Rosie meets her sweetheart Jim, but the The Great War puts paid to their plans for the future, and matters worsen afterwards, as she, along with the rest of society, tries to deal with the horrors and losses.

This heart-warming story follows the events of the early twentieth century – the impact and horrors of WW1, the financial crisis and the rapid social and political changes that took place.

All that remains of Rosie now is a quartet of paintings in an art gallery. The artist, now famous but the model, unnamed and forgotten; nobody of consequence.

But everybody has a life story. Everybody leaves some kind of mark on this world.

Everybody’s somebody.

About the author


I was born in 1931 in Tooting, and when I was four was enrolled at a local dancing school run by a lady called Madam Hadley, which I attended until I was eight when the war began. Because of the war my school career was – shall we say – varied. I was evacuated twice, the first time to Felpham which is near Bognor Regis and the second to Harpenden in Hertfordshire, and consequently went to ten different schools. I ended up at Streatham Secondary School, an LCC grammar run on the Dalton system, which offered a few lessons as sparking points and then required pupils to be responsible for their own learning, either in study rooms with their teachers on hand to help and advise, or on their own in the library or the school hall. It suited me to a T. Then to King’s College London, where I read English and enjoyed myself a lot, but wasn’t particularly distinguished, having other things on my mind by then.

I am proud of the fact that I was in Tooting for the first four months of the blitz, and only left it to be evacuated again when our road was bombed and our house was uninhabitable. I spent the middle part of the war in Harpenden and returned to live in London again at the end of the war at the time of the V2’s, this time without my family.

When I was just sixteen I met the love of my life, who arrived on my doorstep in Air Force blue one February evening in the coldest winter on record. Despite heavy opposition from my parents, we married three years later during my first year at King’s and spent the next 53 years 11 months and 6 days living more and more happily together. We had three much loved children and five much loved grandchildren and once I’d embarked on my career as a novelist, researched all the books together, which was great fun. We finished work on ‘Gates of Paradise’ six weeks before he died. So this publication is special to me.

I have enjoyed two careers in my life – as a teacher from 1952 to 1985 (with ten years off to bring up my family, which some might consider a third career) and as a published writer from 1980 to date. I am also, although it sounds immodest to say it, an easy and charismatic public speaker, usually unfazed by any audience no matter how big or how small or what questions they might throw at me.

In the two schools where I was head of the English department, I deliberately covered the full range of age and ability, believing that as I was paid the largest salary I should carry the heaviest responsibility. My work was filmed by KCL Education Department for use in their PGCE course and I have given talks at various colleges and schools on a variety of educational subjects, from teaching poetry to ‘tackling’ sex education. I have never subscribed to the Gradgrind theory of education which is current now, but always believed that the job of a teacher is to enable her students to learn.

I have always been a political animal, taking part in street demonstrations, walking from Aldermaston to London, involved in the 1945 election despite the fact that I was only fourteen, taking to the streets again, along with a million others, to protest against the Iraq war when I was 72.

And as a last and rather lighter touch, I was a beauty queen in 1947. It wasn’t all protests!

Beryl Kingston

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#Newrelease My Review of The Truth And Lies Of Ella Black by @emily_barr @penguinrandom #EllaBlack

The Truth and Lies of Ella Black by [Barr, Emily]The Truth And Lies Of Ella Black is a dark, intriguing story that, with a seventeen-year-old protagonist, is suitable for both young and adult readers. The crossing out of Ella’s name in the title certainly piqued my interest before I had even read the first page.

The story covers a timespan of forty days in Ella’s life. At the start, she is an ordinary teenager enjoying a school holiday. An only child, she attends an all-girls school and enjoys art. This, however, is where ‘normal’ ends. There are two sides to Ella: the good girl tries to behave well, work hard and fit in with her schoolmates, but Bad Ella is always lurking in the background…

Bad Ella demands time and space. Bad Ella is strong, frightening and unpredictable; when she demands to be let out, Ella has to lock herself in her room, lest she escape.

The story takes another turn when Ella’s life brings forth a sudden, dramatic change. Rio de Janeiro is a place Ella has always had on her bucket list, and now she’s there. She’s thrilled, but would have preferred time to plan the trip—especially as she arrives still dressed in her school uniform.

It’s clear her parents have been hiding something from her, and, when she discovers the truth, Bad Ella takes over. Fleeing from her parents, Ella tries to piece together some clues about her parents’ deception, whilst coming to terms with having been lied to. Determined to remain hidden, Ella bravely takes to the streets of Rio.

I really enjoyed the Brazilian setting. Ella’s double threaded story, the unravelling of the truth about her past and her personal evolution, had several unexpected developments which kept the momentum of the story going well. I didn’t guess the ending, which was not what I expected, and I wasn’t disappointed.

I liked Ella; she’s brave, spontaneous and determined, and certainly had me rooting for her, especially when she was on the Rio streets. I could easily picture the neighbourhoods, from the tourist spots to the shanty towns, with possible dangers around every corner. I was particularly impressed by Ms Barr’s depiction of the younger people, who I found delightful; they jumped off the page into my imagination, and I really liked them.

The forty-day timeline over which this story was told parallels historic stories which also mark time by this length, and match Ella’s own journey to find answers. The first book I read by this author was The One Memory Of Flora Banks; if you enjoyed that, like me, then I think you’ll like this book too.

Book description

Ella Black seems to live the life most other seventeen-year-olds would kill for . . .

Until one day, telling her nothing, her parents whisk her off to Rio de Janeiro. Determined to find out why, Ella takes her chance and searches through their things.

And realises her life has been a lie.

Her mother and father aren’t hers at all. Unable to comprehend the truth, Ella runs away, to the one place they’ll never think to look – the favelas.

But there she learns a terrible secret – the truth about her real parents and their past. And the truth about a mother, desperate for a daughter taken from her seventeen years ago . . .

About the author

Emily Barr worked as a journalist in London but always hankered after a quiet room and a book to write. She went travelling for a year, which gave her an idea for a novel set in the world of backpackers in Asia. This became BACKPACK, an adult thriller which won the WH Smith New Talent Award, and she has since written eleven more adult novels published in the UK and around the world. THE ONE MEMORY OF FLORA BANKS is her first novel for young adults. She lives in Cornwall with her partner and their children. Visit her website at

Emily Barr

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