Guest Author Annie Thomas

Today our guest is Annie Thomas author of yesterday’s book “A Woman’s Choice”. Here is a link to the review if you missed it.

annie no_logo authors241

Let’s find out more about Annie.

1) Where is your home town?

I was born in London, but now live in a small village in Gloucestershire.

2) How long have you been writing?

I first started ‘A Woman’s Choice’ over 20 years ago, but I haven’t taken that long to write it! Our son was born as I was near the end of the first draft in the early 1990s, and full time work combined with family life meant that the writing stopped. I thought many times about going back to it, but never quite got there. When he left home to go to University, I reread it and was determined to get it published.

3) A Woman’s Choice is set in the early 20th Century, what do you love about this period of history?

Partly because it was living memory for some people when I was a child, which gives me a sense of connection – I remember asking my grandmother about what life was like when she was young. We have so much information about that period – photographs, film, documents – that it almost seems part of my own history, even though it isn’t! It’s a particularly poignant and significant time – Europe was heading towards a war which most of the population did not foresee, and after which nothing would ever be the same again.

4) Tell us a bit about the boat trip for Clara, how long would it have taken?

In 1901 Clara travelled on an old steamship, with a cheaper crossing fare – her voyage took about 10 days. The newest steam ships could make the Atlantic run much more quickly, 5 or 6 days depending on conditions. Between 1880 and 1930, more than 27 million people made the journey from around the world.

5) What opportunities was America offering travellers?

During the first decade of the 20thC, over 9 million people predominately from across Europe made the voyage.  They came with high hopes, seeking new lives to replace the financial hardship or persecution that they experienced in their homelands.  Many went straight through New York to the agricultural and mining centres in America, like Meg and her family. Many, such as Clara and her mother, stayed in the cities, and did not always find that the streets were paved with gold.  A few with determination, courage, and luck found their way to the prosperity they all desired.  Many more found themselves in poor living conditions and exploited in menial jobs.

6) When Clara finds a place for her mother and herself to live, she is showing her strength of character once again, do you agree?

Yes, Clara had to grow up very quickly. I think she had always known how much her mother had relied on her father, and after his death she had to learn not only how to fend for them both, but to do so in a way which enabled her mother to keep her self respect – not easy. Having to do that very early in life stood her in good stead for the difficulties she encountered later on.

She is persistent – she doesn’t give up – and retains her inner core of self-belief which she needs to sustain her.

7) Tell us about jobs as singers in music shops.

In the early 20thC in New York particularly, music stores, department stores and publishers used to employ singers and piano players to help sell new sheet music. They were called ‘song pluggers’ or ‘song demonstrators’. It was the way for prospective buyers to hear the music before making a purchase, before the days of mass recording or listening booths. Even George Gershwin and Jerome Kern did it!

It was a great start for Clara, she learned so much from the experience – and not just about music.

8) Luke’s car business was at the cutting edge of invention, how exciting do you think it must have been to be in it from such an early stage?

I think it must have been terrific – high risk, taking a gamble, but with sense of confidence that he could make it work. It was entirely in tune with the sense of optimism born from a new century and a new country. He believed in himself – just as Clara believed in him. And what he wanted to do was so different from the prevailing Henry Ford philosophy of ‘any color as long as it’s black!’

9) What are you working on at the moment? Do you have an expected publication date?

I’ve started the research and structure for a second novel, but it’s very difficult to predict a publication date. I suspect it’s probably at least 12-18 months away. It will be another historical novel, and I am meticulous about the research. Everything that happens to Clara in ‘A Woman’s Choice’ is based on what really happened to women of her class in that period. The next novel will have to have the same credibility.

10) Where can fans find out more about you?

I have a web site –

When something attracts my attention I sometimes tweet about it!

Happy to follow and be followed! @annie_writer

Thank you very much Rosie, I’ve really enjoyed answering your questions today.

A Woman's Choice

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You’re very welcome, good luck with the next book. 

A Woman’s Choice by Annie Thomas

A Woman's ChoiceA Woman’s Choice by Annie Thomas

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A Woman’s Choice spans approximately 18 years of Clara Foley’s life. It begins just after the turn of the 20th Century, with young Clara. At nearly 12 years old she and her mother are about to embark on a steamer bound for America where they intend to start a new life. Turned out of their home after Clara’s father died, their only hope came in the offer of assistance from Clara’s Aunt in New York.

This book is about the strength of women. Clara must be strong where her mother is weak from grief. In a reversal of roles Clara is forced to care for her mother. Whilst crossing the Atlantic they make friends on the boat, some of whom will have significant parts in Clara’s life.

In the early years in New York, Clara and Jenny stay with Aunt Emma and Uncle Bill, but conditions are cramped and they need to find a place of their own. Clara supports them by working in a garment sweatshop, but her ambition is to be able to sing. She must start at the very bottom of the ladder and it’s a hard life until she gets her first chance singing popular songs in the music department of Staceys.

It’s Clara’s determination and drive which get her where she is, she pushes her agent to find her an audition for a show and again she works her way up. She’s supported by her good friend Michael O’Halluran and other strong women, Noreen and Margo.

The return of Luke Rutherford adds another chapter to Clara’s life, with his ambition to build and sell motorcars. The friends enter into business at a time of prosperity for some, while Europe plunges into war. With Michael gone to England to join the war, Clara feels adrift. News from France will set Clara back on her feet as she once more makes her own choice about her destiny.

I really enjoyed this book, the struggle to survive, the strength of women, the history of the times, well worth a read.
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Annie will be joining us on the blog tomorrow as our guest do come back and find out more about her writing.

Letter R on The A to Z April Challenge 2014

Today’s letter on the April A to Z Challenge is R. My Book is Red Clay and Roses by S. K. Nicholls. Genre: Historical, Life & Relationships.

Red Clay and Roses

Red Clay and Roses by S.K. Nicholls

Book description-

A fictionalized true story of life in the Deep South during the time of Jim Crow Law, and before Roe vs. Wade. Women were supposed to keep quiet and serve, abortion was illegal, adoption difficult, and racism rampant. The discovery of an old ledger opens a window into the dynamics of the 1950s-60s. Unspoken secrets are shared between Beatrice, The Good Doctor’s wife, and Moses Grier, their black handyman. The Grier’s daughter, Althea, suffers a tragedy that leaves her family silent and mournful. Her brother, Nathan, a medical student, looks for answers from a community that is deaf, blind, and dumb. A summer romance between Nathan and Sybil, an independent, high-spirited, white woman, leaves more unresolved. Nathan is thrust into the centre of the Civil Rights Movement. Sybil is torn between living the mundane life of her peers, or a life that involves fastening herself to a taboo relationship. Witness social progress through the eyes of those who lived it!

You can read my review of the book here and find out more about the author from her guest post.

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Find out more about S.K. Nicholls here;

S. K. Nicholls


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Here are some links to other bloggers who are taking up the A to Z Challenge, please find the time to visit them too.

During the challenge we are asking people to leave as many comments as possible on blogs, and supportive comments are much appreciated, thank you.

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Red Clay and Roses by S.K.Nicholls

Red Clay and RosesRed Clay and Roses by S.K. Nicholls

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Red Clay and Roses steps back in history to Georgia and the deep south at a time where people struggled to survive and where changes to segregation and inequality faced fierce resistance.

The stories within are written around an old accounting ledger, found many years later, after it was hidden away. Hannah Schmidt pieces together the events and lives of the characters who were associated with The Good Doctor. She interviews relatives and follows leads from which she tells the reader of the everyday lives of a group of people whose destinies became entangled. There is passion, love, fear and survival written over several decades during which the American nation was forced to change laws and move into a new direction.

We meet the Good Doctor who ran a double accounting system and provided a much needed, but illegal, abortion service. Mrs Bea, his wife, who was left alone after he died to face her own guilt about what the doctor did. Moses and his family are the black help who live in a shack on the Good Doctors land. The Good Doctor goes on to sponsor Nathan, Moses’ son, through school and sets him up to train as a doctor. Then there is Sybil, a young, independent white women who wants to start her own business running a salon in town.

The lives of the characters show some great hardships. There was such prejudice and fear of stepping over the acceptable line. This book is like a window in time which lets us peek at history in the making.

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S.K.Nicholls will be our guest on the blog tomorrow, do come back and read more about her and her book.

Gone by Christine Kersey

Gone (Parallel Trilogy, Book 1)Gone by Christine Kersey

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Morgan is a 16yr old American teenager who act rather immaturely when she argues with her Mum. She decides to run away and after a night in the woods she finds herself in a parallel universe.

Unable to find her family, Morgan finds herself in a world full of thin people where the government fights obesity through the F.A.T programme. (Federally Assisted Thinning) Morgan eventually find her family, but everything is different. She tries to fit in, whilst making a plan to return home to her own world as quickly as possible.

The idea behind the book is perhaps to appeal to teenagers and the YA market of readers, encouraging them to think about their health and the problems of diet and obesity. The book is the first in a series and ends on a cliff hanger with Morgan being taken by the local Enforcers.

Find a copy here from or

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Guest Author L. T. Vargus

Today I’d like to welcome author L.T. Vargus to the blog, yesterday I reviewed her book “Casting Shadows Everywhere” you can read the review here

Image of L.T. Vargus

1) Where is your home town?
I’ve lived in Kalamazoo, Michigan, for about 12 years. Actually, I’m about to go shovel a foot of snow off the of the driveway so I can go to the grocery store before it snows more tonight. It’s like I always tell people: Michigan is a great place to live if you like a lot of snow and murder.
2) How long have you been writing?
I’ve been serious about writing for about 4 years. I was interested in writing and stories from a pretty young age, though.
3) How do you see the title of your book “Casting Shadows Everywhere” fitting with the storyline?
I think of the “shadows” in the title in terms of the archetype – so more like the dark side of humanity instead of literal shadows. Nick casts his shadow on Jake in the story, and as he does so he basically reveals that all of his ideas are based on the underlying messages all around us in advertisements and wars and slaughterhouses and the way people treat each other and other beings in general. The idea that morality isn’t really real is sort of all around us these days, and Nick is following that premise to its logical conclusion. That’s the shadow that’s being cast everywhere, to me. It’s open for interpretation, though. I mean, they’re creeping into dark places, so I think there’s a literal connection as well.
4) You’ve written the book from the point of view of a 15 year old boy, how much of a challenge was that as you are female?
Jake is based on a mixture of some people I knew in high school. I knew them pretty well, so it wasn’t that hard to write from that point of view. I guess the idea of writing from the perspective of a different gender might be a little overrated in terms of difficulty. If you want to sound like the average 15 year old boy, just mention boobs a few times and you’re well on the way to authenticity in my experience.
5) The storyline took quite a sinister turn for Jake, what made Jake turn away from the road of no return?
I think Jake’s self-awareness catches up at the end. I liked the idea of a seemingly self aware character that slowly starts deluding himself over the course of the story and becomes a less and less reliable narrator. I don’t know if I executed that as well as I’d hoped. Anyway, grasping the logical conclusion of Nick’s teachings snaps Jake out of it at the last minute.
6) Do you think much of the storyline reflects issues that teenagers in America face today?
On a literal level, I actually think the book is tame in some ways and over the top in others. Loads of kids are drinking, smoking weed and having sex on a regular basis by Jake’s age. He’s really shy, so he’s barely dabbled in those. On the other hand, the majority of teenagers definitely aren’t burgling all that much. Morally and philosophically, though, I think the issues are relevant.
7) Would you agree that learning to live your life and finding a reason to get out of bed each morning is worth more than winning the lottery?
 There are many examples of lottery winners’ lives falling apart shortly after they get the money, and studies have suggested that earning anything above $75,000 a year doesn’t actually make anyone happier. So yeah, I think finding things to be passionate about and people to connect with both mean a lot more than money.
8) Are you working on your next book? Can you tell us about it?
 I actually have a few different works in progress, and I don’t know which will be finished next. If I had to guess, I’d say that the next to be released will be a comedy about a slacker girl in her late 20’s that seeks revenge by trying to ruin the wedding of a girl that tormented her in high school. It’s a lot lighter than Casting Shadows Everywhere.
9) Do you have an expected publication date for fans?
I’m hopeful that it will be out in the summer or fall of 2014.
Thanks again for the awesome review and featuring me on your blog. I really appreciate it.
Casting Shadows Everywhere – Goodreads,,
Thank you L.T for being our guest today and good luck with the next book.

Saving Jackie K by L.D.C. Fitzgerald

Saving Jackie KSaving Jackie K by L.D.C. Fitzgerald I recently hosted a book boost for this book during my AtoZ Challenge, so when I saw it as a free download on kindle I jumped at the chance to read a genre which challenges me.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was a difficult read for me because my English history education didn’t cover any of the Kennedy era of America. I recognised some of the names of the main players, but knew little about them. I got a bit bogged down with the science too, but once I’d got my head around the fact that the story involved true facts and characters with the fiction I let it flow over me and focused on the well written story line. There is lots of action as scientists travel back 50 years to change to past and thus the future. Sci-fi and fast paced action packed fans will probably love this.

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My Year of doing good, May 1st

So having managed to complete a couple of weeks of doing good deeds. I head in to May. For those of you who are bamboozled by this post, it all started when I read a book called “A Year of Doing Good” by Judith O’Reilly. It inspired me to start my own attempt to do a good deed a day for the year. Here is a link to my post about her book I’ll be posting my weekly reports on my challenge on Sunday’s, it feels like an appropriate day.

A Year of Doing Good: One Woman, One New Year's Resolution, 365 Good Deeds. by Judith O'Reilly

May 1st – Whilst visiting my Mother I helped her sort out a few snags on her computer. Blogged about the May edition of Fleet Life where I have a monthly page of book reviews, 5 authors got a free promotion for their books today! I know it made at least one of them have an unexpected smile on their face! Made a date to meet up with some of my anti-natal group (No! I don’t have something to tell you!) We’ve been friends now for over 16 years!

May 2nd – After the busy April A to Z Challenge, today I returned with a guest author interview on the blog, Donna Childree, got her moment of fame today. Made lots of new friends during the challenge who I now regularly keep in touch with over the net. Sent a good friend an e-mail to keep in touch.

May 3rd – Instead of procrastinating I actually loaded up my car with filled bags and boxes for the charity shop and delivered them today. Part of me felt relieved that I’d done my good deed, the rest of me squirmed in anguish at my haste to throw things out, what if I need it? Posted another guest author interview, today Melda Beaty got a chance to shine. Signed up for several more blogs in a post AtoZ Challenge day of reflection.

May 4th – With the weekend upon us I didn’t know where I would find the chance to do my good deed today, but I found 2! Firstly I remembered to take a large bag of dead batteries with me when I went out so that I could dispose of them at the supermarket in the special collection unit. (This should mean that they don’t go into landfill waste) Then there was the opportunity to make a donation to the RSPCA who were collecting just outside of the store.

Good deeds

May 5th – Wrote a letter to a friend whom I haven’t caught up with for a while, and visited new friends on the blogging scene.

May 6th – Bank Holiday Monday, and I struggled to find a good deed today. The only things that count are spending an hour with my Mum and popping another coin in to my slowly filling jam jar. Some how it didn’t feel enough.

May 7th – Today I wrote a 5* review of a book called “The Doctor’s Deceit” It’s written by Kathy Steinemann and she’d asked me to review it. It is a sequel to her book “Vanguard of Hope” which started from a set of diaries. The  review was based on what I read and I thought the book was very well written. It deals with rape and sexual abuse victims in America in the 1800’s and also tackles racial abuse. The Sapphire Brigade are a secret society who try to help the victims and deliver justice.  After I’d written the review Kathy told me that she is going to keep writing these books to help support other victims. Her third book is going to involve letters from victims in today’s world which she hopes to incorporate into her book, thus giving them a place to vent their feelings. I’m glad I gave Kathy this review and hope that it will help raise awareness for her books and her cause.

May 8th – Baked cakes to take round to have with coffee at a friend’s house. Still visiting several bloggers everyday and leaving comments.

May 9th – Picked up litter at the park. (realised I often pick up litter without giving it much thought )Posted a book cover release post for an author and a book review for another.

May 10th – Spent the evening getting frozen to the bone, whilst watching my son’s cricket match. Was able to help clear everything away at the end as my good deed today. (Amazing how many people suddenly have something better to do when clearing up need doing!)

May 11th – Made a donation whilst I was out to a charity helping injured troops with prosthetic limbs and high spec wheelchairs.

One Woman’s choice by Karen Whitaker

One Woman's ChoiceOne Woman’s Choice by Karen Whitaker This book had a place in my 2013 April A to Z Challenge. Karen then invited me to read and review her work, which I have the pleasure of providing for you below.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Karen Whitaker’s book reveals her life from its start in the 1960’s in America, it was a challenging life at times, filled with struggles including; prejudice, single parenting, step children, half-brother and sisters. We feel Karen’s pain as she grows up in an extended family where love was often needed more than it was given. Karen’s family, peers and religion shape some of her later choices involving abortion, adoption and her own single parenting. Karen hopes that her book will help others who find themselves with similar choices to make in their own lives.

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Morgan’s Run by Colleen McCullough

I’m half way through Morgan’s Run by Colleen McCullough. 883 pages is quite a huge challenge. To start with I was disappointed as I believed it was going to spend the majority of the book in Australia. Colleen McCullough is also the author of The Thorn Birds and I had visions of another epic with the delights of a character played so well by Richard Chamberlain in the film version.

However as the story rolls on the need for the background and the scenes being set become obvious. The appalling conditions of convicts and the decisions of the governments of the day to deport prisoners are eye-opening. I look back and wonder at the karma, we sent our worst people firstly to America and then to Australia. Today Britain looks to America for direction and superiority, while others of us flock to emigrate to Australia where a new life is full of attractions!

Today we take sea and air travel for granted. I’ve just been reading the part where the fleet of boats set sail from Portsmouth to Teneriffe, then they flowed with the currents across the Atlantic to Rio de Janeiro before setting back off to catch the seas which will take them back across to South Africa. I don’t think anyone should moan about it taking just 24 hours to fly from London to Sydney! Will hope to let you know about the rest of the book soon.