*BLOG TOUR* Competing With The Star – Krysten Lindsey Hager

Genre: Contemporary | Young Adult

Pages: 196

My Rating: ☆☆☆/5

**Potential TW:** The grandpa in this book has lewy body dementia. There’s talks of dementia, parkinson’s disease and nursing homes. If this is a theme that you’d find upsetting, then maybe this isn’t the book for you.

Blurb: The perfect guy, the perfect location. What could go wrong?

Hadley Daniels’s life seems perfect. Before the beginning of sophomore year of high school, Hadley and her family move to a beautiful beach town, where she makes amazing new friends and lands the boyfriend of her dreams. She and Nick form a deep bond, but insecurity sets in when Hadley discovers her boyfriend once had a huge crush on her friend—who just happens to be the beautiful teen TV star, Simone Hendrickson. Nick claims to be over Simone, but then Hadley is blindsided with the news that Nick and Simone kissed after school. Now Hadley must determine who is telling the truth.

Love, betrayal, friendship…who needs TV drama when you’re busy competing with a star?

My Thoughts: When I first went into this book it gave me real High School Musical vibes; all the real issues of a teenager – friendships, relationships and enemies. Something that was a real USP to this book compared with similar YA contemporaries was Nick’s grandpa having dementia. I feel that this is a condition that doesn’t have much mention in literature, especially YA literature, and it’s something that really needs more awareness (I’m saying this as someone with a personal experience of dealing with dementia). This really set the book apart from ones with similar storylines and added way more depth and interest to it – something that wasn’t just a teenage drama.

This book I’d say is more suited for a younger teenager (ages 13-16) as the characters in the book are 15 / 16 years old. I think that the younger teenager could really relate to some of the typical high school issues that occur during the book (friendship group issues, relationship issues etc), however the older reader who left school a long time ago could find them a bit immature and not relatable.

Thank you to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for organising this blog tour!

Purchase Links:

US – https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08W7M7FGW

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B08W7M7FGW

Author Bio : Krysten Lindsay Hager writes about friendship, self-esteem, fitting in, frenemies, crushes, fame, first loves, and values. Her work includes YA contemporary, middle grade fiction, and adult and young adult rom-coms. She is the author of True Colors, Best Friends…Forever?, Next Door to a Star,  Landry in Like, and Competing with the Star, Dating the It Guy, Can Dreams Come True, and In Over Her Head: Lights, Camera, Anxiety.

Krysten’s work has been featured in USA Today, The Flint Journal, the Grand Haven Tribune, the Beavercreek Current, the Bellbrook Times, Springfield News-Sun, Grand Blanc View, Dayton Daily News and on the talk show Living Dayton. She received her BA in English and masters degree in liberal studies from the University of Michigan-Flint.

Social Media Links :

Website: www.krystenlindsay.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/krystenlindsay/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KrystenLindsayHagerAuthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KrystenLindsay

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/krystenlindsay/

*BLOG TOUR* Cuban Heel – Leopold Borstinski (Alex Cohen #5)

Genre: Historical Fiction | Crime

Pages: 248

My Rating: ☆☆☆☆/5

A huge thanks to Emma at DampPebbles Blog Tours for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for this review.

Blurb: Would you work with the devil to build a paradise on Earth?
Jewish gangster, Alex Cohen joins long-time friend and business partner, Meyer Lansky to recreate
Las Vegas in 1950s Havana. When dictator President Batista gives them the opportunity to build
their dream casino complexes, Alex must choose between dancing with this devil or being in debt to
the Italian mob.
If he takes the mafia money then he will be tied to the men who planned his earlier downfall and
removed his mentor, Lucky Luciano from the syndicate. If he refuses their investment then he will be
beholden to the tinpot generalissimo and his bloated ego. But Alex knows that there is more at stake
than mere gelt–now he has his family surrounding him and they will suffer the ultimate price if he
makes a bad decision.
The fifth book in the Alex Cohen series is an historical thriller novel, which tears at the heart of the
Jewish mob’s role in pre-revolution Cuba. Leopold Borstinski’s piercing crime fiction gives each
reader the shocking skinny into the building of modern America.

My thoughts: This is the fifth book in the Alex Cohen series I’ve read and I’ve really loved the way the series has progressed. The series follows the life of Alex Cohen throughout the decades of his life (from the 1910s in book 1 to the 1950s in book 5) and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the series! The books are easy to read and follow but packed full of so much drama that I found myself turning the pages faster than any other book I’ve read! Alex is a character that I really can’t decide whether I love or hate. In the earlier decades of his life I felt sorry for him because he’d been dragged into a criminal world, but he chose to stay in that life (I know it was probably hard to leave a criminal organisation without getting shot).

As anyone who’s been reading my reviews for a while will know, I’m a huge fan of historical fiction. Something I’ve really enjoyed about these books is how it’s covered so many different periods through time, all of which have come with their own quirks. Alex is such a complex character; he’s been well thought through by Leopold Borstinski and Borstinski certainly knows how to write an incredible series of books!

You can read my review on books 1-3 by clicking here

Social Media:
Twitter: @borstinski
Facebook
Website
Instagram

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Via Leopold Borstinski’s website


Published by Sobriety Press on 30 th April 2021

*BLOG TOUR* Heir to the Darkmage – Lisa Cassidy

Genre: Fantasy | Young Adult

Pages: 368

My Rating: ☆☆☆☆/5

PUBLICATION DAY – 22ND APRIL 2021

Blurb: Ambition drives her. Danger thrills her. But magic always has a price.

Twenty years have passed since the Darkmage was destroyed and the war between mages ended. For Lira Astor, the single living heir to the Darkmage, escaping her name is impossible. People still fear what is long dead, and they see in her the rise of another dangerous mage with deadly ambition. Desperate to claw her way free of her grandfather’s shadow, to make her own name amongst the world of mages, Lira is willing to do whatever it takes. Even if that means joining the secretive rebel group looking to restore his vision. Survival is a lesson Lira learned early and often, yet when she is abducted and held prisoner in a deadly game of cat and mouse, she finds herself facing a nemesis she may be no match for. Forced to band together with unlikely allies who challenge everything she believes about what it means to be a mage, she will have to rely on every bit of ruthlessness she possesses.

Because the war may only just be beginning…
…and Lira Astor intends to come out on top.

My Review: Thank you to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for a review. I’ve really been loving fantasy books recently and this book was no exception! What I really enjoyed about the book is how it alternated between the present day and when Lira’s mother first passed away and delved into more detail about her childhood. The way it alternated meant that there was a huge amount of character development in Lira, which I really loved. I must say though, that out of the perspectives, I preferred the story of when she was young!

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Heir-Darkmage-Lisa-Cassidy-ebook/dp/B08X3C64TZ/ 

US –  https://www.amazon.com/Heir-Darkmage-Lisa-Cassidy-ebook/dp/B08X3C64TZ/

Author Bio –

Lisa is a self-published fantasy author by day and book nerd in every other spare moment she has. She’s a self-confessed coffee snob (don’t try coming near her with any of that instant coffee rubbish) but is willing to accept all other hot drink aficionados, even tea drinkers.

She lives in the Australia’s capital city, Canberra, and like all Australians, is pretty much in constant danger from highly poisonous spiders, crocodiles, sharks, and drop bears, to name a few. As you can see, she is also pro-Oxford comma.

A 2019 SPFBO finalist, Lisa has published the YA fantasy series The Mage Chronicles, and is currently working on her latest epic fantasy series A Tale of Stars and Shadow. She has also partnered up with One Girl, an Australian charity working to build a world where all girls have access to quality education. A world where all girls — no matter where they are born or how much money they have — enjoy the same rights and opportunities as boys. A percentage of all Lisa’s royalties go to One Girl.

Social Media Links –

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/LisaCassidyWrites

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/lcasswrites

Website – https://www.tatehousebooks.com/Lisa-Cassidy

Author Interview – Dani Hoots

Dani Hoots is an American author who has published many books, most of which fall under the science fiction genre. I recently read and reviewed The Death of Honor as part of a blog tour, and was desperate to find out more about Dani! The Death of Honor she writes under the pen name Lyra Thorsson (just to clear up any confusion – it definitely confused me!). As I mentioned in my review, this was the first science fiction book I’ve ever read!

At what point did you decide to be an author / publish books?

I don’t think there was a point in my life where I didn’t love reading or writing stories. As for thinking about it as a career, and when I started writing full novels, was in middle school, and then I began self-publishing while in graduate school, so in my early 20s, and haven’t looked back.

How do you overcome writer’s block?

I personally don’t believe writer’s block is a thing. Writing is like any other job to me and I have days where words come naturally and such, and there are days where I’m just distracted, which affects my other jobs as well. I usually try to better myself by eliminating distractions and working on any problems I have going on in my life to better my productivity for everything. 

Was there anything you edited out of a book that you later wished you kept in?

Hmmmm I don’t think so… I have changed parts of my books while editing, but nothing I wish I kept in. 

How do you find the inspiration for new novels and storylines?

Everywhere… From songs to random images to mythologies to different folklore creatures… I have a long list of stuff to write, that’s for sure!

If you were to give one tip to someone wanting to get into writing, what would it be?

Never stop writing! Sounds easy enough, but it’s not. Don’t let anyone tell you to stop and push through any problems. Also, don’t stop to edit, just get the first draft finished first.

Is science fiction a genre you’ve always had an interest in?

For sure! I grew up watching Star Wars and Trigun and I think I have seen Star Wars the original trilogy over 30 times… maybe more.

If you were to switch lives with a character from Death of Honor, who would it be and why?

I feel most connected to Rebecca, as she is my MC, but as for switching lives…. Hmmm probably Mary as it would be fun to be a mechanic, and I would still get to have adventures and not be connected to a psychopath…

If Death of Honor was made into an audiobook, who would you want to read it?

If? 😛 I am in talks with a narrator and aim to have the first and second book done this summer, but I can’t give her name as it is NSFW and she may want to have it under her pseudonym. 

Can you share any spoilers of any drama that will unfold in the second book of the trilogy?

I will say… there is going to be a new character that is going to make Sebastien very very angry.

How do you cope with writing multiple books at the same time, or do you find it easier that way?

I like writing more than one book at a time, as it gives me a break from any drama that might be going on for the characters, especially in the Honor Trilogy. I try not to have too many because then it feels like I’m not making much progress (but I am). I also have many hats I wear for other jobs, so I have to remember to not juggle too much.

Follow Dani on Social Media!

Twitter

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Facebook

Dani’s Website

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Backstories – Simon Van Der Velde

Genre: Literary fiction, short stories, biographical fiction, cultural history

Pages: 90

My Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆/5

Blurb: Dreamers, singers, heroes and killers, they can dazzle with their beauty or their talent or their unmitigated evil, yet inside themselves they are as frail and desperate as the rest of us. But can you see them? Can you unravel the truth? These are people you know, but not as you know them. Peel back the mask and see.

Backstories is a fantastic compilation of short stories by Simon Van Der Velde. Each short story is based on the life of a famous (or sometimes infamous) person. The people are real, but the stories are a work of fiction. I wasn’t able to guess all of them – my general knowledge of famous people is beyond terrible – however, this didn’t distract from how cleverly written and entertaining each story was. Backstories is one of only four books I’ve given a 5 star rating to so far this year (and I’ve read 30 books!). Each story felt like I was trying to piece together a murder mystery or something – it felt like one big written game of Cluedo!

Although I read the book in one sitting, I feel like I should have really savoured it and read one short story at a time. It’s a short book, it only has 90 pages, but there are 14 short stories packed into those pages. This is one of the most unique and interesting books I think I’ve ever read and I’d recommend this book to anyone who’s a fan of film, TV, music, and the occasional serial killer.

Buy your copy of Backstories by clicking HERE

Listen to the Audiobook by clicking HERE

And keep your eyes peeled for Backstories 2 in the future!!

**A copy of this book was given to me in exchange for an honest review**

Author Interview – Aiyven Mbawa

Aiyven Mbawa is 11 years old, from Northampton in England and is the author of Land of the Nurogons – a middle grade fantasy fiction novel published in 2020. If this sounds like something you’d like to find out more about, you can read my review on it by clicking here. As well as writing books and going to school, Kirsten, alongside her sister Aiyven, are the creators of middle grade subscription box Happier Every Chapter. I wrote a blog post about Happier Every Chapter when they first launched, which you can read by clicking here.

You can purchase her book through the Mbawa Books website. *Please note: This is an affiliate link. I earn a small amount of commission from each sale made through this link*

Here’s my interview with Aiyven:

How difficult was it for you to come up with a fantasy universe?

That’s the main reason I love the fantasy – you can make your own world. You create your own ways, your own places. But, as the quote says, with great power comes great responsibility. It was very enjoyable and simple at the same time. I thought, I wrote, and boom, a world was constructed in front of me. But it’s like running a race at the Olympics – the runners are sprinting, and the camera needs to keep up with them to capture the footage. When you’re writing a book, you’re that camera and your imagination is the runner. You need to capture the footage whilst keeping up. You need to be in the perfect position, you don’t want to overtake the runner (your imagination) because then your story will be uninteresting as there’s no footage to record. What I’m trying to say is don’t get too ahead of yourself, it’s a mistake you don’t want to make. Know the boundaries of creating your own world.

Did you ever imagine the Nurogons to look / be different to how they ended up being?

Definitely! I was expecting them to look a bit more alienated than they are, taller and skinnier and a brighter shade of green. But when I saw the initial image of the Nurogons, something clicked and I realised that they would be the habitants of Nurogonia for sure.

Would you switch lives with Hayden for a day and fall down the hole to Nurogonia?

That’s a good question – I have mixed emotions on it. It is to be said that Nurogonia hasn’t been the most peaceful of places for a while now, so it’s probably not in the best state at the minute (maybe all will be resolved in Book 2?), but I’d definitely love to meet the Nurogons and find the staff perfect for me!

Was there one book / film in particular that helped to provide inspiration for Land of the Nurogons?

Without a doubt the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan. He’s an awesome author and has written some of my most favourite books of all time. I thought that if I were to be inspired by anyone it ought to be Rick. And the chapter “Just Our Luck” was heavily inspired by Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling!

Can you share any spoilers about the next book in the series?

If you’ve finished Land of the Nurogons, you’d know all is not what was expected … In the next book Hayden, a few of Book 1’s characters and a newbie will try to resolve the issue, but there is another storm brewing, one they don’t know about …

How have you found balancing school, being authors and being the owners of a Happier Every Chapter, your subscription box business?

Online school has been a godsent because we get no homework! This gives Kirsten and I way more time to read, chill and grow Happier Every Chapter! It’s made things so much easier to manage. We used to spend an hour or two on homework (depending on how nice the teacher’s were feeling) but now we have that time to do things business-wise!

At what point did you decide to be an author / publish books?

Probably shortly after the BBC 500-Words competition we entered in 2019. After we heard the results of us not getting through, we came up with the idea of turning our 500 words into tens of thousands! Although it is to be said that we decided we wanted to be linked with writing at around seven-years-old.

How do you overcome writer’s block?

There’s no faking that it’s something nearly every author goes through. I think just trying to write something – even if it’s just one sentence – helps overcome writer’s block. I also think writing with a pen and paper eases your brain from the device you’re on and may even help ideas flow to your head better.

Was there anything you edited out of you book that you later wished you kept in?

Surprisingly, there are not many “deleted scenes” in my books other than cringy quotes that I thought not to include (although there still are many awkward jokes!) Sometimes I restart whole paragraphs because I’m not fond of the way I’d written it.

How do you find the inspiration for new novels and storylines?

I write things that I’d like to read because I find it more enjoyable and what’s the point of writing something yourself wouldn’t like? Most of my inspiration comes from things I read, as expected, but with tweaks that make it stand out from the others.

If you were to give one tip to someone wanting to get into writing, what would it be?

Prepare yourself! Yes, I’m talking from experience. Admittedly, I delved into the writing world without much organisation, and although it may not seem like a big problem at first, it will affect the writing you do in the future, especially if you’re writing a series. For instance, I will now have to reread my book Land of the Nurogons and write down places, names, locations, spells etc when writing the sequel. It’s going to be a pain! Things like post-it notes or a notebook where you can jot things down for every chapter will help a lot with this.

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February Reading Wrap Up

We are ⅓ of the way through March and I’m only just sitting down to write my February wrap up. The reason for that is I read 13 books. I read 11 in January and I’m not joking when I say the wrap up took me hours to write, and so I’ve felt a little daunted by the prospect of doing my February wrap up. To make things a little bit easier for me, I’ve decided that I’m just going to list the books I’ve read and tell you the rating I gave. Hopefully I’ll read fewer books in March and I’ll go back to my usual way of wrapping things up… However I’m currently on book 5 of the month, so maybe not…

UNRATED

  • The Nucleus of Reality – L.A. Davenport

Despite saying I’m not going to say much about each book, I think this one deserves an explanation. I feel this book needs to be read a few times to fully understand what’s going on. I think it would be unfair of me to rate this book. What I will say is that the book made me feel actually dizzy – there was so much going on and I struggled to keep up.

THREE STAR

  • The Suitcase Kid – Jacqueline Wilson (Audiobook)
  • The Death of Honor – Lyra Thorrson
  • Roll With It – Jamie Sumner
  • Language of Thorns – Leigh Bardugo (Listened to audiobook but want to read a physical copy as I feel I might enjoy it more)
  • Winter White and Wicked – Shannon Dittemore (Again, listened to this as an audiobook but I’d like to read the book. I think fantasy as an audiobook genre is just a bit hard to keep up with)

FOUR STAR

  • High Rise Mystery – Sharna Jackson (Audiobook)
  • The Bed and Breakfast Star – Jacqueline Wilson (Audiobook. This was my absolute favourite book as a child and I was so scared it wouldn’t live up to 7 year old Leah’s standards)
  • Midnight – Jacqueline Wilson (Audiobook)
  • Sitting Pretty – Rebekah Taussig (Audiobook)
  • The Lottie Project – Jacqueline Wilson (Audiobook)
  • History of a Drowning Boy – Dennis Nilsen

FIVE STAR

  • The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins

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*BLOG TOUR* Comeback – Chris Limb

Genre: Contemporary Fiction | Adult Fiction | Mythology (is 20 years ago classed as historical fiction? I hope not!!)

Pages: 348

My Rating: ☆☆☆/5

Welcome to the second day of the Comeback blog tour! I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Blurb: 

Genie has everything – a BRIT award, a singing career, the attention of the press and Oliver Fox, a pretty boy who looks good on her arm.

Until he dies. 

His death brings Genie’s long buried feelings bubbling to the surface. Her grief over the death of her lover Wendi who introduced her to this world. Her self doubt and fear that she will be exposed as a fraud.

How far is she prepared to go to fix things? 

The afterlife isn’t the most comfortable of places for anyone who’s still alive, but Genie’s not going to take any crap from the dead – she’s got years of experience in the music business.

Sometimes going to Hell and back takes a lifetime…

My thoughts:

The first few chapters of this book gave me major Daisy Jones and the Six vibes and if anyone here has been following my socials for a while, you will know just how much I loved that book! I’ve come to realise that I enjoy books based on bands / pop culture. What made Comeback unique was the introduction of Genie living some of her life within the underworld (afterlife). In amongst this was a very clever addition of mythology, which sounds crazy, but it worked really well.

The toing and froing between the afterlife and real world did confuse me a little to start off with and much of the story was retellings of past events that lead Genie being up to the stage she was at. Once I’d gotten my head around that, I thought the storyline was fascinating – different to anything else I’ve ever read.

I felt that the chapters within the afterlife were more interesting than the ones in the real world. I also got a hint of The Midnight Library by Matt Haig in the afterlife chapters – except Matt Haig chose not to include labyrinths and mausoleums etc. Mythology is something I’ve been desperate to know more about for a while now but so far I’ve been too busy with other things to learn more. This book gave me a good stepping stone into the world of mythology as, to be honest, I stumbled across the mythology part of this book by accident! I went into the book thinking it would just be about Genie as a musician.

All in all, I did enjoy this book once I’d figured out what was going on! It was interesting to see why and how Genie ended up a BRIT Award winning singer (and completely addicted to drugs) and I think there was a perfect mix of the backstories and the ‘present’. The afterlife chapters, I think confused me the most at the start, but in the end I found them the most interesting.

About Chris Limb:

Chris is a writer based in UK, who has had a number of short stories published over the past few years, blogs on a regular basis and occasionally reviews books and audios for the British Fantasy Society.

Chris wrote a short pop memoir which was published in 2011 and went down well with its core-audience. It continues to sell at a steady rate to this day.

Chris also plays bass guitar and performs random acts of web and graphic design for a diverse selection of clients.

Social Media:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/catmachine 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/comebacknovel 

Website: https://chrislimb.com/ 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/catmachine/ 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5347555.Chris_Limb  

Purchase Links:

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08PCM8XXY

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/comeback-chris-limb/1138397379

The Hive: https://www.hive.co.uk/Product/CHRIS–LIMB/COMEBACK/25566980

Blackwells: https://blackwells.co.uk/bookshop/product/COMEBACK-by-LIMB-CHRIS/9781789650891

Waterstones: https://www.waterstones.com/book/comeback/chris-limb/9781789650891

Publishing Information:

Published in paperback and digital formats by Unbound on 21st January 2021

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*BLOG TOUR* Wartime With The Tram Girls – Lynn Johnson

Today is my stop on the tour to review Wartime With The Tram Girls by Lynn Johnson. I’d like to say a huge thank you to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for arranging the tour and providing me with a free copy of the book in exchange for my review.

Genre: Historical Fiction | WW1

Pages: 400

My Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆ / 5

Blurb:

July 1914: Britain is in turmoil as WW1 begins to change the world. While the young men disappear off to foreign battlefields, the women left at home throw themselves into jobs meant for the boys.

Hiding her privileged background and her suffragette past, Constance Copeland signs up to be a Clippie – collecting money and giving out tickets – on the trams, despite her parents’ disapproval.

Constance, now known as Connie, soon finds there is more to life than the wealth she was born into and she soon makes fast friends with lively fellow Clippies, Betty and Jean, as well as growing closer to the charming, gentle Inspector Robert Caldwell.

But Connie is haunted by another secret; and if it comes out, it could destroy her new life.

After war ends and the men return to take back their roles, will Connie find that she can return to her previous existence? Or has she been changed forever by seeing a new world through the tram windows?

My thoughts:

About a year ago I was donated a huge stack of books. Most of these books contained front covers similar to the cover of this book – a photo of a real person in period costume. I never read any of the books because I didn’t like their front covers; they creeped me out a little bit. I actually read this book first and then saw the cover last, which just goes to show I really need to stop judging books by their covers.

Wartime With The Tramgirls is a book that ticked every single box for me. I love historical fiction (as I’m sure we are all aware by now). It wasn’t a book that made me feel anxious when the plot line takes a drastic U-turn. I loved all of the characters – it wasn’t a book where there was one character you’re supposed to detest. And I thought it was fantastically written; I thought it had real intrigue and it kept me reading until it was over. Something that I comment on a lot in book reviews is the logic. I think that Lynn Johnson must have done an exceptional amount of research as everything made perfect sense to me.

The Suffragette movement is something that I’m aware of, but I don’t know too much about (and something I’m going to do more research into now!). I really enjoyed that Lynn Johnson chose to include this and showed the good and bad sides to being a Suffragette in the early 20th century. The drama that unfolded at one protest repeatedly came back to sting Connie throughout the book even though she tried to hide her past from those she met.

My 5 star ratings have been few and far between so far this year – this was the 25th book I’ve read and only the 3rd 5☆ which I think shows just how much I enjoyed it!

Today is only day 2 of the blog tour. Check out everyone else’s reviews for the rest of the week!

Purchase Links

Amazon: https://amzn.to/36zlzjX

 Kobo: http://bit.ly/3tlMQQX

 Apple: http://apple.co/3cuGmsV

Author Bio –

Lynn Johnson was born in the Staffordshire Potteries and went to school in Burslem, where the novel is set. She left school with no qualifications and got a job as a dental nurse (and lasted a day), a nursery assistant, and a library assistant before her ambition grew and she enrolled at the Elms Technical College, Stoke-on-Trent and obtained six O’levels. She obtained a Diploma in Management Studies and a BA Hons in Humanities with Literature from the Open University while working full-time.

Most of her working life was spent in Local Government in England and Scotland, and ultimately became a Human Resources Manager with a large county council.

She started to write after taking early retirement and moving to the north of Scotland with her husband where she did relief work in the famous Orkney Library and Archives, and voluntary work with Orkney’s Learning Link. Voluntary work with Cats Protection resulted in them sharing their home with six cats.

She joined Stromness Writing Group and, three months after moving to Orkney, wrote a short story which would become the Prologue to The Girl From the Workhouse.

Social Media Links –  https://twitter.com/lynnjohnsonjots

FOLLOW ME!

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Author Interview – Jon Wilkins

Jon Wilkins is a Welsh author who has written Poppy Flowers at the Front, Utrecht Snow and Utrecht Rain. I’ve read and reviewed Poppy Flowers at the Front as part of a recent blog tour. If you’d like to read my review then click here.

At what point did you decide to be an author / publish books?

I taught for 20 years, worked at Waterstones for 10 and coached women’s Basketball for 30 years. When I stopped coaching in 2011, I began to write seriously. It was the old case of never having enough time, but once I had time, I didn’t really stop. I submitted work to competitions and magazines almost straight away and though I only had a bit of success, it was success so that motivated me to carry on writing. I self-published two crime novels set in Utrecht; one was for my MA dissertation.

How do you overcome writer’s block?

I don’t know if I believe in writer’s block because I really can’t stop writing! I don’t know if what I write is any good, but since I started writing seriously I have stacked up over a million words on various projects.

Was there anything you edited out of a book that you later wished you kept in?

The problem that I have when I edit is that I add rather than take away! I don’t know if it is just being smug or the reason why I don’t get published, but what I write seems to me to be the best I can write so doesn’t need much change. Of course since working with  mentor, the wonderful Tana Collins I can see the merit of editing, but it is still a struggle.

How do you find the inspiration for new novels and storylines?

I find it quite difficult to plot a story and also difficult to extend an idea into a novel, so most of my novels are very episodic with a lot going on in them with peaks and more peaks rather than the typical arc. My ideas come from research or from everyday conversations overheard or from my wonderful wife who often inspires me with thoughts and ways forward.

If you were to give one tip to someone wanting to get into writing, what would it be?

I think it is a cliché but one that holds up… Write for yourself. If you please yourself when you write, you must be halfway there. If you are then enjoying what you write, you will write more.

If Poppy Flowers at the Front was made into an audiobook, who would you want to read it?

Harriet Walters. I love her voice.

What was your favourite part of Poppy Flowers at the Front?

I think when the two women realised they were in love. It’s not for me to pretend I know everything, but I do understand how my own feelings work and how I was when I fell in love with my wife so I put that into the love story. It’s for anyone, male or female.

How will you balance writing books whilst completing a PhD?

I’ve just started so I’m not sure. I want to rewrite Poppy flowers as I felt it wasn’t quite right and I am working with my mentor on the second in the series, Poppy Blossoms at Nemesis Hall where the two women go to work in a Norfolk School and have a series of japes as they sleuth about the county. For the PhD 80% will be the creative input so that will be my third Poppy novel, Poppy Knows Best. By the time I have finished my PhD I hope to have at least two of them published.

How much historical research did it take to write Poppy Flowers at the Front?

Tons! I love to research. I visited the Flanders Battlefields after getting a travel grant from the Oppenheim-John Downes Memorial Trust. That was moving and uplifting and inspired me . I have visited the Imperial War Museum, the Wellcome Institute and the British Library for bits and bobs and then there is the Interweb! Whoever invented that was a marvel as it has been a godsend there is so much out there. And also Social Media. I have asked questions on Twitter and have been snowed under with responses.

What made you decide to create a lesbian relationship between Poppy and Elodie?

I just thought that there was a need to promote the work of women during the first world War. They were the unseen heroes either at home in factories or at the front taking on roles in both spheres that they had been excluded from for so many years. They were then forgotten when the War ended. Excluded once more from opportunities that they had taken up to help the war effort and shown that they were more than equal to men. As Mao Tse Zung asked if women hold up half the sky why don’t we see them in more places of power? The patriarchy then and now insists on trying to put women into their “place” I reject this totally. 

The idea of the ambulance driving VAD came whilst reading a book by Zenna smith and then I got into books featuring Bess Crawford, Maisie Dobbs and Kate Shackleton and they led me to the idea of having a nurse as a main character and then it seemed natural that they would meet and fall in love. As ever the writer sometimes goes down an unexpected road when they write being led by their characters. I never used to believe that until of course it happened to me.

Do you think there is a lack of LGBT+ representation in fictional books (especially historical fiction)?

I can only say yes there is. That’s why it is so good to see the proactive measures of so many publishing houses who are actively asking for members of the LGBT+ community to submit works. Same with Working Class writers and Writers with disability.

Follow Jon’s Social Media:
Twitter – @WriterJWilkins
Website – jonathanwilkins.co.uk

Want to buy Poppy Flowers at the Front?
Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/3owCjPw
Brigand: https://bit.ly/34enzNZ

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Thank you for checking out my blog. If you would like to support the content I create, then you can donate to me on Ko-Fi! I do all of this for free and in my spare time, which can be extremely time consuming. Click the button below to go to my Ko-Fi page!