Oh Crumbs by Kathryn Freeman #review @kathrynfreeman1 @ChocLitUK

Oh Crumbs (Choc Lit) by [Freeman, Kathryn]

 

I’ve always enjoyed reading Kathryn Freeman’s books before and this was no exception. We meet Abby first as a thirteen year old at her mother’s funeral then later as a young woman going for a job interview at Crumbs biscuit company. In the intervening years she has put on her life on hold to help her dad bring up her four younger sisters. Life is never quiet or dull in the Spencer household but it hasn’t given Abby a whole lot of time to follow her own dreams. She arrives at the interview in a bit of a tizz, covered in crumbs from her young nephew George’s rusks (very appropriate), trips over her handbag and babbles a whole load of nonsense. Not quite the first impression she might have wanted to give her potential new boss, handsome managing director Doug Faulkner!

One thing I enjoy about Kathryn Freeman’s novels is that she writes about really relatable characters, You may not have been in the same situations but there is always something that you will recognise in them. The story of a personal assistant falling for the boss may not be a new story but it’s no less enjoyable, especially as Doug has secrets he is keeping from Abby.

I took to Abby from the beginning of the book. She has dedicated herself to her sisters and my goodness they could be a handful at times! I had to feel for her poor father, surrounded by all these young women with only young George to redress the balance – and Pat the dog of course. There was a lot of noise in the Spencer house but there was a lot of love and laughter too. I often found myself chuckling at some of the many times Abby let her mouth run away with itself , saying out loud exactly what she was thinking. It was great to see her grow as a character over the book as she finally was able to show her potential and make the most of opportunities. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of Doug at first and was slightly worried he might be a bit of a Christian Grey character! However, despite perhaps sharing some of Mr Grey’s talents (!), he was a much more caring character though tormented by a secret he felt compelled to keep and feeling very trapped.

Oh Crumbs was a thoroughly enjoyable read which had me laughing but also moved me on occasion too. It was a really charming romance story which left me feeling very uplifted. It would be good to read more about Abby in the future as I’d love to see how things develop both in her personal and professional life.

My thanks to Liz at publishers ChocLit for asking if I’d like to read a copy of this book. Oh Crumbs is available now as an ebook. You’ll find buying links for all ebook platforms on ChocLit’s website: Oh Crumbs

From the back of the book

Sometimes life just takes the biscuit …
Abby Spencer knows she can come across as an airhead – she talks too much and is a bit of a klutz – but there’s more to her than that. Though she sacrificed her career to help raise her sisters, a job interview at biscuit company Crumbs could finally be her chance to shine. That’s until she hurries in late wearing a shirt covered in rusk crumbs, courtesy of her baby nephew, and trips over her handbag. 

Managing director Douglas Faulkner isn’t sure what to make of Abby Spencer with her Bambi eyes, tousled hair and ability to say more in the half-hour interview than he manages in a day. All he knows is she’s a breath of fresh air and could bring a new lease of life to the stale corporate world of Crumbs. To his life too, if he’d let her. 

But Doug’s harbouring a secret. He’s not the man she thinks he is. 

 

Kathryn Freeman
Kathryn Freeman

Kathryn was born in Wallingford, England but has spent most of her life living in a village near Windsor. After studying pharmacy in Brighton she began her working life as a retail pharmacist. She quickly realised that trying to decipher doctor’s handwriting wasn’t for her and left to join the pharmaceutical industry where she spent twenty happy years working in medical communications. In 2011, backed by her family, she left the world of pharmaceutical science to begin life as a self-employed writer, juggling the two disciplines of medical writing and romance. Some days a racing heart is a medical condition, others it’s the reaction to a hunky hero…

With two teenage boys and a husband who asks every Valentine’s Day whether he has to bother buying a card again this year (yes, he does) the romance in her life is all in her head. Then again, her husband’s unstinting support of her career change goes to prove that love isn’t always about hearts and flowers – and heroes can come in many disguises.

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One Summer in Italy by Sue Moorcroft #review @suemoorcroft @AvonBooksUK

One Summer in Italy by [Moorcroft, Sue]

It wouldn’t be summer without a lovely book from Sue Moorcroft to look forward to. Last year I was on holiday in Italy and Sue’s summer book was set in France. This year her book is set in Italy and yes, you’ve guessed it, I’m going on holiday to France. We seem to be a little out of sync! Reading One Summer in Italy brought some welcome summer sunshine to a week when Edinburgh was mostly covered in east coast haar.

Sofia Bianchi has come to the Umbrian village of Monteliberta fulfilling one of the promises she made to her dying father. With her mother dying young and her father suffering from poor health, although she is now in her 30s she hasn’t had the chance to just be a young woman and enjoy herself. Perhaps the most important promise would be the hardest to keep – simply to ‘be happy’. Sofia’s father was from Monteliberta but she doesn’t know much about her Italian family. Taking a job in a hotel for the summer, she resolves to find out what she can and try to meet them. Sofia takes teenage waitress Amy under her wing and is determined she will protect her from the advances of the owner’s son Davide. There is more than a little distraction provided by long-term guest Levi. Perhaps he can help her with her promise to ‘do all the things single women do’ and one particular promise she has made to herself? But relations between staff and guests are strictly prohibited so perhaps this particular promise may have to wait a bit.

Sue Moorcroft is fantastic at creating a vivid sense of place in my mind as I read. I could almost hear the Italian accents, taste the mouthwatering Umbrian food and wine, smell the fragrance of the flowers, see the colourful houses and streets and sense the heat. It’s a feast for the senses. I always have quite a strong emotional response to her characters too imagining how I would feel in their shoes. My heart went out to Amy in this story who had so much to take in for a young girl. Yet despite her emotional confusion, she was big hearted enough to want to help out young Matt in his hour of need too. I had to laugh at the way she quickly had Levi wrapped around her little finger!

Sofia was a lovely character, strong, caring and thoughtful. It was wonderful to see her start to grow throughout the book and really begin to live life on her own terms. There are plenty of secrets uncovered as she begins to get to know her Italian family but she soon discovers that hers is not the only family with secrets. With Levi, also having troubles of his own back home to deal with, not least of which was Octavia who seemed very determined to gets her claws into him, there was plenty happening to keep me turning the pages avidly.

When I see that Katie Fforde quote on the front of the books I have to agree – I have never read a Sue Moorcroft book I haven’t thoroughly enjoyed. With mystery and romance but with deeper themes also included, they genuinely are a pleasure to read.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to the shops to see if I can find a bottle of Orvieto Classico – saluti!

Orvieto Classico Amabile, Barberani 2016

My thanks to Sabah Khan at Avon Books for my copy of the book and inviting me to take part in the blog tour. One Summer in Italy is available now in paperback and as an ebook. It is available from your usual book retailer or you can order a copy online here: One Summer in Italy

From the back of the book

When Sofia Bianchi’s father Aldo dies, it makes her stop and look at things afresh. Having been his carer for so many years, she knows it’s time for her to live her own life – and to fulfil some promises she made to Aldo in his final days.

So there’s nothing for it but to escape to Italy’s Umbrian mountains where, tucked away in a sleepy Italian village, lie plenty of family secrets waiting to be discovered. There, Sofia also finds Amy who is desperately trying to find her way in life after discovering her dad isn’t her biological father.

Sofia sets about helping Amy through this difficult time, but it’s the handsome Levi who proves to be the biggest distraction for Sofia, as her new life starts to take off…

Follow the rest of the tour and catch up with any stops you’ve missed

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Effie’s War by Philip Paris #extract and #giveaway @bwpublishing

Effie's War

I’m just about to read another of Philip Paris’s books, The Italian Chapel, but today I have an extract from his latest novel Effie’s War to share with you. Effie’s War is inspired by a true event which took place during the Second World War and which I must admit, I had never heard anything about before now.

Thanks to the publishers, Black & White, you also have the chance to win a copy of the book, simply by commenting and telling me what you are reading. I’ll use a random name selector to pick a winner. Comment before midnight tomorrow (Wednesday 13th June) and I’ll contact the winner within 24 hours. UK entries only please.

If you’re not lucky enough to win a copy, you can order one online here: Effie’s War

First of all, here’s what the book is about:

Effie’s father has received notice to quit Kirk Farm, their family home. And every other farm and household in the area has had the same instruction. They all have one month to leave, to sell or move their livestock and harvest what they can. For Effie, the upheaval brings her close to Toni – a handsome Italian POW sent to help out on the farm.

Reverend Walter Smith – the local minister – is excited too, but for very different reasons. Handpicked by Hitler before the war and now integrated into British society, he senses that the secret to make the Führer proud is finally within his grasp. Something momentous is underway in this remote corner of the Highlands and he must find out what.

That secret is held by Captain Armstrong, newly billeted at Kirk Farm. He’s there to scope out places to rehearse the D-Day landings. But when Toni inadvertently passes on information about Operation Overlord, the race is on to block it from Reverend Smith – and from Hitler himself …

Philip Paris’s powerful new novel is based on events of almost 75 years ago, when an entire region of the Highlands was cleared to allow preparations for one of the greatest secrets of the Second World War. Evocative and deeply memorable, it captures the emotions, dangers and atmosphere of those days when the world faced its darkest hour.

Now read on for the extract

11 November 1943

Edward Ross sat at the large kitchen table and chewed his favourite pipe with such force that it was pure luck that neither the stem nor his dentures broke. He had read the letter once in total confusion, twice with a growing dread and a third time with a smouldering anger that few people would have believed possible of the quietly spoken elder of the kirk. His wife, Martha, was washing the breakfast dishes without any knowledge of the despair growing only a few feet away.

‘Damn . . . damn!’

Martha  turned around in  surprise at  hearing such language.

‘Edward! Whatever is the matter?’

Ina had just walked through the doorway and stood open-mouthed at her father’s utterance. He saw her staring.

‘Where’s Effie?’ he said.

‘Upstairs,’ replied Ina.

‘Fetch her.’

‘What’s happened?’

‘Fetch her! You need to hear this together.’

Ina had never seen her father so distraught and rushed to get her sister, who, at seventeen, was almost three years younger. Mr Ross slid the letter across to Martha. It was only right that she should have the chance to read the contents before they were discussed. She was still trying to understand the implications when their two daughters burst into the kitchen in a way that would normally have resulted in them being chastised sternly. Mr Ross looked at the sisters standing side by side, as exactly alike as an apple and pear can be.

‘Father,’ said Effie. ‘What’s wrong?’

‘Sit down.’

The girls sat at the table while their mother collapsed into the nearest chair.

‘We’ve received notice from the authorities that we must leave the farm by the twelfth of December.’

‘Leave?’ said Effie. ‘Why? Who’s going to look after the livestock?’

‘We’ll have to get rid of it . . . cattle, sheep, pigs, even the hens.’

Martha put a hand to her mouth and laid down the letter. Effie reached over and snatched it, scanning the text frantically while Ina looked on.

‘There must be a mistake,’ said Effie. ‘They’re giving us one month to move or sell everything, in addition to processing the crops. It’s not possible in such a short time. We would need a small army of workers.’

‘Why do they want our home?’ said Ina, close to tears.

‘What possible use is it to them?’

‘We could move the stock until we return,’ Effie cut in.

‘This letter seems to imply it’s temporary.’

‘It’s not just our farm, so there’ll be a surplus of animals and no one in the area will have the capacity to take on other people’s,’ said Mr Ross. ‘We might find someone to look after the horses, but as for the rest . . . And it’ll be a sad day indeed when we lose Alastair and his family.’

‘Barbara will be heartbroken,’ said Martha. ‘Their boys were born on Kirk Farm. Our cottage is all they’ve ever known as home.’

‘Alastair will have to find new employment at the end of the term,’ said Mr Ross, shaking his head. ‘He won’t have any choice.’

They fell silent, reflecting on the enormous changes that were about to be forced upon their lives. Effie eventually broke the stillness by jumping up and pacing around the kitchen in a state of great indignation and irritation that was so . . . Effie.

‘This is not right,’ she said.

‘It’s the war,’ said Ina.

‘I know it’s the war!’

‘The letter says there’s a meeting this afternoon at Inver hall, so perhaps we’ll get some answers there,’ said Martha.

Effie turned to her mother. Martha was a practical, down-to-earth woman, not given easily to weeping, yet she looked close to tears now. Effie’s father, grandfather and great-grandfather had meticulously bred the best livestock possible. The careful records they had kept meant they could trace the lineage of some of the cattle and pigs for more than eighty years. They were a part of the land as much as the ancient horse chestnut tree that overshadowed the drive.

‘If we sell the stock then so much will be lost,’ said Ina.

‘People are losing sons, brothers and husbands,’ replied her father, sitting up straight in his chair as he began to pull himself together. ‘If we survive this war and only lose our animals, then we should thank the good Lord.’

‘Can’t Christopher do something?’ said Effie, never one to back down without a fight. ‘Surely it must be some use having an officer living here.’

Captain Christopher Armstrong had been billeted with the family for three months. Mr Ross had been horrified when he had been informed that they would have to provide accommodation for a young British officer. He readily acknowledged that plenty of other families in the area had been ordered to give room and board to military personnel, but with two beautiful, trusting daughters in the house the idea of a stranger living in such close proximity made him very uncomfortable.

The move had been a double-edged sword. Christopher had been polite and respectful,  behaving like a caring older brother to seven-year-old Hugh, who had taken to him immediately. In fact, everyone liked him; Ina a little too much. She had fallen hopelessly in love, ignoring the advice given during their father’s frequent lectures on the subject of ‘hasty wartime romances’, and how uncertainty about the future was putting too much pressure on couples to commit.

He liked to remind them that there was a lot of wisdom in the saying ‘Marry in haste, repent at leisure’ and how, when he  was young you courted for months before you even held hands with a girl – and as for kissing! His daughters always listened politely without comment, and the advice had been easy to follow while there was no one to fall in love with.

‘I don’t see how Christopher can help, it’s nothing to do with him,’ said Ina bristling, yet there was a hesitance in  her  words.  Effie guessed she was thinking the same thought – that surveying the surrounding land for this evacuation was precisely what Christopher had been sent to the Tarbat peninsula to do.

 

Author, playwright and journalist P.I. Paris lives in the Highlands of Scotland and is best known for the historical fiction and non-fiction books he wrote about the Italian chapel, built during WW2 by Italian POWs in Orkney. His contemporary novel, Men Cry Alone, broke new ground in raising the profile of domestic abuse against men. His stage play, Casting Off, played to sell-out audiences in the autumn of 2015. The hilarious storyline is taken to new heights in the novel of the same name. Effie’s War sees him return to WW2, again with a story which has a backdrop of real events.

 

 

#TenThings about @JVBaptie #author of The Forgotten @crookedcatbooks #LoveBooksGroupTours

#TenThings

I’m very pleased to welcome author JV Baptie along to the blog today as part of the tour for her crime novel The Forgotten. She is sharing #TenThings she would like her readers to know about her. The Forgotten is published as an ebook on 13th June and you can order a copy online by clicking here.

Jodie headshot

 

  1. I’ve always wanted to write a novel but never seemed to get anywhere with it. I enrolled on a creative writing course at Manchester Metropolitan University so that I would be forced to finish it.
  2. I’ve always been fascinated with crime. My favourite TV programs growing up where Randall and Hopkirk, The Sweeney and Taggart. Randall and Hopkirk specifically got me thinking about writing a private detective. (It’s also why Helen drives a red mini.) main cast of the original randall and hpkirk deceased
  3. I’m a huge Dave Clark 5 fan and collect there memorabilia and my taste of music also appears in my writing. My main character from my short story series, WPC Mavis Hart loves Dave Clark. Dave Clark Five 1964.JPG
  4. I love the city of Madrid and have been plotting a crime novel there. Vegan In Madrid
  5. My favourite authors are Chris Wooding and Robert Bloch.
  6. I spent 1.5 years researching my novel before I wrote it.
  7. When not writing I’m also passionate about acting and drama. Despite me being quite shy.
  8. I got a publishing contract with Crooked Cat Books and it was a dream come true for me.
  9. I’d like to write a play next and see it performed.
  10. I also blog about the books I love to read at jvbaptie.com

The Forgotten by [Baptie, J. V.]

What if everything was a lie?

Newly-promoted but not welcome in CID, Detective Sergeant Helen Carter is tasked with investigating a murder in an old abandoned picture house. The case takes a chilling turn when the business card of an ex-cop is found at the scene.

Helen must piece together the case before the bodies mount up around her, and before the killer strikes closer to home…

Delve into the underworld of Scotland’s capital city in this fast-paced thriller!

Praise for The Forgotten:

A genuine page turner.” Bestselling author, Alex Gray

Fast-paced and gritty Tartan Noir. A Brilliant Debut.” Bestselling author, Frances Di Plino

“Fans of Rebus will love this.” Thriller author, E.A Clark.

“Memorable and smart.” Tom Ward, author

 

About the Author

 J.V. Baptie graduated from Manchester Metropolitan University in 2017 with an MA in Creative Writing. When not writing, she is also an actress and has appeared in a variety of children’s shows and stage plays. You can find out more about her at jvbaptie.com on Twitter @jvbaptie and Facebook @ https://www.facebook.com/AuthorJVBaptie/

Daisy’s Vintage Cornish Camper Van by @AliMcNamara @LittleBrownUK @littlebookcafe

Daisy's Vintage Cornish Camper Van: Escape into a heartwarming, feelgood summer read by [McNamara, Ali]

I always enjoy Ali McNamara’s books having read one over each of the past few summers. You can click to read my reviews of  The Little Flower Shop by the Sea, Letters From Lighthouse Cottage  and you’ll find my review of The Summer of Serendipity in amongst my summer reading mini-reviews here. So I jumped at the chance to read this latest one and who could resist with that gorgeous cover of the vintage campervan? Daisy’s Vintage Cornish Camper Van was a welcome return to the delightful Cornish town of St Felix, the setting for The Little Flower Shop by the Sea and I was delighted to spot passing references to some of the characters from that book too. 

Ana’s best friend and fellow 1980s music afficionado, Daisy, has recently died and has bequeathed Ana a vintage campervan. When Ana travels to St Felix to collect it, she discovers it is far from in a driveable condition. But mechanic Malachi, assures her he can get it roadworthy and back to its original glory in a short while. As he begins to renovate the van, he comes across a real treasure trove of old postcards, love letters written from Lou to Frankie. This has obviously been a secret love as the postcards have never been sent but together they represent more than fifty years of love. Daisy becomes determined to reunite the cards with the writer and the intended recipient.

The book is full of wonderful characters and I loved the bakers Ant and Dec (yes, really!) who had a talent for knowing just what their customers wanted. They were quite the double act like their namesakes and I do wonder whether they might feature in a future book? Malachi was a bit of an enigma. Why did no-one in St Felix seem to know who he was and what was that strange tingly feeling Ana got if their hands touched? And then of course, there were the strange things he sometimes said. Jess, who worked in the antiques shop, seemed very keen for Ana to get to know Noah. His aunt had died and left him shop and he was unlikely to have been in St Felix otherwise. Jess  appeared at just the right time when he needed help. Was fate playing a hand in all these people being in the same place at the same time? Daisy-Rose though, the campervan, was the quiet star of the show and perhaps even had me convinced (as my husband keeps trying to) that it would be wonderful to travel in an old van.

As with all of Ali McNamara’s books there is a hint of something magical at work. As well as Malachi being rather mysterious, there was the mystery of the postcards too. Quite often on her search, Ana would come across what seemed to be a sign that she was on the right track and usually that sign was linked to the 1980s. It was lovely to watch Ana begin to live for herself again and find a focus to her life trying to solve the mystery of the postcards. 

I loved every page of Daisy’s Vintage Cornish Camper Van. It was a delight to read with its mix of mystery, magic, great characters, romance and with such a gorgeous setting. Another winner from Ali McNamara!

 

My thanks to the publishers Sphere, an imprint of Little Brown UK, for my copy of the book from Netgalley. Daisy’s Vintage Cornish Camper Van will be published on 14th June in paperback and as an e-book. It will be available from your usual book retailer or you can order a Kindle copy online here: Daisy’s Cornish Camper Van

From the back of the book

Welcome to the gorgeous Cornish town of St Felix, where there’s magic in the air…

When Ana inherits a broken-down camper van from her best friend, she takes the chance for a quick trip to Cornwall – some sea air and fish and chips on the beach is just the tonic she needs.

But St Felix has bigger plans for Ana. She discovers a series of unsent postcards, dating back to the 1950s, hidden in the upholstery of the van. Ana knows that it’s a sign: she’ll make sure that the messages reach the person that they were meant for. And as the broken-down van is restored to gleaming health, so Ana begins to find her way back to happiness.

Ali McNamara 👩��💻

Ali McNamara attributes her over-active and very vivid imagination to one thing – being an only child. Time spent dreaming up adventures when she was young has left her with a head bursting with stories waiting to be told.

When stories she wrote for fun on Ronan Keating’s website became so popular they were sold as a fundraising project for his cancer awareness charity, Ali realised that not only was writing something she enjoyed doing, but something others enjoyed reading too.

Ali lives in Cambridgeshire with her family and two Labradors. When she isn’t writing, she likes to travel, read, and people-watch, more often than not accompanied by a good cup of coffee. Her dogs and a love of exercise keep her sane!

To find out more about Ali visit her website: http://www.alimcnamara.co.uk or follow her on Twitter: @AliMcNamara

Danube Street by Linda Tweedie and Kate McGregor #AuthorInterview @danubestreet @fledglingpress #lovebooksgrouptours

Danube Street by [Tweedie, Linda, McGregor, Kate]

I had the opportunity this week to meet up with Kate McGregor, one of the authors of Danube Street. for a natter over a cuppa. It was really great to be able to ask some questions about her own reading habits but also to find out a bit more about the book. First of all, here are my thoughts about the book.

Danube Street is not my usual kind of read but it can be good to step out your comfort zone occasionally. It is a fast paced read, quite hard hitting, and has lots of strong language which means it won’t be for everyone. I found the story of how the girls came to be working for Stella interesting and reflected that they are probably still the kind of reasons people end up in prostitution today. Despite her ‘profession’, Stella was quite a caring woman who looked out for ‘her girls’. She was in it for money yes but was also providing a safe place for them, rather than on the streets or at the docks. DCI Hamish Ross was a truly vile character, seeing himself as some sort of avenging angel, cleansing the city of ‘filth’ as he saw it. He was disturbed and disturbing. There were many unpleasant characters in the book who didn’t seem to have many redeeming features. They quite often had secrets in their pasts they were running from, secrets which were catching up with them in a rather dramatic way. I found I had to read to the end to find if everyone got their just desserts, whether for the good or the bad!

First of all, I asked about what inspired Linda and Kate to write and about their publishing journey.

Kate explained that they had initially had the idea for a cookbook but when they had spoken to Clare Cain of Fledgling about it, she had said to come up with an idea for a different book in six weeks and get back to her. So they did! Inspired by their time in the licencing trade, the result was Life Behind Bars, a collection of short stories which was a finalist for the People’s Book Prize in 2012. Kate said she had written years ago but only for herself and never had the nerve to take it further. She said it is daunting to let your work go and allow people to read it. They then wrote another couple of books which didn’t do so well so they had a think about what kind of books were popular and decided grit-lit or thrillers was the way to go. Danube Street is the ninth book they have written together, with the Coyle Trilogy being the most successful books ever for Fledgling Press.

I then asked Kate about her favourite books – she had quite a list!

Shibumi by Trevanian is her all time favourite book and one she re-reads regularly. This would also be her ‘Desert Island’ book. Kate is also a fan of Robert Ludlum, Stephen King, Patricia Cornwall, Stephanie Meyers, Tolkein and JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series. Another favourite book is Noble House by James Clavell.

Noble House: The Fifth Novel of the Asian Saga by [Clavell, James]

I asked about the inspiration for Danube Street

Danube Street was inspired by notorious Edinburgh madam Dora Noyce who ran a high class brothel at Danube Street from the end of the Second World War until the late 1970s. You can read a bit about her here. The other author, Linda Tweedie, worked nearby when she was a teenager so was aware of the story. But the story of Stella Gold in the book Danube Street is not a fictionalised account of Dora Noyce. It is a completely fictional account of a brothel keeper. The authors haven’t spoken to any of the current residents of the street so it will be interesting to see what they make of the story. Number 17 does exist and was the number of the house run by Dora Noyce.

Some of the characters in this book are pretty nasty. I asked if she thought they had any good in them.

It’s quite difficult to write this answer without giving away important things about some of the characters. Kate felt that some were bad to the core but some had redeemed themselves a bit, they were a good baddie! She said it was great fun writing about the villains as you can make them say things and behave in a way that you never could in real life. She said she had plenty inspiration from some of the very real characters she met in her time in the pub trade.

I was really intrigued by the fact that this book is a collaborative effort. Although it is only Linda’s name on the front cover, both are listed as authors on the spine and on book-selling sites. I asked how the writing process worked.

Kate explained that although they argue a lot during the writing process, they are really good friends and have been since she was 19. There is a lot of conversation in the planning stage of a new book, lots of chat over a coffee and occasionally they remember to write down their ideas! They talk about dialogue, storylines, ideas and characters. Linda then writes the story down and Kate goes over it to get it into shape. She said it was important to them to have one clear voice in the books. Although they think in a similar way, they write very differently. They work well together, she’s not quite sure how, but writing together works for them.

I asked about a sequel to Danube Street and if there is a work-in-progress

Again this is a bit tricky to write about without giving anything away. Kate felt that there was potential for many of the characters to feature in future books whether that was as a sequel or stories in their own right.

Kate and Linda have just started work on a book which will feature a gang of female shoplifters. It’s a bit of a Cinderella story with a gang leader forcing his wife to take in his illegitimate daughter following her own mother’s death.

And finally, I ended with the question I always end my author spotlights with and one I always enjoy reading the answer to: if you could be any character in a book, who would it be and why? This produced quite a discussion and many of the characters she mentioned were fictional though not strictly from a book.

Kate said initially that she quite fancied being Jessica Rabbit from Who Killed Roger Rabbit, or Jessica Jones from the Marvel Comics. Michelle Pfeiffer in her role in The Fabulous Baker Boys was mentioned and also Mata Hari. Basically, Kate confessed to being a frustrated lounge singer who would love to play the femme fatale and be glamorous and sexy. Oh and a spy!

Jessica Rabbit.png

My thanks to Kelly from Love Books Group Tours and Clare Cain of Fledgling Press for inviting me to take part and arranging the interview with the author which I really enjoyed. Danube Street is published by Fledgling Press. It is available in e-book format now and you can buy your copy here: Danube Street A paperback edition will follow later this year.

From the back of the book

Danube Street tells the tale of notorious Madame, Stella Gold, and her mission to turn the infamous number 17 Danube St into Edinburgh’s most exclusive brothel.

The house, situated in one of Edinburgh’s most exclusive streets, was known the length and breadth of the country; a magnet for red-blooded males, single or otherwise. Danube Street was always the first port of call when Merchant or Naval ships docked in Leith, and was the attraction, never to be missed by visiting clergymen of every denomination.

Stella Gold began life far from the bright lights of the city. Born Agnes McLeod, she was reared in the wilds of Ayrshire. The only daughter of a tenant farmer, she endured a harsh, rugged upbringing. Now, although the darling of Edinburgh’s glitterati, she finds herself the victim of a vendetta by the city’s most dangerous and violent criminal brothers, and a corrupt Chief of Police.

Survival was a constant challenge which Stella thought she had under control. How wrong could she be?

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Kate McGregor (seated) and Linda Tweedie

Follow the rest of the blog tour

danube street (1)

Wojtek: War Hero Bear by Jenny Robertson #review @jenny_writes @birlinnbooks #lovebooksgrouptours

Wojtek: War Hero Bear by [Robertson, Jenny]

Living in Edinburgh, I am familiar with statue of Wojtek in Princes Street Gardens but didn’t know a lot about the real story. I was really pleased to get the chance to read Jenny Robertson’s novel for children telling his story. As you can see it has a beautiful cover and it’s also charmingly illustrated throughout by Tim Archbold.

The Wojtek Monument

Children will enjoy following the antics of the bear cub Wojtek ‘adopted’ by Polish soldier Piotr in this entertaining book, especially when he gets into all kinds of bother in the quartermaster store, is frightened by a donkey and has a vodka too many. It’s a good introduction to what life was like for Polish soldiers in the Second World War, and doesn’t shy away from talking about the realities of war but in an appropriate way for children. The book brings a human face to war looking at Piotr’s family before he joined the army, when they were taken by the Red Army to Russia. Their difficult and dangerous journey ending in up in a prison camp was vividly described.

Wojtek the bear is literally a larger than life character who children will adore. It was fascinating to read about how he actually became a help to the army rather than just a mascot. It was also interesting to read about what happened after the war when he came to Britain and spent his final days in Edinburgh Zoo. Wojtek, War Hero Bear is a book sure to be enjoyed by young readers.

My thanks to Kelly at Love Books Group Tours for inviting me to be part of the tour and to the publishers Birlinn for my copy of the book. Wojtek is available now in papreback and as an e-book. You can order a copy online here: Wojtek

From the back of the book

When a tiny orphaned bear cub is adopted by Polish soldiers during World War II, little does anyone know that little Wojtek will become one of the bravest fighters of them all. As the soldiers train to take part in some of the fiercest fighting of the war, Wojtek grows up, providing headaches and laughter in equal measure as he learns to drink beer, chase horses and wrestle with his human friends. But at Monte Cassino, as the Allies try and dislodge German troops from their mountain-top eyrie, Wojtek, now a fully signed-up solider with his own rank and number, comes into his own, dodging the bullets to carry ammunition to his comrades as they inch their way to victory. After the war, the Polish solders move to Scotland. Wojtek comes too and soon becomes the centre of attention in a new country. But with hostilities ended, how long can he keep his freedom? Best-selling children’s author Jenny Robertson explores the themes of friendship and trust in this moving and inspirational story.

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Jenny Robertson has written numerous books for children and adults – fiction, non-fiction and poetry. Her children’s novels and Bible stories have been widely translated and also read on Yorkshire Television and STV.

Catch up with the rest of the tour

Wojtek