Book Review: Victory for the Shipyard Girls by Nancy Revell

About the book

Pages: 432
Publisher: Arrow
Publication Date: 6th September 2018

Sunderland, 1942

With the war showing no sign of abating, Helen is thriving in her role as shipyard manager. But at home the return of her father brings a shocking discovery that tears her family apart.

Gloria is shouldering the burden of a terrible secret. If the truth comes out there could be dire consequences, and it will take all her resolve to resist the pressure around her.

Meanwhile Rosie is throwing herself into her work, taking on as many shifts as she can. Anything to keep her mind off the fact that she hasn’t heard from her sweetheart in months…

With life in the shipyards tougher than ever, will the strength of their friendship see them through to victory?

My thoughts on the book

Victory for the Shipyard Girls is the fifth instalment in the Shipyard Girls series. Although I have not read any of the previous books, I completely fell in love with this series and will be sure to pick up the first four parts as well. Each book can easily be read as a standalone, but I really want to find out how certain events in the past lead to where the characters are now.

I enjoyed the author’s writing style very much. She had me captivated from pretty much the first page onwards. The pace of the book is brilliant and fast, which I find is not always the case with books that are part of a whole series. In my experience they can become somewhat boring and slow-paced about halfway through, but this is definitely not the case for the Shipyard Girls. It probably helps that apart from our three main characters there is an endless list of supporting characters that each come with their own secrets and problems. 

The storyline of Victory for the Shipyard Girls is extremely interesting and easy to follow. All three of the main characters are very different from another, yet it is their friendship and support in their current situation that binds them all together. 

I am not surprised that Nancy Revell is a Sunday Times Bestselling Author. Victory for the Shipyward Girls is an extremely captivating read and I cannot wait for the next instalment in this series.

Extract: A Dad Of His Own by Minna Howard (Blog Tour)

Is it too early for the C word just yet? Not in our house. We are all huge Christmas lovers and Christmas cannot come early enough. This year, we have something super exciting planned for our girls (and yes, for me too – the only one who is not as excited is my husband, but he is the perfect Daddy and is playing along nicely…). We are going to Disneyland Paris just before Christmas. We have told the girls already as I always feel the anticipation of something is just as good as the actual event. Talking about Christmas, this year’s first festive novels are starting to appear and I have the pleasure of sharing an extract of Minna Howard’s A Dad Of His Own today. 

About The Book

House-sitting in a castle over Christmas is a dream come true for Anna and her seven-year-old son Freddie. But there’s one Christmas present Freddie wants more than anything, and it’s the one thing Anna can’t give him – his very own dad.

As Anna settles into her new surroundings and a much slower pace of life, she is soon befriended by the local villagers and the castle workforce who provide a welcome distraction. Before even a Christmas cracker is pulled, Freddie shows a eager interest in the castle workforce; green-fingered Simon, salt of the earth Luke and charming castle manager Julius. Could one of them make Freddies Christmas wish come true and repair Anna’s broken heart? 

At the most magical time of the year, everyone needs a Christmas miracle if they’re to make it to Christmas Day . . . 

A comforting and emotional story that will make you hold those you love that little bit tighter this year. Perfect for the fans of Trisha Ashley and Katie Fforde.

Two

The sun was out, the sky a hard, winter blue making a dazzling backdrop to the grey, flint castle that towered above them as they drove through the scatter of houses and a few shops in the village and the gleam of the river not far away. Anna, Freddie and Ozzie the guinea pig arrived at Northbrook Castle just after lunch on December 19th.

Anna always had a last-minute panic if she were leaving for somewhere abroad, checking and rechecking that their passports and money were still in her bag where she’d put them, as though goblins might have stolen them in the night. At least she and Freddie were staying in their own country with their own currency and didn’t need a passport.

Freddie, who was so like his father with brown curly hair and blue eyes, was ecstatic when he saw the castle lording over them. ‘Will there be dungeons and p’haps a ghost,’ he added a trifle nervously.

‘There probably were dungeons long ago when people called the Normans were here, but they took any ghosts with them,’ she said cheerfully, relieved they would be in the castle’s self-contained snug little flat and Freddie would not get lost in the long corridors and masses of rooms and stairs in the rest of the castle.

At least it wasn’t raining as they arrived. The castle looked huge with its battlements and even – she pointed them out to Freddie – arrow slits.

‘So they had bows and arrows,’ he said in wonder, ‘will we see some?’

‘They might have some old ones inside, we’ll have to ask, and you see the battlements?’ She pointed upwards.

‘So it’s a real castle,’ Freddie breathed.

‘Yes, I didn’t see much of it when I came with Daisy as it was raining and when we left it was dark, but look up there, up on that mound, that stone building is very old and it’s called a keep. Remember the pictures in that book of castles I showed you?’

They had reached the door of the flat and she parked the car outside. She felt a rush of nerves and struggled to control them. Although she’d met Luke and Cathie, it was a bit daunting being here all alone with just Freddie, but it was too late to cry off now and let Philly and Sidney down.

She glanced at herself in the driving mirror; she’d had highlights put in her light brown hair that touched her shoulders. She looked washed out; she was always exhausted by the end of term and the long drive from London hadn’t helped. She hoped being in the country would put a sparkle back in her skin.

Sidney and Philly were waiting at the flat for them and they ushered them in, Sidney helping with their cases – one hiding some secret presents wrapped up in her jerseys – and a box of other Christmas presents and bags of groceries, putting them all in a corner in the hall out of the way of their own bags standing ready to go by the front door.

He was about to shut the door when a truck pulled up outside and someone jumped out, lifting out a Christmas tree and a wreath from the back.

‘Hi, I’m Luke, we met when you came up before,’ he said, smiling at Anna and Freddie as they stood in the hall.

‘Of course, you came with Cathie,’ Anna said, pleased to see someone else she knew. ‘This is my son Freddie.’ 

Freddie said, ‘Are you a Christmas tree person, the man who brings trees and things?’

‘Sort of, we grow Christmas trees as well as other things on the estate and this one is yours.’ Luke said. ‘Shall I take it in? Hello, Philly, all ready for your trip?’

‘Oh, yes, Luke. Thank you. Usual place, I think.’ She turned to Anna, as Luke carried through the tree, which was wrapped in a net. ‘We always have it in the living room, so we can enjoy it with all its lights and decorations when we’re sitting there in the evenings. I hope that suits you, Anna, Sidney has put out the stand’ 

‘We bought our own decorations,’ Freddie jumped about in excitement as Luke released the tree from the net and the branches spread out filling the room with the sharp, fresh smell of pine. ‘We were going to buy a tree and now we needn’t.’ He followed Luke out into the hall.

‘No, you needn’t. So, tell me what’s in that wooden box,’ Philly said, pointing to a box on the floor. She knew it was a guinea pig as Anna had rung her to ask if they could bring him as Freddie couldn’t bear to leave him with a friend for as long as a month, if they stayed that long. Daisy had said she could possibly take over for a week after Christmas if they wanted to leave.

‘It’s Ozzie,’ Freddie opened the box and pulled him out, a toffee-coloured animal with a quivering nose and button-black eyes looking round with interest at his new surroundings.

‘You’d better put him away in case he escapes,’ Philly said nervously, standing back as if Freddie were holding a deadly snake instead of a curious rodent.

Luke was by the front door. ‘If you want mistletoe or holly just call my number, it’s on the hall table.’ He pointed to a piece of paper with a list of names on it. ‘You’ll soon get to know us all: Cathie you know, Simon is in charge of the grounds, Tessa and Nell are sisters and they do all the admin and have their office in the castle just along from you. They are only there during the day, but they are away now, they’ll be back soon. Oh, and the most important person who runs the whole thing is Julius and he’s away skiing.’ He smiled as if he’d recited some long and complicated poem.

‘Thanks, I hope I’ll get to know them and remember their names,’ Anna said.

‘I’m sure you will, we’re a friendly bunch.’ He smiled at her and she felt less shy at being here among strangers. ‘Oh, a guinea pig, my brother had one when he was young, kept escaping.’ Luke grinned, said goodbye and that he’d see them around, but he had a lot to get on with just now. He got into his truck and drove away.

Minna’s social media links:

  • Twitter: @Adelica
  • Facebook: @MinnaHowardBooks

Book Review: While I Was Sleeping by Dani Atkins (Blog Tour)

ABOUT THE BOOK

Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Publication Date: 23rd August 2018
Pages: 560

What if someone else was living your happy ever after?
When Maddie wakes up in a hospital bed, she can’t remember anything about what happened to her or what has changed.
She just remembers she was about to be married and had everything to look forward to.
But it seems life has become a lot more complicated while she has been asleep …

MY THOUGHTS ON THE BOOK

I started writing this review at least a dozen times, every time fearing that my words cannot do this amazing book any justice. I had read one of Dani’s novels in the past and knew I was in for a treat. Her fantastic way of storytelling is a true skill!

I could easily sum up While I Was Sleeping in one word: Incredible!, but I might just go into a little more detail. I can honestly say that I have never read a book before that made such a huge impact on me. Yes, I obviously read quite a few nail-biting page-turners before, but While I Was Sleeping is in a completely different league.

Maddie is a character that grew on me from literally the first page onwards. I could feel her pain and heartbreak and went through the emotions with her. Dani’s descriptive and emotional writing style makes it so easy to become fully absorbed into the storyline and into its characters. For example, and without going into too much detail for fear of giving anything away, but there was one specific character (Maddie’s rival if you like), that I thought I would very much dislike, but couldn’t help to massively empathise with in the end. By writing this novel from different character viewpoints, the reader gets an insight into the present and past of the entire main cast which completely changed my opinion of this character I mentioned earlier on. 

While I Was Sleeping is one of the best books I have ever read and I know that its storyline and characters will stay with me for a long time. A highly addictive, emotional and engaging novel that I can highly recommend.

Thank you very much to the publisher for providing me with an early proof of this novel. All opinions and thoughts are entirely my own. 

General Blog Update and The Sunshine Blogger Award Q+A

Apologies for the lack of blog posts recently. I know I have been rather quiet on here lately. It’s not that I have run out of ideas for blog posts, on the contrary in fact – my head is buzzing with new concepts, but I deliberately took some time away from this blog to figure out which direction I wanted this space to take.

You might have noticed that I have changed my social media handles to my name and away from “Cosmochicklitan”. I didn’t hate my original blog name, but I feel I had outgrown it somehow. I don’t think I have ever explained the meaning behind Cosmochicklitan – but here it is. When I first started this blog several years ago, I wanted to create a space to share my love for books. My preferred genre at the time was all things romantic fiction/chick-lit. I was toying with several ideas and when I could not make up my mind, I said to my husband that I wanted a name that sounded cosmopolitan and somehow incorporated the books I loved. So he just said why not combine these two and call the blog Cosmochicklitan – simple as that!

Over the years, however, my taste in books has changed. Don’t get me wrong, I still love a good love story, but through book blogging, I have also discovered so many other genres that I really enjoy. Lately, for example, I have been reading a few fantastic and nail-biting thrillers.

During the past year or so, I have also blogged about other topics such as our family adventures and have written a few general lifestyle and parenting posts which I have hugely enjoyed. Going forward, I definitely want to keep a healthy medium between book posts and family lifestyle posts and I feel that the blog name and social media handles had to change in line with this. I am so much happier with the new name!!

Right, on to the Sunshine Blogger Award Questions. I have been nominated by Tom from Diary of the Dad, to take part in said meme. The idea behind the Sunshine Blogger Award is to answer the 11 questions posed by the person who nominated you and then to come up with 11 new questions to ask 11 other bloggers. So, here we go:

What’s the best bit of parenting advice you’ve ever been given?

To not compare your children’s skills with others! Everyone grows and develops at their own speed. Who cares if your child stayed in nappies longer than other children? Take away the pressure and enjoy the time with your little ones!

Is there a story behind your blog’s name?

I am simply using my name now as my blog domain and my social media channels, but I have explained the story behind my old blog name above :-).

What’s the most embarrassing thing your kids have said or done in public?

Erm, quite a few things actually, but the one that springs to mind was a trip to a supermarket a few years ago. The male cashier was, should we say, a metrosexual looking type. My daughter turned around and said quite loudly: “Mummy, this is not a very pretty woman!”. She earned a few stifled laughs from the people queuing behind us and I don’t think I ever put (or rather threw) my shopping into the trolley that quickly.

Do your family and friends know that you’re a blogger?

All of my family knows, but to be honest, not all of my friends do. My very close ones, yes, but certainly not all of the newer ones. If it comes up in conversations, I don’t hide the fact that I am writing a blog, but I am usually not the one to mention it first

What’s the strangest thing you’ve done while sleep deprived?

I’ve been sleep deprived for the last 6 years. None of my children are great sleepers and I haven’t slept through a full night since my oldest was born. Luckily, she sleeps through the night now (however, she has only started to do so since she has been going to school), but it’s my youngest one who now keeps us awake. I think my body is so used to not getting a full night’s sleep that I can cope pretty well with little sleep.

How much has your blog changed since your first post?

It has certainly changed directions a bit. When I hit publish on that very first post more than 5 years ago, I would have never thought this space would ever be anything other than a place I’d record and share my book reviews. I’ve learned so much through blogging and it has definitely broadened my horizon.

Do you have a hidden talent?

If being able to recite every single Peppa Pig episode counts, then yes. Otherwise, no :-).

Where do you see your blog in five years’ time?

Hopefully still going strong. I’ve only just rediscovered my love for blogging and definitely plan on dedicating more time to this little space.

What was your dream job as a kid?

I always wanted to become a doctor, until I did some work experience in a busy doctor’s surgery specialising in internal medicine – definitely not for me!

Where and when do you write your posts?

I write all my posts either when my youngest takes a nap after lunchtime or in the evening when both of our children are in bed. Although I have a small office space, I usually prefer writing blog posts on the sofa.

Which largely trivial things in life really annoy you?

Bad manners! A simple “please” and “thank you” go a long way!

Thanks for all these questions, Tom! Some were definitely easier to answer than others :-).

Here are my nominations: Laura, Shaz, Katy, Uli, Natalie, Simona, Kate and anyone else who would like to play along.

  1. Which advice would you give your younger self?
  2. What were your reasons behind starting a blog?
  3. What has been your blogging highlight so far?
  4. Which book are you currently reading?
  5. Who are your favourite bloggers/vloggers?
  6. Which location has been your favourite holiday destination?
  7. What’s your favourite time of the year?
  8. What would be your ideal working environment?
  9. What’s your favourite social media channel?
  10. Do you have any bad habits?
  11. Do you still keep in contact with your friends from school?

 

A Day Out In London (Elan Cafe, Liberty and Afternoon Tea with Rosanna Ley)

Last week, I was finally able to tick off a few things from my list of places I wanted to see in London. I had the opportunity to attend an afternoon tea in the wonderful Covent Garden Hotel to celebrate the launch of Rosanna Ley’s newest novel, Her Mother’s Secret. Such a treat! My lovely friend Laura and I decided to travel to London early and explore this fantastic city a little beforehand. I don’t go to London too often, and if I go, I usually go straight to a set place or event. So this time, I wanted to see a few more things. We headed to Elan Cafe first. I had seen so many gorgeous pictures on Instagram and was desperate to see this place. This cute little cafe certainly didn’t disappoint. It was a lot smaller than I anticipated, but luckily we managed to get a table straight away. The atmosphere in this place is amazing! I don’t think anyone left this cafe without having their picture taken – so when in Rome… (or, erm, London)

The food was superb as well. I went for avocado and egg on toast. Yummy!! Afterwards, we took a stroll through some pretty amazing back streets and made our way to Liberty.

And then it was already time to head to Covent Garden for afternoon tea. Meeting Rosanna in person was fantastic. We chatted so much about her new book and even got a small insight into the book she is currently writing.

About Her Mother’s Secret

For many years Colette has avoided returning to her homeland – the magical island of Belle-Île-en-Mer in Southern Brittany – afraid to confront the painful memories she left behind. She is living on the Cornish coast when she hears about her mother Thea’s failing health and realises that the time has come for her to go home. But can Colette ever forgive Thea for what she has done?

Despite Colette’s wariness, romantic Belle-Île still fascinates her. She takes on the running of her mother’s flower shop and makes friends with Élodie from the Old Lighthouse where Thea once worked as a nanny and with the enigmatic Étienne who shares Colette’s mixed feelings about the island. As Thea opens up to her for the first time, Colette finds herself softening and being drawn back into the landscape of her past. But can Belle-Île also be a part of her future?

The ghosts of that past still linger. What happened all those years ago and how did it cause the rift between mother and daughter? It becomes clear that the beauty of Belle-Île hides a devastating family secret – one that Colette is determined to unravel at any cost.

Her Mother’s Secret is currently available in hardback, with the paperback version to follow on 14th June 2018.

Thank you so much Rosanna and Quercus for such a brilliant afternoon.